Posts in Holiday Posts

A Cooking Revolution: Mary Jones De Leon

In 1873, Mary Jones De Leon was granted U.S. patent No. 140,253 for her invention titled ”Cooking Apparatus.” De Leon, who resided in Baltimore, Maryland, is believed to be the second black woman to receive a U.S. patent, following Martha Jones in 1868. De Leon’s invention was an apparatus for heating or cooking food by dry heat and steam the same time. Her cooking apparatus was an early precursor to the steam tables now used in food buffets to keep food warm during gatherings.

A Better Way to Husk: Martha Jones, First Black Woman to Receive a U.S. Patent

Martha Jones of Amelia County, Virginia, is believed by many to be the first black woman to receive a United States patent. Her application for an “Improvement to the Corn Husker, Sheller” was granted U.S. patent No. 77,494 in 1868. Jones claimed her invention could husk, shell, cut up, and separate husks from corn in one operation, representing a significant step forward in the automation of agricultural processes.

Washington Insiders Say Farewell to 2020 and Look Ahead to 2021

As we thankfully see 2020 fading into the rear-view mirror and all look forward to a hopefully much better 2021, we want to take a moment to reflect on what the past year brought us and how the stage is set for another very fluid and consequential year for intellectual property policy. In times like these, it is clear that leadership matters more than ever. During some of the most challenging times our country has faced, there were a number of places where we saw strong leadership result in tangible progress. This year has already shown us a dramatic first few days. Beyond the tragic events in the U.S. Capitol, we saw the somewhat unexpected shift of power in the Senate to Democratic control based on the election of both Rev. Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff in Georgia. It is clear that the new Congress and the new Biden Administration will face huge challenges before we approach anything close to “normal” in any sense. That said, when it comes to IP, what can we expect?

Wish Upon a Star: Experts Share Their Wildest IP Dreams for 2021

We have already published industry roundups on the biggest moments in IP for 2020 and predictions and thoughts for 2021. But the longest running industry insider feature on IPWatchdog is our annual “wishes” article. Each year, we invite stakeholders to share their wildest dreams for the coming year. Unlike our Predictions and What Mattered roundups, this series allows our experts to get creative. The responses may have nothing to do with what is likely to happen, but rather gives commenters a chance to explain how 2021 would unfold in their dream scenario. This year, responses remained fairly grounded in reality, with the possible exceptions of hope for clarity on Section 101 law and that Andrei Iancu will remain USPTO Director under future President Biden. Here’s to a new year where all your wishes come true!

What to Watch in 2021: IP Stakeholders Offer Predictions and Thoughts for the New Year

Each December, we ask industry experts to identify what mattered in IP for the previous year, as well as their wildest IP dreams for the new year. In 2017, another year-end series was born—predictions and thoughts for the New Year. Attorneys instinctively eschew predictions—and after a year like 2020 we all have learned the hard way they are rather ill-advised—but these brave souls have gone out on a limb to look into their crystal balls, or simply to give their thoughts on what we should be watching or expecting for the year ahead. Here are our esteemed panelists’ responses.

The Year in Patents: Ten Developments We’ll Remember From 2020

As we end 2020— a year most of us probably wish to forget— it appears that after much litigation it is finally safe to call Joe Biden the President-Elect of the United States. While some may still wish for the improbable, with the Supreme Court not scheduled to hold a hearing on any election issue until after inauguration day, it is impossible to envision anyone other than Biden being sworn in on January 20–although, with everything that has happened so far this year nothing is truly unimaginable anymore. Notwithstanding the uncertainty the future holds, we take this time to look back on the year that was 2020, remembering the biggest patent news stories of the year (in reverse chronological order).

The Top 10 Patents of 2020: From Social Distancing Tech to Facilitating Driverless Vehicles in 5G Networks

As the world bids good riddance to 2020, cursed as it has been by the COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant shutdown of major swathes of the globe’s economy, this list of the Top 10 Patents of 2020 hopefully serves as a reminder that—although the world has missed out on concerts and sporting events aplenty—this year has not been a wasted opportunity for inventors. The world of patent law may be steeped in the tradition of legal precedent but the technologies covered by patents themselves are forward-looking, promising days of driverless vehicle commutes, personalized cancer treatments and fewer awkward moments on Zoom calls. This list does not purport to be an authoritative collection of the most economically valuable technologies protected by patents during 2020, but it offers an honest assessment of technologies that may provide an array of social benefits to consumers long after we ring out the current year.

The Copyright Top Five of 2020

From the Google v. Oracle arguments to Congress’ year-long discussion around reform of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), 2020 was a big one for copyright law. A discussion draft of the DMCA reform bill was released on December 22 by Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Thom Tillis (R-NC), and was meant to solicit comments from stakeholders and other interested parties. Chances the bill will be signed into law anytime soon are slim, but proposed changes such as lowering the specificity with which copyright owners must identify infringing material in certain cases and replacing the notice-and-takedown system in existing law with a “notice-and-staydown” system, would mark a new era in the U.S. copyright regime.

Top USPTO Developments of 2020—and What to Expect in 2021

Novel and non-obvious can be easily used to describe the events of 2020, both here in the United States and around the world. Despite all the challenges, there have been positive developments in the way we conduct business—and that certainly was true at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Below we recap some of the most significant developments at the USPTO in 2020 and topics to keep an eye on in 2021.

Federal Circuit Reflections, 2020: The Good and (Mostly) Bad

If you’re looking for some positive patent news from 2020, count the heightened civic awareness of our intellectual-property/innovation policies, as a result of the global pandemic, as a silver lining. But our present task is to report on the 2020 highlights from the Federal Circuit; unfortunately, it’s all downhill from here. If 2019 had Section 101 law as its defining issue, given the Federal Circuit and
Supreme Court’s slate of rulings and non-rulings, 2020 only seemed to make the Section101 exclusions even broader. The capstone was AAM, Inc. v. Neapco Holdings LLC, 966 F.3d 1347 (Fed. Cir. 2020), the Federal Circuit’s denial of en-banc consideration (again) of Section 101 rulings that, all judicial protests aside, seemed to plainly expand a reviewing court’s power under Section 101 (again). And in ways many would’ve thought unimaginable just six-to-eight years ago, when Mayo-Alice emerged from the Supreme Court with only “inventive-concept” tests ringing about. Neapco’s panel ruling in the fall of 2019 was the proverbial shot across the Section112 bow.

What Mattered in 2020? Industry Experts Have Their Say on This Year’s Biggest Moments in IP

As we get ready to usher in the new year this week (hopefully in smaller groups than usual), it is once again time to look back on the year behind us and to reflect on the biggest moments and key events in the world of intellectual property from 2020. As in years past, we asked a panel of industry experts…

More Iconic (and Patented) Toys and Games: A 2020 Update

It’s Christmastime yet again and we return to a holiday feature made popular in recent years by IPWatchdog Founder Gene Quinn: a roundup of patents covering the most iconic toys and games ever created. Past lists have featured such classics as Mr. Potato Head, Monopoly, Legos, Simon, the Game Boy and much more. This year, we provide an addendum to this list with a series of 10 additions. Many a child around the world has woken up on Christmas morning to tear the wrapping paper off of a box containing one of the following toys or games, regardless if parents were worried about kids shooting their eyes out or the unusual, sometimes creepy, mood swings of small animatronic owls.

Presents for Patent Attorneys!

Christmastime is here again, and IPWatchdog is back with the 2020 edition of our Christmas list for patent attorneys. If you have a patent attorney in your life and you have no clue what to get them, the following options should provide you with a few good ideas for gifts—from smaller stocking stuffers to very practical gifts that will show your patent attorney that you’re serious about helping them succeed in their professional life. Merry Christmas!

Europe’s Top Five (Non-Patent) IP Developments of 2020

In a previous piece, we covered the top five patent developments of the year in Europe. Here, we review some of the key cases and legislation that shaped 2020 in other areas of IP, including trademarks, copyright, design and legislative actions. At number one, in its judgment in Sky v SkyKick (Case C-371/18) in January, the CJEU said that an EU trademark cannot be invalidated for lack of clarity and precision, and provided guidance on what constitutes bad faith. The decision reassured owners of trademarks in Europe, who had feared that many marks would be invalidated if the Advocate General’s Opinion were followed.

Looking Back at the Highest Impact Trademark Cases of 2020

This year saw its fair share of high profile trademark cases: the Second Circuit vacated Tiffany & Co.’s $25 million summary judgment win against Costco Wholesale Corp. in a dispute over Costco’s use of the word “Tiffany” to identify a specific type of six-prong diamond ring setting in Tiffany and Co. v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 971 F.3d 74 (2d Cir. 2020);* the District Court for the Southern District of New York held that the First Amendment protects the use of Humvees in the acclaimed video game Call of Duty from claims of trademark infringement and dilution, and unfair competition in AM General LLC v. Activision Blizzard, Inc., 450 F. Supp. 3d 467 (S.D.N.Y. 2020).; and the District Court for the Western District of Texas refused to grant a “Brizzy” hard seltzer brand a preliminary injunction against Molson Coors over a competing “Vizzy” product because both names were based on the common descriptive term fizzy in Future Proof Brands, LLC v. Molson Coors Beverage, 2020 WL 3578327 (W.D. Tex. Mar. 24, 2020), aff’d, 2020 WL 7064607 (5th Cir. Dec. 3, 2020). But among all of the cases, a select few stand out as ones that have shaped trademark law and are already having an impact that may last for years to come.