Deciding whether or not to enforce one’s intellectual property rights is a significant decision for any business (or individual). Litigation in general tends to be an expensive proposition and intellectual property litigation ranks toward the top with regard to average cost. While the average total cost of U.S. trademark infringement and copyright infringement litigation varies depending on the nature of the case and the stakes involved, such costs (i.e., attorneys’ fees and third-party costs) average in the $300,000-$500,000 range. Patent infringement litigation is typically even more expensive. Intellectual property enforcement decisions therefore must be made with care, taking into consideration all relevant legal, financial, and other business considerations. This article discusses the considerations affecting intellectual property enforcement decisions through the prism of two examples: T-Mobile’s trademark rights in the color magenta and the very popular Baby Yoda GIFs that seem to be everywhere online. Both companies recently experienced considerable backlash when IP enforcement of these rights went wrong.
This week on Capitol Hill, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives has planned a number of hearings on climate change and antitrust matters, especially where the T-Mobile/Sprint merger is concerned. In the Senate, cybersecurity takes center stage at the Senate Homeland Security and Energy Committees. Elsewhere in Washington, D.C., the Brookings Institution got the week started early with a look at the impacts of artificial intelligence on urban life; Inventing America hosts a half-day event looking at current issues in the U.S. patent system; and the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation examines the future of autonomous vehicles in the freight industry.
5G, or 5th generation wireless communication, has reached the point of determining which core technologies will be used. Suddenly, decisions about which companies will be picked are upon us. And the stakes could hardly be higher — for the companies and for our national (and American citizens’) security. The two businesses in the ring, Qualcomm and Huawei, each find themselves in a tough fight to dominate the IP-based 5G technology on which countless devices—from automobiles to mobile phones to who-knows-what—will interoperate. The 5G platform will empower the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence writ large and more—a technological advance with tremendous potential as well as tremendous risk exposure to spies, hackers and such. Both companies face hurdles from the U.S. government. One makes sense. The other makes no sense.
On Tuesday, September 4th, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. T-Mobile USA, Inc., et. al., vacating and remanding a grant of summary judgment entered by the district court finding the defendants in the case didn’t infringe a patent asserted by Intellectual Ventures. The Federal Circuit panel of Chief Judge Sharon Prost and Circuit Judges Kimberly Moore and Jimmie Reyna found that the district court had erred in its claim construction leading up to the grant of summary judgment in the case.
Yes, under certain circumstances you can trademark a color… Examples of protectable color marks include: red soles for women’s high-heel dress shoes, where the rest of the shoe is not also red (Louboutin); pink fiberglass insulation (Owens-Corning); red knobs on cooking appliances (Wolf); light blue for jewelry boxes (Tiffany); brown for parcel delivery trucks and uniforms (UPS); magenta for telecommunications services (T-Mobile); and orange for scissor handles (Fiskars).
On August 8th, a memorandum opinion entered in the District of Nebraska overturned a jury verdict award of more than $30 million handed to Omaha, NE-based intellectual property licensing firm Prism Technologies LLC back in June 2015. After Prism won the multi-million damages award from Overland Park, KS-based telecommunications company Sprint (NYSE:S), a decision by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld findings of patent invalidity in a different case involving the patents asserted by Prism. That Federal Circuit decision was applied to Prism’s case against Sprint in a way which shows patent owners that their intellectual property rights are seemingly never safe under the current U.S. patent policy regime.
Forever a PC family, IPWatchdog has slowly converted over to all Apple/Mac products. It started with iPhones, then an iPad, followed by 27″ iMacs, and now MacBook Airs. This conversion ultimately got me thinking, “What happened to the old Mac vs. PC Commercials?” Nearly two years ago I wrote an article Mac vs. PC: A Simplistic Yet Effective Marketing Strategy. You remember Mac vs. PC don’t you? The usually frazzled, often disheveled “PC” was played by John Hodgeman and the always hip, cool and technologically advanced Mac was played by Justin Long. The Get a Mac ads which started in May of 2006 and ended in October of 2009 seem to have virtually disappeared. In fact, the commercials are not even featured on the Apple Website. If you click on the “Commercials” link you are now taken to a “Why You’ll Love a Mac” page. Boring. Could it be that Apple thinks PC’s no longer have the issues that have always plagued them in the past? I doubt it. Why do you think we are moving over to “the Dark Side???” Maybe Hodgeman and Long got too big for their roles? Well no matter what the reason, I have one question, “Hey Apple, what happened to Mac vs. PC?”