In this week’s edition of Other Barks: Google tries to strike a “patent peace” with a new cross-licensing initiative for Android developers. The Federal Circuit is petitioned for review of a judgment in a patent case on the grounds that arbitration flouted public policy. A couple of Texas academic institutions square off in a patent battle over cancer treatments. Also, a House bill moves forward which would make the Register of Copyrights a Presidential appointee.
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- This Week on Capitol Hill – The hearing schedule got underway this week at the U.S. Senate at 10 AM Tuesday with a meeting of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to examine efforts to protect U.S. energy delivery systems from cybersecurity threats. Also at 10 AM, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions held the second part of a hearing looking at improving medical product regulation and innovation for patients. At 2:30 PM on Tuesday, the surface transportation subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation met to discuss enhancements to multimodal freight policy and infrastructure. Today’s Senate hearing schedule includes a 10 AM hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to examine multiple bills including S.518, which would provide technical assistance for small treatment works. Also at 10 AM today, the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee comes together to explore causes and consequences surrounding the decline of economic opportunity in the U.S. Senate hearings continue on Thursday with a 10 AM hearing of the aviation operations subcommittee of the Senate commerce committee to examine reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Also at 10 AM Thursday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance will hold a hearing to examine Internal Revenue Service (IRS) operations and the taxpayer experience for the 2017 tax season. Over in the U.S. House of Representatives, hearings began at 5 PM Monday with the House Committee on Rules meeting to discuss several bills including H.R. 1219, the Supporting America’s Innovators Act of 2017. At 10 AM Tuesday, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure met to discuss innovation in the national airspace for a 21st century infrastructure. At 10:15 AM Tuesday, the oversight subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing to examine strengthening public-private partnerships for cybersecurity in the health care sector. Today at 10 AM, the communications subcommittee of the House commerce committee meets to discuss facilitating the 21st century wireless economy. At 11 AM, the House Committee on Small Business meets to explore ways to improve the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). On Thursday, the financial institutions subcommittee of the House Committee on Financial Services will meet bright and early at 9:15 AM to examine opportunities to reform the federal financial regulatory system. At 10 AM Thursday, the House small business committee will convene a hearing to discuss if the IRS can effectively protect small business information.
- Google Introduces PAX Cross-License Agreement for “Patent Peace” – On Monday, April 3rd, an official Google blog post penned by Jamie Rosenberg, VP of business and operations for Android and Google Play, announced a new patent licensing initiative which the company is calling PAX. The program reportedly offers a royalty-free community patent cross-license which is supposed to reduce the risk of patent infringement allegations between players in the Android space. At the time of the announcement, Google reported that nine tech companies owning more than 230,000 patents worldwide were already in the cross-license program, including Korean consumer tech firms Samsung Electronics (KRX:005930) and LG Electronics (KRX:066570) as well as Taiwanese tech companies HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) and Foxconn Technology (TPE:2354). (Link to official Google blog post announcing PAX patent cross-license agreement) (Link to PAX license landing page)
- D. Del. Patent Invalidations Threaten 95 Percent of Acorda’s Revenue Stream – On Friday, March 31st, Ardsley, NY-based drugmaker Acorda Therapeutics (NASDAQ:ACOR) announced that a case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware (D. Del.) resulted in the invalidation of four patents covering the multiple sclerosis drug Ampyra. Reports from biotech publication BioPharma Dive indicate that the decision clears the way for generic versions of Ampyra, sales of which reportedly account for 95 percent of Acorda’s revenues. The invalidations come just two weeks after all four invalidated patents survived validity challenges instituted at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). (Link to official Acorda investor press release on D. Del. patent invalidations)
- Dow Asks Fed. Cir. for Full Panel Review of $455 Million Arbitration Award – On Monday, April 3rd, legal news publication Law360 reported that Dow AgroSciences LLC was asking the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Fed. Cir.) to review a decision from early March which upheld a $455 million arbitration award to Bayer CropScience in a case over weed control patents. In its ruling, Fed. Cir. affirmed a lower court’s confirmation of the award even though that court abused its discretion regarding post-judgment interest. Dow is seeking a full panel review of the case on the grounds that the award flouts public policy. (Link to Fed. Cir.’s March 1st decision in Bayer CropScience AG, et. al. v. Dow AgroSciences LLC, et. al.)
- Patent Squabble Starts over Cancer Treatments Between University of Texas, Baylor College – On Monday, April 3rd, Houston, TX-based pharmaceutical firm Gensetix, Inc., along with the University of Texas (UT) system, were listed as plaintiffs in a suit filed against the Baylor College of Medicine and a former faculty member of that college. The plaintiffs allege that Gensetix is the official licensee of patents developed by William Decker, a former UT professor now at Baylor College, who has allegedly filed new patent applications on related technologies and licensed those to another company in violation of Gensetix’s license. The case has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas (S.D. Tex.). (Link to official complaint filed in Gensetix, Inc., et. al. v. Baylor College of Medicine, et. al.)
- Matt Hardy Returns to WWE Amid Trademark Dispute with Former Promoter – Fans of the Swanton Bomb received a great treat at World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) most recent event, Wrestlemania 33, when tag team champions The Hardy Boyz returned to the WWE after a nearly seven-year hiatus. The return comes amidst a trademark spat brewing with Impact Wrestling who is attempting to prevent Matt Hardy to trademark the standard character mark “BROKEN MATT HARDY” according to entertainment news outlet Bleeding Cool; the wrestling organization has reportedly served Hardy with a cease and desist letter. The “Broken” moniker is new to the WWE but stems from a gimmick developed by Hardy when he wrestled under the Impact Wrestling banner. Hardy filed the application for the trademark on March 1st. (U.S. Trademark Serial No. 87354815 is available for search through the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System [TESS])
- 8th Cir. Reverse Iowa State Denial of Trademark Use Over Marijuana Leaf – On February 13th, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (8th Cir.) issued a decision on an appeal filed by a student chapter of a marijuana law reform organization, declaring that Iowa State University (ISU) violated the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights of those students to use school trademarks on merchandise. ISU had denied the use of those marks because the merchandise, developed by members of the school’s student chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), because the merchandise included cannabis leaf imagery. A longer explanation of the court’s decision in this case was published March 31st by The National Law Review. (Link to official decision by 8th Cir. in Gerlich et. al., v. Leath, et. al.)
- House Judiciary Committee Approves Bill Making Copyright Head a Presidential Appointee – On Wednesday, March 29th, the House Judiciary Committee voted 27-1 to report H.R. 1695, the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017, to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. If approved, the bill would reportedly make the head of the U.S. Copyright Office a Presidential appointment with a term limit of 10 years. The bill’s main sponsor is Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and it is co-sponsored by 20 House Republicans and 10 House Democrats. (Link to Congress.gov page on H.R. 1695, the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act)
- Blizzard Entertainment Wins $8.7M+ Verdict in Copyright Case Against Cheat Maker – On Friday, March 31st, a judgment was entered in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (C.D. Cal.) awarding Irvine, CA-based video game developer Blizzard Entertainment more than $8.7 million, including $8.563 million in statutory damages for violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The award was entered against Bossland GmbH, a German maker of video game hacks. Blizzard alleged that Bossland produced hacks of games like World of Warcraft, Hearthstone and Diablo 3 in violation of Blizzard’s end user license agreement; the court awarded $200 per each of Bossland’s 42,818 violations of the DMCA. (Link to official complaint filed in Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. v. Bossland GmbH, et. al.) (Link to official judgment entered in case)
- Qualcomm to File Motion in C.D. Cal. to Challenge FTC Lawsuit – On Monday, April 3rd, American semiconductor designer Qualcomm Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) reportedly filed a motion in C.D. Cal. asking a judge to toss a suit filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) which targeted what the FTC called “unfair methods of competition” employed by Qualcomm in its licensing activities. Quotes from Qualcomm’s general counsel published by The Hill indicate that the company believes the FTC did not raise any plausible antitrust claim nor any facts or economic theories supporting claims of competitive harm. (Link to The Hill article on Qualcomm’s filed motion) (Link to official complaint filed in Federal Trade Commission v. Qualcomm Inc.)
- Media and Entertainment Businesses Implore G7 for Aid Against Internet Piracy – On Wednesday, March 29th, a group of 18 media and entertainment companies sent a letter to the ministers of culture at the Group of Seven (G7) asking them to take stronger steps to protect against Internet piracy and mitigate its effects on the $2.25 trillion which the creative sector adds to the global economy each year. The group, which includes an assortment of media companies, music publishers and soccer associations, are trying to draw the G7’s attention towards the 30 percent of Internet users who regularly access content illegally. The 43rd G7 summit will take place in late May. (Link to official letter sent to G7 ministers of culture)
- This Week on Wall Street – Once again, it is a very light week in terms of major patenting firms reporting quarterly earnings on Wall Street. Today, St. Louis, MO-based agrochemical firm Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON) is expected to release 2017 second quarter financials. In 2015, Monsanto placed 88th among entities earning U.S. patents with 444 U.S. patents that year according to statistics published online by the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO). Monsanto is the only major patenting firm which will report earnings this week, according to the CNBC Earning Calendar. Other recognizable names which either have reported or will report earnings this week include Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay Co. (TSE:HBC) as well as a series of American retailers including Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY), Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE:RAD) and Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA).
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