Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved final consent orders in three cases involving allegedly deceptive environmental claims for mattresses. The FTC’s complaints, first announced in July, 2013, against Relief-Mart, Inc.; Esssentia Natural Memory Foam Company, Inc.; and Ecobaby Organics, Inc., charged the companies with making unsupported claims that the mattresses they sell are free of harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
The FTC also charged that two of the companies made unsupported claims that their mattresses were chemical-free and odorless. The FTC also challenged one company’s claim that its mattresses are made from 100 percent natural materials, and another company’s claim that its mattresses were certified by an organic mattress organization.
In settling the Commission’s charges, the companies have agreed not to make similar claims in the future, unless they have competent and reliable scientific evidence to prove they are true. In addition, Ecobaby is barred from making misrepresentations about certifications.
The Supreme Court on November 5, 2013, heard oral argument on whether the burden of proof in an action for a declaratory judgment of non-infringement falls on the plaintiff licensee or on the defendant patentee. Medtronic Inc. v. Boston Scientific Corp., U.S., No. 12-1128, oral argument 11/5/2013.
The debate centered around whether a patentee/defendant sued for a declaratory judgment of non-infringement is required to prove a case of infringement that was neither alleged nor arguably possible where the DJ plaintiff is a licensee. The Petitioner argued that the burden that would be on the patentee as infringement plaintiff does not change when it is a DJ defendant. The Respondent argued that, because the patentee cannot assert an infringement counterclaim against its licensee in good standing, the normal default rule places the burden on the party that initiates the action.
Patent law places the burden of proving infringement on the patentee, and the procedural device provided by the Declaratory Judgment Act does not shift that burden, according to Seth Waxman of WilmerHale, arguing for Petitioner Medtronic. The Federal Circuit erred in changing the rule where the DJ plaintiff is a licensee.
The Bank of America Corporation, headquartered in Charlotte, NC, is a financial services and banking institution that operates in all 50 states across America. One the nation’s largest banks, Bank of America has come under some recent fire with federal prosecutors lately. In early November, a motion was filed in the U.S. District Court of Manhattan to fine the corporation $864 million for bad mortgage loans sold by Countryside, a subsidiary, to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in the leadup to the 2008 financial crisis. However, many of these sales occurred before Bank of America acquired Countryside in 2008. With a new CEO in place as of 2010, the corporation has been trying to reduce financial lossesincurred by its many acquisitions during the global financial crisis.
For the first time in IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series, we’re taking a look at this major player in the financial markets to get a glimpse at what developments we may see in banking, both in this country and worldwide. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office regularly deals with Bank of America as a patent applicant. This week, we’re going through a bunch of patent applications and issued patents that describe some very intriguing new services for bank account holders, especially individuals.
Our featured patent application today discusses the operation of an automatic teller machine, or ATM, that includes a universal serial bus (USB) port. This USB port would enable the ATM to connect to external security devices, such as a fingerprint scanner, to provide authentication. We’ve pulled up two applications that deal with providing targeted shopping offers digitally, one that provides offers while browsing an online store and another that can provide discounts after the purchase has been made. Other patent applications describe a marketplace for exchanging gift cards, as well as a system for vehicle navigation to points of interest along a driving route.
It is that time of the year again where I am preparing my materials for my yearly ethics presentation, which will take place during the 8th Annual PLI Patent Law Institute. This year the Patent Law Institute will take place in New York City on February 3-4, 2013, and in San Francisco on March 17-18, 2013. The webcast will be from the New York location on February 3-4.
One of the primary segments of my ethics presentations is always a rundown of the activities of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline over the last year or so. As I started to review the cases one case jumped out at me that deserved stand alone attention. The case is In re Hunaid Basrai, which was decided on June 18, 2013.
According to §11.15 “Any practitioner who is suspended or excluded under this Part shall not be entitled to practice before the Office in patent, trademark, or other non-patent matters while suspended or excluded.” However, reinstatement to practice after is possible. In order to be reinstated, however, the disciplined practitioner must serve the sentence and then petition the Office for reinstatement.
It is not common to see a petition for reinstatement, much less an actual reinstatement. That is, however, what happened with respect to Mr. Basrai, who was suspended nunc pro tunc from October 26, 2009, for a period of 60 months, but with the last 24 months stayed. Basrai’s petition for reinstatement was successful, and he is once again a patent agent registered to practice at the USPTO.
Siemens AG, a multinational conglomerate of engineering and electronics developers, is a major source of innovations in a wide array of fields, including medical technologies, communications, power generation and industrial automation. Recently, subsidiary Siemens Water Technologies announced a partnership with Texas A&M to develop more efficient systems of removing heavy metals from industrial wastewater. The next few weeks will be interesting ones for Siemens as they chart a course under a brand new CEO who has only been serving since August.
We’re taking a look once again at Siemens here in IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series to get an idea of how the corporation is applying its research and development to medical technologies and other industries. As always, we’ve pulled up a number of patent applications and issued patents assigned to Siemens by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that should interest our readers.
Our featured patent application today discusses improvements to methods of ultrasound therapy in medical settings. Ablation therapies in this system would have better safeguards that keep a patient’s skin from becoming uncomfortably warm during the procedure. Another medical technology innovation is discussed in a patent application focused on imaging a patient’s tongue for speech therapy. Other applications include more secure telecommunications systems and protocols and a system of detecting short circuits in the charging systems of electric vehicles.
Protecting the intellectual property of biologics is complicated, difficult, and essential to the future of medicine. Not surprisingly, the proposed 12-years of data exclusivity for biologics is one of the remaining sticking points in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations. Data exclusivity is essential to the future of biologic medicines, but the nuances of their production greatly complicate the logistics of protecting their intellectual property.
What makes biologics different
The chemical structures of traditional “small molecule” pharmaceuticals are generally well defined. Accordingly, laboratory analysis can determine all of the components and replication (generic production) is fairly straightforward. In contrast, due to their complexity, biologics are very difficult and sometimes impossible to characterize scientifically. In many cases, some of the components of a finished biologic may be unknown. Consequently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has struggled to establish “interchangeability” for complex proteins. Unlike conventional “small molecule” drugs for which a generic drug can be shown to be the same as an innovator drug, a biosimilar [follow-on biologic (FOB), subsequent entry biologic (SEB)] is a product that is similar but not identical to the pioneer biologic.
As any viewer of “Shark Tank” can attest, the variety of financial arrangements which are negotiated between inventor entrepreneurs and investors is broad. A final agreement is always the result of negotiation between the two parties. Unfortunately, many inventors go into the gunfight with a knife, so to speak, over-matched and under-prepared.
Unless you are a veteran of previous negotiation and thoroughly understand the potential value of your invention, you would be wise to engage the services of an attorney and/or a firm who has previously negotiated financial transactions for similar inventions. You don’t want to leave money on the table, nor do you want to have an unrealistic view of your work. Expert assistance can help you avoid either outcome.
The following descriptions are by no means exhaustive, but represent a sample of the strategies you might employ in order to monetize your work:
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