The Supreme Court has granted writ of certiorari in a pending Inter Partes Review (IPR) challenge in Cuozzo Speed Tech v. Lee.  The questions on review relate to whether the court of appeals erred in holding that in IPR proceedings, the PTAB may construe claims in an issued patent according to their broadest reasonable interpretation, rather than their plain and ordinary meaning, as well as on whether the PTAB's decision to institute an IPR proceeding is itself unreviewable.

Paramount Pictures Corp., and CBS Studios have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in federal court in California against a company preparing to begin production on a planned independent Star Trek crowdfunded fan film.

The lawsuit, claims that the fan film incorporates “innumerable” copyrighted elements of Star Trek. Axanar Productions, the production company behind the fan-film, stated that “Axanar, will be the first non-CBS/Paramount produced Star Trek to look and feel like a true Star Trek movie.”

Axanar Productions claimed to have raised over $1 million through a crowd sourcing campaign, and was set to start shooting the film in February 2016. Some of that money was used to create a mini-concept film and to construct a sound stage. We will see what impact this copyright infringement lawsuit has on the production of the independent film financed by Star Trek fans.

The Federal Circuit has ruled that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, which allows the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to deny or cancel a trademark if it disparages persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, violates the First Amendment. The ruling vacated the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s refusal to grant a trademark registration to an Asian-American band seeking to register the mark “The Slants” on the grounds that the mark is offensive to Asian-Americans. 

Days before trial and over two years of federal court litigation, a confidential settlement has been reached that would allow the lyrics to the “Happy Birthday” song, one of the world’s most popular songs, to enter the public domain.

The origins of “Happy Birthday” date back to 1893 with the publication of “Good Morning to All,” written by Mildred Hill and her sister Patty, a kindergarten teacher in Kentucky, which had the same tune but different lyrics.Years later, the lyrics to “Happy Birthday” were adapted to the song’s melody. The “Happy Birthday” song was then published in a number of sing-along collections and music books. In 1935, the publisher of one of those books filed for a copyright for the lyrics and music. In 1988, the copyright was transferred to Warner Music.

In-N-Out, the popular California based fast food chain, has sued food delivery startup DoorDash for trademark infringement and unfair competition.

In the Complaint, In-N-Out claims that Defendant, DoorDash's use of "Plaintiff's famous trademarks implies that Defendant not only delivers In-N-Out products to its customers, but that the quality and services offered by Defendant is the same as if consumers had made purchases directly from Plaintiff. Upon information and belief, the quality of services offered by Defendant does not at all comport with the standards that consumers expect from Plaintiff's goods and services. Further, Plaintiff has no control over the time it takes Defendant to deliver Plaintiff's goods to consumers, or over the temperature at which the goods are kept during delivery, nor over the food handling and safety practices of Defendant's delivery drivers. While Plaintiff adheres to the Food Code, on information and belief, Defendant does not adhere to such regulations, including with regard to compliance with required food safety and handling practices."

The CTM (Community Trade Mark) registration, which provides protection across most of Europe, has become a staple of international trademark portfolios since introduction in 1996.  But, some big changes are coming for the 20th anniversary.  Most notably, the CTM name will be changed to the “European Union Trade Mark.”  Also, the registrar’s office in Alicante, Spain, now known as OHIM (Office of Harmonization in the International Market), will be re-named as the “European Union Intellectual Property Office,” and the Community Trade Mark Courts will be called the “European Trade Mark Courts.”  Other technical changes will include new filing/renewal fee structures, stricter rules for listing goods and services, and some enhanced mechanisms for enforcement against infringers.  Final approval by the European Parliament is expected imminently, at which time most changes will become effective, but portions of the overhaul package will require adoption into the national laws of member countries.   The Firm continues to assist clients with trademark registration and enforcement in virtually every country of the world.

In an interesting decision regarding whether copyright protection may extend to a sequence of yoga poses, the Ninth Circuit ruled that a sequence of yoga poses is a collection of facts and ideas that is not subject to copyright protection.

In an interesting decision handed down by the Federal Circuit this week, it has been found that electronic transmissions of digital data are not "articles" which the International Trade Comissision (ITC) has jurisdiction to exlcude under 19 U.S.C. 1337.  ClearCorrect Operating, LLC v. International Trade Commission, Fed. Cir., No. 2014-1527 (Nov. 10, 2015).  After an interpretation of both the literal text of the statute as well as the legislative history, the Federal Circuit reversed the ITC's prior determination, and found the term "articles" to clearly mean only "material things".

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