On December 12, 2013, Members of the House and Senate introduced bipartisan legislation that would allow the United States or any state or local government to register official insignia for federal trademark protection. Congressmen Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8) and Ted Poe (TX-2) introduced H.R. 3713 in the House and Senators Amy Klobuchar (MN), Charles Schumer (NY) and Mike Lee (UT) introduced identical companion legislation in the Senate.
“As a nation of laws, the protection of our trademark statutes should extend to the United States government and other official entities throughout the country,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. “We cherish the American flag in our hearts, but it should also be respected by the law. This legislation will accomplish that objective by extending trademark protection to the flag as well as other official insignia of this country and the unique states that make up our republic.”
This bill would amend the Trademark Act of 1946, also known as the Lanham Act, to allow the Federal government as well as all State and local governments to register with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) marks consisting of their flag, coat of arms and other official seals.
It looks like my prediction on Tuesday that the Senate would pass H.R. 1249, the America Invents Act, prior to President Obama’s much anticipated jobs and economy speech that begins at 7:00pm ET today, Thursday, September 8, 2011. The Senate voted to pass H.R. 1249 and send the House version of the America Invents Act to the White House for President Obama’s signature by a vote of 89 to 9. The Coburn Amendment, which would have once and for all put an end to fee diversion, was unsuccessful, being tabled by a vote of 50 to 48.
Beginning at 4:00pm ET the Senate started considering three separate amendments to H.R. 1249. The passage of any would have required the legislation to ping back to the House of Representatives, but that was not to happen.
By a vote of 95 to 5, the Senate last night passed comprehensive patent reform legislation. S.23, “The America Invents Act”. But the path forward for passage of the measure in the House of Representatives remains unclear.
The bill – which was introduced by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and the Committee’s Ranking Republican, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) – moved quickly through the Judiciary Committee, with a Committee vote of 15-0. Catching some critics off-guard, S.23’s advocates were able to take advantage of the light Senate floor schedule that often exists early in a new Congress and to capture the attention of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Specifically, S.23’s bipartisan posture, fueled by an Administration eager to advance innovation and job creation policy initiatives, made the bill an attractive floor measure for Senate Leadership, who was otherwise consumed by a heated, partisan battle over federal government funding.
As I discussed briefly a couple of weeks ago on my blog, in the United States, the current copyright statute (Title 17, United States Code) does not offer protection to fashion designs. This is because, among other things, one cannot gain copyright protection for anything utilitarian. Also, copyright protection is only offered to original works of authorship. This is a complicated topic, but the best way to sum it up is that the standard for “original” means it can’t be “routine” or “mundane”. Historically, fashion designs have been deemed utilitarian because one cannot sever the unique design features from their functionality. For example, a particular type of sleeve may have some unique design aspects to it, but its primary function is to cover an arm. Further, it would be difficult to argue that a purple skirt is original. Yes, fashion designers, even if it’s Versace- a purple skirt is just not original. So, in addition to myriad other arguments, including if a design is actually a work of authorship, there is a question as to whether a fashion design is sufficiently original for protection. But new legislation pending proposes to change that.
I am currently working on a series of articles about the Importance of Using Social Networking for Business. And I know I wrote that you should consider using Facebook as one means of Social Media, but recent events have me wondering and questioning my own advice. Don’t get me wrong; I think Facebook is a great tool for making connections and a lot of fun for personal use, and can still be useful to business, but is it useful enough to ignore privacy concerns? I report, you decide…
David Kappos during his Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearing, July 29, 2009.
Earlier today the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance the nomination of David Kappos, former Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for IBM, to be Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, a job that also comes with the title of Director of the Patent and Trademark Office. The vote in the Judiciary Committee was unanimous, with all Democrats and Republicans present voting in the affirmative. The hearing was held beginning at 10:00am this morning, with Judiciary Committee Chair, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) stalling so he could get a quorum necessary for a vote. Leahy began talking about an early morning ( 2:00am) filibuster. Leahy said that he would applaud the late arrival of Senators if that would help convince them to arrive for purpose of the vote. Leahy’s story, which really didn’t make much sense, ended and Leahy said “that has got to be 2 more Senators to show up.” Apparently, an Intelligence Committee meeting ran late, causing some Senators to be late arrivals. Leahy kept saying “there has to be 2 more people around.” Another story ensued, once again about a Sergeant at Arms, and eventually Senator Schumer appeared, leaving the necessary number of Senators for a quorum down to 1. Then Senator Leahy seemingly started quoted Grateful Dead songs, stalling further. Then Leahy suggested that he would continue quoting Grateful Dead songs, but he feared losing Senators present, making the reaching of a quorum more unlikely.
It would appear as if the swine flu virus, known in the scientific community as the H1N1 virus (so named because of the surface proteins), is not going to be as virulent as some feared it could be. According to Peter Palese, the Chairman of the Department of Microbiology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, who wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition, the swine flu virus is likely not any more virulent than other seasonal flu strains because “it lacks an important molecular signature (the protein PB1-F2) which was present in the 1918 virus and in the highly lethal h5N1 chicken viruses.” Any time there are deaths involved as a result of a virus or transmittable infection, it is of little solace to those who have lost loved ones to hear that it will not be as bad as it could have otherwise been. So while we have dodged a bullet, every sympathy must and should be extended to those affected by this virus.