On the menu this week for Other Barks & Bites… Video game systems developed by Nintendo and Sony are targeted in a patent infringement suit filed in Delaware federal court. The infamous scan-to-email patent giving rise to the patent troll debate has finally been invalidated at the Federal Circuit. A multi-billion dollar copyright suits between two American tech giants gets new life from Oracle. California’s state legislature moves to create trademark protections for marijuana products at the state level, circumventing federal restrictions on such trademarks. And Zillow gets hit with a copyright infringement verdict.
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- This Week on Capitol Hill – Today, a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation will convene for a 2:30 PM hearing on stakeholder perspectives on the multimodal transportation system in the U.S. Shortly thereafter, at 2:45 PM, the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs will hold a hearing on government operations susceptible to waste and fraud, a topic which could be of interest to those following the time and attendance abuse scandal which continues to play out at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). On Thursday, another subcommittee of the Senate commerce committee will convene a 10:30 AM hearing will look at stakeholder perspectives on improving the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Over in the U.S. House of Representatives, a subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology convened a hearing Tuesday on measures to take that will improve U.S. cybersecurity capabilities. That same morning, the courts and IP subcommittee of the House Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing on ethics and transparency issues facing the nation’s federal courts system. Also on Tuesday morning, the House Energy and Commerce Committee convened a subcommittee hearing to look at the road to deployment for autonomous self-driving vehicles. Today, the House energy committee will hold a 10 AM hearing to look at the challenges involved with the modernization of energy and electricity delivery systems. Finally, at 10 AM Thursday, the full House science committee will convene a hearing to look at the past, present and future of NASA.
- Fast Company Names Most Innovative Companies of 2017 – American business and technology magazine Fast Company released the 10th edition of its annual list of the most innovative companies in the world. Atop the list are major patenting firms like Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) (#1 most innovative, 14th-most U.S. patents in 2016), Google (#2 most innovative, 5th-most U.S. patents in 2016) and Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) (#4 most innovative, 11th-most U.S. patents in 2016). American tech giant IBM (NYSE:IBM), which earned the most U.S. patents in 2016 and for the past 24 years, placed 21st on the list “for embedding Watson where it’s needed most.” (Link to Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies of 2017)
- Sony, Nintendo Video Game Consoles and Devices are Targeted in D. Del. Patent Suit – On Thursday, February 8th, Genuine Enabling Technology LLC of Downington, PA, filed a pair of patent infringement suits in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware (D. Del.) against Japanese consumer electronics firms Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE) and Nintendo Co. (TYO:7974). In both suits, Genuine is asserting a single patent issued in 2001 and covering a user input apparatus which can create an input user stream and encode that into combined data stream transferrable by a communication means. Genuine has identified Nintendo’s Wii console and controller devices and Sony’s PlayStation consoles and DualShock controllers.) (Link to Genuine Enabling Technology v. Sony Corporation) (Link to Genuine Enabling Technology v. Nintendo Co.) (Link to U.S. Patent No. 6219730, titled Method and Apparatus for Producing a Combined Data Stream and Recovering Therefrom the Respective User Input Stream and at Least One Additional Input Signal)
- Fed. Cir. Upholds PTAB Invalidation of Scan-to-Email Patent Owned by Actual Troll – Those who have advocated against the activities of patent trolls can celebrate an opinion released Monday, February 13th, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Fed. Cir.) which upheld the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB’s) invalidation of a patent covering a scan-to-email technology. The patent had been asserted by MPHJ Technologies, one of the few actual patent trolls which exist in the U.S. patent landscape. The Fed. Cir. opinion does note that PTAB improperly construed two terms but the proper construction of the term “application” rendered claims of the patent invalid as anticipated by a Xerox network systems manual from April 1985. (Link to Fed. Cir.’s decision in MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC v. Ricoh Americas Corporation, Xerox Corporation, Lexmark International, Inc.) (Link to U.S. Patent No. 8488173, titled Distributed Computer Architecture and Process for Document Management)
- Recent Trademark Filing Indicate Sixth Super Bowl Victory for New England Patriots – Whether you like them or you despise the very sight of them, the New England Patriots are Super Bowl Champions for a fifth time under the tenure of a single football coach who has shown an unusual affinity for the NFL’s rulebook during his tenure. On Monday, February 13th, the Patriots filed a pair of trademark applications with the USPTO to protect the standard character mark “BLITZ FOR SIX”, a likely reference to the franchise’s efforts to secure another championship. One application would cover the use of the mark on clothing, the other covering the use on entertainment services including expert commentary on sports which is provided over the Internet. While a sixth Patriots championship might be distasteful to fans of other NFL teams, they might take some solace in the fact that the team tried to trademark “PERFECT SEASON” and “19-0” just before spoiling their opportunity for perfection by losing to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII; perhaps their hubris here will meet a similar fate of glory unfulfilled. (U.S. Trademark Serial Nos. 87327572 and 87327577 are both available for viewing through the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System [TESS])
- Oracle Revives $8.8 Billion Copyright Case Against Google at Fed. Cir. – On Friday, February 10th, Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL) subsidiary Oracle America, Inc., revived an appeal filed in a fair use copyright case against Google by filing an opening brief and addendum in Fed. Cir. Oracle is challenging a previous verdict in its copyright case, arguing that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on fair use as well as a new trial because it was prevented from presenting its full case on two aspects of fair use law. Oracle wants Fed. Cir. to either reverse the judgment entered at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (N.D. Cal.) or order a new trial. (Link to opening brief and addendum for Oracle America filed with Fed. Cir.)
- Chicago-Based Photography Firm Wins $8.3M Copyright Suit against Zillow Real Estate Website – On Thursday, February 9th, a jury verdict form entered in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (W.D. Wash.) declared real estate app provider Zillow guilty of the direct copyright infringement of 28,125 photos and awarded $8.2 million in total statutory damages to Rosemont, IL-based VHT, Inc., a professional real estate photography firm. VHT filed suit against Zillow back in July 2015, alleging that Zillow infringed VHT’s copyright interest in those photos by using them in the Zillow Digs section of the website, which seeks to connect homeowners to home improvement and design vendors, without a license from VHT. (Link to original complaint filed in VHT, Inc. v. Zillow Group, Inc.) (Link to PlainSite docket including jury verdict in case)
- USPTO Grants Apple Patent on Fingerprint Sensor Using IR Diodes – On Tuesday, February 14th, the USPTO granted a patent to Apple covering a technology which utilizes infrared (IR) diodes for light-emitting diode (LED) displays which would enable fingerprint detection without the use of a dedicated fingerprint sensor. According to coverage of the patent from AppleInsider, the technology could enable fingerprint detection for device security without bulky active matrix hardware and could be available as a feature on the upcoming iPhone 8. This patent was originally filed by LuxVue Technology, a company Apple acquired in May 2014. (Link to U.S. Patent No. 9570002, titled Interactive Display Panel with IR Diodes)
- California Legislature Introduces State Bill for Marijuana Trademark Protection – An article published February 7th by Bloomberg BNA has drawn some attention to a state bill introduced last December into the California State Assembly which would authorize the use of specified classifications for marks related to medical cannabis and nonmedical cannabis goods and services lawfully sold under California state law. If passed, this bill would create trademark protections at the state level for cannabis goods which are typically denied federal trademark registration at the USPTO because of the federal status of marijuana as a Schedule I drug. (Link to California Assembly Bill No. 64)
- BlackBerry Files Motion to Lift Bankruptcy Stay on Patent Suit Against Avaya – On Monday, February 13th, Law360 reported that BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) filed a motion with a New York bankruptcy court to lift the stay on a patent suit alleging infringement caused by the sale of unified communications products and software marketed by Avaya Inc., which is currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. BlackBerry first filed suit against Avaya back in July 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas (N.D. Tex.) asserting a series of eight patents in the suit. (Link to original complaint in BlackBerry Limited v. Avaya Inc.)
- $5M+ Verdict Against New York & Co. for Trademark Infringement of Women’s Apparel Brand – On Friday, February 19th, women’s fashion apparel designer New York & Co. (NYSE:NWY) was judged liable of trademark infringement and ordered to pay nearly $5.6 million in damages to a pair of clothing designer plaintiffs over a line of clothing marketed under the brand name “Velocity.” Plaintiffs 4 Pillar Dynasty LLC and Reflex Performance Resources Inc., owners of a trademark for “Velocity” on goods including clothing and performance wear, first filed suit last April in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (S.D.N.Y.) targeting the sale of New York & Co.’s Velocity products. (Link to PlainSite docket for 4 Pillar Dynasty et. al. v. New York & Company, Inc., et. al.)
- This Week on Wall Street – Earnings reports from major tech firms kicked off on Tuesday when Taiwanese consumer electronics company HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) reported revenues of $22.2 billion during the fourth quarter of 2016; HTC Corp. was tied for 135th-overall in 2015 among U.S. patent earners, taking in 248 U.S. patents that year according to the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO). American semiconductor firm Applied Materials, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMAT), 78th place in 2015 with 518 U.S. patents, will release 2017 first quarter results on Wednesday. That same day, American networking giant Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) will release earnings for the second quarter of 2017; Cisco was 34th-overall in 2016 with 978 U.S. patents according to IFI CLAIMS. On Thursday, Chinese tech firm Lenovo Group (HKG:0992), which was 147th-overall in 2015 with 230 U.S. patents that year, will release earnings for the third quarter of 2016. Friday will end the week with 2017 first quarter earnings from Deere & Co. (NYSE:DE), 170th-overall in 2015 with 196 U.S. patents that year.
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