Posts Tagged: "Guest Contributor"

Marketing With the Stars of March: NCAA Athletes and the New ‘NIL’ Policy

Name, Image, and Likeness, or “NIL,” is the buzz word spinning around college athletics. In July 2021, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) adopted its Interim NIL Policy (“the Policy”) which allows, for the first time, student athletes to monetize their NIL rights without losing scholarships or eligibility. Fans love college sports and cheering on athletes who play for their alma mater or favorite school teams, which creates collaboration opportunities for athletes and brands alike. In an attempt to connect their products and services with college athletes—who are the face of a billion-dollar industry—brands are jumping on the college-athlete bandwagon.

Government-Forced Technology Transfer Is Almost Always Wrong

What does the invasion of Ukraine have to do with COVID-19? Would you believe intellectual property is the link? Stay with me on this; it’s an interesting story. Recently, it was confirmed that the Main Intelligence Department of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine – apparently with some help from volunteer hackers – managed to breach the network of Russia’s most guarded nuclear power facility and make off with extremely valuable trade secrets. The Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant contains the world’s only two operational “fast breeder” reactors. More than 20 countries, including the U.S., Japan and France, have been working for decades on this technology, which is supposed to be able to extract close to 100% of the energy from uranium, compared to about 1% for light water reactors. In other words, this is a process that can produce large amounts of energy while completely consuming the fuel and creating virtually no nuclear waste. Whoever is able to commercialize it will make a fortune. So far, no one has come close to the Russians.

Upcycled Goods: Considering When Restoration Crosses into Infringement

Two recent decisions dealing with high-end watches illustrate the fine line between permissible and infringing modifications when the final product bears a trademark of the original maker. As the trend of “upcycling” or “creative reuse” continues to grow, entrepreneurs should be aware of the potential pitfalls in modifying the products of others. Generally, the first sale or “exhaustion” doctrine protects a reseller of authentic goods from infringement liability—but only when the goods have not been materially altered in any manner and meet the trademark owner’s quality standards. There are, however, some circumstances where courts have found certain modifications to be permissible.

Patent Filings Roundup: Fintiv Files Against Paypal; PPC Broadband Patents Challenged Based on Successful Reexams; Last CBM Decision Issues

It was a rather light week at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) with just 17 new petitions (the lowest in recent memory), with district court patent filings at 69—a few more than usual—and 60 more terminations. Samsung lost a series of five chip inter partes reviews (IPRs) at institution against an LED Wafer Solutions LLC (apparently associated with Oso IP) on the merits (they and Seoul Semiconductor were the only two plaintiffs yet sued); PPC Broadband got some IPRs from Amphenol based in large part on family members having been cancelled earlier in reexam on the same grounds; Raymond Anthony Joao entity Beteiro LLC filed a few further cases; Caselas, another of his entities, has now sued upwards of 40 banks on five patents of similar progeny; and there were lots of file-and-settle terminations in the district court, per usual. And what I believe is the final covered business method review (CBM) to be filed and pending has concluded with the claims being cancelled. The claims there were directed to currency trading systems.

VLSI/Fortress IP Patents Likely Invalid Despite OpenSky’s Bad Behavior

You’ve probably heard about all of the VLSI drama: the eye-popping $2.18 billion judgment won by non-practicing entity VLSI (funded by Fortress IP), mysterious post-judgment inter partes reviews (IPRs) filed against the VLSI patents, and finally the now-notorious email from OpenSky offering to disrupt their own IPR in exchange for a fee. Folks have jumped all over the email from OpenSky for its obvious bad behavior, but they are also using it as an indictment of the entire Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). What is noteworthy here is not the email—this type of behavior is extremely rare. The real story here is what the system got right, and where it failed.

The Hudson Institute Memo Draws the Wrong Conclusions from Discrepancies in I-MAK’s Data

The debate around whether patents are unnecessarily propping up drug prices has been simmering for years. A recent policy memo from the Hudson Institute has thoughtfully raised concerns about the data underlying this debate, and the memo made its way up to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. While the memo may have successfully poked holes in some of the data, it draws questionable conclusions regarding what those holes might mean. Unpacking this debate is therefore necessary to guide the correct policy on the intersection of patents and drug prices.

U.S. Patent Grants Fell 7% Last Year, but ‘Software-Related’ Grants Remained at 63%

As an update to my posts from 2017, 2019, 2020, March 2021, and August 2021, it has now been 93 months since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank decision. Yet the debate still rages over when a software (or computer-implemented) claim is patentable versus being simply an abstract idea “free to all men and reserved exclusively to none” (as eloquently phrased over 73 years ago by then-Supreme Court Justice Douglas in Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kalo Inoculant Co.). Further, it has been 11 years since famed venture capitalist Marc Andreessen wrote the influential and often-quoted op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal titled “Why Software Is Eating the World.” Today, the digital transformation where software is “eating the world” is undeniable. Let’s look at some facts and figures from the USA, Europe, and China.

(Not-So) Amicable Separations: Preventing, Investigating, and Responding to Trade Secret Misappropriation by Departing Employees

The end of even the best employer-employee relationship can be fraught with challenges, not the least of which is the possibility that the employee may — unintentionally or with malice — depart with valuable trade secrets, proprietary data, or sensitive information. To minimize the likelihood of such misappropriation, employers should establish, communicate, and follow clear policies and procedures at each stage in the hiring, employment, and separation process: When recruiting employees, at regular intervals during an individual’s employment, when the employment relationship is terminated, or if evidence of theft or misappropriation is uncovered during routine and follow-on investigations. Trade secrets are protected under the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), which defines a trade secret as business or technical information that derives value from not being generally known or readily accessible to the public through proper means and which the owner has taken reasonable measures to protect. Trade secrets are also covered by numerous state laws, the overwhelming majority of which have been based on the model Uniform Trade Secrets Act.

It’s Time for NIH to Uphold the Law, Once Again

As discussed previously, the critics are in full howl now that their attempts to enact legislation controlling drug prices has failed once again. They are applying unprecedented political pressure on Secretary Xavier Becerra at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to misuse the march in provisions of the Bayh-Dole Act to accomplish their goal. Nearly 100 distinguished organizations and individuals endorsed the following letter from the Bayh-Dole Coalition, which I lead, warning HHS not to take this disastrous misstep. Here’s what we said.

Patent Filings Roundup: Heavy District Court Docket Sees Fortress Biotech ANDA Litigation; WePay Expands GUI Design Patent Assertion Against Major Online Payment Systems

It was another heavy week in the district court with over 100 new patent complaints filed, 64 terminated (mostly file-and-settle), and an average 26 Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) cases (one post grant review and 25 inter partes reviews). It was also another week with about half of all parties briefing Fintiv, but no denials, begging the question, “Why are parties being forced to brief it in the first place?” Intel and Xilinx combined to cancel a number of litigation-funded chip patents from Arbor Global Strategies and FG SRC LLC [the latter funded by Freeman Capital Partners]; a number of Fortress-funded subsidiaries were challenged; another 29 IP Edge subsidiary suits; some interesting pharmaceutical action; and companies WebRoot and OpenText, inc. have launched a new assertion campaign against Trend Micro, Kapersky Labs, CrowdStrike, and Sophos on cybersecurity products.

What it Means that Russian Businesses Can Now Legally Steal Intellectual Property from ‘Unfriendly Countries’

Russian businesses now hold the key to pilfering, producing and profiting from western technologies. As of Monday, March 7, the Russian government has legalized intellectual property (IP) theft. With this move, businesses in Russia can now violate IP rights, as they no longer need to compensate patent holders from “unfriendly countries.” The list of “unfriendly countries” includes the United States, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan and all 27 European Union (EU) member countries. Russia has faced growing isolation from the Western world following President Vladmir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The United States, EU member countries and others recently initiated sanctions against Russia and have enacted crippling trade limitations. Currently, Russia is sufficiently meeting its supply and demand needs for agriculture, energy and natural resources. However, Russia’s isolation and growing lack of skilled producers have led to a stark decrease in technological production and innovation.

Arbutus and Genevant Sue Moderna in First Significant Patent Infringement Lawsuit in the mRNA Space

In the first major patent infringement lawsuit in the mRNA space, on February 28, 2022, Arbutus Biopharma Corporation (“Arbutus”) and Genevant Sciences GmbH (“Genevant”) sued Moderna, Inc. and ModernaTX, Inc. (collectively “Moderna”) in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. The plaintiffs have alleged that Moderna infringed U.S. Patent Nos. 8,058,069, 8,492,359, 8,822,668, 9,364,435, 9,504,651, and 11,141,378 directed to lipid nanoparticle (“LNP”) delivery technology through, inter alia, sales of its COVID-19 vaccine and booster products.

Federal Circuit Further Defines the Scope of Patent Venue

Recently, in In Re: Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) further defined the level of control a defendant must exercise over an in-district agent to establish patent venue – i.e., where a case can be filed. The Federal Circuit held that the requisite control a principal must establish over its alleged agent in order to establish venue is “interim control”: day-to-day control over the manner of carrying out the specific actions for which the alleged agency relationship exists. Accordingly, in reversing the lower court, the Federal Circuit held that the dealerships in question were not agents of Hyundai or Volkswagen for the purposes of selling cars to consumers and providing warranty services. 

NFTs and IP Law: An Overview for Buyers and Sellers

Blockchain technology has brought the world a collection of cutting-edge investment opportunities, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) among them. And with the advent of these unique digital assets, comes an entirely novel product segment subject to intellectual property law. For months now, the media has covered stories about NFTs selling for obscene prices. But behind these headlines—and given the onslaught of NFTs that continue to flood the market—are questions regarding trademark and copyright issues raised by these non-interchangeable units of data.

Conservatives Urge HHS to Deny Turning Bayh-Dole March-In Provision into Price Controls

Thirty-one signatories from 29 center-right public policy organizations have written U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, urging him to deny a petition from Knowledge Ecology International that requests use of march-in rights under the Bayh-Dole Act against the prostate cancer medicine, Xtandi. The conservative organizations represented on the letter include some of the most prominent center-right groups, such as the American Conservative Union, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund, FreedomWorks Foundation and Heritage Action for America. Conservatives for Property Rights led the letter initiative.