Guest Contributors

Paul Morinville

America Needs Startup Experience in the USPTO Director

Posted 14 hours ago

We just don’t need another lawyer or lobbyist to run the USPTO. We need more this time. We need someone from the grassroots who understands the very real hurdles facing America’s most innovative segment. Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) comes to mind. He has built a company based on his patents and is a strong advocate for strong patents for startups. Hans Høeg, Congressman Massie’s Chief of Staff, also comes to mind. He is an inventor with a couple dozen patents and a startup built on patents. He also has four years navigating Congress and the government in his role working for Massie. He understands how patents work at the grassroots level, he understands the processes of the USPTO, he is experienced in patent law and licensing, and he understands how to navigate politically.

Dan Bonilla

Real-Life Star Trek Battle of Axanar Is Heating Up

Posted 17 hours ago

A copyright infringement battle of intergalactic proportions between Plaintiffs CBS and Paramount Pictures, and the company (along with its principal Alec Peters) looking to produce the crowdfunded Star Trek fan film Axanar (“Defendants”) is heating up. The parties have filed numerous motions in the past month, and the Court’s recent ruling on the parties’ motions for summary judgment means the case is inching closer and closer to its January 31 trial date… The Court then concluded that the “Axanar Works have objective substantial similarity to the Star Trek Copyrighted Works,” and therefore it “leaves the question of subjective substantial similarity to the jury.”

Gene Quinn

Infringe at Will Culture Takes Hold as America’s Patent System Erodes

Posted 2 days ago

Perhaps when the Senate Banking Committee convenes to consider the nomination of Wall Street attorney Jay Clayton as the new head of the Securities and Exchange Commission they should ask about efficient infringement and the infringe at will culture. What is your position, Mr. Clayton, on the legal obligation of a public company to shareholders? Should publicly traded companies inform shareholders that patent assets are worthless, or at least worth less, given the legal and regulatory climate in America? Should publicly traded companies systematically infringe and ignore all patent rights? Should publicly traded companies be using billions in shareholder monies to aggressively collect patent assets while they are simultaneously using millions to lobby against the viability of patents? What exactly do shareholders have a right to know?

Esther Sirotnik

A Slanted View of Scandalous and Disparaging Trademarks

Posted 2 days ago

The Supreme Court has scheduled oral argument in Lee v. Tam for January 18… The genesis of the case is a Portland, Oregon all-Asian-American band called The Slants, founded by petitioner Simon Shiao Tam. An application for trademark was made and the USPTO said “NO” on the basis that “The Slants” is a highly disparaging term and therefore must be denied registration under Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act… The cultural and societal value of the free flow of speech trumps government regulation. The Supreme Court should uphold the Constitution and confirm the importance of robust political debate, cultural discourse, and the right to use ANY words as part of a personal identity.

Zachary Silbersher

Amgen v. Regeneron: Will the permanent injunction against Regeneron’s new PCSK9-inhibitor hold up on appeal?

Posted 2 days ago

On January 5, 2017, the District of Delaware issued its long-awaited decision in the patent dispute pending between Amgen and Regeneron wherein the Court granted Amgen’s request for a permanent injunction against Regeneron’s new PCSK9-inhibitor cholesterol drug. Both Amgen and Regeneron each independently spent billions of dollars over the past decade-plus developing a new class of cholesterol drug. The drug itself comprises an antibody that binds to PCSK9 proteins… Whereas Regeneron managed to be the first to market, Amgen succeeded in getting to the Patent Office first. Amgen originally sued Regeneron, along with Sanofi, its European partner, in October 2014. Amgen asserted three patents directed to antibodies that bind to PCSK9. Over the next month, Amgen commenced additional lawsuits as new patents issued from the Patent Office. The cases were eventually consolidated, but Amgen eventually went to trial against Regeneron on only two of the originally asserted patents.

Taylor Ey

Staying Ahead of Privacy and Security Risks in the Internet of Things

Posted 3 days ago

In creating a privacy and security plan, IOT companies should be mindful of regulatory enforcement for failure to fully comply with their own advertised practices. For example, companies should honor representations made to consumers regarding privacy and security practices, or risk regulatory scrutiny. If not, the FTC may bring an enforcement action, which it did against IOT company, TRENDnet, Inc. According to the FTC, TRENDnet failed to implement reasonable security practices, monitor security vulnerability reports from third parties, test and review potential security vulnerabilities, and implement reasonable guidance for its employees, and thus was in violation of Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45(a). The case settled, and the terms of the settlement prohibited TRENDnet from misrepresenting its privacy and security practices and required it to establish a comprehensive security risk program.

Tamany Bentz

The Equitable Defense of Laches: SCA Hygiene Products v. First Quality Baby Products

Posted 4 days ago

The equitable defense of laches has been a useful tool for defendants in intellectual property litigation for over a hundred years, but a recent case in the U.S. Supreme Court could potentially remove the defense in patent infringement cases. In SCA Hygiene Products AB v. First Quality Baby Products LLC, the Supreme Court must decide whether the doctrine of laches bars patent infringement claims filed within the six-year statutory limitation period established under 35 U.S.C. § 286 of the Patent Act… Based on oral arguments, it is expected the Court will reverse the Federal Circuit’s decision and conclude that laches do not apply to patent infringement cases brought within the six-year damages period.

Matt Scyoc

Changed Standard for Design Patent Damages Means More Design Patents Necessary

Posted 4 days ago

For patent holders in design patent infringement cases, having multiple component design patents for any given product will help maximize the potential damage award. A multiple design patent strategy is now more important than ever. Given the ease with which design patents are obtained and the relative inexpensive cost associated with obtaining a design patent (at least when compared to the cost of obtaining a utility patent) innovators who must rely on design patent protection will almost certainly need to more strategically acquire design patents as part of a truly robust design patent portfolio building strategy.

Joseph Robinson

Federal Circuit Upholds Sanctions and Attorney’s Fees for Vexatious Litigation and Frivolous Appeal

Posted 4 days ago

The Court upheld the district court’s award of attorneys’ fees and costs, finding ample support in the record for Walker’s vexatious conduct, and no legitimate reason for Walker to continue litigating after the Agreement. Further, Walker’s arguments on appeal mischaracterized clear authority on the courts’ ability to award attorneys’ fees. The Court also sanctioned Walker and his attorneys for pursuing a frivolous appeal and awarded attorneys’ fees and costs.

Matt Scyoc

Understanding the Geographic Scope of a Trademark Injunction: Guthrie v. Context Media

Posted 5 days ago

Trademark injunctions must take into account both online promotion and future expansion plans. A narrowly-tailored geographically limited injunction can be particularly damaging to growing businesses if the business is forced to accept trademark confusion in the event of future expansion. The geographic scope of a trademark injunction should, therefore, carefully take into consideration the total services, activities, and growth plans of the successful plaintiff’s business endeavors.

Joseph Robinson

CAFC: When Relying Common Sense There Must be Explicit and Clear Reasoning

Posted 6 days ago

The Board’s determination was “potentially lawful but insufficiently or inappropriately explained.” The finding of obviousness was vacated and the case was remanded for further proceedings… Obviousness findings grounded in common sense must contain explicit and clear reasoning that provides some rational underpinning as to why common sense compels such a result.

Robert Schaffer

CAFC Reverses on Indefiniteness Because Claim Terms Sufficiently Supported by Examples

Posted 6 days ago

The Court was careful to explain that its “holding in this case does not mean that the existence of examples in the written description will always render a claim definite, or that listing requirements always provide sufficient certainty.” Instead, its holding is simply that “visually negligible” is sufficiently supported by Sonix’s patent “to inform with reasonable certainty those skilled in the art of the scope of the invention.” Practitioners prosecuting applications in which arguably subjective terms exist should include as much guidance as possible in the specification to define that term. It may prove vital to include requirements or examples.

Joseph Robinson

Federal Circuit Clarifies Injury in Fact Standing to Challenge Final Agency Decision in IPR

Posted 6 days ago

In appealing from a final IPR decision, the appellant must have standing, based on evidence of record or supplemental evidence showing an “injury in fact.” Alleged economic injury must be specific and proven, and does not arise just from statutory appeal provisions or from IPR litigation estoppel when appellant’s infringement of the challenged patent is not a potential issue.

Peter Harter

Rule 36: Unprecedented Abuse at the Federal Circuit

Posted 7 days ago

The principal manner in which the district courts are divining their guidance from the Federal Circuit is by review of the precise language of claims that court finds non-statutory and comparing them to those at issue before the lower court. In Enfish v. Microsoft, Judge Hughes openly acknowledged that the test for patent eligibility is an ex post facto test that compares the instant claims against other cases where there is an opinion and then figures out which case is most similar to the claims in the instant case. Essentially, the patent eligibility test is a matching test without any semblance of intellectual rigor. How then could it be possible that more written opinions would not shed important light and have precedential value? Indeed, given the nature of the 101 test accurately described by Judge Hughes in Enfish, the Federal Circuit should review as many different claims as possible to expand its guidance to the lower courts. Any Section 101 case in the present state of affairs would necessarily have precedential value. How does this continuing affirmance of multiple district fact patterns without written opinions not violate the clear language of Rule 36 itself?

James Cosgrove

A Pre-Appeal Brief Conference is a Winning Strategy, Even if it Probably Won’t Lead to Allowance

Posted 7 days ago

After several articles and webinars discussing appeals outcomes at the USPTO, we have received numerous requests for Pre-Appeal Brief Conference data to explain how advantageous the program really is for applicants. Using the vast data resources of our system and Public PAIR, we studied all appeals from January 1, 2006 (six months after the program was instituted), to the present day, including pending PBC cases. For the purposes of this article, we were chiefly concerned with the overall effect that a PBC had on the outcome of an appeal. As such, we have indicated that a PBC ended with a “decision for applicant” when the application was either allowed or prosecution was reopened following a PBC decision, regardless of whether the decision was due to the PBC decision itself or a subsequent pre-appeal brief office action. What we found was that, while few PBCs result in an allowance from the PBC decision itself, they have a net positive effect on an application’s overall appeals success. An explanation of our findings follows.