Posts in Holiday Posts

Top USPTO Developments of 2020—and What to Expect in 2021

Novel and non-obvious can be easily used to describe the events of 2020, both here in the United States and around the world. Despite all the challenges, there have been positive developments in the way we conduct business—and that certainly was true at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Below we recap some of the most significant developments at the USPTO in 2020 and topics to keep an eye on in 2021.

Federal Circuit Reflections, 2020: The Good and (Mostly) Bad

If you’re looking for some positive patent news from 2020, count the heightened civic awareness of our intellectual-property/innovation policies, as a result of the global pandemic, as a silver lining. But our present task is to report on the 2020 highlights from the Federal Circuit; unfortunately, it’s all downhill from here. If 2019 had Section 101 law as its defining issue, given the Federal Circuit and
Supreme Court’s slate of rulings and non-rulings, 2020 only seemed to make the Section101 exclusions even broader. The capstone was AAM, Inc. v. Neapco Holdings LLC, 966 F.3d 1347 (Fed. Cir. 2020), the Federal Circuit’s denial of en-banc consideration (again) of Section 101 rulings that, all judicial protests aside, seemed to plainly expand a reviewing court’s power under Section 101 (again). And in ways many would’ve thought unimaginable just six-to-eight years ago, when Mayo-Alice emerged from the Supreme Court with only “inventive-concept” tests ringing about. Neapco’s panel ruling in the fall of 2019 was the proverbial shot across the Section112 bow.

What Mattered in 2020? Industry Experts Have Their Say on This Year’s Biggest Moments in IP

As we get ready to usher in the new year this week (hopefully in smaller groups than usual), it is once again time to look back on the year behind us and to reflect on the biggest moments and key events in the world of intellectual property from 2020. As in years past, we asked a panel of industry experts…

More Iconic (and Patented) Toys and Games: A 2020 Update

It’s Christmastime yet again and we return to a holiday feature made popular in recent years by IPWatchdog Founder Gene Quinn: a roundup of patents covering the most iconic toys and games ever created. Past lists have featured such classics as Mr. Potato Head, Monopoly, Legos, Simon, the Game Boy and much more. This year, we provide an addendum to this list with a series of 10 additions. Many a child around the world has woken up on Christmas morning to tear the wrapping paper off of a box containing one of the following toys or games, regardless if parents were worried about kids shooting their eyes out or the unusual, sometimes creepy, mood swings of small animatronic owls.

Presents for Patent Attorneys!

Christmastime is here again, and IPWatchdog is back with the 2020 edition of our Christmas list for patent attorneys. If you have a patent attorney in your life and you have no clue what to get them, the following options should provide you with a few good ideas for gifts—from smaller stocking stuffers to very practical gifts that will show your patent attorney that you’re serious about helping them succeed in their professional life. Merry Christmas!

Europe’s Top Five (Non-Patent) IP Developments of 2020

In a previous piece, we covered the top five patent developments of the year in Europe. Here, we review some of the key cases and legislation that shaped 2020 in other areas of IP, including trademarks, copyright, design and legislative actions. At number one, in its judgment in Sky v SkyKick (Case C-371/18) in January, the CJEU said that an EU trademark cannot be invalidated for lack of clarity and precision, and provided guidance on what constitutes bad faith. The decision reassured owners of trademarks in Europe, who had feared that many marks would be invalidated if the Advocate General’s Opinion were followed.

Looking Back at the Highest Impact Trademark Cases of 2020

This year saw its fair share of high profile trademark cases: the Second Circuit vacated Tiffany & Co.’s $25 million summary judgment win against Costco Wholesale Corp. in a dispute over Costco’s use of the word “Tiffany” to identify a specific type of six-prong diamond ring setting in Tiffany and Co. v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 971 F.3d 74 (2d Cir. 2020);* the District Court for the Southern District of New York held that the First Amendment protects the use of Humvees in the acclaimed video game Call of Duty from claims of trademark infringement and dilution, and unfair competition in AM General LLC v. Activision Blizzard, Inc., 450 F. Supp. 3d 467 (S.D.N.Y. 2020).; and the District Court for the Western District of Texas refused to grant a “Brizzy” hard seltzer brand a preliminary injunction against Molson Coors over a competing “Vizzy” product because both names were based on the common descriptive term fizzy in Future Proof Brands, LLC v. Molson Coors Beverage, 2020 WL 3578327 (W.D. Tex. Mar. 24, 2020), aff’d, 2020 WL 7064607 (5th Cir. Dec. 3, 2020). But among all of the cases, a select few stand out as ones that have shaped trademark law and are already having an impact that may last for years to come.

How the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic Changed IP Practice

Greek philosopher Heraclitus is credited with saying “the only thing that is constant is change.”  In 2020, life for everyone changed, including for those in the intellectual property (IP) sphere. There were changes at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), in IP litigation, client activities and business development. Looking into the crystal ball, we believe some of those changes are here for good, while others are not.

The Top Five European Patent Developments of 2020

It’s the time of year to reflect upon the cases and trends that have shaped IP over the past 12 months. Here are our picks for the top five in patents from Europe. First, it’s been a year of ups and downs for the EU’s attempt to create a Unitary Project and Unified Patent Court. (UPC) In March, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court said that the Act of Approval of the UPC Agreement in the country was void as not enough members were present at the vote. Following the UK government’s decision that it would withdraw from the project, the Court’s decision was seen as potentially a terminal blow.

Take Heed: Lessons from the Top Trade Secret Cases of 2020

One of the uniquely fascinating aspects of trade secret disputes is that they are laced with unbridled emotions, accusations of treachery, and actors who angrily disagree over basic facts. In other words, they provide a perfect metaphor for the year 2020. Let’s take a look back at the cases this year that are worthy of comment, either because they involved some unusual set of facts or because they provide useful guidance for behaving better in 2021.

We Made it to November: The IP Community Gives Thanks in a Year Like No Other

It began typically enough: the Supreme Court denied cert in Athena, Chargepoint and Trading Technologies; Brexit finally happened; the Federal Circuit refused to rehear Arthrex; and the IP community was waiting for important rulings in copyright cases like Google v. Oracle and trademark cases like Booking.com. But then came COVID. Courts and offices shut down, the USPTO went almost 100% remote, and all conferences and events were cancelled into 2021. At the same time, pharmaceuticals, vaccines – and the IP around them – became the only thing on anyone’s mind.

This Halloween: Dress Up Your Pet with Patents

This Halloween will be different. Depending where you are, trick or treating may be ill-advised or prohibited. So why not dress up your pet and take pictures from the safety of your own home? Here are a few patented pet costumes from the USPTO database to give you some ideas ­­­– your dog will not thank you, but why should 2020 be any better for him than the rest of us?

Sixth Annual Firecracker 25: My Best Songs of All Time

I’m honored to participate in IPWatchdog’s annual Fourth of July tradition in which we publish readers’ and staff picks for the “Top 25 songs of all time.”  Previous top 25 lists have been written by Gene Quinn,  Bruce Kisliuk,  Russell Slifer, Kent Richardson, and Eileen McDermott. Initially, I thought this would be a fun and easy task, but I quickly realized that, while fun, it would not be easy. A person’s choice in music is incredibly revealing and gives a unique glimpse into their personality. During my selection process I observed some distinct patterns in my choices of music based on my place in life and current mindset.

Ten Years From Bilski: The Beginning of the End, with No Improvement in Sight

Ten years ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down what at the time was one of the most important patent decisions in decades. It signaled a new era in patent law—not least of all because Bilski seemed to jumpstart the Supremes’ interest in patent cases. On this milestone anniversary, it’s worth reminding ourselves how we ended up where we are today. In the years since Bilski, the Court has decided Mayo v. Prometheus, Myriad and Alice. If the decision in State Street can be said to have marked the onset of a golden era in the patentability of software and business method patents, the decision in Bilski marked the beginning of the end, and Alice was its death knell, with its introduction of a two-step test for eligibility. Indeed, the unpredictability of application of 101 extends throughout all practice areas.

Other Barks & Bites for Friday, May 22: Copyright Office Issues Section 512 Safe Harbor Report, CAFC Denies Review of PTAB Institution Decision and Director Iancu on Possible Filing Deadline Extension

This week in Other Barks & Bites: the Copyright Office issues its report on the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA codified in Section 512 of U.S. copyright law; the Federal Circuit issues decisions reversing a lower court on patent invalidity for lack of enablement and denying review of PTAB institution decisions; the Eleventh Circuit revives copyright and trade secret claims filed by Compulife; online sales boost during COVID-19 pandemic leads to strong quarterly earnings report for Alibaba; Apple and Cisco each win multi-million attorney’s fees awards against Straight Path IP Group; China’s IP office reports a rebound in patent application filings since the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic; and Reps. Veasey and Wright introduce a bill to prevent airport funds from being spent on IP-infringing manufacturers.