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Posts in IP News

This Week in Washington IP: America’s Sputnik Moment with China, Promoting Secure Transatlantic Supply Chains for Critical Tech, and the Energy Impacts of Crypto Mining

This week in Washington IP news, several committee hearings in the House of Representatives will focus on major tech issues. The House Oversight Committee on Thursday explores the energy impacts of cryptocurrency mining, while on Wednesday afternoon the House Europe Subcommittee will discuss ways to improve resiliency in transatlantic supply chains for critical technologies. Elsewhere, the Center for Strategic & International Studies will welcome former USPTO Director Andrei Iancu for a discussion regarding whether America’s tech policy is forcing the nation into another Sputnik moment in the race against China to build a strong domestic semiconductor industry.

Property Rights Groups Urge Garland and Kanter to Withdraw ‘Misguided’ Policy Statement on SEPs Subject to FRAND

On January 12, a coalition of 28 property rights groups signed a letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Jonathan Kanter asking those officials to reconsider and withdraw a draft policy statement issued in early December regarding licensing negotiations and remedies for standard-essential patents (SEPs) subject to voluntary fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) commitments. According to the coalition, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) statement will only serve to bolster the fortunes of China, the major economic rival to the United States, by allowing Chinese tech implementers to infringe SEPs without respect to the rights of U.S. innovators.

Spotify Successfully Opposes Two Marijuana-Related Trademark Applications

On January 11, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) issued a precedential decision finding dilution by blurring and sustaining two oppositions filed by Spotify AB against two marijuana-related trademark applications. Applicant U.S. Software Inc. filed trademark applications for POTIFY in standard characters, and stylized with a design on July 17, 2017, and May 2, 2018, respectively. These applications sought to register POTIFY for: “downloadable software for use in searching, creating and making compilations, rankings, ratings, reviews, referrals and recommendations relating to medical marijuana dispensaries and doctor’s offices and displaying and sharing a user’s location and finding, locating, and interacting with other users and place, in International Class 9.”

CAFC Nixes District Court Claim Construction in Win for Firearms Patent Owner

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Friday ruled that a California district court erred in its claim construction relating to Evolusion Concepts, Inc.’s patent for a method of converting a semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine to one with a fixed magazine. The CAFC reversed the court’s grant of summary judgment of non-infringement for Juggernaut Tactical, Inc., reversed a denial of summary judgment of direct infringement, vacated the award of attorneys’ fees and remanded for further proceedings.

Other Barks & Bites for Friday, January 14: Property Rights Groups Oppose SEP Draft Policy Statement, PTAB POP Issues Ruling on Wire Transfer of IPR Filing Fee, and SCOTUS Denies Appeal in Breach of Royalty Agreement Case

This week in Other Barks & Bites: Nominees Kathi Vidal and Judge Leonard Stark clear the Senate Judiciary Committee; PTAB Precedential Opinion Panel says Fedwire confirmation constitutes payment for purpose of inter partes review (IPR) filing date; IFI CLAIMS reports show that IBM leads U.S. patent grants and Samsung leads global patent ownership; the Fifth Circuit affirms a bankruptcy court’s approval of the sale of a cargo vessel incorporating patented technology; the Supreme Court denies certiorari to Warsaw Orthopedic’s appeal of a ruling that it breached an agreement to pay patent royalties; Alan Davidson is confirmed as head of the NTIA to direct $48.2 billion broadband infrastructure investment; a coalition of 28 property rights groups oppose the recent draft policy statement on negotiation FRAND licensing terms for SEPs; and more.

INTA Weighs in at CJEU on EU Parallel Imports Case

The International Trademark Association (INTA) has made an amicus submission before the EU Court of Justice (CJEU) in a case concerning parallel imports and EU trademark law. (Case C-175/21 Harman International Industries, Inc. v. AB SA.) In the case at hand, Harman, which makes audiovisual equipment, brought trademark infringement proceedings in Poland against AB, a distributor. AB had put on the market goods featuring Harman’s trademarks, which it had obtained from a third party. Europe operates a system of regional exhaustion, as set out in Article 15(1) of the EUTM Regulation, and in parallel imports cases national courts have referred to “goods which have not been put on the market within the European Economic Area (EEA) by the right holder or with his consent.” (Gender-neutral language has not yet become established in EU jurisprudence). In this case, Harman argued that the goods had been imported into Poland and had not been put on the market within the EEA by Harman or with its consent. AB claimed it had received assurances when it bought the goods that the trademark rights were exhausted.

Senate Judiciary Committee Sends Vidal and Stark Nominations to Senate Floor

Today, the full Senate Judiciary Committee officially voted to confirm the nomination of Katherine Vidal by a vote of 17-5 for Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The Committee also voted 16-6 in favor of Judge Leonard Stark, President Biden’s nominee to replace U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Judge Kathleen O’Malley, who announced on July 27, 2021, that she will retire, leaving a vacancy on the court as of March 11, 2022. The hearing was originally scheduled to take place last week, but was postponed to allow members of the committee to attend the funeral of former Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) on January 6.

Patent Filings Roundup: New Litigation-Funded Campaign; PTAB Denies Under NHK-Fintiv Despite Sotera(ish) Stipulation

Apologies for missing last week, which was a light, short holiday recap—nothing much of note beyond less-than-average filings, given the holidays. This week was back to the new normal at the Board, with 24 petitions—one post grant review (PGR) and 23 inter partes reviews (IPRs)—and 50 new filings, with fewer than usual file-and-settle suits (as it’s the beginning of a quarter, year, and month). Another unusually high 92 terminations are mostly due to the end of file-and-settle suits from last year. A few new campaigns of note below, more discretionary denials, and a bunch of IPR denials filed against a German microbattery company round out the week.

mRNA IP and Competitive Landscape: 2021 in Review – Part II, Sanofi, Startups, Conclusions and Outlook

This article, originally published on 12/27/2021, was updated on 1/12/2022 and republished on 1/13/2022 to include information that was omitted in error, beginning after “Conclusions and Outlook”.

In Part I of this post, we provided an update on three lead pioneers in the mRNA IP space, Moderna, BioNTech and CureVac. In this post we profile Sanofi, Arcturus, eTheRNA and other mRNA companies and offer conclusions. Sanofi (NASDAQ: SNY), headquartered in Paris, FR, acquired mRNA pioneer Translate Bio in September 2021 for approximately $3.2 billion and mRNA startup Tidal Therapeutics in April 2021 for approximately $470 million. With its acquisition of Translate alone, Sanofi obtained an mRNA pipeline of nine candidates (two in the clinic), hundreds of patents, and undoubtedly valuable mRNA-based technical and regulatory know-how.

SCOTUS, Vaccine Mandates and Patent Law: God Help Us

Is the Supreme Court competent to handle issues dealing with technology? The question is often discussed in private among patent attorneys who find themselves completely befuddled by the wanton disregard and open duplicitous handling of patent laws by the Nation’s High Court. In one decision, the Supreme Court will wax poetically about the need to adhere to precedent, and citing stare decisis, and then overrule well-established, 30-year-old Supreme Court precedent. The whim and fancy – and intellectual dishonesty – of the Supreme Court knows no bounds when it comes to patent law. But now, just how little at least some of the Justices know about basic science – and logic — has become glaringly and unmistakably obvious to everyone, thanks to the recent oral argument held regarding vaccine mandates.

Iancu and Kappos: TRIPS IP Waiver Proposal Will Kill More People Than It Saves

A webinar hosted on Tuesday, January 12, by The Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project featured former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Directors Andrei Iancu and David Kappos, as well as Duke University Professor of Law and former USPTO Administrator of the Office of External Affairs Arti Rai, discussing the proposal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive IP rights under the Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement for certain COVID-19 technologies. While all three panelists agreed that the IP waiver discussion has become a distraction that will not solve the fundamental problems, Iancu and Kappos were especially passionate that the precedent set by the U.S. government’s decision to back the proposal could do very real harm, rather than good.

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.

IFI CLAIMS Rankings Show Increasing Role of Chinese Entities in U.S., Global Patent Ownership

Today, patent data analytics firm IFI CLAIMS released its annual report of the top U.S. patent recipients and active patent family owners, providing the IP world with a look at the patent ownership landscape that developed throughout the course of 2021. For yet another year, information technology R&D giant International Business Machines (IBM) earned the top spot among entities obtaining patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), while South Korean tech conglomerate Samsung Electronics enjoys the largest portfolio of global active patent families.

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.

High Court Asks U.S. Government for Input on Petition Accusing CAFC of Violating Seventh Amendment

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday asked the Solicitor General of the United States to weigh in on a petition for writ of certiorari that claims the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) is depriving litigants of their right to trial by jury under the Seventh Amendment. The petition, filed in September by Olaf Sööt Design, LLC (OSD), asks the Court to take up the following question: “Whether the Seventh Amendment allows the Federal Circuit to reverse a jury verdict based on a sua sponte new claim construction of a term the district court concluded was not a term of art and construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning; where the Federal Circuit’s sua sponte claim construction essentially recasts a specific infringement factual question, previously decided by the jury, as a claim construction issue, to be decided de novo by the appellate court.”