Guest Contributors


Katie Scholz

Litigating Copyrights: Is Registration required to get into Court?

Posted 20 hours ago

While registration is required in order to file a lawsuit for copyright in federal court, there is currently a circuit split with regard to what part of the process must be complete in order to meet the “registration” standard.  According to 17 U.S.C. §411(b), “no civil action for infringement of the copyright in any United States work shall be instituted until preregistration or registration of the copyright claim has been made.”  The question that circuit courts seem to be divided on is whether “registration” is satisfied when a Copyright Registration is received, or when an application has been filed. On June 28, 2018, the Supreme Court agreed to weigh in. The case at issue is Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v. Wall-Street.com, LLC, which arises out of the Eleventh Circuit.

Jeremy Doerre

In an Abstract Idea Context, Little Is Unmistakably Within the Bright-line Eligibility Prohibition

Posted 2 days ago

It seems clear that the Supreme Court did not intend to categorically prohibit patenting of everything which can be characterized as an abstract idea at some level because the Court indicated that there are at least some abstract ideas that are sufficient to confer patent eligibility: namely, inventive concepts.  The Court’s bright-line prohibition against patenting laws of nature and mathematical formulas clearly was not intended to categorically prohibit patenting of everything which can be characterized as an abstract idea because such a bright-line extension would bar patenting of inventive concepts, which by definition are capable of characterization as abstract ideas but which the Court explicitly acknowledged are sufficient to signal eligibility.

Jeremy Doerre

The Implicit Exception to § 101 for Abstract Ideas Should Be Narrowly Construed

Posted 4 days ago

There is an alternative route is available to stay true to Supreme Court eligibility jurisprudence: Apply the Supreme Court’s standard approach of narrowly construing statutory exceptions to narrowly construe the implicit statutory exception to 35 U.S.C. § 101 for abstract ideas… In accordance with Supreme Court guidance regarding construction of statutory exceptions, the implicit statutory exception for abstract ideas should be construed “narrowly in order to preserve the primary operation of the provision” of 35 U.S.C. § 101. Clark, 489 U.S. at 739 (citing Phillips, 324 U. S. at 493).  To do otherwise would risk “frustrat[ing] the announced will of the people.” Phillips, 324 U. S. at 493.

Brian Iverson

Disparaging, Immoral, and Scandalous Trademarks Since Matal v. Tam

Posted 5 days ago

A little more than one year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Lanham Act’s disparagement clause as unconstitutional in Matal v. Tam, 137 S. Ct. 1744 (June 19, 2017).  While Tam settled some issues related to The Slants, the Washington Redskins, and D*kes on Bikes, the decision’s full impact remains to be seen. Issues remain ripe for future consideration. Most significantly, are trademarks considered “commercial speech?”  If so, laws relating to trademarks might be subject to relaxed scrutiny for constitutional compliance rather than strict scrutiny.

Katie Scholz

Protecting Innovation During the 3D Revolution

Posted 6 days ago

Innovators often face the question of how to best protect their new ideas.  Patents immediately come to mind for new products and processes.  However, copyright protection should also be considered.  While patent protection is limited to the claims in a particular patent, copyright protection can be broader, particularly where 3D works of art are concerned.  Additionally, copyright protection may provide some protection where a 3D rendering is made of a known 2D work.

G. Michael Roebuck

Software Patent-Eligible Subject Matter: Claiming Improvements in Computer Functionality

Posted 8 days ago

Particularize the claims.  This helps overcome the “abstract” part of a 101 rejection. Put details into the claims to define the steps performed in the software and hardware to a granular degree.  Don’t claim a result; claim the steps performed in accomplishing the result. That is, define the software computer program and hardware in discrete steps. Define what’s going on in each step of the computer program code. Go to the level of a software design engineer that annotates their code, to inform others as to what’s going on in the code.  If there is an algorithm claimed, particularize the claims to include the steps performed in implementing the algorithm.

Carlo Cotrone

Seven Steps to Cohesively Combining In-House Legal Departments in a Merger or Acquisition

Posted 12 days ago

Companies involved in a merger or acquisition often bring respective legal departments that must be combined after the M&A transaction closes. This presents a singular opportunity to build a new legal department that assimilates the best aspects of each legacy department and offers attorneys and other legal professionals an enhanced career platform. However, if the integration process is not carefully managed, that opportunity can be missed, limiting the potential of the new department, individual team members, and the business at large.

Frank DeLucia

NYIPLA Endorses Patent Office Change to Phillips Claim Construction Standard

Posted 13 days ago

The proposed rule would adopt the narrower standard articulated by the Federal Circuit in Phillips v. AWH Corp., where the “words of a claim are generally given their ordinary and customary meaning,” which is “the meaning that the term would have to a person of ordinary skill in the art in question at the time of the invention.” 415 F.3d 1303, 1312-13 (Fed. Cir. 2005). Additionally, under the proposed approach, the Patent Office would construe patent claims and proposed claims based on the record of AIA proceeding, and take into account the claim language, specification, and prosecution history. In response to the Patent Office’s notice of proposed rulemaking, the New York Intellectual Property Law Association (NYIPLA) recently submitted comments endorsing the Patent Office’s proposed changes.

Chris Bruno

Aqua Products: Is It Helping Patent Owners Swim Better Nine Months Later?

Posted 13 days ago

At the time, many thought this change in law would significantly assist patentees in avoiding full-blown cancellation of their claims. However, our review suggests a case-by-case analysis without overwhelming success on a motion to amend… Although the industry expected Aqua Products to cause a sea change for motions to amend, there has been little, if any, substantive effect. Since Aqua Products, the Board has considered the opinion’s impact in 92 cases, referring to the memorandum guidance in 38. Of those 92 cases, the Board has rendered decisions in 43 cases, denying 32 motions to amend, granting in whole or in part 7 motions, and denying as moot 4 motions.

Burman York (Bud) Mathis III

No Light at the End of the Tunnel, Not Even Close

Posted 15 days ago

It’s been over eight years since the Supreme Court issued its Bilski v Kappos decision, over six years since the Supreme Court issued its Mayo v. Prometheus decision and over four years since the Supreme Court issued its Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank decision.  In case anyone missed it, each of these three landmark cases was decided based on evidence on the record.  Thus, the Supreme Court not only contemplated the need for evidence when determining patent eligibility for abstract ideas of man-made origin, but wholly embraced the practice. Yet despite the Supreme Court’s trio of evidence-based holdings, it was February of this year before a single three-judge Federal Circuit panel definitively ruled on the evidence issue in Berkheimer v. HP, and it was the end of May before a majority of the Federal Circuit signed on to the idea that determining whether a man-made something is well-understood (or well-known), routine and conventional is an issue of fact that should be based on objective evidence. That’s the better part of a decade of the Federal Circuit wandering the desert.

Shelley Thomas

How Intellectual Property Informs the Investment in a Private Equity Transaction

Posted 16 days ago

Technology and intellectual property (IP) have become vital components to virtually every business in all industries as they often drive the value and efficiencies of a business and enable companies to monetize their products and services. In order to capitalize on this trend, private equity (PE) investors are making significant investments in companies focused on developing and commercializing IP. In 2017, a record number of PE deals were IP and technology focused, ranging from consumer-facing companies with valuations driven by trademark portfolios and brand awareness, to cloud platform and biotech companies with significant patent portfolios and research and development efforts. According to analysts of PE deal-trends, this wave of IP-centric PE transactions has continued and will continue to grow during 2018.

Ryan Kenny

Which Invalidity Avenue to Take: Inter Partes Review Verses Post-Grant Review

Posted 16 days ago

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides invalidity tools via inter partes review (IPR) and post-grant review (PGR), but which route is better? …  PGRs are estimated to cost more because of their broader discovery rules.  If cost is a major factor, IPRs are a less-expensive option due to restricted allowance of discovery, the most expensive aspect of patent litigation… If the invalidating arguments or art are not strong, an IPR may be a better option due to its lower threshold for institution.  The same prior art arguments that failed in a petition for a PGR may have succeeded in an IPR petition due to the lower standard.

James Pooley

The Blades Just Keep Spinning

Posted 17 days ago

Sinovel encouraged him to leave AMSC, promising to pay him a million dollars over five years (along with an apartment, and, reportedly, a prostitute). His advance was only 15,000 euros, but it did the trick. Karabasevic resigned, but his supervisor asked him to stay on for a while, with full access to the company’s systems. This allowed him time to create a bootleg version of the AMSC controller software, and to transfer it to his future employer in China. This was the software that evaded the AMSC technicians’ diagnostic tools and allowed the windmills to keep turning when they should have turned off. It would be some months before the company learned about their former employee’s treachery, but in the meantime it had lost almost 90% of its revenue, shed a billion dollars in shareholder equity, and had to lay off 700 employees.

Jeremy Sherman

Software Licensing Disputes Are On the Rise

Posted 20 days ago

Software licensing disputes are on the increase, a trend that is being driven to a large degree by customers implementing new technologies without examining how this affects pre-existing agreements. The main problem areas for customers stem from developments in technology which have changed the way in which the licensed software is used, and which have not been reflected in updates to its contractual terms with the software vendor.

Katie Scholz

Copyright and Tattoos: Who owns your ink?

Posted 21 days ago

As of 2012, one in five adults in the United States have at least one tattoo.  While some designs are simple, many are incredibly complex, original works of art.  However, since tattoos are designed to be permanent, and often placed to be seen, the question arises – who owns the copyright to that artwork? And how can, and can’t, the owner display it? Unfortunately, there are no cases to date that definitively answer the questions around copyright infringement and tattoos.  With a new case filed by a tattoo artist in April 2018, concerning a tattoo he placed on WWE wrestler Randy Orton, which appeared in the WWE 2K16, 2K17 and 2K18 video games, it is important to determine what we do know about whether tattoos can be copyrighted, and who owns what rights with regard to their use and reproduction.

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