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In Written Responses to Senators’ Questions, Vidal Supports Iancu’s 101 Guidance ‘In Principle’

In written answers to Senators’ questions for the record submitted today by Kathi Vidal, President Joe Biden’s nominee for the next U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director, Vidal said that she “support[s] the principle of” former USPTO Director Andrei Iancu’s Patent Eligibility Guidance for examiners, but stopped short of wholly endorsing the present guidance or committing to keeping it in place. Instead, Vidal said she would review the guidance in light of intervening case law and comments on the USPTO’s study on the state of patent eligibility jurisprudence to determine if updates are needed.   

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.

USPTO Imposes Sanctions on Flagrant Fraudulent Filer

On Friday, December 10, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued a “Show Cause Order” imposing sanctions against Huanyee Intellectual Property Co., Ltd. and its Executive Director, Yusha Zhang, for violations of the USPTO’s trademark rules of practice relating to improper trademark submissions. The 198-page Order, comprised mostly of an exhibit listing all of the company’s trademark filings, indicates that the Respondents named in the Order “have filed more than 15,000 trademark matters before the USPTO” and “engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, provided false domicile information for applicants, impermissibly entered the signature of the named signatory on declarations and verifications, and violated other USPTO Rules and the USPTO’s website terms of use.”

The USPTO Must Allow Director’s Review of PTAB Decisions on Institution of AIA Trials

Since the Supreme Court decision in United States v. Arthrex, Inc., 141 S. Ct. 1970 (2021), there has been much discussion about the Court’s ruling mandating an option for users to request that the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) review Final Written Decisions of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) rendered in trials under the America Invents Act (AIA) on the validity of issued patents. But there has been little or no discussion on such Director’s review of PTAB decisions on institution of AIA trials.

This Week in Washington IP: Accelerating COVID-19 Vaccinations Globally, The Impact of Monopolies on American Innovation, and Compensating Creators in Today’s Content Ecosystem

This week in Washington IP news, both houses of Congress are slowing down prior to the Christmas holiday, but Senate committees will hold hearings on the potential adoption of stablecoins into the U.S. financial system, as well as the impact of consolidation and monopolies on American innovation. In the House, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis will debate ways to accelerate global vaccination rates. Elsewhere, the Hudson Institute hosts an event exploring new avenues for compensating copyright owners in the new content ecosystem, while the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation will explore evidence of China’s broken promises on economic policy during its two decades as a member of the World Trade Organization.

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.

Warhol Foundation Tells SCOTUS Second Circuit’s Fair Use Ruling ‘Threatens a Sea-Change’ in Copyright Law

The Andy Warhol Foundation has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to review a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit holding  that Andy Warhol’s Prince Series did not constitute fair use of Lynn Goldsmith’s photograph. The Second Circuit held in March that “the district court erred in its assessment and application of the fair-use factors and the works in question do not qualify as fair use.” The Court of Appeals further concluded that the Prince Series works were substantially similar to the Goldsmith Photograph “as a matter of law.” The Supreme Court petition argues that “the Second Circuit’s decision…creates a circuit split and casts a cloud of legal uncertainty over an entire genre of visual art.”

Patent Trends in Stem Cell, Robot and Edge Computing Technologies

Previously, I’ve written about patent trends for the emerging technologies of deep learning, blockchain, and quantum computing. This article shifts the focus to the realms of biology (“stem cells”), machinery (“robot”), and then back to computing, and specifically to a topic suggested by a reader (with the handle “Primary Examiner”), “edge computing.” In each instance, the bar chart tells the same story.

Other Barks & Bites for Friday, December 10: Warhol Foundation Files SCOTUS Petition on Transformative Fair Use Ruling, China Receives 815,000 Irregular Patent Applications During 2021, and Senators Introduce Social Media Transparency Bill

This week in Other Barks & Bites: a recent GAO report makes several recommendations designed to improve the Department of Defense’s lack of expertise in IP valuation and licensing; The U.S. Copyright Office is studying and requesting comment on a proposal to defer registration examination; a bipartisan group of Senators introduce a new bill that would require social media companies to provide data to NSF-vetted independent researchers; Toyota Motor announces that it will shutdown production at two Japanese facilities due to labor and supply chain issues; the Warhol Foundation files a petition for cert to appeal the Second Circuit’s ruling that Andy Warhol’s Prince series was not a transformative fair use of the original photograph; the Supreme Court denies a petition for cert asking the Court to answer whether the foreign doctrine of equivalents applies to terms that are generic in other English-speaking countries; the Federal Circuit reverses an infringement verdict in favor of AstraZeneca over Judge Taranto’s dissent that the majority improperly construed a claimed percentage of excipient used in an asthma treatment; and China’s IP administration announces that it has received 815,000 irregular patent applications during 2021, the vast majority of which have been struck upon review.

Patent Filings Roundup: Cal Tech Sues Samsung After $1 Billion Apple Verdict; Joao Entity Sues UT’s Health System; Intel Loses Six Against Bill Chu’s Acqis LLC

Another 82 district court terminations this week was again high, though careful analysis has revealed that many of those cases were terminated voluntarily and refiled elsewhere. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) saw just 22 inter partes reviews (IPRs) this week; a few parties walked away from their patents, including Litl LLC [TRI Ventures, Inc.], after a challenge by Microsoft. District court was up this week to 94 patent filings, and the year looks poised to end with filings up substantially over years past. The Board again exercised its Fintiv muscles in an IPR with a case pending in the International Trade Commission (ITC), this one an entity funded by Techquity Captial Management. Other semiconductor patents asserted by NPEs went down on Final Written Decision in IPR, including one of the patents asserted by Vector Capital’s Monterey Research; it’s worth noting that the semiconductor companies have collectively spent a lot of time before the Board this year after the increase in NPE suits there this year.

One Thumb Up for the New Draft Administration Statement on FRAND Licensing

On December 6, the Department of Justice – Antitrust Division (DOJ), U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) issued for public comment a “draft revised statement on remedies for the infringement of standards-essential patents (or SEPs) that are subject to a RAND or F/RAND licensing commitment, which also provides guidance on what demonstrates good-faith negotiation in this context.” The 2021 SEP Licensing Draft Statement responds to President Biden’s Executive Order on Competition, which called on the agencies to review the 2019 Trump Administration Statement dealing with SEP infringement remedies. The 2019 Statement in turn excised the anti-IP language from a 2013 Obama Administration Statement on this topic.

CAFC Vacates Infringement Ruling Against Mylan Pharmaceuticals Over Improper Claim Construction

On December 8, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), in a precedential decision authored by Judge Stoll, vacated a  judgment of infringement against Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. and affirmed the nonobvious determination of the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. While the Federal Circuit disagreed with the district court’s claim construction on which the infringement judgment was based, it found no clear error in the district court’s conclusion that the prior art taught away from the claimed invention. Judge Taranto partially dissented from the majority’s judgment on claim construction/ infringement. The decision relates to AstraZeneca AB’s and AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP’s (collectively “AstraZeneca”) lawsuit against Mylan and Kindeva Drug Delivery LP (collectively “Mylan”) for infringing all claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,759,328; 8,143,239; and 8,575,137 (collectively “asserted patents”).

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?

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Cellspin Soft Challenges Denials of USPTO Director Review Under Arthrex and APA

Last week, patent owner Cellspin Soft filed a citation of supplemental authorities  with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) asking the appellate court to either vacate or reverse an order from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) denying Director review following a pair of inter partes review (IPR) proceedings conducted at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Cellspin Soft is challenging the USPTO’s denial as invalid both under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), as well as under the U.S. Supreme Court’s precedent in United States v. Arthrex (2021). Cellspin had filed requests seeking Director review of a pair of final written decisions invalidating all challenged claims of U.S. Patent No. 9258698, Automatic Media Upload for Publishing Data and Multimedia Content. It claims a machine-implemented method of media transfer utilizing a digital data capture device and a Bluetooth-enabled mobile device for publishing multimedia content automatically onto a website with minimal user intervention. Issued to Cellspin Soft in February 2016, the ‘698 patent has been asserted in infringement suits filed in U.S. district courts against several defendants including Panasonic, GoPro, Garmin, Nikon, Canon and Eastman Kodak.