Posts in Licensing

The Licensing Vector: A Fair Approach to Content Use in LLMs

A spate of recent lawsuits is shining light on how some generative AI (GenAI) companies are using copyrighted materials, without permission, as a core part of their products. Among the most recent examples is the New York Times Company’s’ lawsuit against OpenAI, which alleges a variety of copyright-related claims. For their part, some GenAI companies like OpenAI argue that there is no infringement, either because there is no “copying” of protected materials or that the copyright principle of fair use uniformly applies to generative AI activities. These arguments are deeply flawed and gloss over crucial technical and legal issues. They also divert attention from the fact that it is not only possible but practical to be pro-copyright and pro-AI.

Second Circuit Okays Hard Seltzer Sales in Blow to Modelo

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Monday, March 25, affirmed a district court’s denial of summary judgment to beer company Modelo, owned by AB InBev, which alleged that sublicensee, Constellation Brands, had violated the terms of a licensing agreement to sell Modelo beer products in the United States. Modelo argued that Constellation violated the sublicense, which defined “Beer” as “beer, ale, porter, stout, malt beverages, and any other versions or combinations of the foregoing, including non-alcoholic versions of any of the foregoing,” by selling hard seltzer products under Modelo’s MODELO and CORONA trademarks.

Biden’s Patent Proposal Carries Devastating Costs, No Real Benefits

It’s rare that a federal policy inspires fierce opposition from both sides of the aisle. But the Biden administration’s recent proposal to gut the Bayh-Dole Act is doing exactly that. Bayh-Dole is a pivotal and successful bipartisan law, but Biden’s proposal would effectively allow federal agencies to tear up patent licensing agreements signed between federally funded universities and private businesses. The economic consequences would be dire. Individuals from across the political spectrum, including former Obama administration officials, have warned the proposal would threaten America’s small businesses and inventors.

Examining the Possibility of Compulsory Copyright Licensing for LLM Training

ChatGPT and similar generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools rely on large language models (LLMs). LLMs are fed massive amounts of content, such as text, music, photographs and film, which they analyze to discover statistical relationships among these inputs. This process, describe as “training” the LLMs, gives them the ability to generate similar content and to answer questions with seeming authority. The business community, and society at large, seems convinced that AI powered by LLMs holds great promise for increases in efficiency. But multiple lawsuits alleging copyright infringement could create a drag on development of LLMs, or worse, tip the competitive balance towards offshore enterprises that enjoy the benefits of legislation authorizing text and data mining. A lot seems to hang on the question of whether LLM training involves copyright infringement or instead is a fair use of copyrighted content.

HHS Denies Appeal of Xtandi March-In Petition as Comments Close on Proposed Framework

One day before comments closed on the Draft Interagency Guidance Framework for Considering the Exercise of March-In Rights, published by the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) and the Department of Commerce last month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) denied an appeal of a decision not to march in on the blockbuster prostate cancer drug, Xtandi®.

Public Comments Reveal Widespread Unity in Opposition to NIST’s March-In Rights Framework

February 6 is the final day of the 60-day public comment period set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) request for information on its draft interagency framework for exercising march-in rights under the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980. While lauded by drug pricing advocates, almost every other sector of the American economy has come out in opposition to the draft framework. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Bayh-Dole Coalition have all publicly opposed NIST’s efforts to exercise legal authority for relicensing patent rights based on product pricing considerations.

G+ Communications v. Samsung: Splitting the FRAND Baby

A recent decision out of the Eastern District of Texas sheds further light on Judge Rodney Gilstrap’s interpretation of a patent owner’s commitment to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) pursuant to ETSI’s Intellectual Property Rights Information Statement and Licensing Declaration (“the ETSI Licensing Declaration”). The decision, however, also raises some questions for SEP owners. A little over a year ago, we considered how French and California law would interpret a patent owner ‘s commitment to ETSI pursuant to the ETSI Licensing Declaration. The in depth analysis can be found here, while a summary version published on IPWatchdog can be found here. At a high level, we considered the issue both from the perspective of performance being possible without implementer engagement, and from the perspective of performance requiring implementer cooperation.

The March-In Drug Price Control Narrative Crumbles While Its Damage to American Innovation Grows

It was little more than a month ago when the Biden Administration unleashed its draft guidelines for applying the march-in provisions of the Bayh-Dole Act. For more than 43 years, the law was implemented as written. Every Administration—including the Biden Administration—rejected repeated attempts to misuse the law so the government could license copiers when critics felt that a product based on a federally-funded invention was too expensive. This was mainly sought under the guise of lowering drug prices. Even though the Administration issued a stinging denial of the most recent attempt last March, in December it reversed course.

Navigating SEP Determination Challenges with Quality Claim Charts

When licensing standard essential patents (SEPs), the SEP licensor and the standard implementer (also known as the SEP licensee), go through two phases of negotiation. The first phase is the technical phase, followed by the second phase, the commercial discussion. In the technical phase, the SEP licensor must provide evidence that at least one patent of its portfolio is valid and standard essential. This is done by providing rigorously conducted claim charts that map claims against the standard’s sections, providing evidence that all claim elements read on the technical standard specification. Typically, only a few claim charts are needed in this first technical phase, since only one patent must be valid and essential to make the case that the standard implementing party is infringing. The second phase, the commercial discussion, is much more complex. Here, the SEP owner must provide evidence of the value of its SEP portfolio for a given standard supporting why the proposed royalty rate is FRAND (fair reasonable and non- discriminatory).

Bayh-Dole Champions to NIST: Biden’s March-In Proposal Must ‘Immediately Be Withdrawn’

The Bayh-Dole Coalition yesterday submitted comments to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) asking the agency to withdraw the recently published Draft Interagency Guidance Framework for Considering the Exercise of March-In Rights. The Coalition’s Executive Director, Joseph Allen, who authored the letter and formerly served as the Senate Judiciary Committee staffer to Senator Birch Bayh (D-IN), explained that “the framework would irreparably undermine one of the most successful laws in American history.” While Bayh-Dole contemplates march-in rights, the law strictly limits the situations in which such rights can be exercised and does not make any reference to pricing as a criterion for marching in. March-in requests have been rejected on a bipartisan basis multiple times since the bill became law and even then-Senator Joe Biden himself has opposed attempts to inject price controls into the law.

G+ Communications v. Samsung: No Requirement to Atone for Past Transgressions of Prior Owners

In the book / movie “The Shining”, the Overlook hotel is haunted by ghosts involved in past wrongs committed on the property, presumably to make the current inhabitants atone for such sins. Notwithstanding this transcendental precedent, Judge Rodney Gilstrap recently declined to extend such a notion to patents subject to Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licensing related obligations.

CAFC Distinguishes Forum Selection Clause Language from Precedential Cases in Win for Abbott

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today issued a precedential ruling that affirmed a district court’s denial of preliminary injunction to DexCom, Inc., holding that the language of the governing contract’s forum selection clause expressly allowed for the filing of inter partes review (IPR) proceedings in certain circumstances. DexCom and Abbott Diabetes Care, Inc. entered into a settlement and license agreement in 2014, following years of patent litigation over their competing glucose monitoring system patents. The governing agreement included a Covenant Period and a forum selection clause that DexCom argued was breached by Abbott’s filing of eight IPR petitions following the expiration of the Covenant Period and 10 months after DexCom filed an infringement suit against Abbott in the Western District of Texas.

HHS Issues RFC on WHO Pandemic Convention’s Provisions Impacting IP Rights

On December 22, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a notice and request for comments (RFC) regarding the United States’ negotiating position on a draft convention on pandemic preparedness being developed at the World Health Organization (WHO). The HHS’ RFC specifically targets certain portions of the draft convention that would impact intellectual property (IP) ownership, research & development, and technology transfer for pandemic-related technologies.

The Top U.S. FRAND / RAND Licensing Developments of 2023 Part II: Ghosts of Christmas Past and Christmas Future

In Part I of our year end summary of key developments regarding patents subject to a commitment to license on a Fair Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) or Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (RAND) basis, we looked at various developments involving patent pools and reviewed some interesting damages awards and interlocutory decisions. In this installment, we consider a pair of antitrust cases dismissed in 2023 and explore what may come next on the policy front.

The Top U.S. FRAND / RAND Licensing Developments of 2023 Part I: Everybody into the Pool!

With respect to patents subject to a commitment to license on a Fair Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) or Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (RAND) basis, 2023 saw many interesting developments. This includes several new pool-based licensing programs being launched, and others gaining traction, various interlocutory decisions, the dismissal of some antitrust suits, and, as always, the specter of possible government intervention.