Posts Tagged: "intellectual property"

Copyright Office Tells Tillis Deferred Copyright Examination Will Not Achieve Cost Reductions

On August 1, the U.S. Copyright Office sent a report  addressed to Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) detailing the results of the agency’s study into the feasibility of a deferred registration examination (DRE) option for copyright applicants seeking registration under U.S. law. While the Office recognized the genuine concerns of those seeking the creation of such an option, the report issued by Register of Copyrights Shira Perlmutter concluded that alternative approaches for addressing those issues would achieve better results than the proposed deferred examination option.

Induced Infringement: The Knowledge Requirement and When it is Established

To succeed on a claim of induced infringement, a patent owner must show that the accused infringer (1) actively encouraged infringement, (2) knew that the acts they induced constituted patent infringement, and (3) actuated direct patent infringement by those encouraging acts. In many courts, the knowledge requirement can be satisfied by service of a complaint for patent infringement itself. So, the accused infringer can start to incur liability at the onset of litigation. In the minority of courts, only pre-suit knowledge can satisfy the knowledge requirement. In those jurisdictions, the plaintiff must show the accused infringer knew about the alleged infringement before the onset of litigation. The amount of evidence required to show pre-suit knowledge at the pleading phase is an open question.

Vidal Takes Next Step on Senators’ Call to Curb Inconsistencies in USPTO/FDA Statements

Late last week, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal announced in a blog post that the agency had issued a notice in the Federal Register, which was published on Friday, to clarify the duties of disclosure and reasonable inquiry for pharmaceutical patent applicants, as well as parties to Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) proceedings. The notice was specifically targeted to parties proceeding before both the USPTO and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and was issued in response to urging by Senators to establish interagency communications aimed in part at eliminating so-called drug patent thickets.

Three Letters Summarize the March-In/ Compulsory Licensing Debate

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra may consider himself a lucky man (which would probably sound ironic to him at the moment). He just received three letters which aptly summarize the fork in the road he faces in deciding which way to turn in a critical policy decision. On June 23, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), joined by 98 of their Democratic Congressional colleagues, sent him the latest in their series of letters urging him to use alleged existing authorities so that copycats can make expensive drugs to lower health care costs. That triggered an immediate rebuttal from six associations representing research universities and hospitals (including the Bayh-Dole Coalition, which I lead) and another from the Licensing Executives Society, USA & Canada, Inc. (LES), representing the licensing profession. It seems appropriate to let the letters speak for themselves, so let’s start with the Congressional letter, urging the Secretary to use tools they allege he already has to cut the Gordian Knot to lower drug costs.

Federal Circuit Delivers Amazon a Win, Vacating Jury Verdict that Echo Induced Infringement

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Thursday reversed a district court’s denial of judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) to Amazon of no induced infringement and vacated a jury verdict finding that it had induced infringement of Vocalife LLC’s patent for a method of enhancing acoustics. Judge Hughes authored the opinion. The asserted patent was U.S. Patent No. RE 47,049, which covers “methods and systems for ‘enhancing acoustics of a target sound signal received from a target sound source, while suppressing ambient noise signals.’” Vocalife filed suit against Amazon, claiming certain Amazon Echo products infringed the ’049 patent–specifically, Claim 1’s reference to “providing a microphone array system comprising an array of sound sensors positioned in a linear, circular, or other configuration” and “determining a delay . . . wherein said determination of said delay enables beamforming for said array of sound sensors in a plurality of configurations.”

Patent Filings Roundup: Future Waco Patent Cases Headed to Wheel; Ax Wireless Launches WiFi 6 Campaign; Helsinn Paragraph IV Litigation

This week saw 63 new patent filings in district court, and the typical (these days) 71 terminations, with 34 Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) filings (one post grant review and 33 inter partes reviews). I expect terminations will drop for a bit, as parties do what they can to hold on to venue before Judge Alan Albright in the wake of the Western District’s recent reassignment memorandum directing new filings to be randomly distributed (i.e., be put “on the wheel”) throughout the Western District. In major dismissals, WSOU either settled with or was scared off by always-tough Microsoft in that long-running campaign; the dozen or so dismissals of WSOU’s typical 13 parallel filings make up a chunk of the terminations. The Board filings were dominated by tech-versus-long-running-NPE suits, with a few competitor-competitor challenges (e.g., Vivint v. ADT).

The Artificial Distinction Between Trade Secrets and ‘Confidential Information’

One of the most frustrating questions I get from clients asks “what is the difference between ‘confidential’ and ‘proprietary’ information?” Or, “how do I help employees distinguish between either of those terms and real ‘trade secrets?’” Then there are people, including some judges, who trivialize the importance of some useful business information by saying it doesn’t “rise to the level of a trade secret.” That last one makes no sense these days, as we’ll see shortly. But first let’s identify the source of this nomenclature problem: it’s an outfit you’ve probably never heard of called the American Law Institute.

Testing the Bounds of Copyright Protection in Choreographic Works: Hanagami v. Epic Games, Inc.

In a recently filed suit involving the popular videogame Fortnite, the Central District of California faces an important question regarding copyright law: does a copyright in a registered choreographic work extend protection to a smaller portion of the work when that portion is copied by a third party and implemented as a dance move in a video game? Owned and developed by Epic Games, Inc. (“Epic”), Fortnite is a “battle royale” style videogame where players fight to be the last person standing. Fortnite players can purchase “emotes,” which are dance moves or other gestures performed by their avatar. Plaintiff Kyle Hanagami owns a copyright registration for a choreographic work called “How Long Choreography.” Hanagami alleges that an emote called “It’s Complicated” copies “the heart” of his work, as it is the only section of the How Long Choreography that occurs ten times throughout the original.

CAFC Says Improper Litigation Conduct Warrants Attorneys’ Fees Award for Netflix

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today issued a precedential decision affirming a California district court’s award of attorneys’ fees in part to Netflix, Inc. for Realtime Adaptive Streaming LLC’s “improper” litigation conduct. The CAFC said that Realtime’s use of forum-shopping to blatantly avoid an adverse ruling amounted to “gamesmanship” that “constitutes a willful action for an improper purpose, tantamount to bad faith, and therefore [is] within the bounds of activities sanctionable under a court’s inherent power in view of the Ninth Circuit’s standard.” The opinion was authored by Judge Chen and Judge Reyna concurred-in-part and dissented-in-part.

USPTO to Expand Initiatives for Under-Resourced Inventors and First-Time Filers

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal penned a blog post today announcing several new programs aimed at expanding the U.S. innovation ecosystem, which she said “could quadruple the number of American inventors, and increase the GDP per capita by as much as 4%, or by about $1 trillion.” The initiatives are being spearheaded by the USPTO’s Council for Inclusive Innovation (CI2), for which Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo serves as Chair and Vidal as Co-Chair.

District Court Denies Preliminary Injunction Requested Under Reverse Confusion Theory Following PepsiCo Ruling

In a case that echoes they key issue in a recent U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruling for PepsiCo, Inc., U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Lorna Schofield denied a brand owner’s request for a preliminary injunction enjoining model and influencer Hailey Rhode Bieber, who is also the spouse of superstar Justin Bieber, from selling products under the name “Rhode,” which is also her middle name.

Faux Outrage Over Patent Friendly Court Leads to WDTX Order Curbing Albright Caseload

Yesterday, Chief Judge Orlando Garcia of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas issued an order that, in Garcia’s words, will “equitably distribute” new patent cases among 12 district judges. This order is an effort to address “the volume” of new cases assigned to the Waco Division’s Judge Alan Albright. Albright’s court is viewed as patent owner friendly and he has been under fire recently from both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and Congress on different fronts for his policies and procedures, which do tend more often than not to give patent owners their day in court.

Second Circuit Says RISE Mark is on Weak End of Suggestive Spectrum, Reversing Preliminary Injunction Against Pepsi

On July 22, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision in RiseandShine Corp. v. PepsiCo, Inc., authored by Senior Circuit Judge Pierre N. Leval, reversing a preliminary injunction entered by the Southern District of New York that prevented Pepsi from marketing its “Mtn DEW Rise Energy” canned energy drink. In reversing, the Second Circuit held that the district court had improperly construed certain likelihood of confusion factors as favoring the merits of RiseandShine’s reverse confusion theory.

IP Issues for Retail Businesses Advertising in Augmented Reality

With the advent of augmented reality systems, unique opportunities exist for retail businesses. The ability to provide dynamic and layered advertisements can add a new dimension and effectiveness to attracting consumers to a brick-and-mortar retail location. However, a number of intellectual property pitfalls appear to be awaiting those retailers that utilize the emerging augmented reality platform to reach and attract customers. For instance, a retailer may find that they do not own the exclusive rights to display augmented reality content to customers despite the customers being physically present in their own store.

Vidal to Consider Revisions to Iancu’s Eligibility Guidance

In a Director’s Forum blog post published earlier today, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal recounted the Office’s efforts over the last several years to make U.S. patent eligibility standards clearer for applicants and said that the agency will be revisiting the 2019 subject matter eligibility guidance issued by the previous administration in an effort to bring further clarity to the examination process.