Damian R LaPlaca Image

Damian R LaPlaca

is a patent and intellectual property litigator at Devine Millimet & Branch in Boston, Massachusetts with over 25 years of experience.  He has served as lead counsel in a variety of patent and trade secret disputes in different state and federal courts, including Massachusetts, Virginia, and Puerto Rico.  He has twice argued and succeeded in convincing the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to reverse two decisions in the district courts on matters that generated national interest.  Mr. LaPlaca has written before on beating patent trolls.  He is the Chairman of the Intellectual Property Litigation Committee within the Complex Commercial Litigation Committee of the Massachusetts Bar Association. 

For more information and to contact Damian please visit his Firm Profile Page.

Recent Articles by Damian R LaPlaca

Supreme Court Ruling Opens Door to Additional Constitutional Challenges to the Lanham Act

The Supreme Court ruled that the anti-disparagement clause in the Lanham Act violates the Free Speech Clause in the First Amendment. Matal v. Tam. As a result, the United States Patent and Trademark Office may no longer deny registration of a federal trademark application on the ground of disparagement. Several states, including Massachusetts and New Hampshire, have anti-disparagement trademark provisions that will no longer be enforceable either… The statute does not define ‘scandalous’, but like the restriction against disparaging marks, the courts and the PTO focus on whether a mark is offensive.

Diverging Viewpoints on Venue Change Following T.C. Heartland

In two recent decisions following T. C. Heartland, district courts have applied two different methodologies in resolving motions to change venue… In the first decision a trial judge in the Eastern District of Virginia denied the venue motion, filed three days after T.C. Heartland but also on the eve of trial.  Cobalt Boats, LLC v. Sea Ray Boats, Inc. (June 7, 2017)… In the second decision, a district court in the Southern District of Ohio applied the standards in § 1400(b) and transferred the action because neither of two defendants resided in the district and neither had a permanent and continuous presence in Ohio.

Defeating Patent Trolls with Failure to Mark

Many defendants to patent troll suits have never heard of the patent owner or its patent(s), and will have never received notice of infringement until service of the lawsuit. Typically patent trolls have no product to mark, since they are non-manufacturing entities. In that situation, the patent troll must take reasonable steps to ensure that its licensees mark their licensed products – if it has licensees. If a patent troll plaintiff has not required its licensees to mark, the defendant may be able to defeat past damage claims without spending thousands in legal fees mounting a defense on the merits to an infringement claim. This, at the very least, minimizes potential exposure to a patent infringement defendant.