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BRANDS GO BUST

Brands often tend to have life cycles.  Even longstanding or big-name brands may inevitably die out.  With trademarks and trademark law being strongly linked to brands (sometimes the terms “brand” and “trademark” are even used synonymously), the death of a brand can raise interesting trademark-related issues.  For example, questions arise as to whether, or when, others are free to pick up and start using the trademark of a defunct brand.  For a list of some familiar brands that appear to be on the brink, click here.

SUPREME COURT ACCEPTS MICROSOFT’S PATENT VALIDITY CHALLENGE

The U.S. Supreme Court recently granted certiorari to Microsoft in a case involving patent invalidity.  Microsoft is challenging a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals finding of validity in favor of patent holder, i4i, in a case that has been long fought in the lower courts, and resulted in an award of over $200 million in damages to i4i.  In its decision, the Federal Circuit relied on its long standing precedent that patent invalidity must be proven by “clear and convincing evidence.”

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US SUPREME COURT TO END GENE PATENT DEBATE

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in the Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics case.  As noted in our previous posts, this case deals with whether patent claims directed to “isolated DNA sequences” are patent eligible subject matter under the patent laws, in connection with the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes involved in breast cancer.

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Supreme Court to Decide Test for Software Patent Eligibility

The Supreme Court has granted a writ of certiorari in the software patent case of Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, et al. (Docket No 13-298), where a divided en banc Federal Circuit could not agree on a standard for assessing patent eligibility for computer-implemented inventions under  35 USC § 101.  This case will provide a new test for the most basic provision of U.S. patent laws — whether an invention is patent eligibile — a threshold test that must first be met before the further requirements of novelty (§ 102) and non-obviousness (§ 103) are considered.

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Petitioner’s Brief Filed in Octane Fitness v. Icon Health & Fitness

One of a handful of patent cases accepted by the Supreme Court this term, Icon Fitness v. Octane Health and Fitness presents the question of whether Brooks Mfg. v. Dutailier, Inc., 393 F.3d 1378 (Fed. Cir. 2005) should be overturned to the extent that it “shoehorned” the rigid, two-part test for sham litigation into the Patent Act’s test for fee shifting. The petitioner, Octane Fitness, LLC, recently filed its brief arguing that the standard should be relaxed and raises several notable points.

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U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Names New Director

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has appointed a former Google executive as its new Director.  Michelle K. Lee will take over in January 2014 as Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) after serving as head of the USPTO’s Silicon Valley satellite office.  Lee replaces former USPTO Director David Kappos, who was a longtime IBM executive prior to his service as Director. 

For the full USPTO press release, click here.