Posts in Business

From SEP to Deal: Insights On an Often Long and Challenging Process

In this article, we’re going back to basics and discussing why our smartphones work everywhere, doing things closer to science fiction of the 1960s or 70s than anyone would have believed, as well as the role that Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) play in making this happen. We are going to examine inherent conflict between innovators and inventors that create new products and services, patent their inventions, and the implementors that leverage and deploy those inventions. Most of all, we’re going to discuss the process that converts these inventions and patents into money. A lot of money. Millions, tens of millions, and sometimes even billions of dollars. Why? Because your smartphone would be a paperweight without these innovations and patents. And soon vehicles, home appliances, production lines, meters, healthcare devices and many more industries will follow.

Creator Frustration Over TikTok Reflects System Weaknesses—Both Racial and Copyright

Millions of content creators hoping to establish a cash machine on platforms like TikTok, YouTube and Instagram are learning that it takes more than lively moves and thousands of followers to be taken seriously. They are also discovering that not all creators are created equal, even when they are the source. Content on TikTok and other social media platforms is theoretically copyrightable. In practice, however, the IP rights of social media creators today are less clear. Work generated by lesser known creators, especially if they are young and Black, is being stolen with little apparent recourse.

Navigating the Legal Cloud: How to Manage Data and Intellectual Property with Cloud Orchestration Platforms

As the way we live and work has increasingly moved into virtual environments (I like to call it a legal metaverse), the boundaries between physical, digital, and biological worlds become blurrier by the day. Sensors lie within devices installed across every aspect of our home, office and mobile environments, connected from the edge of each of your devices to networks that are both local and cloud-based (with many in a foggy place between the two). The ensuing data traffic requires massive computing power for transfer, storage, analysis, and response. The migration to automated cloud computing power has further accelerated the deployment of containers across the public, private and hybrid cloud ecosystems for the transfer, storage, analysis, and response layers. Kubernetes and Docker have emerged as ubiquitous technologies to build, deploy and manage containerized applications using automation, and investors have noticed. Understanding the key legal issues will enable more successful client relationships for both vendors and customers, and inevitably growth and value creation.

Lights, Camera, Impact: The Case for Video-Based Online Meetings in the IP Context and Beyond

In the IP field, and countless others, online or virtual meetings have become ingrained in professional life, an enabler of remote working in the age of COVID-19 and beyond. Conference platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx, Google Meet, GoToMeeting, Slack, and BlueJeans are now essential tools for collaboration within and between enterprises. It doesn’t matter if you’re a tech enthusiast, straggler, or somewhere in the middle. You’ve had to adopt the technology or be left behind. Although united as users, we don’t uniformly leverage the functionality available on conference platforms. Notably, some of us diverge in our use, or non-use, of webcams during online meetings.

The United States Must Step Up Its Support for R&D, Education

History is often defined by its most important technology, giving us eras such as the Bronze Age and the Industrial Revolution. Given their importance, the modern era may go down as the Semiconductor Age. But unless the United States begins making needed investments in this and other key technologies, the future may wind up being the Age of China. It is hard to overstate the importance of semiconductors. The most sophisticated of these computer chips help to control computers, airplanes, and even modern weapons systems. Less sophisticated versions are still critical components of our daily lives and power automobiles, TVs and home appliances. From an economic and national security standpoint, controlling our supply of semiconductors should be essential. Yet, U.S. companies have spent decades outsourcing and consolidating the manufacturing of this essential technology to other countries.         

Noncompete Agreements: Finding the Balance Between Reasonable Restraints and Free Range Talent

You may remember 2014 as the year when we all discovered a plague of noncompete agreements threatening our economy. No? Let me help you. In June that year, the New York Times published an expose of sorts relating the story of a 19-year-old summer camp counselor who couldn’t get hired by a certain camp because the year before she signed a contract with another camp that blocked her from working for any nearby competitor. Noncompete contracts, the article suggested, had previously been reserved for high level corporate executives, and suddenly (and “increasingly”) they were being foisted on rank and file employees engaged in event planning, investment management, and even yoga instruction. A follow-on piece in the Times confirmed the emerging crisis by revealing that the Jimmy John’s fast food chain had forced noncompete clauses on all its sandwich makers (acknowledging, however, that there was no evidence that the company had ever tried to enforce the contracts).

Senators Tear into Facebook and Google Reps During ‘Big Data, Big Questions’ Hearing on Competition and Privacy

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights held a hearing yesterday titled “Big Data, Big Questions: Implications for Competition and Consumers,” in which both Republican and Democratic senators pushed representatives of Facebook and Google to answer difficult questions about their platforms’ impact on everything from competitive marketplaces to teenagers’ body image. The hearing is one in a series that aims to conduct a bipartisan review of America’s competition issues, according to Subcommittee Chair, Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

IPWatchdog LIVE Panelists Weigh-In on Best Practices for a Global Trademark Presence

On the Monday of IPWatchdog LIVE, a panel of trademark experts discussed “International Trademark Rights: Best Practices for a Trademark Global Presence,” moderated by vice president of law firm strategy for Anaqua, Jayne Durden. The speakers included Mark Leonard, general counsel for the Jelly Belly Candy Company, and Heather Antoine, partner at Stubbs Alderton & Markiles and chair of the California Lawyers Association IP Section. Kicking off the discussion, Jayne Durden informed the audience that the value of brands has massively skyrocketed in recent years. For instance, the top ten brands over the last ten years, most of which include tech brands such as Apple, have grown on average four times in value, thus leading to a greater need for trademark protection. In the last quarter alone, said Durden, the filing of trademark applications has increased a whopping 49%.

Complex IP Challenges in Autonomous Vehicles

On August 16, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it had opened a probe into Tesla’s driver-assistance technologies after it identified 11 crashes since 2018 in which a Tesla vehicle had struck an emergency-response vehicle. All Tesla vehicles involved had been using the automaker’s Autopilot feature at the time of the crashes, which enables the vehicles to steer, accelerate, and brake automatically. The crashes have attracted the scrutiny of lawmakers and regulators of Autopilot and similar technologies. With increased attention being paid to AV safety, AV companies are shifting their research and development and IP strategies toward technologies designed to address consumers’ real-world safety concerns.

Building High-Quality Patent Portfolios in the United States and Europe: Part III – Examiner Interviews

In Part I of this series we discussed how patent portfolio managers should be careful when generating company-owned prior art or reviewing competitor prior art, and how a patent litigation or licensing campaign can be significantly hamstrung based on how the United States and Europe consider intervening prior art. In Part II, we examined software patents with U.S. and European Patent (EP) family members. Part III builds on Parts I and II and focuses on the value of examiner interviews in the U.S. and Europe.

The Market For IP-Based Financial Offerings Is Finally Maturing

Intangibles, and particularly intellectual property, are curious assets. By some estimates, intangibles comprise a large overall percentage of the S&P 500’s total value. Yet – as most IP-rich companies know – leveraging the value of intellectual property to secure a financing has traditionally been very hard to do. Yes, the litigation finance industry offers capital to intellectual property owners who need to finance the tremendous expense of intellectual property enforcement litigation. And yes, some litigation finance deals provide for operating expenses. But many IP-rich companies have financing needs that do not center around litigation or jive with the litigation finance industry’s cost of capital.

Building High-Quality Patent Portfolios in the United States and Europe: Part II – Software Patents

In Part I of this series, we discussed how patent portfolio managers should be careful when generating company-owned prior art or reviewing competitor prior art, and how a patent litigation or licensing campaign can be significantly hamstrung based on how the United States and Europe consider intervening prior art. In Part II, we will focus on software patents with U.S. and EP family members. The number of software related patent applications that are filed at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and European Patent Office (EPO) continues to increase despite heightened scrutiny during examination. Further, U.S. courts and national courts in Europe continue to critically analyze the eligibility of software patents.

Thomas Edison and the Consumer Welfare Benefits of Patent Enforcement

Would you believe the following scenario could happen under our patent system? An inventor of a fundamental technology receives a patent less than three months after filing; despite the public disclosure of the patent, industry contemporaries fail to appreciate the invention’s significance for nearly two years; once appreciated, widespread adoption and infringement of the patent ensues. Commanding 50% market share in unit sales of the patented product, the patent holder prevails in patent infringement suits obtaining court injunctions against all major rivals and maintaining a strict no-licensing policy. What happens next during the patent enforcement period would defy all conventional anti-patent narratives:

What Recent Case Law Tells Us About the Importance of Consumer Surveys in Trademark Cases

On August 3, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida ruled against plaintiff Vital Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s claim of trade dress infringement against defendant Monster Energy Co. due in part to plaintiff’s failure to demonstrate secondary meaning or likelihood of confusion. On June 7, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted defendant lululemon’s motion for summary judgment regarding allegations of trademark infringement, basing its decision in part on plaintiff’s failure to show likelihood of confusion. Similarly, in May 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled against plaintiff Christophe Roberts’ request for preliminary injunction against defendant Puma’s alleged trademark infringement due in part to his inability to show consumer confusion. In each of these opinions, the court noted the absence of survey evidence (or, in the Vital Pharmaceuticals case, the inadequacy of an “almost comically flawed” survey). These recent rulings underscore the increasingly important role well-designed surveys play in courts’ consideration of evidence of consumer confusion and/or secondary meaning in trademark and trade dress cases.

INTA Brief to CJEU Says Locally Significant Unregistered Trade Names Can Co-Exist with Later Registered National Trademarks

The International Trademark Association (INTA) last week submitted an amicus brief to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) providing its input on the topic of whether earlier unregistered rights of local significance, like trade names, can coexist with later registered national trademarks. The case was referred by the Dutch Supreme Court.