Posts in Antitrust

Let the Music Play: The Performance Rights License Marketplace Thrives Only with Vigilant Antitrust Enforcement

On January 26, CBS broadcast the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, which celebrated America’s finest recording artists and songwriters. Drawing a global audience with performances by super stars such as Aerosmith, Blake Shelton, and Ariana Grande, the event highlighted the music industry’s talents, innovation, and extraordinary financial success. Yet, what keeps the music flowing in a thriving marketplace is the fair operation of the performing rights license marketplace made possible by vigilant antitrust enforcement. The Department of Justice, Antitrust Division (the Department) is currently reviewing the consent decrees between the federal government and two performance rights organization behemoths: ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) and BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.). While conducting periodic reviews of antitrust law is smart policy, altering or scrapping the music decrees would be a mistake.

The Fifth Circuit Must Preserve the Patent-Antitrust Balance by Upholding Actavis

The pharmaceutical industry presents some of the most important and challenging issues lying at the intersection of the patent and antitrust laws. On the one hand, patents play a crucial role in the industry, which is unique in the cost and duration of reaching the market. But on the other, a complicated regulatory regime and the event of generic entry (which dramatically lowers price and which the brand firm has interest in delaying) opens the door for potentially anticompetitive behavior. One area where this tension has surfaced in recent years has involved the settlement of patent litigation. In 2013, in FTC v. Actavis, the Supreme Court held that agreements by which brand-name drug companies pay generics to settle patent litigation and delay entering the market could have “significant anticompetitive effects” and violate the antitrust laws.

USPTO, DOJ & NIST Issue Joint Policy Statement on Injunctions for Standard Essential Patents

Earlier this afternoon, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division (DOJ), issued a Joint Policy Statement on Remedies for Standards-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments (“2019 Joint Policy Statement”). This Joint Policy Statement explains that “[c]onsistent with the prevailing law… injunctive relief, reasonable…

Other Barks & Bites, Friday, December 6: Lawmakers Concerned with Copyright Restatement, USPTO Pushed to Keep SEP Injunction Policy, Qualcomm Pushes Back on Koh at Ninth Circuit

This week in Other Barks & Bites: the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments over copyright status of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated; the Federal Circuit remands Ericsson appeal to calculate release payment in patent license; Apple, Ford and others urge the USPTO to retain policy against injunctions on companies practicing SEPs; Huawei asks the Fifth Circuit to undo the FCC’s ban preventing it from supplying U.S. networks; Sergey Brin and Larry Page relinquish executive duties at Google; U.S. antitrust regulators explore Amazon’s cloud business; Washington politicians send letter to ALI over Copyright Restatement Effort concerns; and Qualcomm challenges Judge Koh’s class action certification at the Ninth Circuit.

IP Holds Lessons for Antitrust Law; No Monopoly on Patent Appeals the Way to Go

In November, the UIC John Marshall Law School held their 63rd Annual Intellectual Property Conference in Chicago, IL.  The program consisted of four plenary sessions and nine breakout sessions covering artificial intelligence, patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, antitrust, and in-house counsel, as well as IT and privacy developments.  Speakers came from China, Europe, and the Middle East, and represented government, industry, academia, nonprofits, and practice. IPWatchdog’s Editor-In-Chief, Eileen McDermott was there. The program kicked off with a keynote address the Honorable Chief Judge Diane Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  Titled “Antitrust & IP: Does It Need to Be Retooled?”, Chief Judge Wood spoke about the need for procedural and substantive reform. She began by observing that “[t]he general rule has been for many years — and I think this is entirely correct — that intellectual property is property.” She noted that this approach has been encapsulated in the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission’s Guidelines for the Licensing of Intellectual Property, and that “the fundamentals of antitrust analysis are the same, although the answers may be a little different.” Citing standard essential patents as an example, she said that “there may be some real synergies back and forth between the IP field and the antitrust field that would be well worth exploring,” in particular when considering how antitrust law should approach access issues involving digital platforms, as what is sought is “FRAND-type access to these platforms. ”

Other Barks & Bites: USPTO Updates AIA Trial Practice Guide, VoIP-Pal Beats Four Apple IPR Petitions, and China is Top Filer of Blockchain Patents

This week in Other Barks & Bites: the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issues an updated AIA Trial Practice Guide following SAS Institute v. Iancu; the AM-FM Act is introduced into Congress to update copyright law for terrestrial radio stations; VoIP-Pal.com defeats remaining IPRs challenging its patents at the institution phase; the Copyright Royalty Board announces cost of living adjustments in certain royalty rates; a Senate report shows that U.S. law enforcement didn’t adequately respond to Chinese IP theft for 20 years; China outpaces the rest of the world in terms of blockchain patent filing activities; and Apple joins Intel’s antitrust actions against Fortress Investment Group’s patent assertions.

Other Barks & Bites, Friday, November 15: SCOTUS to Hear Booking.com Trademark Case, AG Barr Backs FCC Plan Against Huawei and ZTE, Copyright Office Eliminates Physical Material Submission Options

This week in Other Barks & Bites: the Federal Circuit strikes down a district court’s finding of design patent infringement on summary judgment; the USPTO advises trademark attorneys to monitor filings to prevent against the unauthorized use of their names; the U.S. Copyright Office issues final rules eliminating options for physical material submissions for newspaper and serial registrations; the U.S. Supreme Court will take up Booking.com’s appeal of the rejection of its trademark application by the USPTO; AG Barr supports the FCC’s plan to restrict Huawei and ZTE equipment purchases through the Universal Service Fund; Nirvana’s copyright case against Marc Jacobs moves past a motion to dismiss; Biogen loses $3 billion in market value after PTAB hearing; and Amazon seeks an injunction against a patent owner asserting infringement claims against Amazon Fire product retailers.

Delrahim, Simons Caution House Subcommittee Against Drawing Bright Lines on Antitrust Enforcement of Big Tech

The House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law yesterday heard from Joseph Simons, Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, and Makan Delrahim, Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division as part of the Subcommittee’s fourth hearing in its “Online Platforms and Market Power” series. The latest hearing focused on the perspectives of the antitrust authorities, while previous hearings have examined the effects of the big tech companies on innovation and entrepreneurship; online platforms’ effect on a free and diverse press; and the role of data and privacy in competition. While both Delrahim and Simons said they are aggressively investigating and monitoring dominant platforms like Facebook and Google, they warned against overreach. Subcommittee Chair David Cicilline (D-RI) expressed his concern that, over the past decade, the largest tech firms have acquired more than 436 companies, “many of which were actual or potential competitors,” without intervention from antitrust enforcement authorities. The last major monopolization case was brought in 2001 against Microsoft, Cicilline noted. “This has created a de facto antitrust exemption for online platforms.,” he said, questioning whether the failure lies in the need for congressional action to amend and strengthen existing laws, a lack of agency resources to effectively combat the problem, or simply a lack of will to enforce the laws on the books.

This Week in Washington IP: Antitrust Regulators Discuss Online Platforms, NASA’s Moon-Mars Program and Reauthorizing Compulsory Satellite Copyright Licenses

This week in tech and innovation hearings in Washington, D.C., the U.S. House of Representatives gets underway on Wednesday by exploring rulemaking at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), regulating online platforms through antitrust law, preparing the medical workforce for innovation and checking the progress of NASA’s plans to put American astronauts on the Moon and Mars. Later in the week, House committees focus on innovation in water and geothermal energy as well as the impact of big tech on small businesses across America. Over in the Senate, the Senate Environment Committee holds a hearing to look at expanding commercial nuclear power and the Senate Commerce Committee will mark up various pieces of legislation, including one bill that would reauthorize compulsory licenses for satellite broadcasts under STELAR despite Copyright Office opposition to such reauthorization. Elsewhere in D.C., The Brookings Institution holds an event today to discuss potential biases that can develop through the use of algorithms in AI technologies.

Filling in the Holes: The CASE Act is Where Good Intention Meets Good Policy

While there are a number of falsehoods being spread about the CASE Act by those who philosophically oppose any legislation that will help the creative community, there are a few honest critiques that are based on simple misunderstandings about the bill rather than malice. Take, for instance, an article published earlier this week on this blog which characterizes the CASE Act’s intentions as noble, but argues that there are “three gaping holes” that make for bad policy…. The CASE Act will not bring an end to copyright infringement, nor is it intended to. Subversive parties that intend to infringe and skirt the law are unlikely to be brought to justice under the CASE Act. But the CASE Act is good policy for achieving what it is intended to do: provide an alternative to federal court where consenting parties who presently cannot afford to, might finally get their day in court.

This Week in Washington IP: Senate IP Subcommittee to Address Preventing Poor Quality Patents, House Looks at Clean Energy Workforce

This week in technology and innovation hearings taking place in Washington, D.C., subcommittees in the House of Representatives discuss the worker pipeline for the clean energy sector and ways to promote C-Band spectrum auctions on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday, the Senate IP Subcommittee holds a hearing on preventing the issuance of poor quality patents, which is likely to include some contentious viewpoints on the U.S. patent system. Other Senate hearings this week focus on innovation in water security as well as national security issues in the 5G supply chain. Elsewhere, The Brookings Institution explores the role of the Federal Trade Commission in consumer data privacy legislation and closes out the week with an event that takes a look at ways to mitigate the risks of artificial intelligence technologies.

Other Barks & Bites, Friday, October 25: CASE Act Passes House, Inventor Rally at AIPLA Meeting, Veteran IP Leaders Launch Patent Collective

This week in Other Barks & Bites: new patent collective for video technology launched; inventor rally to be held during live IPR hearing at AIPLA meeting; the White House indicates that the first phase of the U.S.-China trade deal will focus on IP; the USPTO shifts burden of proving patentability in PTAB motions to amend to the petitioner after Aqua Products; the House of Representatives passes the CASE Act in a 410-6 vote; the EU invalidates the three-dimensional trademark to the Rubik’s Cube; Power Integrations settles its patent infringement litigation against ON Semiconductor; Intel files an antitrust suit against SoftBank over patent acquisition and assertion activities; Amazon.com posts its first year-over-year earnings loss in more than two years; and the Federal Circuit overturns Google’s challenge to a Philips patent on appeal from the PTAB.

Tillis and Coons Nudge DOJ to Provide Revised Joint Statement on SEPs

Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE), Chair and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, sent a letter on October 21 to U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Assistant U.S. Attorney General, Antitrust Division, Makan Delrahim, asking them to “work with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to provide guidance on remedies for infringement of standard-essential patents (SEPs) subject to fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) licensing commitments.” Tillis and Coons applauded the Department of Justice (DOJ), Antitrust Division’s decision to withdraw from the 2013 joint DOJ-U.S. Patent and Trademark Office “Policy Statement on Remedies for Standards-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments,” but expressed concerns over a “growing divide” among the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the USPTO about the role of antitrust law in policing SEPs.

This Week in Washington IP: NASA’s Moon Mission, Protecting Internet Consumers and Fintech AI Innovations

This week in the nation’s capital, subcommittees in the House of Representatives will hold a series of technology-related hearings focused on online competition in data privacy, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing in the financial sector, Internet consumer protections and NASA’s goal to speed up the return of a manned mission to the moon. The House Investigations Subcommittee will also hold a field hearing outside of D.C. exploring innovation in lead mitigation employed within the state of New Jersey. Elsewhere in D.C., the R Street Institute will discuss their theory on the national security implications of patents, the Brookings Institution will look at the impact of digital technologies on African entrepreneurship and the American Enterprise Institute hosts an event exploring the impact of globalization and robotic innovation on the workforce.

Huawei’s Patents are Not the Enemy

Here we go again! Another day, another ridiculous attack on the U.S. patent system. This time the attack comes from the R Street Institute, who claims that patents are too strong and are inhibiting American companies from achieving success in the race for leadership in the 5G marketplace and continued leadership in Artificial Intelligence (AI). R Street will hold a panel discussion on their wildly outlandish theory, for which they can’t possibly have any factual support, on Tuesday, October 15, in the Capitol Visitor Center. In the announcement they claim that patents are inhibiting American companies because Chinese telecommunications company, Huawei, asserted more than 200 patents against Verizon Communications earlier this year. Therefore—and ipso facto—patents are too strong and American companies are suffering. There may be legitimate security concerns around Huawei’s infrastructure, but to suggest that the company’s patents are at the root of these threats is in a word—Absurd!