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TTAB Rules in Favor of Sony in Trademark Dilution Case

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) ruled in favor of Sony on October 28 in a decision that sustained the corporation’s opposition to an  application to register the mark SONISTREAM for a streaming platform. The TTAB ruled last Friday that the “SoniStream mark is likely to dilute Opposer’s famous SONY mark by blurring.” The Board found that SoniStream is similar enough in name “to trigger consumers” of SoniStream to think of the Sony brand. Of the six factors used to evaluate the case, the TTAB found that four were likely to dilute the Sony brand.

CAFC Delivers Win and Loss for Uniloc in Separate Precedential Rulings on Standing

In a precedential decision issued Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed a district court decision that Uniloc USA, Inc., Uniloc Luxembourg, S.A. and Uniloc 2017 all lacked standing to sue Motorola and Blackboard for patent infringement because it was collaterally estopped by a previous decision in its case with Apple. But in a separate precedential ruling, the CAFC said Uniloc’s non-exclusive license with Fortress Credit Co, LLC was terminated by agreement prior to Uniloc’s patent suits against Google, eliminating Fortress’ ability to sublicense the patents-in-suit and maintaining standing for Uniloc.

Sign the Prenup: What Brands Can Learn From the Kanye West/Adidas IP Breakup

Trust and estate attorneys regularly advise their clients to enter into prenuptial agreements to protect the valuable assets each spouse brings to the marriage as well as how to distribute community property in the event of a divorce. Brand collaborations with celebrities, influencers or other brands are much like marriages, but brand collaborations are even more unlikely to last. Why not plan for the split, whether it be a conscious uncoupling or a Page 6 kind of divorce, with a prenup? The high profile split between Adidas and Ye (fka Kanye West) reminds us that collaboration agreements should not only plan for the best of times, but it is worth setting up the agreement to account for a sudden and troubling end.   

Supreme Court Grants Two IP Cases, Including Amgen v. Sanofi on Enablement

The U.S. Supreme Court granted petitions for certiorari in two intellectual property cases Friday, one dealing with the limits of extraterritorial application of the Lanham Act and another asking the High Court to weigh in on whether “enablement” means a specification must enable those skilled in the art “to reach the full scope of claimed embodiments” without undue experimentation.

Other Barks & Bites for Friday, November 4: CAFC Offers Mixed Bag in Uniloc Appeals, Global Music Copyright Market Valued at Nearly $40 Billion, and Moderna Loses Bid to Have U.S. Government Face Vaccine Patent Claims

This week in Other Barks & Bites: Judge Goldberg of the District of Delaware denies Moderna’s motion to dismiss patent claims against its COVID-19 vaccine over arguments that those claims should be filed against the U.S. government; The USPTO and FDA publish a Federal Register Notice seeking public input on collaboration efforts; IBM and the USPTO announce a partnership on AI-driven IP demonstration tool; the USPTO issues the only extension to the public comment period on the agency’s RFC regarding initiatives to improve robust and reliable patent rights; the Federal Circuit rules that Uniloc has standing to pursue its patent infringement claims against Google, while finding that collateral estoppel from a previous case against Apple prevented Uniloc from pursuing claims against Motorola and Blackboard; the governments of Mexico and Switzerland question the need for extending the TRIPS waiver to COVID-19 therapeutics and diagnostics; and Spotify’s Will Page issues his annual report on the state of global music copyright, finding that the global market was valued at $39.6 billion during 2021.

Mexico and Switzerland Question Need for Extension of COVID IP Waiver

A communication from the governments of Mexico and Switzerland to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on Tuesday raised a number of questions about the prospect of extending a waiver of intellectual property (IP) rights for COVID-19 vaccine technologies to therapeutics and diagnostics. The Council met informally in September to discuss the extension, which technically has a deadline of December 19, six months after the Ministerial Conference decision finalizing a waiver on “patented subject matter required for the production and supply of COVID-19 vaccines” only. The final agreement contemplated extending the waiver to “the production and distribution of COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics” within six months of adoption.

Jim Jordan Letter to Vidal on West Virginia v. EPA Could Implicate USPTO’s Section 101 Subject Matter Eligibility Guidelines

On November 1, Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) sent letters to several federal agency heads, including Kathi Vidal, Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), asking those officials what their agencies had done to respond to the U.S. Supreme Court’s mandate in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency decided this June. While Jordan’s letter is clearly responding to political developments during the Biden Administration, West Virginia has garnered interest among some patent industry stakeholders responding to recent USPTO rulemaking surrounding subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

Patent Filings Roundup: Old IP Edge Filings Explode; No New Discretionary Denials Again; Fortress-Backed DivX Rolls On

It was a return to form this week in the district courts, with 115 new patent filings (led by more than 40 new IP Edge complaints) to just 23 new Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) filings—the latter number being bolstered by a number of challenges to patents held by Raymond Anthony Joao subsidiary Beteiro, LLC by a conglomerate of gambling companies, including PointsBet USA, DraftKings, Inc., BetMGM, LLC, Hillside New Jersey LLC, and Entain Corporate Services Ltd. Micron filed another set of challenges against Katana Silicon Technologies patents, Ecobee challenged another Magnetar entity, Ollnova, which has brought suit on Internet of Things (IoT) related devices; and it was another week without any discretionary denials.

USPTO Efforts to Reduce Fraud are Good for the Trademark System

Security issues have long dogged the U.S. trademark system. Unscrupulous operators – sometimes competitors, sometimes bad actors with nothing better to do – too frequently muck up the application process by modifying those filings or filing improper submissions. This is no small problem given the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (the USPTO) remains a mammoth and international hub of trademark filings. In fiscal 2021, trademark application filings topped 943,000, a record high. This marked an increase of about 28% from the prior year, with that increase driven primarily by Chinese filers.

Overbroad State Right-to-Repair Bills Would Violate Federal Copyright Law

The right-to-repair movement has been making strides in recent years, as many states are now contemplating bills that would require electronic device manufacturers to make their parts, tools and know-how available to device owners and independent repair shops. While the goal of expanding repair opportunities for consumers is certainly laudable, repair advocates are pulling a fast one when it comes to the federal copyright law implications of their preferred state legislative solutions. As Professor Adam Mossoff and I explain in a new Hudson Institute policy memo, these proposed state right-to-repair bills are unconstitutional on their face because they directly conflict with the rights secured to authors under the federal Copyright Act. They are also the wrong policy since they would upset the legal and policy foundations that have led to the unprecedented success of today’s thriving digital marketplace. States should not waste valuable time and resources on harmful right-to-repair bills that will be struck down when they are inevitably challenged.

Amici Back Jump Rope Company in Supreme Court Case

Three amici filed briefs last week in Jump Rope System’s petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) decision upholding a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) finding of unpatentability. Eagle Forum Education and Legal Defense Fund and the Fair Inventing Fund filed briefs in support of the jump rope company while DivX filed in support of neither party .

Jump Rope Systems, the inventor of a novel jump rope system, is petitioning the Supreme Court to clarify “whether, as a matter of federal patent law, a determination of unpatentability by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in an inter partes review proceeding, affirmed by the Federal Circuit, has a collateral estoppel effect on patent validity in a patent infringement lawsuit in federal district court.”

Understanding IP Matters: Rock On — ‘Cracker’ Lead Singer Advocates for Musicians and Other Creators

One contradiction of the digital era is that, while it’s become easier to make and distribute music, it’s also more difficult to earn a living doing it. Artists must accept the extremely low rates that streaming platforms like Spotify and YouTube pay for their songs. What does the future look like for garage bands? And will stronger enforcement of copyright protection help? Bruce Berman, host of the “Understanding IP Matters” podcast, sought out musician, serial entrepreneur, university instructor and intellectual property advocate, David Lowery, to find out in Episode 4 of Season 2 of “Understanding IP Matters.”

Federal Circuit Says Patent Incorporated by Reference Does Not Invalidate Finjan’s Asserted Patents

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today ruled in a precedential decision that the definition of a claim term in a patent incorporated by reference into the patents at issue does not dictate the definition of claims in the asserted patents. The CAFC thus reversed the district court’s claim construction and vacated and remanded its grant of summary judgment of invalidity based on indefiniteness.

U.S. Copyright Office Backtracks on Registration of Partially AI-Generated Work

On October 28, Kristina Kashtanova, an artist and artificial intelligence (AI) consultant and researcher, received notice from the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO) that the registration for the first issue of her partially AI-generated graphic novel, Zarya Of The Dawn, may be canceled. A month earlier, on September 15, the USCO issued a registration for Kashtanova’s work, which was subsequently widely publicized as the first known instance of an AI-generated work being successfully registered with the USCO. In the USCO’s recent communication, “I was asked to provide details of my process to show that there was substantial human involvement in the process of creation of this graphic novel,” Kashtanova explained by email. When asked to confirm the potential cancellation for Kashtanova’s registration, the USCO provided a written statement saying…“Copyright under U.S. law requires human authorship. The Office will not knowingly grant registration to a work that was claimed to have been created solely by machine with artificial intelligence.”

Patently Strategic Podcast: Into the Patentverse, Volume 2

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) intellectual property (IP) have been around for some time now, but how do they relate to the Metaverse? And how will VR and AR patent rights change as the Metaverse continues to evolve? The Patently Strategic Podcast will be exploring these topics in our next installment of Into the Patentverse.

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