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Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Ken Winterbottom

J.P. Morgan Appeal Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction

Court Agrees with USPTO: Settlement Agreements Are Not Grounds for Dismissing Patent Validity Challenges

Attorney Misconduct-Based Fee-Shifting Request Revived in Light of Recent Supreme Court Decision

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Pass the Patented Peas, Please: EPO Upholds Plant Product Patents

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

Everything’s coming up roses for plant patent holders, following the European Patent Office’s recent endorsement of patents for tomato and broccoli plants.  In a March 25, 2015 decision, the Enlarged Board of Appeal held that the European Patent Convention’s Article 53(b) prohibition on patents for production of plants by “essentially biological processes . . . does not have a negative effect on the allowability of a product claim directed to plants.”

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Stephen Hawking™: Famed Physicist Seeks Trademark Protection For His Name

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Saukshmya Trichi

Stephen Hawking is posed to leverage his physics fame as a brand name. The renowned theoretical physicist has filed an application to register his name as a trademark with the U.K. Intellectual Property Office. The trademark, if approved, will give Hawking greater control over how his name is used in connection with certain goods and services including charitable endeavors, scientific research, and medical devices.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Jeanne Jeong

European Regulators and Watchdogs Increase Investigation of “Technology Giants”

Snapchat Published Transparency Report Revealing Government Data Sharing

New Senate Cyberbill Measure to Protect Americans from Cybercrime

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Australian Parliament Passes Data Retention Law Requiring Storage of User Metadata

By Jenny Choi – Edited by Katherine Kwong

On March 26, 2015, the Australian Senate passed the Telecommunications Amendment Bill 2015. The bill requires the Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”) and telecommunication providers to encrypt and retain user metadata for two years, and prohibits a person from disclosing or using information about the existence or non-existence of a warrant. The purpose of the Bill is to ensure national security and provide law enforcement agencies adequate access to the information they need.

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First Circuit Holds That Artists Have Moral Rights In Unfinished Works
By Debbie Rosenbaum – Edited by Alissa Del Riego

Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art Foundation v. Büchel, No. 08-2199 (1st Cir. Jan. 27, 2010)
Slip Opinion

On January 27, the First Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings the district court’s grant of summary judgment for the Museum of Contemporary Art, holding that artists have moral rights in unfinished artworks.

The First Circuit decided a number of complex issues related to the Visual Artists Rights Act (“VARA”), holding that VARA’s protection of an artist’s moral rights extends to unfinished creations that are “works of art” within the meaning of the Copyright Act.  In so holding, the court reasoned that “moral rights protect the personality and creative energy that an artist contributes to his or her work,” and “[t]hat convergence between artist and artwork does not await the final brushstroke or the placement of the last element in a complex installation.”

The court also ruled that the district judge in the lower court improperly granted the Museum of Contemporary Art summary judgment for one of Büchel’s integrity claims under VARA and his Copyright Act claim finding that there were “material disputes of fact” that should be decided by a jury about whether the museum distorted Mr. Büchel’s installation by showing it to several people after making changes in it without his approval.  However, the First Circuit ruled that Büchel’s right-of-attribution claim was moot because VARA provides only injunctive relief to protect the right of attribution and his installation no longer exists.

The New York Times and the Copyright Litigation Blog both provide an overview of the case.  The Boston Globe provides a good news story that includes the facts going back to the initial dispute. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 2 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Reverses and Remands District Court Ruling in Obviousness-type Double Patenting Case
By Kassity Liu – Edited by Joey Seiler

Boehringer Ingelheim Int’l. v. Barr Laboratories, Inc., No. 2009-1032 (Fed. Cir. 2010).
Opinion

The Federal Circuit reversed and remanded the District Court for the District of Delaware, which had ruled that U.S. Patent No. 4,866,812, owned by the appellant Boehringer, was invalid because Boehringer’s terminal disclaimer did not overcome obviousness-type double patenting with respect to an earlier expired patent, and because the safe harbor provision of § 121 of the Patent Act does not protect the current patent.

The District Court had ruled that the terminal disclaimer filed by Boehringer on the last day of the trial was inoperative because it was filed after the original patent, U.S. Patent No. 4,843,086, had expired. The court also concluded that the safe harbor provision of § 121 did not apply to the ‘812 patent because it was not filed as a result of any restrictions in the ‘086 patent but rather due to a restriction in another patent, U.S. Patent No. 4,731,374. On appeal, the Federal Circuit agreed with the District Court on the issue of the terminal disclaimer, but found that the safe harbor provision did apply.

271 Patent Blog and Patently-O Blog provide brief overviews of the case. Patent Docs gives a more detailed analysis of the case as well as a short summary of the dissenting opinion. IPWatchdog talks about the practical nature of the decision and criticizes the dissent’s narrow interpretation of the safe harbor provision. (more…)

Posted On Jan - 31 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Harry Zhou

Harvard Law Professor Criticizes Google Book Settlement

On January 26, TechCrunch reported that Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law School professor and “free-culture advocate,” criticized Google’s settlement with the Authors Guild as a “path to insanity.” Lessig writes that the settlement extended the copyright law’s regulation on physical copies into the digital world, resulting in “a world in which every bit, every published word, could be licensed.” According to Lessig, providing copyright protection at the level of pages instead of at the level of books could make accessing digital books a complicated and “legally regulated event.” To prevent this outcome, Lessig argues that the “solution is a re-crafting of [the] law” that would favor protection of a work as a whole rather than protection of its constituent parts.

FCC Continues Probe of Wireless Carriers’ Early Termination Fees

MocoNews reported on January 26 that the Federal Communications Commission formalized its inquiries into how wireless carriers handle early termination fees by sending letters to Google, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. The FCC states that the letters are intended to gather “facts and data on the consumer experience with wireless early termination fees.” Google, while not a carrier, charges an “Equipment Recovery Fee in connection with its offering of the Nexus One to customers who agree to a two-year contract with T-Mobile.” Industry trade group CTIA-The Wireless Association responded to the FCC’s inquiry by emphasizing that the fees “are part of the rate and rate structure that allows wireless carriers to, among other things, subsidize phone purchases.”

Chinese Search Engine Cleared of Music Piracy Charges

Wired.com reported on January 26 that Baidu, the leading search engine in China, was cleared of music piracy charges. Universal, Sony BMG, and Warner filed suit in a Beijing Court in early 2008, accusing Baidu of providing links directly to a large number of allegedly infringing song tracks hosted by third-party websites. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry expressed disappointment over the court’s ruling, stating that “the verdicts do not reflect the reality that both operators have built their music search businesses on the basis of facilitating mass copyright infringement, to the detriment of artists, producers and all those involved in China’s legitimate music market.”

Posted On Jan - 30 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Court Reduces $1.92 Million File-Sharing Jury Award to $54,000
By Dmitriy Tishyevich – Edited by Joey Seiler

Capitol Records Inc. v. Thomas-Rasset, No. 06-1497 (D. Minn. Jan. 22, 2010)
Order

In June 2009 a jury returned a verdict against Defendant Jamie Thomas-Rasset after finding that she willfully infringed the copyrights of twenty-four songs by making them available through a file-sharing program.  The jury awarded Plaintiffs statutory damages of $80,000 for each willful infringement, resulting in a total verdict of $1.92 million.  On January 22, 2010, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Michael Davis for the District of Minnesota remitted the jury award by 97% to $54,000 ($2,250 per song), three times the statutory minimum, noting that even this reduced award remains “significant and harsh” and finding that it sufficiently serves both the deterrent and the compensatory purposes of statutory damages.

JOLT Digest previously covered the Thomas-Rasset case.  ArsTechnica and Wired report on Judge Davis’ order.  Copyrights and Campaigns comments on the decision and provides continuing coverage of the updates in the case. (more…)

Posted On Jan - 28 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Affirms TTAB’s Refusal of South Carolina Baseball Logo Registration
By Harry Zhou – Edited by Davis Doherty

Univ. of S. Carolina v. Univ. of S. Cal., No. 2009-1064 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 19, 2010).
Slip Opinion

In a nonprecedential ruling, the Federal Circuit affirmed a decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board (“TTAB”) refusing the appellant’s (“South Carolina’s”) registration of its Carolina Baseball Logo mark and granting summary judgment against the appellant on its counterclaim for cancellation of a trademark registration held by the appellee (“Southern California”).

Despite the absence of evidence of actual confusion, the TTAB held that consumer confusion of goods marketed by the two schools was likely due to similarities in channels of trade and conditions of purchase. Furthermore, the TTAB held that South Carolina lacked standing to bring the counterclaim. On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed the TTAB’s conclusion of likely confusion, but ruled that South Carolina had standing as to the counterclaim. But the Federal Circuit upheld the TTAB’s grant of summary judgment on the counterclaim, finding that South Carolina failed to establish any genuine issue of fact.

Patently-O provides a thorough analysis of the opinion. The TTABlog features an overview of the decision and provides a link to the mp3 recording of the oral argument. The Los Angeles Times blog reports the reaction of an attorney representing the University of Southern California in its coverage of the matter. (more…)

Posted On Jan - 24 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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Federal Circuit Flas

By Ken Winterbottom J.P. Morgan Appeal Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction In ...

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Pass the Patented Pe

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Stephen Hawking™:

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Flash Digest: News i

By Jeanne Jeong European Regulators and Watchdogs Increase Investigation of “Technology ...

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Australian Parliamen

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