Other Barks & Bites for Friday, May 19: Apple Employee Charged with Trade Secrets Theft; OpenAI CEO Testifies Before Congress; and Taco Bell Contests Taco Tuesday Trademark

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This week in Other Barks & Bites: Sanofi wins its patent case against Amgen in front of the U.S. Supreme Court; Open AI CEO Sam Altman asks Congress to regulate the AI industry; and a former Apple employee was charged for stealing autonomous vehicle trade secrets from the tech firm.


SCOTUS Grants Sanofi Win in Patent Feud with Amgen

On Thursday, May 18, the United States Supreme Court voted unanimously to affirm a previous CAFC ruling that invalidated Amgen’s two cholesterol drug patents. After Amgen sued Sanofi and Regeneron for patent infringement, the two companies argued the patents were invalid. Justice Neal Gorsuch wrote the opinion that sided with the CAFC and Sanofi that Amgen failed to show that it satisfied the enablement requirement. In a press release, Sanofi wrote, “this ruling reinforces our longstanding belief that Amgen’s asserted patent claims are invalid and represents an unequivocal win for America’s innovation economy, its scientists, and researchers.” However, not everyone in the IP world was happy with the ruling; for further IPWatchdog coverage, click here.

Former Apple Employee Charged with Theft of Autonomous Vehicle Trade Secrets

On Tuesday, May 16, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California announced the indictment of former Apple employee Weibao Wang that included trade secret theft charges related to autonomous vehicles. While working on a secret project at Apple, Wang allegedly also signed a contract to work with a U.S.-based subsidiary of a Chinese company. The indictment claims that law enforcement found proprietary data from Apple at Wang’s home. “The protection of intellectual property rights is crucial to the economic security of our region,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp.

OpenAI CEO Asks Congress for AI Regulation

On Tuesday, May 16, Sam Altman testified and two other AI experts testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law about the regulation of artificial intelligence. OpenAI is the company behind ChatGPT, which has many worried about its disruptive potential for workers and the economy. While Altman talked up the potential of AI, he also acknowledged the potential dangers and agreed that more regulation needs to come from the U.S. government. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) asked Altman if OpenAI had been working with the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO) to protect artists’ IP from AI. The AI CEO answered affirmatively and said, “we think… content owners need to benefit from this technology. Exactly what the economic model is, we’re still talking to artists and content owners.”

CAFC Denies Centripetal Writ of Mandamus Petition

On Tuesday, May 16, the CAFC denied Centripetal Network’s petition for a writ of mandamus to vacate all Patent and Trial Board (PTAB) decisions in an inter partes review (IPR) of one of its patents. Centripetal was also asking for a new panel of administrative patent judges (APJ) to review the IPR after it alleged that APJ Brian McNamara, who voted to institute the challenge to Centripetal’s patent claims, owns up to $15,000 in Cisco stock. At the heart of this case is the CAFC’s reversal of a $2.75 billion damages award to Centripetal Networks after ruling that the district court judge should have disqualified himself over his wife’s financial interest in Cisco. In this most recent, the CAFC determined that Centripetal failed to establish entitlement to the extraordinary remedy of a writ of mandamus.

University of California Regents Lose Two Appeals Against Patent Judgements

On Tuesday, May 16, the University of California Regents were handed two dismissals of their appeals by the CAFC, one in a case involving the International Trade Commission (ITC) and the other with Satco Products. In the ITC case, the regents appealed the commission’s determination that several companies did not infringe on its patent by importing light-emitting diodes. The CAFC agreed with the ITC’s claim construction which supported the finding of non-infringement. In the second case, the regents appealed four decisions made by the PTAB which found claims in four patents unpatentable. The appeals court sided with the claim constructions of the PTAB and found the regent’s arguments unpersuasive.

SCOTUS Denies Teva Pharmaceuticals a Hearing to Challenge $235 Million Ruling in Patent Dispute

On Monday, May 15, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Teva Pharmaceutical a hearing for its appeal of a 2020 ruling that awarded GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) a $235 million award as a result of a patent dispute. The case began in 2014 when GSK sued Teva alleging the company was infringing on one of its patents by producing a generic version of its beta blocker Coreg. The case involved a dispute over “skinny labeling”, an exception to an FDA requirement that generic labeling must be identical to the brand label.


SCOTUS Passes on Reexamining Section 230 in Gonzalez v. Google

On Thursday, May 18, the United States Supreme Court declined to address Section 230’s application in Gonzalez v. Google because the complaint “appears to state little, if any, plausible claim for relief.”  The Gonzalez case was brought forward by a terrorism victim’s family that was suing Google claiming it violated Section 230 by recommending terrorist content on YouTube. Section 230 has been under fire from multiple perspectives as it provides immunity from liability to big tech platforms for third-party content posted on their websites. U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) wrote in a statement, “Congress must step in, reform Section 230, and remove platforms’ blanket immunity from liability.”

Taco Bell Asks USPTO to Cancel “Taco Tuesday” Trademarks

On Tuesday, May 16, the restaurant chain Taco Bell filed a petition with the U.S. Trademark Office to cancel two “Taco Tuesday” trademarks owned by smaller restaurants in New Jersey and Wyoming. The fast food chain argued that every restaurant should be free to use the phrase, as it’s common and “critical to everyone’s Tuesday.”

Ed Sheeran Wins Second Copyright Lawsuit Filed Against Him

On Tuesday, May 16, singer a New York District Court ruled Ed Sheeran’s song “Thinking Out Loud” does not infringe on the copyright of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.”  This is the second time Sheeran has defeated a case in the United States alleging copyright infringement over this song. The district judge ruled that the two musical elements in question were “now commonplace and thus their combination is unprotectable.”

USPTO Invites Public Comments on Proposed Trademark Fee Changes

On Tuesday, May 16, the USPTO invited stakeholders to comment on its proposed trademark fee changes. More information about the proposed fee changes is available on the USPTO website. To submit public comment, you can submit a written comment by June 12 or testify at the Trademark Public Advisory Committee (TPAC) public hearing, scheduled for June 5. The deadline to request to testify is May 26.

This Week on Wall Street

U.S. Chipmaker to Invest $3.6 Billion in Japan with Aid from Japanese Government

On Thursday, May 18, Micron Technology Sanjay Mehrotra told Nikkei Asia about his company’s plans to invest $3.6 billion in Japan to make DRAM chips. The investment will take several years and is being carried out in concert with the Japanese government. Japan has been working closely with the United States and other allies to contend with China in chipmaking.

Banking Executives Grilled During Senate Hearing

On Tuesday, May 16, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs heard testimony from former executives from two failed banks Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. In his opening statement, Committee Chair and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said the bank failures were an example of “the Wall Street business model that corporations follow over and over: executives put short-term profits above everything else.”

Quarterly Earnings – The following firms identified among the IPO’s Top 300 Patent Recipients for 2022 are announcing quarterly earnings next week (2022 rank in parentheses):

  • Monday: None
  • Tuesday: Intuit (256)
  • Wednesday: Nvidia (159), Analog Devices (187), Splunk (191), Snowflake (207)
  • Thursday: Medtronic (29), Vmware (54), Marvell Technology (191)
  • Friday: None



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Join the Discussion

One comment so far.

  • [Avatar for Oredigger in the Valley]
    Oredigger in the Valley
    May 19, 2023 02:53 pm

    That intro of the petition for the Taco Tuesday trademark is masterfully written. Yo Quiero Taco Bell.