In this week’s edition of Other Barks & Bites – Another covered business method review is overturned by the Federal Circuit because the Patent Trial and Appeal Board instituted a CBM on a patent that was not a CBM patent. China leads the world not only in stealing digital images protected by copyright but also in terms of trademark applications filed. The Catholic Church starts to take action in protecting its own intellectual property. Also, Alphabet’s self-driving car subsidiary files a lawsuit including patent and trade secret claims against ride sharing giant Uber.
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- This Week on Capitol Hill – A flurry of committee hearings are set to get underway this week as President Donald Trump makes his first speech in front of a joint session of Congress Tuesday night. Two hearings that will get underway at 10 AM today include a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation to look at improving transportation and information network infrastructure in rural communities, and a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs to discuss the effects of border insecurity and lax immigration enforcement on U.S. communities. At 10:30 AM today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works will convene a hearing to examine recent safety questions raised regarding the nation’s flood control infrastructure. This Thursday, two hearings will convene at 9:30 AM: the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services will receive testimony on cyber strategy and policy and the Senate commerce committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet will hold a hearing to explore the future of wireless spectrum policy and how wireless technology benefits consumer. Over in the U.S. House of Representatives, Tuesday’s schedule included hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education to discuss strengthening career and technical education for American students and a hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere to examine foreign policy issues and opportunities in the Western Hemisphere. Today’s House hearings include a 10 AM hearing of the House Committee on Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans to look at modernizing Western water and power infrastructure in the 21st century; a 10 AM hearing of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology to markup H.R. 1224, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, Assessment, and Auditing Act of 2017; and a 10 AM hearing of the House Committee on Armed Services to examine threats, challenges and opportunities related to cyber warfare in the 21st century. On Thursday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health will convene a 10 AM hearing to look at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s generic drug and biosimilar user fee programs.
- Inventergy Files Patent Suit Against Apple Over Mobile Communications Tech – On Friday, February 24th, Campbell, CA-based intellectual property licensing company Inventergy (NASDAQ:INVT) filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware (D. Del.) asserting a series of seven patents against Cupertino, CA-based electronic device developer Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) Inventergy alleges that Apple’s sale of phones and tablets infringes upon patents covering mobile communications tech for EDGE/3G/LTE user devices. Inventergy further argues that Apple’s infringement has been willful as the company has continued to sell devices infringing the asserted patents despite being notified of the infringement as early as January 2015. (Link to official complaint filed in Inventergy, Inc. v. Apple, Inc.)
- Fed. Cir. Overturns Another CBM Review at PTAB – On Tuesday, February 21st, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Fed. Cir.) overturned a final written decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) which invalidated all claims of a patent owned by Plano, TX-based Internet security developer Secure Axcess, LLC. Secure Axcess appealed PTAB’s decision, challenging the board’s decision to institute review of the patent as a covered business method (CBM) review. The judicial panel at Fed. Cir. agreed, finding that “the Board-adopted characterization of CBM scope in that case was contrary to the statute.” (Link to U.S. Patent No. 7631191, titled System and Method for Authenticating a Web Page) (Link to Fed. Cir.’s official decision in Secure Axcess, LLC v. PNC Bank National Association et. al.)
- China Leads the World in Copyright Infringing Image Theft – On Tuesday, February 21st, Berlin-based image licensing firm COPYTRACK released an analysis of 10,000 cases involving copyright infringement of digital images which indicated that China leads the world in stealing copyright-protected images. 11.11 percent of the cases surveyed by COPYTRACK originated out of China, which was trailed closely by France (9.53 percent) and the United States (8.21 percent). (Link to COPYTRACK post on global image theft rankings)
- Wolfgang Puck Wants to Get Trademark Protection Out of “The Kitchen” – On Friday, February 24th, Beverly Hills, CA-based restaurant chain operator Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc. filed a complaint for declaratory judgment in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (N.D. Ill.) seeking a declaration that “kitchen” is not a term protectable by trademark because it is generic. The complaint has been filed in response to a trademark infringement suit brought against a different Wolfgang Puck company by The Kitchen Café, LLC, which targeted “KITCHEN”-formative marks used by Wolfgang Puck on the basis of common law trademark rights in the phrase “THE KITCHEN”. (Link to official complaint in Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc. et. al. v. The Kitchen Café, LLC)
- Vince Young Files Trademark Application for Trump-Inspired Comeback Slogan – American football quarterback Vince Young was a widely heralded player during his collegiate football days at the University of Texas, but his career in the National Football League was comparatively lackluster. A pair of trademark applications filed by Young on February 19th, however, indicate that a professional comeback may be in the works. Young has filed applications to protect the use of the standard character mark “MAKE VINCE GREAT AGAIN” on athletic apparel and entertainment services. Football news outlets have also confirmed that Young has recently hired a new agent and has started discussions with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. (Link to U.S. Trademark Serial No. 87341692, “MAKE VINCE GREAT AGAIN”) (Record for U.S. Trademark Serial No. 87341703, “MAKE VINCE GREAT AGAIN”, is available through the Trademark Electronic Search System [TESS])
- The Vatican Eyes Copyright Protection for Images of Pope Francis – On Sunday, February 26th, the Associated Press reported a statement released by The Vatican indicating that the Roman Catholic Church was looking at asserting copyright protections to images of Pope Francis as well as the Holy See, the sovereign ecclesiastical body ruling over Vatican City. According to the statement, The Vatican will intervene “with opportune measures when necessary” as it monitors how images of Pope Francis and the logo of the Holy See are used. Media reports on this statement also include unconfirmed reports that Vatican officials have hired Chicago-based multinational law firm Baker McKenzie for this work.
- China Receives Most Trademark Applications for 15th Consecutive Year – On Wednesday, February 22nd, China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) posted statistics online showing that SIPO processed a total of 3.69 million trademark applications during 2016, the 15th consecutive year in which China led the world in the number of trademark applications handled. More than 80 percent of trademark applications filed last year in China were filed via the Internet. 2016’s trademark application total is a 28.4 percent increase over the number of trademark applications filed in China during 2015. (Link to official SIPO web page announcing China’s 2016 trademark application numbers)
- Adapt IP Ventures Increases Non-Practicing Entity Activity in Autonomous Vehicle Sector – On Tuesday, February 28th, IP acquisition and licensing firm Adapt IP Ventures, LLC of Raleigh, NC, announced that it had contracted with a solo inventor to monetize a portfolio of five U.S. patents and six U.S. patent applications in the autonomous vehicle sector. According to Adapt IP, this portfolio focuses on the control and coordination of level 4 and level 5 autonomous vehicles including vehicle-related infrastructure such as dedicated roadways, parking structures and delivery systems. It will be interesting to see how quickly many tech publications will turn to calling Adapt IP a “patent troll” if the firm finds that it needs to take automakers to court if they decide to efficiently infringe rather than pay for patent licenses. (Link to Adapt IP Ventures press release on autonomous vehicle patent portfolio)
- NASA Announces Discovery of Seven Exoplanets in Habitable Zone – On Thursday, February 23rd, an article published by Nature revealed that research conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had discovered seven exoplanets within the habitable zone surrounding the red dwarf star TRAPPIST-1, located 12 parsecs away from the Sun. The red dwarf star is much smaller than our Sun and all seven planets orbit TRAPPIST-1 at distances much closer than Mercury, the innermost planet in our solar system, orbits our Sun, but any of the seven planets could have liquid water present in their environments. (Link to Nature article on the discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets within the habitable zone)
- Alphabet’s Waymo Hits Uber With Patent, Trade Secret Lawsuit – On Thursday, February 23rd, Waymo, the self-driving vehicle development subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL), filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (N.D. Cal.) in which it accuses San Francisco-based ride sharing company Uber Technologies, Inc. of engaging in trade secret misappropriation and patent infringement. The allegations surround the activities of a former Waymo project manager now working for Uber; Waymo argues that this manager downloaded 14,000 files, or 9.7 gigabytes, worth of information related to Waymo’s light detection and ranging (LiDAR) systems for real-time 3D imaging to start his own self-driving car company which was acquired by Uber in August 2016 for $680 million. (Link to official complaint in Waymo LLC v. Uber Technologies, Inc. et. al.)
- This Week on Wall Street – This will likely be an interesting week on Wall Street in terms of tech company valuations as Snap Inc. enters into its initial public offering, which is expected to occur on March 2nd. Earnings reports for major patenting firms kicked off on Tuesday when San Francisco-based cloud provider Salesforce.com, Inc. (NYSE:CRM) reported beats on both earnings per share (EPS) and revenue for the fourth quarter of its 2017 fiscal year; Salesforce placed 174th-overall in 2015 with 191 U.S. patent grants according to data published online by the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO). Today will see 2017 first quarter earnings reported by San Jose, CA-based fabless semiconductor firm Broadcom (NASDAQ:AVGO), which earned 823 U.S. patents in 2016, placing it 43rd among all patenting firms during that year according to IFI CLAIMS. On Thursday, Bermuda-based fabless semiconductor developer Marvell Technology Group (NASDAQ:MRVL) reports its earnings for 2017’s fourth quarter; the company’s Marvel International subsidiary placed 72nd in 2015 with 573 U.S. patent grants.
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