Posts in IP News

Other Barks and Bites for Friday, May 10: Bipartisan Congress Members Call for GAO Study on March-In Proposal; USPTO Warns Trademark Applicants of Data Leak; Supreme Court Rejects Time Limit on Copyright Damages

This week in Other Barks and Bites: Members of Congress ask the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study into the impact of President Biden’s proposed framework for exercising march-in rights under the Bayh-Dole Act; the U.S. Supreme Court rules “there is no time limit on monetary recovery” in copyright cases with expired statute of limitations; the Port of Oakland files a countersuit against San Francisco in airport naming dispute; and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office warns 14,000 trademark filers of address leak.

The USPTO Needs to Investigate This Disturbing ‘Patent Examiner’ Reddit Thread

If you have done a search for just about anything using Google, you have no doubt at one time or another stumbled across Reddit, the self-described “home to thousands of communities, endless conversation, and authentic human connection.” Regardless of what you are interested in, there is a community and conversation to be found on Reddit. For those familiar with Reddit and the breadth of topics covered it probably comes as no real surprise that there is a patent examiner Reddit, which has some 4,800 users. What should be surprising—shocking even—is what was recently discussed in one quickly deleted thread within that patent examiner Reddit.

USPTO Proposes Controversial New Rule on Terminal Disclaimer Practice

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will officially publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) tomorrow that would change terminal disclaimer practice related to “non-statutory double patenting.” The judicially-created doctrine of “obviousness-type double patenting”(ODP) has become codified by the USPTO such that the Office will reject claims to more than one patent that vary in only minor ways from one another unless there is a promise by the patentee “not to extend the patent exclusivity term or allow multiple parties to harass an alleged infringer.” This is done via a “terminal disclaimer.”

CAFC Affirms ITC View on Aggregation of Domestic Industry Costs for Disparate Patents

On May 8, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential ruling in Zircon Corp. v. International Trade Commission affirming the U.S. International Trade Commission’s (ITC) ruling that Zircon Corp. had failed to meet the domestic industry requirement to prove a violation of 19 U.S.C. § 1337 due to Stanley Black & Decker’s alleged patent infringement. The Federal Circuit agreed with the ITC that Zircon had failed to provide an adequate basis for evaluating its domestic industry investments by aggregating its investments into products that practiced fewer than all patents asserted by Zircon in the ITC’s Section 337 investigation.

SCOTUS Rejects Three-Year Limit on Copyright Damages But Sidesteps Accrual Question

The U.S. Supreme Court today issued its decision in Warner Chappell Music v. Nealy, a case that asks whether a copyright plaintiff can recover damages for acts that allegedly occurred more than three years before the filing of a lawsuit. The Justices ruled 6-3 that “the Copyright Act entitles a copyright owner to recover damages for any timely claim,” with no limit preventing recovery for infringement that happened beyond three years. As to the issue of when a claim for infringement “accrues,” the Court said it “assumes without deciding” that accrual occurs upon discovery of the infringement.

G+ Communications v. Samsung: The Perils of Being ‘Half-Committed’ to FRAND

Earlier this year, a jury trial was held in the matter of G+ Communications, LLC v. Samsung Electronics Co., Samsung Electronics America, Inc., Case No: 2:22-CV-00078-JRG (E.D. Texas). Pursuant to the jury’s verdict, two of the three patents asserted were found to be infringed by Samsung, and compensation was awarded to G+ in the amount of $45 million for one patent and $22.5 million for the other. The verdict further indicated these amounts were running royalties as opposed to lump sum royalties. Additionally, the jury found G+ had not “breached its [fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory] FRAND obligation by failing to offer a license to the Asserted Patents to Samsung that was fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory, and by failing to act in good faith regarding negotiations with Samsung as to a FRAND license covering the Asserted Patents.”

Outsourcing Patent Enforcement: You May Get What You Pay For

Intellectual property litigation in the 21st century has brought to the fore systems for asserting infringement in which IP owners may be spared some of the huge expense of litigation by “routing” extra-judicial enforcement activities through a third party. They may do so by availing themselves of programs operated by middlemen such as Amazon, which can potentially cripple a competitor with the threat of removal from Amazon.com, while the patentee can claim to be immune from a declaratory judgment suit on the accused infringer’s home turf.

Four Factors to Consider When Deciding Whether to Use Trade Secrets

It is hardly an exaggeration to say that pretty much every business of every size possesses information that would qualify for trade secret protection. This is because under federal law the term “trade secret” is defined very broadly to capture virtually all types of tangible or intangible information. Specifically, the Defense of Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), which became law in 2016, defines trade secrets to include “all forms and types of financial, business, scientific, technical, economic, or engineering information, including patterns, plans, compilations, program devices, formulas, designs, prototypes, methods, techniques, processes, procedures, programs, or codes”

Both Sides Agree: Undermining Bayh-Dole Will Have Tragic Consequences for Innovation

In 1945, American engineer and the first Director of The Office of Scientific Research and Development, Vannevar Bush, published a famous report, Science and The Endless Frontier, which stated that “scientific progress is one essential key to our security as a nation, to our better health, to more jobs, to a higher standard of living, and to our cultural progress.” However, scientific progress could not be achieved until a streamlined patent system that incentivized and rewarded inventors was created. 

The CRISPR Battle Through the Lens of International Patent Harmonization

On Tuesday, May 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit will hear argument in a long-awaited appeal addressing the inventorship of the Nobel Prize-winning CRISPR technology. The case is the latest in a continuing legal battle between two groups of innovators, each asserting patent rights to key aspects of the groundbreaking technology.

WIPO Report Highlights Importance of Patenting to Improve Tech Capabilities

On May 2, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) issued its most recent biennial report, entitled “Making Innovation Policy Work for Development,” which analyzes patent filing, scientific publications and economic data across the globe over the last two decades to identify innovation policies effective at diversifying national economies. While WIPO’s report underscores the highly concentrated nature of the global innovation economy, it also highlights several countries that have seen significant improvements in their own technological diversification during the study period.

Other Barks and Bites for Friday, May 3: FTC Adds Ozempic and 300 Drugs to FDA’s Orange Book; Eight Major Newspapers Sue OpenAI, Microsoft for Copyright Infringement

This week in Other Barks & Bites: the Department of Commerce releases a plan to increase women’s employment in the semiconductor sector in order to meet CHIPS goals; the FTC adds 300 drugs to the FDA’s Orange Book of junk patent listings; and eight major U.S. newspapers sue OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement related to ChatGPT.

CAFC Reverses Dismissal of Declaratory Judgment Suit Linked to Amazon’s APEX Program

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) reversed a district court’s decision in Snaprays (dba SnapPower), v. Light Defense Group (LDG) on May 2, finding that Lighting Defense Group (LDG) purposefully directed extra-judicial patent enforcement activities at SnapPower in Utah. The opinion was authored by CAFC Chief Judge Moore.

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”.

Federal Circuit Highlights Differences in Statutory and Article III Standing in Patent Cases

On May 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Intellectual Tech LLC v. Zebra Technologies Corp. reversing a Western District of Texas ruling that dismissed patent infringement claims for lack of constitutional standing. In so doing, the Federal Circuit found that Article III standing was not extinguished by the plaintiff’s default on a patent security agreement that granted a secured third party the right to assign the patents at issue in the appeal.