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Posts Tagged: "litigation"

Is Your Brand Protection Strategy Defamation-Proof?

Robert Willison, an Atlanta real estate investor, could not believe what he was seeing on the computer screen. A business associate had mentioned that Mr. Willison might want to Google himself, as some odd search results were appearing. And there they were. Post after post after post, across numerous websites and social media platforms, alleging that Mr. Willison was a sociopathic criminal. According to the posts, Mr. Willison sold drugs to federal judges, stole credit cards numbers, stole money, made death threats, committed home invasions, masterminded a Ponzi scheme, and more…. Understanding the best practices for handling these situations can help turn them around, just as Mr. Willison did, to protect your online reputation – a valuable component to both an individual and their business’s intellectual property

Minaj-Chapman Copyright Settlement is a Warning to Artists

Last week, documents were filed confirming that singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman accepted Onika Tanya Maraj’s (who performs rap under the stage name Nicki Minaj) Rule 68 Offer of Judgment, dated December 17, 2020, in the amount of $450,000, inclusive of all costs and attorney fees. In September 2020, the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California granted partial summary judgment in favor of Minaj, resolving a copyright infringement dispute originally filed in 2018 by Chapman over Minaj’s unauthorized use of Chapman’s 1988 single, “Baby Can I Hold You.” While the district court’s partial summary judgment ruling for Minaj said that Minaj had established a fair use defense to Chapman’s copyright infringement claims, it also said Chapman’s distribution claim should be tried and resolved by a jury, so the case moved forward.

A Massive Threat to Innovation Dodged—for Now

When people think of innovation at this moment, odds are they are thinking about innovation in the biotech and pharmaceutical sector, as the industry scrambles to invent a dependable vaccine for COVID-19, more reliable tests and other treatments. The immediate need for such innovation is real, but the U.S. economy has a constant, ongoing need for innovation across all industry sectors because we are no longer the cheapest place to make things or to grow things. We are the place that invents and innovates things. As such, our economy depends on a robust innovation ecosystem. That means we must maintain a system of abundant risk-capital, affordable and accessible quality educational options, a culture of risk-taking, and a strong intellectual property system so that if an invention succeeds, those who took the risks have a chance to reap the rewards.

Don’t Focus on the Fight: When it Comes to Trade Secrets, it’s the Transaction that Counts

Tuning in to the recent sentencing of Anthony Levandowski for criminal trade secret theft, I was reminded of the wise observation about relationships, that remembering the ending is a way to forget about the beginning. But while that way of thinking can be a salve for the heart, it’s not so helpful when it comes to the kind of critical self-analysis that we need to improve our behavior, or at least certain outcomes, in business. It’s natural for us to be attracted to the drama of trade secret litigation. These cases typically involve claimed treachery of some kind, contrasted against an alternate narrative of entrepreneurship and helpful market disruption. Indeed, as I have often remarked to my students, trade secret cases are a trial lawyer’s dream, because you are dealing with the kind of emotional issues that can draw in a jury and make it easy to keep attention focused on the story you’re trying to tell.

Extraterritorial Application of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

Intangible assets today make up nearly 84% of enterprise value for companies listed on the S&P 500. This material growth in intellectual property as an asset on U.S. company balance sheets has placed increased demands on the office of General Counsel. Protecting intangible assets against computer theft and pursuing litigation against wrongdoers has become a major and timely concern, especially in the context of an increasingly virtual world due to the global pandemic. A recent brazen and sophisticated computer intrusion into the records of over 145 million Americans launched from computer hackers based in China led to criminal prosecutions under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

Tracking Buyer and Seller Behavior: 2018 Patent Market Report

As a buyer, tracking the behaviors of sellers, both in aggregate and individually, allows you to operationalize your buying activities. This is especially true for repeat sellers, who account for 41% of the transactions for patent packages listed in calendar years 2017 and 2018. Knowing who the regular sellers are, often companies with a large portfolio, allows you to contact sellers to create a private deal. Keeping track of a seller’s listings, package sizes, and asking prices can also help you in negotiations because you know their negotiation parameters at the outset. Similarly, if you are a seller, it is important to get out the word that you are selling. Listing packages on your website, through the IAM Market, or working with brokers attracts buyers to you rather than you having to spend the time and effort to find them. For the analysis of current sellers and buyers we looked at all of the packages that sold between January 1, 2017 and May 31, 2018 (assignments were last checked on August 15, 2018) regardless of their listing date. Sales continue to be made mostly by operating companies, which is not surprising as they file the majority of patents. Operating companies were the sellers in 67% of transactions. This is remarkably consistent, at 66% in the previous two papers.

Ten Things to Avoid When Doing Trademark Surveys

Surveys to prove or disprove trademark infringement or likelihood of confusion have been used by attorneys for many years. Unfortunately, many attorneys using surveys can weaken a survey’s impact by failing to avoid some crucial pitfalls. Here are 10 important things to avoid and correct when developing surveys for litigation purposes.

Amazon’s Counterfeit Problem is a Big One—for Shareholders, Brand Owners and Consumers Alike

On February 1, Amazon.com, Inc. filed a Form 10-K annual report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Along with reporting its year-end earnings for the 2018 fiscal year, this particular SEC filing was notable because Amazon officially acknowledged to shareholders that the company’s online sales platforms face the risk of being found liable for fraudulent or unlawful activities of sellers on those platforms. This includes the company’s first-ever concession that Amazon may be unable to prevent sellers trafficking counterfeit and pirated goods. “The law relating to the liability of online service providers is currently unsettled,” Amazon’s Form 10-K filing reads. Along with the specter of counterfeit sales, Amazon noted that its seller programs may render the company unable to stop sellers from collecting payments when buyers never receive products they ordered or when products received by buyers are materially different than the sellers’ description of those products at the point of purchase. While information regarding a corporation’s potential risk of liability is a regular feature of SEC filings, news reports indicate that this is the first time that Amazon used the word “counterfeit” in an annual report.

Webinar: Portfolio Montetization: Identifying the Valuable Patents in a Portfolio

Analytics and big data can provide insight into the potential value of a patent portfolio in many ways, even identifying assets ripe for redistribution. What may be a non-core asset for one could be an important missing piece for another. So, what if you could use big data to identify buyers who might be interested in patent assets you are…

Federal Circuit rules Alice did not alter the law governing 101

How the Federal Circuit could rule that Alice did not change the law governing § 101 is a bit of a mystery. Applying the same two-step test seems a convenient way of dodging reality. At a time when there is real momentum gathering for a legislative solution to § 101 why did the Federal Circuit choose to perpetuate a myth that Alice did nothing to change the law? Outcomes are unquestionably different as the result of Alice, and if outcomes are different how exactly is it possible that the law did not change? If the law remained the same why was Alice a clear pivotal moment in software patent history? Saying Alice did not change the law shows just how out of touch and insulated from reality the Federal Circuit has become.

Defendant is Prevailing Party for Awarding Attorney’s Fees if Case Dismissed with Prejudice

If an action is dismissed with prejudice for lack of standing, the defendant will be considered the prevailing party and attorney’s fees can be awarded under 35 U.S.C. § 285. The Federal Circuit also affirmed that the case was exceptional under § 285 because the court properly examined the totality of the circumstances in making its determination that Raniere litigated the case in an unreasonable manner.

Unwitnessed E-mails and Drawings Cannot Corroborate Testimony of Conception

Appellee Kamstrup A/S (“Kamstrup”) filed an IPR, and the Board instituted review of the challenged patent. Apator attempted to swear behind a cited prior art reference and submitted an inventor declaration and three emails with attachments to support the earlier conception date. The Board noted that there were no indicia in the body or header of the emails indicating what files were attached or what the attachments disclosed. The Board also noted that the only evidence that a file was attached to these emails was the inventor declaration. Accordingly, the Board rejected Apator’s attempt to swear behind the reference.

Equitable Estoppel Requires Claim Scope Sufficiently Similar to Earlier Claims

Equitable estoppel does not bar assertion of patent claims later amended by reexamination when those new claims differ in scope from earlier claims in the patent that were not asserted. Thus, a defendant’s reliance on a patentee’s knowing silence and failure to enforce an earlier patent does not shield him from allegations of infringing later-issued claims of different scope.

Incorporation By Reference Does Not Establish Priority

In an IPR brought by E*Trade in response to an infringement suit by Droplets, the Board found that the Droplets ‘115 patent was invalid due to obviousness. The patent properly claimed priority to the ‘838 patent but also attempted to claim priority to an earlier ‘917 provisional patent and an intervening ‘745 patent through incorporation by reference. The Board concluded that these priority claims were not proper, and the Federal Circuit agreed.

Software Development Agreement Not a Clear Conveyance of Patent Rights

Where a contractual assignment of patent rights is not unequivocal the contract cannot defeat standing at the pleadings stage in a correction of inventorship action. A contract between two legal entities cannot assign the patent rights of a non-party, when the non-party signed the agreement on behalf of one of the entities and not for himself. A contract to develop and deliver software, absent express language conveying an assignment, does not imply a transfer of patent rights and does not create an implication that the developer was hired to invent.