This week in Other Barks & Bites: a bill amending copyright law to increase liability for online platforms republishing news snippets is introduced into Canada’s Senate; Senator Tillis asks President Biden to select a USPTO Director who will retain reforms wrought during Andrei Iancu’s tenure; the Senate IP Subcommittee leadership sends follow-up questions to Facebook regarding access to its Rights Manager; China’s IP administration issues guidelines for patent application filings which are designed to reduce poor quality filings; Pharrell Williams escapes liability for perjury for his testimony during the copyright case over “Blurred Lines”; the PTAB decides against a discretionary denial of an IPR filed against an independent inventor despite a November trial date in district court; the Technical University of Munich joins an EPO-EUIPO joint IP education program; and digital service providers pay more than $424 million to the Mechanical Licensing Collective to qualify for limited liability under the Music Modernization Act for past infringements.
ByteDance Joins LOT Network – ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, on Thursday, February 18, joined the License On Transfer (LOT) Network, an organization founded in 2014 through collaboration between Internet giant Google, multinational electronics firm Canon and open source provider Red Hat. LOT Network offers members a legal mechanism affording them protection from patent assertion entities (PAEs) and immunizes its members against patent suits from non-operating entities. “Innovation is core to the culture at ByteDance, and we believe it’s important to protect our diverse technical and creative community,” said Lynn Wu, Director and Chief IP Counsel, Global IP and Digital Licensing Strategy at ByteDance. “If we work together, we can protect the industry from exploitation and continue advancing innovation, which is key to the growth and success of the entire community.”
Senate IP Subcommittee Leadership Asks Facebook Follow-Up Questions on Rights Manager – On Wednesday, February 17, Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) sent a letter addressed to Probir Mehta , Facebook’s Head of Global IP Policy and Trade Policy, following up to previous responses for the record provided by Facebook in December to ask the social media giant how it determines which copyright owners can access its Rights Manager tool for taking down infringing content from the platform.
Canadian Senate Introduces Copyright Bill on Online News Republishing – On Wednesday, February 17, The Toronto Star reported that Senator Claude Carrignan of Canada’s Conservative Party was planning to introduce a bill into Canada’s Senate that would amend the nation’s Copyright Act to ensure that major online platform providers like Google and Facebook adequately compensate news publishers and journalists for the republishing of news content online.
MLC Receives $424 Million in Unmatched Royalties From Digital Service Providers – On Tuesday, February 16, the Mechanical Licensing Collective announced that it had received nearly $424.4 million in historical unmatched royalties accrued by digital service providers by 20 digital service providers seeking to limit their liability under the Music Modernization Act (MMA) for past infringement, including more than $163 million from Apple Music and more than $152 million from Spotify.
Senator Tillis Sends Letter to President Biden Regarding Next USPTO Director – On Tuesday, February 16, Senator Thom Tillis wrote a letter in his capacity as Ranking Member of the Senate IP Subcommittee to President Joe Biden asking President Biden to seek a candidate for Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office who will “treat [intellectual property] for what it is – a vested property right” and commit to retaining agency reforms established during the tenure of former USPTO Director Andrei Iancu.
CRB Issues Final Rule on Attorney Designees for eCRB Filings – On Tuesday, February 16, the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) issued a final rule in the Federal Register regarding eligibility requirements for attorney designees, a new fourth category of filer for the CRB’s electronic filing system (eCRB), as well as documents that those qualifying as attorney designees are able to file on behalf of an attorney representing a party at the CRB.
CAFC Affirms Patent Invalidation Under Section 112 – On Friday, February 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Synchronoss Technologies v. Dropbox in which the appellate court affirmed a ruling issued by the Northern District of California finding that Synchronoss’ asserted patent claims covering systems for synchronizing data across multiple systems or devices are either not infringed or invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 112 for indefiniteness.
CAFC Finds PTAB Erred in Denying Successor-In-Interest Motion in Crocs Reexam – On Thursday, February 11, the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Mojave Desert Holdings v. Crocs in which the appellate court granted a motion by U.S.A. Dawgs to substitute Mojave Desert Holdings as a successor-in-interest in an inter partes reexamination proceeding at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), finding that the PTAB had erred in not granting the motion after U.S.A. Dawgs had assigned all rights to the infringement action involving Crocs’ design patent to Mojave Desert Holdings in 2018.
CNIPA Issues Further Guidelines to Improve Quality in Patent Application Filings – On Wednesday, February 10, China’s National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) issued a notice for public consultation on measures on regulating patent applications that are designed to encourage genuine innovation activities and standardize patent applications to discourage low quality patent application filings at the CNIPA.
Ohio University Announces Patent License on Environmental Tech for Coal Power Plants – On Wednesday, February 17, Ohio University announced that it had entered into a patent and technology licensing agreement with raw material supplier American Resources Corporation to technologies developed by former Ohio University professor Dr. Gerardine Botte which use electrolysis to separate and process carbon and coal waste from power plants for transformation into environmentally beneficial applications.
1960s Rock Guitarist Drops Copyright Claims Over Old Spice’s “Guitar Solo” Brand – On Tuesday, February 17, American guitarist Wayne Kramer, a co-founder of the 1960s Detroit rock group MC5, filed a notice of settlement with the Central District of California in a case filed by Kramer against Old Spice that had alleged the men’s deodorant brand owned by Procter & Gamble had copied aspects of Kramer’s performances with MC5 to advertise its “Guitar Solo” line of deodorant and body wash products.
Peloton Files Cancellation Petition at PTAB Over “SPIN,” “SPINNING” Marks – On Tuesday, February 16, streaming bike exercise firm Peloton filed a series of petitions for cancellation with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) asking the TTAB to cancel trademark applications filed by Mad Dogg Athletics seeking to protect the standard character marks “SPIN” and “SPINNING” after Peloton received cease-and-desist letters from Mad Dogg.
PTAB Institutes IPR Against Independent Inventor Despite November District Court Trial Date – On Tuesday, February 16, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decided to institute an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding petitioned by Western Digital and SanDisk to challenge patent claims owned by Swiss independent inventor Martin Kuster despite a scheduled November 8 trial date in a district court infringement proceeding between the parties, noting the possibility that Western District of Texas trial dates could be extended during the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason not to exercise discretionary denial authority under NHK-Fintiv.
Reuters Reports Google Deal With French Publishers Worth $76 Million – On Friday, February 12, Reuters reported that documents disclosed to the international news outlet showed that Google’s recent copyright licensing deal with the Alliance de la presse d’information generale (APIG), which represents French news publishers, will pay $76 million over three years to a group of 121 French news publishers to settle copyright claims regarding Google’s online republishing of news snippets.
Judge Chhabria Denies Google’s Motion to Dismiss Tin Pan Alley Copyright Claims – On Friday, February 12, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria of the Northern District of California issued a ruling denying a motion to dismiss filed by Google after finding that the issue over rights of distribution raised by Google did not answer allegations made by SA Music that Google sold bootleg copies of digital albums including American song classics by Harold Arlen, Billie Holiday and other famous Tin Pan Alley songwriters.
Judge Kronstadt Finds Pharrell Williams Did Not Commit Perjury During “Blurred Lines” Copyright Case – On Friday, February 12, U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt of the Central District of California issued a ruling denying a motion filed by parties representing copyright owners in Marvin Gaye’s estate, finding that the parties did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that Pharrell Williams’ comments regarding “reverse-engineer[ing]” and “channelling… other musicians” in a November 2019 interview with GQ proved that Williams committed perjury during the district court copyright case.
Technical University of Munich Joins EPO-EUIPO IP Education Program – On Wednesday, February 10, the European Patent Office (EPO) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) announced that the Technical University of Munich (TUM) signed a partnership agreement to join the agencies’ Pan-European Seal Professional Traineeship Program, which will give TUM graduates the chance to participate in a one-year professional traineeship at either IP office.
This Week on Wall Street
Mazda Tops Consumer Reports 2021 Automaker Rankings – On Thursday, February 18, consumer research firm Consumer Reports issued its 2021 brand report card for the most reliable automotive brands showing that Japanese carmaker Mazda is the top-ranked automotive brand for the first time ever ahead of BMW, Subaru, Porsche and Honda.
Maersk Beating Plans to Unveil Carbon Neutral Shipping Vessel By Seven Years – On Wednesday, February 17, international shipping giant Maersk announced that it was planning to launch the company’s first carbon neutral shipping vessel by the year 2023, beating original plans to launch such a vessel by 2030, as part of the company’s goals to reach net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
Quarterly Earnings – The following firms identified among the IPO’s Top 300 Patent Recipients for 2020 are announcing quarterly earnings next week (2020 rank in parentheses):
- Monday: Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (t-228th); Ingersoll Rand Inc. (190th)
- Tuesday: Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA (254th); Intuit Inc. (238th); Medtronic plc (28th); Xperi Holding Corp. (t-220th)
- Wednesday: NVIDIA Corp. (t-192nd)
- Thursday: Bayer AG (68th); Dell Technologies Inc. (12th); HP Inc. (46th); Nielsen Holdings plc (185th); Salesforce.com, Inc. (94th)
- Friday: BASF SE (95th); Deutsch Telekom AG (t-140th)
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