The new Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) will take effect on December 1, 2015, and shall govern all proceedings in civil cases commenced thereafter. Specific to patent litigation, the 2015 FRCP eliminated the previous form patent complaints (i.e. Civil Form 18) that allowed patentees to file a complaint without specifically setting forth its theory of infringement. After taking effect, the new FRCP will require a patentee's initial complaint to comply with the Supreme Court rulings in Twombly and Iqbal, under which the patentee must set forth sufficient facts to make a claim for relief plausible. In patent cases, courts may therefore begin requiring a showing of which patent claims are being infringed and possibly the inclusion of at least one claim chart comparing the accused product with at least one claim.
Shawn “Jay Z” Carter has won a copyright infringement case originally filed back in 2007, involving his 1999 hit single “Big Pimpin.” In a rare instance in which a copyright case involving a hit song actually reached the trial stage, U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder dismissed the lawsuit against Jay Z and his producer Timbaland, ruling that the heir of an Egyptian composer lacked standing to pursue the copyright infringement claim.
Copyright and trademark registrations have long held at least one advantage over patents, the © and ® symbols which efficiently denote registered intellectual property. Proper marking of patented articles requires display of the word "Patent" or "Pat." together with the number of the relevant patent or an internet address where the number may be found. However, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office held an open house to develop icons for patented articles, as well as a number of other intellectual property concepts, and recently published its selections.
The standard for willful patent infringement will be reviewed this term by the Supreme Court of the United States, as reported by SCOTUSblog. The Court agreed to accept two cases that involve the issue of enchanced damages in patent infringement litigation, Halo Electronics v. Pulse Electronics, and Stryker Corp v. Zimmer. Under the Patent Act, the owner of a patent may seek triple damages where willful infringement has been proven. The Supreme Court is expected to consider the proper framework for determining whether infringement in a particular case is willful. A decision in these consolidated cases will be rendered by June 2016.
Google has won a major victory in its ten-year legal fight with authors over its Google Library Project, which digitizes and indexes millions of copyrighted books for an online library without consent from the copyright owner. Since 2004, as part of the Google Library Project, Google has scanned, rendered machine-readable, and indexed more than 20 million books, which includes both public domain and copyrighted works, for its Google Books search engine. The search engine allows users to search words or terms that yields a list of all books in the database in which those words or terms appear, as well as the number of times the word or term appears in each book. The search also provides a brief description of each book which gives some basic additional information, such as a list of the words and terms that appear with most frequency in the book. Users are also allowed a limited viewing of the text of the book to see “snippets” of text containing the searched-for terms. The search sometimes provides links to buy the book online and identifies libraries where the book can be located.
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas recently granted a Motion for Summary Judgment seeking to dismiss a patent infringement suit on the basis that the asserted claims are directed to ineligible subject matter under the two-step test recently reaffirmed by the United States Supreme Court in Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014). Reportedly, one effect of the ruling was to dispose of 168 patent cases pursued by the same Plaintiff, asserting the same claims against separate Defendants. The Court has also requested briefing on an award of attorney's fees.
U.S. District Court Judge George H. King, has ruled that the lyrics to one of the most popular songs in the English language are not protected by a valid copyright. According to the opinion “Because Summy Co. never acquired the rights to the Happy Birthday lyrics, Defendants, as Summy Co.’s purported successors-in-interest, do not own a valid copyright in the Happy Birthday lyrics.”
The equitable defense of laches can apply to claims of patent infringement damages suits, even when they are filed within the six year statutory period as defined by 35 U.S.C. §286, ruled the en banc Federal Circuit in SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC., Fed Cir., No. 2013-1564 (Sept. 18 2015). In this narrow 6-5 decision, the court sitting en banc affirmed its earlier summary judgment, which dismissed SCA's patent infringement suit for laches, from September of last year.