Congressional Spending Bill Includes Significant Trademark and Copyright Rules
Congressional Spending Bill Includes Significant Trademark and Copyright Rules

Significant intellectual property law provisions are part of the $2.3 trillion spending bill passed by Congress.


In the copyright area, the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act of 2020 is directed to curbing "commercial, for-profit streaming piracy services" that profit from streaming unlicensed or otherwise illegally copied copyrighted material. Penalties could include significant fines and imprisonment. The law currently has a carve-out for "individuals who access pirated streams or unwittingly stream unauthorized copies of copyrighted works.”

The new laws also include the CASE Act. This law creates a Copyright Claims Board including a panel of Copyright Claims Officers to rule on copyright infringement claims. The CASE Act seeks to create a more efficient approach to certain copyright infringement claims, and provides for $30,000 in damages for illegally streaming copyrighted content.


The Trademark Modernization Act seeks to update certain trademark laws, to provide more ammunition to trademark owners in curbing trademark infringement.

Under the Trademark Modernization Act, third parties will be permitted to submit evidence to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) during the prosecution of trademark applications, to encourage the USPTO to refuse registration that may have questionable claims regarding use in commerce or the intent to use a mark in commerce. This law could be used to curb entities seeking to take advantage of the “trademark gold rush” that sometimes occur when parties race to the Trademark Office to try and register another entity’s trademark, as discussed in the IP GOES POP® podcast, The Trademark ‘Gold Rush’ to Capitalize on Trending Words or Phrases - Trademarks and Catchphrases in Popular Culture.

The Trademark Modernization Act also provides for proceedings to expunge “stale” trademark registrations for non-use.

In addition, for trademark infringement plaintiffs seeking an injunction, the Trademark Modernization Act provides a statutory rebuttable presumption of irreparable harm, therefore lowering the evidentiary burden needed for injunctive relief.

As with any new laws, the impact of the foregoing provisions remains to be seen. However, it appears that both copyright and trademark owners will have more options when seeking to stop infringements.



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