On March 24, 2015, in B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc., the Supreme Court held that a Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) decision is to be given issue preclusion effect when the usages it adjudciated are materially the same as those before a later district court proceeding.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015 16:09

USPTO Patent Quality Summit 2015

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This past Monday the Senate officially confirmed Michelle Lee as the new director of the US PTO.  Director Lee is the first woman director of the agency, and previously served as Google's chief patent counsel.  Since beginning her tenure at the US PTO, Director Lee has set her primary focus on improving patent quality in the US patent system.  In line with this patent quality initiative, the US PTO has set forth six (6) proposals to serve as the focal points for the upcoming Patent Quality Summit on March 25-26, 2015.

A federal jury in Los Angeles has found that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams committed copyright infringement by copying elements of Marvin Gaye's 1977 hit "Got to Give it Up" in their 2013 hit "Blurred Lines. The jury awarded Nona and Frankie Gaye, two of Marvin Gaye’s children, $4 million in damages plus approximately $3.3 million of the profits earned by Thicke and Williams. According to court records, “Blurred Lines” has earned profits in an excess of $16 million dollars. Under the Copyright Act, a plaintiff can seek its actual damages and the infringer’s profits that are attributable to the infringement. The damages award is believed to be one of the largest damages awards in a music copyright case.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) is in quest to deliberate on issues concerning protections from disclosure for communications between patent applicants and their patent advisors.  More specifically, the USPTO is commencing a discussion on whether and to what extent the U.S. Courts should recognize privilege for communications between U.S. patent practitioners and their clients in foreign jurisdictions; U.S. applicants and their "non-attorney" U.S. patent agents; and between foreign patent practitioners and their clients.

The Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) has unequivocally addressed the current standard of review for patent claim construction. Accordingly, the Court has held that a Federal Appellate Court can only overturn a District Court’s factual findings, if those findings were determined to be clearly erroneous. As such, this new standard transforms the de novo standard used by the Federal Circuit when reviewing patent claim construction.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has declared that copyrighted materials are crucial to the Patent System and should not be threatened as copyright infringement. These remarks come in at an opportune time as the USPTO sought to intervene in a copyright infringement suit against Defendant McDonnell Boehnen Hubert & Berghoff LLP, whose patent prosecution attorneys have been sued by Plaintiff Publishers for using their copyrighted material in  patent applications.

Hormel Foods Corporation ("Hormel") has been sued by Unitherm Food Systems, Inc. (“Unitherm”) for misappropriating trade secrets relating to the method of pre-cooking sliced bacon. The suit has been filed in a Minnesota Federal Court in front of the presiding U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson.  Unitherm is a manufacturer of machines used for producing food products, while Hormel  is a producer of lunch meats.

Stephen Kimble is an inventor of a web-shooting gadget that allows kids to imagine they have super powers like Spiderman. More particularly, Kimble was granted a patent in 1991 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office for an apparatus that shoots foam from the palm of the hand, to give the user an impression that a spider web is formed. As such, the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) has agreed to review an appeal by Kimble in regards to considering overruling a 50-year old precedent that bars the collection of royalties on patents after they expire.

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