John Cordani is a member of Robinson+Cole’s Business Litigation Group and focuses his practice on Intellectual Property litigation and patent procurement and counseling. He has litigated patent, trade secret, trademark, and antitrust cases through trial and appeal in federal courts across the United States.
For more information or to contact John, please visit his Firm Profile Page.
It is sometimes said that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. We have found, however, that it is often the slow-and-steady truth that wins the race in our deliberative justice system, which for patents has both administrative and judicial components. Our case-in-point is the Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Cooperative Entertainment, Inc. v. Kollective Technology, Inc., which reversed a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal on patent ineligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101. This case demonstrates how an invention that is potentially assailable on eligibility grounds can be given its best chance by a focused, consistent and synergistic patent prosecution and litigation strategy. Thus, it is not coincidental that your authors are a patent litigator and a patent prosecutor, respectively.
There are many reasons why patent holders might want to put potential infringers on notice of their rights. Such communications can serve the salutary goal of encouraging settlement of disputes without resort to lawsuits. And under some circumstances, notice may be legally necessary under 35 U.S.C. § 287 to enable a patent holder to recover damages for infringement. But a patent holder might be reluctant to do this if providing such notice can subject it to personal jurisdiction for a declaratory judgment suit in a remote and inconvenient forum.
“Fair Use” is a flexible defense to claims of copyright infringement. It is a doctrine that evolves as technology and the way in which people use copyrighted works advance. As an exception to the general law prohibiting copying others’ works, it permits copying for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as commentary, criticism, teaching, news reporting, scholarship, or research. Naturally, the way courts analyze the “fair use” defense must adapt as technology advances and the way in which creative content is developed evolves. Earlier this year, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a landmark fair use case involving the “copying” of an Application Programming Interface (API).
You cannot get a patent for an invention if it would have been obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art at the time. This is as true today as it was at the founding of our nation. The reason for this rule is clear—the obviousness-bar is necessary to balance rewarding innovation with free and fair competition. The Supreme Court has observed, alluding to the Constitution’s authorization for federal patents, “[w]ere it otherwise, patents might stifle, rather than promote, the progress of useful arts.” KSR Int’l Co. v. Teleflex, Inc., 550 U.S. 398, 427 (2007). While we all agree that obvious inventions should not be patented, the devil is in the details on how to draw that line between the obvious and the nonobvious.
For the past several years, the patent offices in the United States and Mexico have operated under a type of patent examination fast-tracking and work-sharing agreement known as a Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH). This agreement between the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) was set to expire in June of this year, and the status of the program going forward was uncertain. But on January 28, the Offices announced a new agreement that promises to improve upon the PPH system by creating an even “more streamlined approach” to obtaining a Mexican patent once a corresponding U.S. patent is granted than that presently offered under the PPH.