Posts in Government

Tillis Doubles Down on Calls for Biden to Scrap March-In Plan

Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) sent a letter yesterday to President Joe Biden again condemning the Administration’s December 2023 proposal to allow agencies to consider pricing in deciding whether and when to “march in” on patent rights. Under the proposed framework, which sources have told IPWatchdog is close to being finalized, an agency may consider “[a]t what price and on what terms has the product utilizing the subject invention been sold or offered for sale in the U.S.” and whether “the contractor or licensee [has] made the product available only to a narrow set of consumers or customers because of high pricing or other extenuating factors”.

Tips for Using AI Tools After the USPTO’s Recent Guidance for Practitioners

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently released new guidance for practitioners using artificial intelligence (AI)-based tools. The guidance primarily serves as a reminder of longstanding requirements and best practices for patent and trademark practitioners. For example, patent practitioners have a duty of candor and good faith to the USPTO and a duty of confidentiality to their clients. The guidance does not announce any new law or rule regarding practicing before the Office;  rather, it provides some insight into how the Office expects practitioners to operate when incorporating AI-based tools into their practice.

USPTO Proposes National Strategy to Incentivize Inclusive Innovation

The United States Patent and Trademark (USPTO) today announced a “National Strategy for Inclusive Innovation” in advance of a World IP Day event being held on Capitol Hill.  The Strategy was developed with support from the Council for Inclusive Innovation (CI2) and, according to a USPTO press release, “aims to lift communities, grow the economy, create quality jobs, and address global challenges by increasing participation in STEM, inventorship and innovation among youth and those from historically underrepresented and underresourced communities.”

Witnesses Tell Senate IP Subcommittee They Must Get NO FAKES Act Right

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property met today to hear from six witnesses about a recently-proposed bill to curb unauthorized uses via artificial intelligence (AI) of an individual’s voice and likeness.   The “Nurture Originals, Foster Art, and Keep Entertainment Safe Act of 2023” (NO FAKES Act) was introduced in October 2023 by Senator and Chair of the IP Subcommittee Chris Coons (D-DE) and Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Thom Tillis (R-NC). The goal of the bill is to “protect the voice and visual likenesses of individuals from unfair use through generative artificial intelligence (GAI).”

CAFC Affirms TTAB’s Refusal to Register Hair Products Mark Due to Opposer’s Prior Use

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today issued a precedential trademark decision affirming a Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) ruling that sustained Framboise Holdings, Inc.’s opposition and refused registration of Jalmar Araujo’s mark #TODECACHO. Framboise alleged ownership of the pictured design mark (left) based on prior use of the mark in the United States in connection with hair products, including shampoo, conditioner, hair mask treatments, hair cream, curly hair activator, hair jelly, etc. When Araujo applied to register U.S. Trademark Application Serial No. 88/712823 #TODECACHO as a standard character mark for hair combs, Framboise opposed.

Commerce Department Announces NIST and USPTO Actions on AI

President Biden issued an executive order (EO) on artificial intelligence on October 30, 2023,  announcing a series of agency directives for managing risks related to the use of AI technologies. Now, the Department of Commerce (DOC) has announced several new actions aimed at implementing that order. On Monday, April 29, the DOC said the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released four draft publications on improving safety and security of AI technologies and also launched a program that will help to distinguish between content produced by humans and content produced by AI. Additionally, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today published a request for comment (RFC) on “how AI could affect evaluations of how the level of ordinary skills in the arts are made to determine if an invention is patentable under U.S. law.”

Words Matter: A Proposal to Change the Vocabulary of IP

When the Center for Strategic and International Studies recently hosted a forum on IP, innovation, national security and geopolitical competition, there was an active discussion about the role of IP – intellectual property – in achieving those other outcomes. An interesting debate emerged over the words that describe those IP functions, suggesting that policy can be ill-served by some habitually used, but perhaps not descriptively accurate, vocabulary. The upshot: words matter.  

FCC Restores Net Neutrality Regime Amid Criticism

On Thursday, April 25, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held an open meeting during which the agency’s commissioners voted 3-2 to restore net neutrality rules that reclassifies Internet broadband providers as common carriers, dramatically increasing regulatory oversight on such companies operating in the United States. This partisan victory for the Democratic Party membership of the FCC is raising opposition from taxpayer advocacy groups and Republican lawmakers who believe that the return of net neutrality rules will do much to harm America’s leadership in broadband Internet.

Nautilus or Packard: A Recent PGR Petition Highlights Perils of USPTO Flip-Flops

A recent Post Grant Review (PGR) petition raises several interesting questions, including whether the crossing of two varieties of corn previously crossed and already owned by the patent owner results in a non-obvious claimed invention. See Inari Agriculture, Inc. v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., PGR2024-00025. But as interesting as that obviousness question may be, and how easy it seems it is to get a utility plant patent issued, the question of greater concern for the system relates to which test for indefiniteness the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) should be using, and why.

Apple Watch Patent Wars Create a Defensive Roadmap for ITC Respondents

Late last year, , the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) announced that it would issue a limited exclusion order (LEO) and cease and desist order (CDO) against Apple, Inc. prohibiting Apple from importing and selling its Apple Watch (Series 6 and 7) products in the United States. The case was Certain Light-Based Physiological Measurement Devices and Components Thereof, Investigation No. 337-TA-1276 (“Light-Based Physiological Measurement Devices”), a “Section 337” patent infringement investigation before the ITC that was initiated by Masimo Corporation. Adding insult to injury, the ITC refused to stay these remedial orders pending appeal, putting at immediate risk continued sales of the Apple Watch in the United States. These decisions sent shock waves across both the tech industry and the legal community.

Vidal Says PTAB Improperly Expanded Discretionary Denial Principles

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal on April 19 vacated a decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that had denied institution of an inter partes review (IPR) for a lighting system patent owned by Rotolight Limited. Videndum Production Solutions challenged claims 1–19 of U.S. Patent No. 10,845,044 B2 via IPR and Rotolight argued the petition should be discretionarily denied under the factors set forth in General Plastic Industries Co., Ltd. v. Canon Kabushiki Kaisha.

Updated WHO Pandemic Accord Retains Commitments for Non-Exclusive Licensing and Royalty Waivers

On April 19, the World Health Organization (WHO) released an updated draft proposal of an international agreement on the global response to future pandemics. While the WHO pandemic agreement has been met with widespread support from many of the international agency’s member nations, including the United States, it retains provisions limiting intellectual property (IP) rights that have encouraged opposition from lawmakers and pharmaceutical innovators alike.

FTC Approves Final Rule to Ban All New Non-Compete Agreements in 3-2 Vote

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today voted in a Special Open Commission Meeting to publish and approve a final version of the January 2023 proposed rule that would ban employers from using clauses for their employees. Today’s rule allows existing non-competes to remain in force for senior executives but bans new non-competes for all workers and makes existing non-competes for all other workers unenforceable after the effective date, which is 120 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Unveiling The Untapped Potential of Brazil’s Solar Energy Market

Brazil, a country known for its abundant natural resources, is emerging as a significant player in the global renewable energy sector. Brazil has one of the highest levels of insolation in the world (ranging from 4.25 to 6.5 sun hours per day according to the Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment Project – (SWERA) and is therefore uniquely positioned to harness the power of the sun.

Chamber Appeals Decision to Deny Expedited FOIA Request on March-In Proposal

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) has filed an appeal with the U.S. Department of Commerce, which denied the GIPC’s January 2024 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking more detail about the working group behind the Biden Administration’s draft framework for considering the exercise of march-in rights. The proposed framework was published in the Federal Register in December 2023 by the Department of Commerce and the National Institutes for Standards and Technology (NIST) and included suggestions on whether and when to exercise “march-in rights” under the Bayh-Dole Act that would arguably significantly broaden the criteria for compulsory licensing of patented technology developed with federal funding.