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Billion Dollar Code Brings to Life the Nasty Patent Battle Over Google Earth

A new crime drama, The Billion Dollar Code, is a fascinating breakthrough mini-series that illustrates the legal challenges of inventions and inventors in a world where technology giants can refuse to acknowledge the source of ideas they do not control. The popular four-part Netflix mini-series achieves uncanny success not only in depicting an epic legal battle but doing it over four plus hours in German with subtitles and an abundance of algorithm detail and trial preparation. It is reminiscent of Chernobyl, HBO’s award-winning series that turned the complex series of events and failures, both technical and human, leading to a nuclear core meltdown into award-winning entertainment.

Return of the ‘Hold-Up’ Bogeyman: Analyzing the 2021 Draft Policy Statement on SEPs Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments (Part III)

In Part II of this series, we considered the language of a specific licensing commitment made to European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the prevailing law relating thereto. In this Part III, we consider the 2021 Draft Policy Statement with a particular view to highlighting its inconsistencies with the ETSI framework and the inapplicability of the hold-up narrative to the situation involving an individual United States patent. Despite its purported purpose of providing the agencies’ views on “remedies for the infringement of standards-essential patents (or SEPs) that are subject to a RAND and/or F/RAND licensing commitment”, the 2021 Draft Policy Statement does not take a clear position on this issue, instead merely stating the following (some might say “the obvious”):

D.C. Court Says FTC’s Antitrust Claim Against Facebook Can Proceed

On Tuesday, January 11, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia denied Facebook’s motion to dismiss a complaint brought against it by the U.S.  Federal Trade Commission (FTC), holding that the FTC had stated a plausible claim for relief under Section 2 of the Sherman Act. The FTC filed a complaint on December 9, 2020, asserting one count of monopoly maintenance under Section 2 of the Sherman Act. Facebook moved to dismiss both this case, and a related state case. The district court dismissed the Commission’s complaint but granted the FTC the opportunity to amend. Following a leadership change from when the complaint was initially filed, the FTC filed an amended complaint in August of 2021. L

One is the Loneliest Number: Analyzing the 2021 Draft Policy Statement on SEPs Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments (Part II)

In Part I of this series of articles, we provided an overview of the 2013 and 2019 policy statements that preceded the 2021 Draft Policy Statement. In this Part II, we consider the language of a specific licensing commitment made to European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), and various legal pronouncements that have been made in relation thereto.

Patent Licensing is a Risky Business: Let the Market Strike the Balance

Patent licensing and technology transfer are cornerstones of modern economies, where the efficiencies of collaboration and division of labor do not require firms to be vertically integrated. The Wright brothers did not build commercial aviation, and yet commercial aviation was born thanks to the Wright brothers’ invention. Similarly, a car manufacturer can simply rely on communication technologies developed by telecom experts outside the automotive ecosystem to guarantee connectivity to its fleet and the corresponding massive economic benefits. This short article focuses on how risk – in the economic and legal sense – changes over time, and what this implies for patent licensing dynamics. Licensing negotiations are not static snapshots in time, they often evolve and change according to developing circumstances, case law, parties’ conduct, and many other factors.

New IP Monetization Models Will Rely Less on Litigation in 2022

From the perspective of the Intangible Investor, 2022 will be a year of new opportunities and transitional growth. IP business models will evolve, and risk and return calculations will become more reliable. In the decade since the America Invents Act (AIA) was enacted, patent licensing challenges have increased for many technology companies and independent inventors. The neutering of software, e-commerce and algorithm patents are at least partly responsible but, amazingly, software-related patents represent almost two-thirds of U.S. grants for the first half of 2021.

mRNA IP and Competitive Landscape: 2021 in Review – Part I, Update on Moderna, BioNTech, and CureVac

In April of this year, we provided a three-part series relating to the IP and Competitive Landscape for the mRNA market. In this post (Part I), we provide a 2021 year in review update on mRNA pioneers Moderna, BioNTech and CureVac, and in Part II, we profile Sanofi and other companies in the mRNA space and offer additional conclusions and outlook for 2022 and beyond.

Collaborative Patenting: The Future of IP and Innovation

Collaboration has invariably helped people to maneuver the most significant challenges and hurdles. Like all other human accomplishments, technology players have collaborated and enforced methodologies to avert any obstacles faced while creating innovation-driven sustainable businesses, to enable technology-driven societies. While innovation can be both an individual and collective endeavor, shaping the final consumer product/service demands collaborative innovation and coordinated policies and frameworks. 

Machine Learning Models and the Legal Need for Editability: Surveying the Pitfalls (Part II)

In Part I of this series, we discussed the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) case against Everalbum as just one example where companies may be required to remove data from their machine learning models (or shut down if unable to do so). Following are some additional pitfalls to note. A. Evolving privacy and data usage restrictions Legislators at the international, federal,…

What You Need to Know About Trade Secrets in 2021

Last year at this time we thought we had been through the worst of it and, with the new vaccines arriving, that life would return to normal in 2021. Hahaha, how naïve we were! But take heart; some things hold steady through the storm, such as the popular sport of trade secret litigation. Unlike most patent and copyright cases, every dispute is guaranteed to unfold as a morality play—a story of good guys and bad guys. Let’s now look back on the year when remote work dug in to become a permanent fixture, and remind ourselves of the broad sweep of trade secret law by looking at some of the more instructive and interesting opinions issued by the courts – and one inexplicable decision by our government.

As Policymakers Say They Want to Rein in Big Tech, Others Seek to Give It Even More Power

Over the past several years, Congress has raised a long overdue microscope to Big Tech and its worst practices and as a result, the relationship between Washington, DC and Silicon Valley has changed tremendously. Rather than being feted by policymakers, Big Tech is now being forced to answer tough questions. Elected officials are now more aware of Big Tech’s reach and impact on our elections, security, and data collection – and they are not liking what they see.  These companies have intruded on nearly every aspect of American lives and have avoided any responsibility or accountability.

When Your Trademark Licensor is in Financial Distress

Your company and its business have been built around the strength of a trademark license from a third-party licensor. You have invested heavily in the brand. Now, however, your trademark licensor is in financial distress. Bankruptcy is not beyond the realm of possibility. Perhaps the licensor has asked to renegotiate the terms of the trademark license or threatened to terminate the license once a chapter 11 bankruptcy case is filed. What are the respective rights of the distressed trademark licensor and your company, as trademark licensee, in this situation? Is your company at risk of losing everything invested in reliance on the license?

Good Sports: Cleveland MLB and Roller Derby Teams Share GUARDIANS Name

The MLB baseball team formerly known as the Cleveland Indians has a new name that pays homage to the history of Cleveland. The team last rebranded in 1915, when it left behind its former name, the “Naps” (short for “Napoleons”) in favor of the “Indians.” Now, over a century later, the team has joined other sports franchises in retiring Native American names, mascots, and imagery imbued with negative and racist connotations. With the help of actor and Cleveland Indians fan Tom Hanks, the baseball team announced on July 23, 2021 that it would adopt a new name: the Cleveland Guardians.

Mechanisms, Governance, and Policy Impact of SEP Determination Approaches

Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) are on the rise; the number of newly declared patents per year has almost tripled over the past five years. There were 17,623 new declared patent families in 2020, compared to 6,457 in 2015 (see Figure 1). The 5G standard alone counts over 150,000 declared patents since 2015. Similarly, litigation around SEPs has increased. One of the driving factors of recent patent litigation is the shift in connectivity standards (eg, 4G/5G, Wi-Fi) that in the past were mostly used in computers, smartphones and tablets, but are now increasingly implemented in connected vehicles, smart homes, smart factories, smart energy and healthcare applications. Another reason why litigation may rise further is the belief that large SEP owners such as Huawei, ZTE or LG Electronics may soon sell parts of their SEP portfolios, which may likely end up in the hands of patent assertion entities (PAEs). One way or another, it is anticipated that the majority of patent holders will actively monetize their SEPs covering standards such as 5G, Wi-Fi 6 or VVC in this fast-moving, high-investment environment. Any company adopting these standards must decrease operational risk and expense exposure by taking a proactive strategy towards SEPs rather than a reactive one.

Now More Than Ever, IP Practitioners Need to Be Better Business Partners

If you’ve worked in-house, you’ve probably been told at some point to “do more with less.” Initially a response to the Great Recession, business scrutiny over legal budgets persists: according to a recent survey of general counsels performed by EY and Harvard Law, GCs expect 25% greater workloads in the next three years while 88% of them plan simultaneous budget cuts. At the same time, research also shows that legal productivity is stagnating. Eighty-one percent of GCs surveyed by Gartner reported legal cost as a percent of company revenue increased or stayed the same during the past two years. These trends obviously put practitioners in a tough spot: how do you deliver on your value proposition while workloads are increasing, resources are constrained, and productivity is stagnating?