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.

Recording artists Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and T.I. filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Central District of California against Defendants, Marvin Gaye's family and Bridgeport Music, the owner of some of Funkadelic's musical compositions. The lawsuit seeks a declaration from the court that their hit single “Blurred Lines” does not infringe Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up” or Funkadelic's “Sexy Ways” and that the Gayes do not have an interest in the copyright to the composition "Got To Give It Up" sufficient to confer standing on them to pursue claims of infringement of that composition. The lawsuit was filed because the trio received continued threats from the Defendants that they would commence their own lawsuit if the trio did not pay a monetary settlement of Defendants’ claims of copyright infringement and the Plaintiffs believe that the songs at issue are “starkly different.”

It was, perhaps illy established, that transitory signal claims are per se unpatentable under Section 101 of the U.S. patent laws.  This was established by in re Nuijten, a Federal Circuit decision dating back to 2007.  Recently, in Ex Parte Mewherter, the USPTO has went a step further to hold that a standard Beauregard claim (a computer program on a computer readable medium) is not patent eligible, simply because it could encompass transitory signals.  The case has recently been designated by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) as a precedential decision.

On July 31, 2013, the U.S. Department of Commerce released a green paper entitled "Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy." The green paper discusses the goals of maintaining an appropriate balance between rights and exceptions under U.S. copyright law, particularly in the context of the Internet and in view of the substantial economic impact of copyright-intensive industries.  The report was issued by the Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) with  input from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the National  Telecommunications and Information Administration.

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