In the event of a general government shutdown on October 1, 2013, the United States Patent and Trademark Office is expected to remain open, using reserve funds to operate as usual for approximately four weeks. Should the USPTO exhaust its reserve funds before a general government shutdown comes to an end, the USPTO would shut down at that time, except for minimum activity to accept new applications and maintain IT infrastructure, etc. The USPTO's website will provide updates on the situation as it develops. In the meantime, details for an orderly shutdown are available on page 78 of the United States Department of Commerce’s shutdown plan.

Friday, 27 September 2013 15:42

FTC to Pose Riddles to Patent Trolls

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The Federal Trade Commission announced today a proposal to target about 25 patent assertion entities ("PAEs") with a series of inquiries aimed at forming a better understanding of the entities' impact on innovation and competition.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013 14:19

California to Adopt Several New Digital Privacy Laws

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California is preparing to adopt several additional privacy and data breach notification laws this month. These include S.B. 46, a notification requirement for breaches of an individual's user name or email address; SB 568, which extends the federal COPPA rules to all children under 18 years of age; and A.B. 370, a do-not-track disclosure law requiring disclosure about behavioral tracking. These laws affect not only companies based in the state, but all companies that do business within the state.

Friday, 13 September 2013 16:48

The 2013 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

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The 2013 Ig Nobel Prizes Ceremony was held at Harvard University last night.   Established in 1991, the Ceremony allows Nobel laureates to present ten awards for odd and unusual research projects.  This marks the 23rd year of the awards, which continues the tradition of honoring scientific achievements that "first make people laugh, and then make them think."  

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning is facing a Federal Court challenge to his office's cease-and-desist order barring Farney Daniels, a firm he identified as notorious for representing “patent trolls”, from brining a patent suit against a Nebraska based defendant.  The primary issue is what, if any, roll or authority the Attorney General's Office has in regulating patent infringement actions, including the types of suits that can be brought and/or the law firms that can bring them.  It appears that the Attorney General is not backing down, and I am sure that his counterparts in numerous other states are paying close attention, especially as suits by "Patent Trolls" contiue to grow in both number and disfavor. For more read here.

Four months after the CLS Bank v. Alice opinion, the Federal Circuit continues to struggle with subject matter eligibility of computer-related inventions under § 101 of the U.S. patent laws.  In Accenture Global Services, GMBH v. Guidewire Software, Inc. (Fed Cir. 2013), Chief Judge Rader and Judge Lourie continue their disparate dialog that began in CLS Bank Int'l v. Alice Corp, and continued in Ultramercial Inc. v. Hulu LLC. However, contrary to the result in Ultramercial, here the party arguing against eligibility of computer programs won out.

Monday, 09 September 2013 18:43

Landmark Case Verizon v. FCC Tests Net Neutrality

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Does the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have the authority to enforce rules designed to keep the Internet as an open and neutral platform?  The question regarding network neutrality is in front of a federal appeals court today in Verizon v. FCC.  The outcome of this case could have profound implications in how Internet service providers (ISPs) are able to operate in the future, which will inevitably affect anyone who uses the Internet, from consumers to startups and tech giants who have built billion dollar businesses online.

Monday, 09 September 2013 16:11

When A Footlong is Just 12 Inches

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The owner of the popular Subway fast-food chain lost an attempt before a trademark appeal board Thursday to secure trademark protection for the term “footlong,” which the chain has used heavily in its sandwich marketing campaigns.

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