Posts in Government

USPTO Webinar on ‘Robust and Reliable Patent Rights’ Underscores Pressure on Office to Respond to Public Scrutiny of Examination Practices

On November 4, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) hosted a webinar regarding the agency’s recent request for comments (RFC) on initiatives that the USPTO is exploring to enhance the robustness and reliability of patent rights issued by the agency. While the USPTO senior legal advisors moderating the webinar indicated that the agency was interested in hearing all viewpoints, the types of initiatives being considered could lead one to believe that ensuring robust and reliable patent rights means encouraging fewer U.S. patent filings.

Lawmakers Aim a Triple Whammy at American Innovation

Last week, the Bayh-Dole Coalition held a webinar titled “The Three-Pronged Attack on U.S. Innovation and Intellectual Property.” Before we consider each prong, it’s worthwhile reflecting on a larger point. Each would deal a body blow to American innovation just as we struggle to keep the economy on track. And each would be a self-inflicted wound that must have our foreign rivals shaking their heads at our folly.

TTAB Rules in Favor of Sony in Trademark Dilution Case

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) ruled in favor of Sony on October 28 in a decision that sustained the corporation’s opposition to an  application to register the mark SONISTREAM for a streaming platform. The TTAB ruled last Friday that the “SoniStream mark is likely to dilute Opposer’s famous SONY mark by blurring.” The Board found that SoniStream is similar enough in name “to trigger consumers” of SoniStream to think of the Sony brand. Of the six factors used to evaluate the case, the TTAB found that four were likely to dilute the Sony brand.

Mexico and Switzerland Question Need for Extension of COVID IP Waiver

A communication from the governments of Mexico and Switzerland to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on Tuesday raised a number of questions about the prospect of extending a waiver of intellectual property (IP) rights for COVID-19 vaccine technologies to therapeutics and diagnostics. The Council met informally in September to discuss the extension, which technically has a deadline of December 19, six months after the Ministerial Conference decision finalizing a waiver on “patented subject matter required for the production and supply of COVID-19 vaccines” only. The final agreement contemplated extending the waiver to “the production and distribution of COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics” within six months of adoption.

Jim Jordan Letter to Vidal on West Virginia v. EPA Could Implicate USPTO’s Section 101 Subject Matter Eligibility Guidelines

On November 1, Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) sent letters to several federal agency heads, including Kathi Vidal, Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), asking those officials what their agencies had done to respond to the U.S. Supreme Court’s mandate in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency decided this June. While Jordan’s letter is clearly responding to political developments during the Biden Administration, West Virginia has garnered interest among some patent industry stakeholders responding to recent USPTO rulemaking surrounding subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

Patent Filings Roundup: Old IP Edge Filings Explode; No New Discretionary Denials Again; Fortress-Backed DivX Rolls On

It was a return to form this week in the district courts, with 115 new patent filings (led by more than 40 new IP Edge complaints) to just 23 new Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) filings—the latter number being bolstered by a number of challenges to patents held by Raymond Anthony Joao subsidiary Beteiro, LLC by a conglomerate of gambling companies, including PointsBet USA, DraftKings, Inc., BetMGM, LLC, Hillside New Jersey LLC, and Entain Corporate Services Ltd. Micron filed another set of challenges against Katana Silicon Technologies patents, Ecobee challenged another Magnetar entity, Ollnova, which has brought suit on Internet of Things (IoT) related devices; and it was another week without any discretionary denials.

USPTO Efforts to Reduce Fraud are Good for the Trademark System

Security issues have long dogged the U.S. trademark system. Unscrupulous operators – sometimes competitors, sometimes bad actors with nothing better to do – too frequently muck up the application process by modifying those filings or filing improper submissions. This is no small problem given the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (the USPTO) remains a mammoth and international hub of trademark filings. In fiscal 2021, trademark application filings topped 943,000, a record high. This marked an increase of about 28% from the prior year, with that increase driven primarily by Chinese filers.

Overbroad State Right-to-Repair Bills Would Violate Federal Copyright Law

The right-to-repair movement has been making strides in recent years, as many states are now contemplating bills that would require electronic device manufacturers to make their parts, tools and know-how available to device owners and independent repair shops. While the goal of expanding repair opportunities for consumers is certainly laudable, repair advocates are pulling a fast one when it comes to the federal copyright law implications of their preferred state legislative solutions. As Professor Adam Mossoff and I explain in a new Hudson Institute policy memo, these proposed state right-to-repair bills are unconstitutional on their face because they directly conflict with the rights secured to authors under the federal Copyright Act. They are also the wrong policy since they would upset the legal and policy foundations that have led to the unprecedented success of today’s thriving digital marketplace. States should not waste valuable time and resources on harmful right-to-repair bills that will be struck down when they are inevitably challenged.

Amici Back Jump Rope Company in Supreme Court Case

Three amici filed briefs last week in Jump Rope System’s petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) decision upholding a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) finding of unpatentability. Eagle Forum Education and Legal Defense Fund and the Fair Inventing Fund filed briefs in support of the jump rope company while DivX filed in support of neither party .

Jump Rope Systems, the inventor of a novel jump rope system, is petitioning the Supreme Court to clarify “whether, as a matter of federal patent law, a determination of unpatentability by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in an inter partes review proceeding, affirmed by the Federal Circuit, has a collateral estoppel effect on patent validity in a patent infringement lawsuit in federal district court.”

U.S. Copyright Office Backtracks on Registration of Partially AI-Generated Work

On October 28, Kristina Kashtanova, an artist and artificial intelligence (AI) consultant and researcher, received notice from the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO) that the registration for the first issue of her partially AI-generated graphic novel, Zarya Of The Dawn, may be canceled. A month earlier, on September 15, the USCO issued a registration for Kashtanova’s work, which was subsequently widely publicized as the first known instance of an AI-generated work being successfully registered with the USCO. In the USCO’s recent communication, “I was asked to provide details of my process to show that there was substantial human involvement in the process of creation of this graphic novel,” Kashtanova explained by email. When asked to confirm the potential cancellation for Kashtanova’s registration, the USCO provided a written statement saying…“Copyright under U.S. law requires human authorship. The Office will not knowingly grant registration to a work that was claimed to have been created solely by machine with artificial intelligence.”

This Week in Washington IP: IP Rights and the Right-To-Repair Movement, Implementing CISA’s First Strategic Plan, and the USPTO’s RFC on Robust and Reliable Patent Rights

This week in Washington IP news, both house of Congress remain quiet during regularly scheduled work periods. Elsewhere, the Hudson Institute explores the growing right-to-repair movement and potential conflicts with federal policy on intellectual property protections. The Center for Strategic & International Studies explores the first three-year strategic plan for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and how it should be implemented. Finally, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office closes the week with a webinar discussing the agency’s recent request for comments (RFC) on initiatives to support robust and reliable patent rights being issued by the agency. 

Discretionary Denial Under Section 325(d): Nuances of Advanced Bionics Framework for Prior Art Cited in an IDS During Prosecution

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has the discretion to deny institution of an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding under 35 U.S.C. § 325(d) if “the same or substantially the same prior art or arguments previously were presented to the Office.” In Advanced Bionics, LLC v. Med-El Elektromedizinische Geräte GmbH (“Advanced Bionics”), the PTAB established a two-part framework for determining whether a PTAB panel should exercise discretion under Section 325(d). This article surveys recent PTAB decisions having the common fact that the IPR challenges rely upon prior art that is the same or substantially the same as prior art submitted in an IDS during prosecution to glean insights as to how parties and the Board are addressing Advanced Bionics in this scenario.

Patent Filings Roundup: Another Slow Week in the Courts; Discretionary Denials Drop to Near-Zero in Q3

It was another surprisingly light week in patent filings, compared at least with recent memory—just 29 new suits and 17 new filings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), all inter partes reviews (IPRs). The filings include a few challenges against patents asserted by the Fortress-funded Neo Wireless and Netlist, as well as a slew of filings by Apple against Mullin Industries, LLC. After a week’s respite there were five new IP Edge suits—not as many as usual, but still enough to represent almost a fifth of all suits filed this week.

Copyright Office Issues NPRM to Correct MLC’s ‘Erroneous’ Dispute Policy on Post-Termination Blanket License Royalties

On October 25, the U.S. Copyright Office issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register to clarify the application of the derivative works exception to copyright termination rights within the context of blanket licenses administered under the Music Modernization Act (MMA). The Office is hoping to correct what it sees as a legally erroneous dispute resolution policy established by the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), which administers the MMA’s blanket licenses to digital music providers, regarding the payment of royalties after songwriters exercise their termination rights to regain copyright ownership from music publishers.

Michel Calls Out CAFC for ‘Tremendous Failure’ to Provide Clarity on Eligibility Law

During IPWatchdog’s Life Sciences Masters 2022 today, Retired Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Paul Michel said a lot could be fixed by the CAFC itself with respect to patent eligibility law if it would just go en banc more often. “By my recollection the Federal Circuit hasn’t gone en banc on a major patent case in a decade,” Michel said. “And yet, all CAFC judges are on record saying that 101 law is a total mess and needs to be fixed.” Michel was speaking on a panel moderated by Laura Smalley of program sponsor, Harris Beach, and including Mike Cottler of biosimilars company Alvotech and Tom Stoll of Genentech. The panelists were discussing the effect of U.S. patent eligibility law on the life sciences industry, including the potential impact of current efforts to reform patent eligibility law, such as Senator Thom Tillis’ (R-NC) Patent Eligibility Restoration Act. While Michel said he believes it’s ultimately Congress’ job to make the kind of policy judgments the Supreme Court and Federal Circuit have been making in this sphere, there is still a lot more the Federal Circuit could be doing to help the situation