In the United States, trademark rights flow from use, not registration. A business may be afforded a certain level of trademark protection in its geographic area simply by being the first to use a mark in commerce in connection with its goods or services. However, any unregistered or “common law” rights may be limited geographically. There are critical differences between common law trademark rights and trademark rights obtained via a federal trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). As discussed in this article, priority battles can ... Read More ›
For an estimated $1.6 million, soccer superstar Cristiano Rinaldo will advertise a product in an Instagram post to his 329 million followers. Other celebrities who command more than $1 million per endorsement include Ariana Grande, a handful of Kardashians/Jenners, and The Rock. This practice, known as “influencer marketing,” has ballooned from a $1.7 billion market size in 2016 to an expected $13.8 billion in 2021, while at the same time upending traditional print and broadcast advertising.
Now, a trademark lawsuit threatens to derail the gravy train. What happens when an ... Read More ›
One year ago, on July 16, 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued a landmark decision in Data Protection Commissioner v. Facebook Ireland and Maximillian Schrems (Schrems II). At issue were data transfers between the EU and the U.S.
In a decisive blow to normal operating procedures for thousands of U.S. businesses, the Schrems II court upended two mechanisms that most companies relied on to transfer data – the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield and standard contractual clauses (SCCs). The Privacy Shield was determined inadequate for data privacy protection and ... Read More ›
In patent law, the doctrine of “assignor estoppel” refers to barring a party who assigned a patent from later challenging the validity of the patent. Assignor estoppel is an equitable doctrine that has been relied upon in order to prevent someone who has assigned the rights to a patent (or patent application) from later contending that what was assigned was, in fact, worthless. The doctrine has been applied to not just inventors, but also parties in privity with the original inventor, such as a corporation founded by the inventor. Essentially, the doctrine of assignor estoppel is ... Read More ›
In its recent opinion in Free Stream Media Corp. v. Alphonso Inc. on May 11, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit confirmed that abstract idea claims directed to “targeted advertising” are patent ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l in 2014, which provides the current authority for determining whether a proposed invention is patent eligible under § 101, the Supreme Court has not provided additional guidance in the area of subject-matter eligibility, and courts have been unable ... Read More ›
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder is a catch phrase well known and of ancient origin. Benjamin Franklin even had a wry turn at it in Poor Richard's Almanack, 1741: “Beauty, like supreme dominion is but supported by opinion.” As it turns out, however, in the opinion of the District Court of Delaware, “beauty,” or in this case, enhancement of the skin is not a term one ought to have in their patent claims, because that which relies on opinion is indefinite in the eyes of the court. Univ. of Mass. and Carmel Labs., LLC v. L’Oréal Inc., D.Del. (April 21, 2021).
University of ... Read More ›
A recent opinion issued by a federal court in the District of New Jersey provides a cautionary tale regarding patent infringement cases. In EagleView Techs., Inc. v. Xactware Solutions, Inc., plaintiff, EagleView filed a motion for enhanced damages and attorneys’ fees. The Court granted enhanced damages and attorneys’ fees, excluding those associated with the pretrial phase. The basis for this judgement follows.
Pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 284, the court may increase damages up to three times the amount found. Enhanced damages serve as a punitive sanction for ... Read More ›
On Earth Day, environmentalists all over the world encourage society to reduce its collective carbon footprint. A popular way of generating less waste is “upcycling,” or the practice of taking something no longer being used and giving it new life. Upcycling often increases the value of the object; take, for example, Stuart Haygarth’s chandeliers made entirely from spectacles found on beaches - one sold at auction in 2008 for £36,500.
Upcycling is also at the heart of a recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In Hamilton International v ... Read More ›
After more than a decade of litigation, the Supreme Court of the United States concluded that Google’s use of Oracle’s software code was fair use.
The dispute centered on use of Oracle’s Java programming language’s application programming interfaces (APIs) and source code, which was used in early versions of Google’s Android operating system. Oracle sued Google, arguing that the APIs were copyrightable. In response, Google asserted a defense of fair use.
Below we share the highlights from the Court’s long-awaited opinion.
A Victory for Fair Use
The Court found in ... Read More ›
Functional claim language—which defines an invention by what it does rather than what it is—can be a powerful claim drafting tool when used carefully. For example, functional language may be advantageous for computer-implemented inventions that are characterized with reference to logical components instead of physical hardware. 35 U.S.C. § 112(f) (formerly § 112¶ 6) expressly permits the use of functional claiming and is traditionally invoked by the phrase “means for” followed by a functional modifier. But even when the term “means” is not used, other terms that ... Read More ›
What if someone told you not all clauses in a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) are created equally? This was one of several lessons that could be drawn from SiOnyx LLC v. Hamamatsu Photonics K.K., 981 F.3d 1339 (Fed. Cir. 2020) which involved an NDA that contained several clauses, some of which ended up being more important than others.
At the beginning of their engagement in or around 2006-2007, SiOnyx was a startup and Hamamatsu was an established manufacturer interested in the technology that SiOnyx was developing. The parties entered into an NDA to allow them to share confidential ... Read More ›
Issue preclusion and claim preclusion are two strategic defenses that an accused infringer can rely upon if that party was previously cleared of patent infringement.
Issue preclusion, or collateral estoppel, precludes a party from relitigating an issue actually decided in a prior case and necessary to the judgment. Under claim preclusion, or res judicata, a judgment on the merits in a prior lawsuit bars a second lawsuit involving the same parties or their privies based on the same cause of action. Claim preclusion also bars claims that could have been brought in the first action ... Read More ›
The requirements for ownership of a patent and the right to bring suit for the enforcement of the patent would seem to be well settled in patent law. As demonstrated in the recently decided Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (Case 2019-2244), AntennaSys, Inc. v. AQYR Technologies, Inc., et al., overlooking the ownership or enforcement requirement can result in wasted time and cost for the litigants and frustration for the courts. This article raises awareness of the nuances of ownership and enforcement rights in the hope of avoiding the cost and frustrations for all involved.
The ... Read More ›
On July 16, 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued a highly anticipated ruling in Data Protection Commissioner v. Facebook Ireland and Maximillian Schrems (Schrems II). The case centers on the validity of two key data transfer mechanisms: Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) and the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield (Privacy Shield) – both of which are methods widely used by U.S. businesses to comply with the EU’s laws regarding the transfer of personal data to countries outside the EU. In considering the effectiveness of data protection in cross-border data ... Read More ›
Trademarks function to identify the source or origin of products or services and distinguish them from the products or services of others. On the other hand, generic terms are used by consumers to refer to a type of product or service that cannot function or be registered as a trademark. For example, one cannot register COMPUTER as a trademark for laptops and personal computers. Likewise, one cannot register “APPLE” to identify a fruit (as opposed to “APPLE” to identify computer technology).
However, what if a generic term is combined with “.com” or another top-level ... Read More ›
On Thursday, April 23, 2020, in the case Romag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil Group, Inc., the Supreme Court held that the statutory provision governing remedies for violations in the Trademark Act, §1117(a), does not require a showing of willfulness in order for a plaintiff to recover profits in an infringement action arising under Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a). This decision could tip the scales in favor of trademark owners.
The case involved a fastener manufacturer, Romag, that originally contracted with Fossil, to allow Fossil to use Romag’s magnetic snap fasteners for ... Read More ›
In Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the Federal Circuit reversed the District Court of New Jersey’s grant of summary judgement in favor of Valeant that claim 8 of U.S. Patent 8,552,025 (the ‘025 patent) owned by Valeant.
The message is clear for pharmaceutical formulation patents. To establish a prima facie cases of obviousness, compounds having similar structure and function can be used as the basis for establishing similar properties.Read More ›
Businesses rely upon color for a variety of purposes. For example, colors may provide ornamentation, or may serve to allow a product to blend in with its surroundings (camouflage for hunting gear) or indicate a product’s flavor (yellow for lemon). Importantly, colors can serve as trademarks, but only if they function as a source identifier.
While colors are not included within the statutory definition of trademarks, since 1985, singular colors and color combinations can be trademarked as part of a product, package or service, if, like any other trademark, they serve a source ... Read More ›
In Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., Arthrocare Corp., No. 2019-2140 (Fed. Cir. October 31, 2019), the Federal Circuit raised Patent Owners’ hopes that inter partes review (IPR) of patents could potentially be constitutionally defective, based on how Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) judges are appointed. But the court then dashed those hopes by curing the constitutional defect in the statute controlling Administrative Patent Judge (APJ) appointment. For those accused of patent infringement, breathe easy; IPRs survive and can be used to minimize the threat of patents.Read More ›
Under 35 U.S.C. § 171 of the Patent Act, patent protection is provided for a “new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.” Design patents cover the appearance of an article of manufacture. Design patents have been used to obtain patent protection on the appearance of articles including hair scrunchies, sneakers, paintball goggles, and almost any other consumer product one can think of.
Design patents are essentially comprised of a title, drawings, and a description of the drawings. In design patents, unlike utility patents, the claimed scope is defined ... Read More ›
On January 22, 2019, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the sale of an invention to a third party who is obligated to keep the invention confidential may place the invention “on sale” for purposes of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA). The case is Helsinn Healthcare S.A. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. With this decision, the Supreme Court answered a question about the “on-sale bar” to patentability that has lingered since the enactment of the AIA in 2011.
Prior to the AIA, it was settled law that a sale embodying an invention, whether public or private ... Read More ›
In a step toward consistent interpretation of patent claims before federal courts and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) during post-grant proceedings, today the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) published a final rule revising the claim construction standard used during proceedings established by the Leahy-Smith American Invents Act (“AIA”).
Changes to the Claim Construction Standard for Interpreting Claims in Trial Proceedings Before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, 83 Fed. Reg. 51,340 (Oct. 11, 2018) (to be codified at 37 C.F.R. pt. 42)Read More ›
The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) became fully effective in March 2013, and its impact over the last five years continues to disrupt U.S. patent practice. The AIA made significant statutory changes to how patent applications were prosecuted at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO); however, the changes to post-grant proceedings (PGPs) are possibly more significant. The AIA authorized administrative proceedings as an alternative to litigation and left it to the USPTO to promulgate accompanying rules to incentivize various PGPs where patents could be ... Read More ›
The United States Supreme Court today (June 22, 2018) ruled that a plaintiff in a patent case can recover damages for foreign sales, under certain circumstances. The case is WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corporation, 2013-1527, 2014-1121, 2014-1526, 2014-1528.
WesternGeco LLC originally sought to recover damages for patent infringement based on Ion Geophysical Corp.’s sales of product components shipped outside the United States. The plaintiff argued that the Patent Act provided for recovery against patent infringement related to the supply of components of the ... Read More ›
The U.S. Supreme Court's June 2014 landmark decision Alice v. CLS Bank International, 134 S.Ct. 2347 (2014), altered the course and viability of software patents in the United States and continues to cause uncertainty over the eligibility of software for patent protection. Alice announced a multi-step test for analyzing patent eligibility, under which the basic question for any software application is, "does the application satisfy the patent eligibility conductions of 35 U.S.C. Section 101 (Section 101)?" The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has established ... Read More ›
On March 21, 2018, a split Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a verdict confirming copyright infringement in the case of the song “Blurred Lines,” and the decision left many in the music community “all shook up.” The song, recorded in 2012 and released in 2013, hit number one on the Billboard Top 100 songs in 25 countries and became a best-selling single with more than 14.8 million sales. It was also nominated for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 2013 Grammy Awards. As the song rapidly climbed the charts, media interest in the song grew due to its ... Read More ›
Propagating news program clips online, such as on social media including Instagram and Twitter, just became more difficult.
On Tuesday, February 27, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit handed down a decision holding that TVEyes, a search engine for video clips obtained through media-monitoring, was in violation of copyright law for unlawfully re-distributing the copyrighted work of others.1 The decision reversed a 2014 holding by the District Court that the service was protected by the doctrine of fair use and as a result, has the potential to ... Read More ›
On February 12, 2018, Judge Frederic Block of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York entered judgment in the amount of $6.7 million dollars in favor of plaintiff graffiti artists whose building murals were destroyed in 2013 by the owner of the building, in violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (“VARA”), 17 U.S.C. § 106A. While the ruling in this case may seem like a coup for artists, the implication may be that building owners may be less enthusiastic about commissioning creative works to adorn their building’s exteriors.
THE LAW – The Visual ... Read More ›
Many consumers and companies are familiar in some form or another, but until a recent Federal Circuit ruling, companies and individuals looking to pursue tongue-in-cheek or risqué marks faced an uphill battle in obtaining federal trademark registrations. On December 15, 2017, the Federal Circuit ruled in In re Brunetti1 that the bar on registering immoral or scandalous trademarks under the Lanham Trademark Act, Section 2(a), 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a), “is an unconstitutional restriction of free speech.”
Appellant, Erik Brunetti, founded the clothing brand “fuct” in ... Read More ›
The identification of the proper venue for commencing a patent infringement or declaratory judgement action was rather straight forward for a number of years. However, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which has exclusive appellate jurisdiction in patent matters, addressed the venue issue in VE Holding v. Johnson Gas Appliance, 917 F.2d 1574 (Fed. Cir. 1990), it liberalized the venue requirement to where the defendant is subject to the court's personal jurisdiction. This decision lead to lower courts applying a liberal view of personal jurisdiction when ... Read More ›
The United States Supreme Court’s decision in TC Heartland jolted the IP law community by displacing long-standing Federal Circuit precedent and leaving a divide amongst district court judges, as well as a bevy of unanswered questions.1 Since TC Heartland, two more decisions from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit help clarify the landscape for patent litigators. Additionally, a study from Lex Machina further outlines the shifting horizon of forum shopping.
In 1990, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided in VE Holdings v. Johnson Gas ... Read More ›
Since the passage of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“AIA”), it has been extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a patent owner whose patent is challenged in an inter partes review (IPR) to amend the challenged claims. As of April 30, 2016, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) had completely denied 112 of 118 patent owner motions to amend and partially denied motions to amend in four of the six remaining IPRs.
Today’s en banc decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Aqua Products, Inc. v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Case No ... Read More ›
In 1886, Dr. John Pemberton created the formula for Coca-Cola.1 The formula for Dr. Pemberton’s beverage sensation did not even make it onto paper until 1919 when the recipe was secured in a vault where it remained for 86 years until its relocation to an exhibit at The World of Coca-Cola.2 The Coca-Cola Company formula, one of the world’s most famous trade secrets, has been kept secret for more than 125 years.3 While trade secrets enjoy certain protections, such a formula could potentially benefit from patent protection. With its long history, the question remains: does ... Read More ›
The United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in the much-anticipated TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC case, No. 16–341, on May 22, 2017.
Under the unanimous decision, the term “reside[nce]” in the federal venue statute refers only to the state of incorporation of a U.S. corporate defendant in a patent lawsuit. This holding could eliminate the “forum shopping” that brings many defendants to particular courts.
The TC Heartland case considered the proper venue for patent cases as codified in 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b). Section 1400(b) limits venue to judicial ... Read More ›
The landscape for patent law has changed more quickly over the last five years than it had in preceding decades. The America Invents Act, which was enacted in September 2011, may be the most comprehensive and significant change to patent law in decades, and recent case law appears to be accelerating changes. For example, Mayo Collaborative Services. v. Prometheus Labs, 566 U.S. 66 (2012), changed how patent-eligible subject matter is determined and what currently is patentable eligible. Alice v. CLS Bank International, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014), dramatically changed the landscape for ... Read More ›
In 2017, the Supreme Court will issue opinions on a wide range of important issues in intellectual property law. Below are two pending cases to keep on your radar, as well as three cases that the Court has already decided earlier this year.
TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Food Brands Group LLC
In TC Heartland, the Supreme Court will examine whether the Federal Circuit’s stance on patent venue is correct. The Federal Circuit has interpreted patent venue broadly, holding that venue is proper in any federal court that has personal jurisdiction over the accused infringer.
Proper venue for patent ... Read More ›
The Supreme Court issued a decision today removing the laches as a defense to patent infringement. The case is reported at SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag et al. v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC, et al., Slip. Op. No. 15–927 (March 21, 2017).
Historically, laches is an equitable defense to patent infringement, based upon an unreasonable and prejudicial passage of time in bringing a lawsuit. Thus, if a patent owner knew of an alleged infringer for a long period of time, an accused infringer could argue that the patent owner waited too long to sue for patent infringement and that the ... Read More ›
Patents have had unusual attention from the U.S. Supreme Court recently. In addition to high-profile cases like Alice v. CLS Bank International, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014), that dramatically changes the landscape for technology-based patents, Samsung v. Apple, 137 S. Ct. 429, 431 (2016), that has the potential to dramatically change the landscape for damages in design patent infringement, and Life Technologies v. Promega, 2017 U.S. LEXIS 1428 (U.S. Feb. 22, 2017), which tests the limits of liability under U.S. law for infringement abroad, the court is poised to consider whether the ... Read More ›
In my last post “Design Patents Face Another Million Dollar Question,” I noted that the U.S. Supreme Court declined to decide what the relevant ‘article of manufacture’ was for calculating damages in Apple’s design patent row with Samsung, and the Supreme Court remanded this to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.
Now the Federal Circuit has itself “passed the buck,” further remanding the case back to the District Court for the Northern District of California. This effectively gives the Judge at the District Court level a blank slate to craft a test for identifying ... Read More ›
- Influencer “Fails” – Avoid These Three Legal Mistakes in Affiliate Marketing
- Trademarks, Priority and 'Frozen' Rights: Important Factors
- $1.1 Billion Dollars Washed Down the Written Description Drain
- Trouble Ahead for Influencer Revenue
- Safe Harbors Can be Breached — Skinny Labeling, Drugs, and Patent Infringement
- Where are we now? The Schrems II Decision, One Year Later
- Are You Exposed? Top Three Considerations for your Organization’s Data Privacy Program
- 10 Questions About Patent Prosecution That Every Inside Counsel Should Be Able To Answer for Their Inventors
- Assignor Estoppel: When Can A Party Challenge A Patent They Sold?
- Federal Circuit Invalidation of Targeted Advertising Claims Reaffirms Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Precedent but Recent Petition for Rehearing Looms
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