Posts in Guest Contributors

Bringing Unwilling Licensors to the Table

Some months ago, two courts in Germany granted injunctions against Oppo, one based on a standard essential patent (SEP), and another on a non-SEP related to Wi-Fi. Rather than cave to the demands of Nokia, Oppo has since decided to pull its products out of the German market. Since then, some commentators have claimed that this is another example of so-called “implementers” engaging in hold out. They point to the need for strong injunctive relief in order to force these “unwilling” licensees to the table.

The Last Article an Inventor Wants to Read: How to Know When Your Product Has Failed, and How to Proceed from There

Every inventor has, at one time or another, had the moment where all seems lost. Every avenue that could possibly yield a fruitful alleyway towards profitability has been trodden, and each industry contact that could potentially offer a path towards success has been contacted. The item that began as a simple idea, was built into a homemade prototype, and was eventually turned into a real product by a professional design firm, has not gotten the interest from the industry that had been dreamed of. This realization can be a serious cause for grief for those who have spent countless hours defining and tweaking their product, building relationships with designers, patent attorneys, industry insiders, and other inventors, and still have not achieved their ultimate goal of successfully bringing their product to market. These periods of time can be difficult, as it can feel like you are saying goodbye to a friend that has brought you so much hope, and joy throughout the development process.

What Unauthorized Manipulation of Starlink Signals Teaches Us About the Importance of IP

Starlink signals can be manipulated. In fact, they already have been, by unauthorized third parties. The agents are proclaiming their success and letting the world know that there is nothing Starlink can do about it. I’m inclined to agree. A professor at the University of Texas has found a way to use Starlink signals to develop a new global navigation technology that would operate independently of GPS or its European, Russian, and Chinese equivalents (Starlink’s terminals have also been successfully hacked, but that’s a different issue. This article deals with the unauthorized usage and alteration of the Starlink signals).

IP Goes Pop! You Can’t Do That – What IP Cannot Protect

Who holds the patent on gravity? Who collects the royalties for the speed of light? In this episode of IP Goes Pop!, Volpe Koenig Shareholders and podcasts hosts, Michael Snyder and Joseph Gushue, explore what intellectual property (trade secrets, trademarks, patents and copyrights) cannot protect. Hint- some things excluded from IP protection include the Laws of Nature such as gravity, the speed of light and even Einstein’s theory of relativity E=MC2. Abstract ideas are another. But what other “can’t”s stand between you, your idea, and protections for it?

Understanding IP Matters: Rising to the China Challenge – Why the United States Must Capture Value, Not Just Create It

In the United States, our ability to innovate drives our economic advantage. Have policymakers taken that for granted? To find out, Bruce Berman, founder of the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding, interviewed renowned professor David Teece and Patrick Kilbride of the Global Innovation Policy Center of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Episode 6, Season 2 of “Understanding IP Matters.” Their wide-ranging conversation explores the relationship between intellectual property rights, investment, and the rule of law.

Patent Durability: Building a Better Fence

At the very end of the movie “The Current War,” Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor who played Thomas Edison, bumps into Michael Shannon, the actor who played George Westinghouse. The two had battled for years over implementations of their respective electric current systems into society, with Westinghouse winning in the end. This particular meeting probably never took place, but the conversation in the movie was rather interesting. 

Storming the Digital Gates – A Novelist Speaks Out on Copyright

Copyrights are the most widely held form of intellectual property. They are also the most infringed. Many creators are unaware their rights even exist or how they can be used. Most do not have a clue how they impact commerce and society. A range of creators and copyright holders, from high school students to Warner Media to Beyonce, individuals and businesses, have generated a cornucopia of content, fueled by faster digital processing and virtually unlimited storage. In theory, most of it is protected under copyright law. Most people, and many businesses, have been known to infringe them, no matter their value, often with impunity. Earlier this year, the U.S. Copyright Office established a small claims system for copyright to slow infringement and prevent rightful owners, small and large, from being routinely ripped off. 

UK Judge Delivers Mixed Ruling on Copyright Infringement in the Famous Love Story that Inspired Doctor Zhivago

Anna Pasternak is the Claimant in a recent copyright case at the UK High Court of Justice and author of Lara: The Untold Love Story That Inspired Doctor Zhivago (“Lara”). Lara is a non-fiction, historical book that was published in the United Kingdom in August 2016. It is a love story of Pasternak’s great uncle, Boris Pasternak, poet and author of the book Doctor Zhivago, and his mistress and muse, Olga Ivinskaya, who is portrayed as Lara Antipova in Doctor Zhivago. The Claimant is also the owner of the copyright in a translation of extracts from a book called Légendes de la Rue Potapov” (“the Légendes Translation”). Lara Prescott is the Defendant in the case at issue and author of The Secrets We Kept (“TSWK”), a historical, fictional account of a late 1950s CIA operation, which used copies of Doctor Zhivago as propaganda against the Soviet Union. Prescott, who is named after Lara Antipova, has always been fascinated by the novel. TSWK was published both in the United States and the United Kingdom in September 2019.

Practical Tips for Writing Ex Parte Appeal Briefs

When it comes to ex parte appeals, the kid gloves come off. It’s always nice to be easy-going with the examiner when working directly with that person, but if an impasse is reached and you need to appeal, then there’s no reason to go easy anymore. Don’t be disrespectful, but it’s okay to be rigorous and articulate. With that in mind, below are a few practical tips for writing an appeal brief to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). None of them are meant to serve as a magic bullet but they might help you get a leg up. And course, you need to have a decent case to appeal in the first place or nothing I say below is going to help very much.

Considerations in Divided Infringement Based on Recent Case Law

Divided patent infringement—also called “joint infringement”—is a doctrine plaintiffs can use to allege infringement where more than one party may have participated in a patent’s claimed steps. While the fundamental rules here have been set since 2015, a few recent district court cases set out some new considerations for both plaintiffs and defendants. A handful of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decisions have been instrumental in shaping this area of law. The Akamai v. Limelight Networks case clarified that a single entity can be found liable for infringement if it “directs or controls” another’s action or forms a joint enterprise. It also created a new test for finding joint infringement, if an entity conditions participation or receipt of a benefit on performance of the patented method, and controls the manner and timing of the performance. Later cases Eli Lilly & Company v. Teva Parenteral Medicines and Travel Sentry v. Tropp clarified how this “conditions or benefits” test applies in the context of pharmaceutical and mechanical method patents.

Patently Strategic Podcast: Predictable Results from Unpredictable Arts

Think your invention is sufficiently enabled? If it’s a biological, chemical, or emerging technology invention then you might want to think again. Einstein famously predicted that gravity travels in a wave in his general theory of relativity, and 100 years later, the first gravitational waves were experimentally observed.  Some technologies, like those rooted in physics and mechanics, are considered “predictable” by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), while others, like biological and chemical technologies, are generally considered “unpredictable.” It follows that the amount of disclosure required to enable an invention is related to the predictability of the technology, and so-called unpredictable arts require more description to teach a reader how to “make and use” the technology. Similarly, emerging technologies, being less well known, also require more disclosure to be fully enabled. In this month’s episode, of Patently Strategic, Dr. David Jackrel, President of Jackrel Consulting, along with our all-star patent panel, discusses some peculiarities of patenting unpredictable art and emerging technologies. 

SCOTUS to Consider Granting Centripetal’s Cert Petition in Patent Infringement Qua Judicial Recusal Case

The U.S. Supreme Court will this Friday, December 2, consider whether to grant certiorari in the case of Centripetal Networks Inc. v. Cisco Systems Inc. What began as a patent infringement case has swerved into judicial ethics waters, due to the ruling of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. The cert decision holds significant consequences, particularly for patent owners and inventors who find themselves the target of patent infringement, sue to assert their patent rights, and whom patent infringers then pull into a litigation vortex between federal courts and administrative tribunals at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Answering the Question, ‘What is the Conservative View of Patent Rights?’

Joe Matal, the former Acting Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), recently posed as a question to those sponsoring H.R. 5874, the Restoring America’s Leadership in Innovation Act (RALIA): “What is the ‘conservative’ position on patents and other intellectual property?” It is an interesting question. What is it about property that makes it property? That’s not a liberal or conservative, or a Democratic or Republican question. Property rights are something everyone learns about early in life when your older sibling grabs your teddy bear and takes it away from you. Property rights are innate in humans. Just about everyone would proffer a similar definition: that’s mine and you can’t take it away – at least not without a fight.

US Inventor Arguments for Opposing the Pride in Patent Ownership Act Fall Short on the Merits

Last September, a bipartisan pair of Senators introduced the Pride in Patent Ownership Act, which, if passed, would add greatly-needed transparency to our patent system. The legislation would require patent owners to disclose their identity to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) when a patent issues and whenever it changes hands so that members of the public have easy access to information about who the true owners of patents are. Right now, inventors, businesses, and other interested members of the public often have to undertake time consuming and expensive litigation to determine who owns a patent. As Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) rightly pointed out when introducing the legislation, “Patents provide a limited term monopoly against the public, and it’s in the public’s interest and benefit to know who owns that monopoly.”

Are Your IP License Agreements Undervalued? What to Consider Before Starting a Forensic Royalty Audit

Companies that license intellectual property may not realize they are leaving money on the table in royalty underpayments and calculation errors made by their licensees. Forensic royalty audits can identify issues and correct royalty underpayments and IP valuations, but there are many aspects, not just financial, to consider. Beyond the costs and benefits associated with conducting a royalty audit, it’s also important to understand why and how licensees underreport and underpay royalties, and the key terms to scrutinize in your licensing agreement.