Latest firm news

House Passes Federal Trade Secrets Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would allow companies to sue in federal court for damages resulting from theft of trade secrets. The House voted 410-2 to pass the “Defend Trade Secrets Act,” which passed the Senate earlier this month 87-0. The bill next heads to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.

Although trade theft is already a federal crime, under current law cases must be lodged by prosecutors and private civil cases must be filed under state law. The Federal Trade Secrets Bill would create a uniform federal standard for trade secret misappropriation and protect against the economic harms created by trade secret theft, providing an additional civil remedy beyond the patchwork of state statutes. 

Jury Trial Set in “Stairway to Heaven” Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

A U.S. District Court Judge in California, ruled there is enough evidence to move forward with a trial to decide whether Led Zeppelin and guitarist Jimmy Page unfairly appropriated the iconic opening guitar “riff” in “Stairway to Heaven,” from the Spirit song “Taurus,” which was recorded four years before the Led Zeppelin classic was released. The plaintiff alleges that members of Led Zeppelin, had opportunities to become familiar with Spirit’s music before the release of “Stairway to Heaven,” because the two bands “performed at the same venue on the same day at least three times between 1968 and 1970.”

The lawsuit, which was filed in a Philadelphia court back in 2014, was moved to California, to the same court that recently ruled in favor of the estate of Marvin Gaye in its copyright infringement lawsuit over the song “Blurred Lines” in 2013.

The trial over “Stairway to Heaven” is set to begin on May 10. A favorable verdict, could bring the plaintiff, the estate of Randy Wolfe, co-writing credits and a share of the song’s profits which by 2008, were reportedly in the range of $562 million.

This is not the first time Led Zeppelin has been accused of copyright infringement. A lawsuit was filed and subsequently dismissed, at the plaintiff’s request in 2012, over the recording “Dazed and Confused.” 

Prince’s Lasting Impact In Relation to Copyright Law

As many fans remember the legendary artist Prince, they will discover that the task of finding his extensive musical catalog online is nearly impossible. In today’s digital age dominated by music streaming services, many will be surprised to find a total lack of Prince’s music on many of the top streaming services such as Spotify, Rhapsody and Apple Music.

In the 1990’s Prince was involved in several legal disputes. It is well documented that he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol in the 1990’s during a contractual battle with his record label Warner Bros. After fulfilling his contract, reclaiming his name, and striking a landmark deal in 2014 to reclaim control over his back catalog, Prince intensified his attacks on those he felt were infringing on his music copyrights. In recent years, he had been involved in legal disputes with Facebook and YouTube users providing links to ‘bootleg versions’ of his music and he had refused to release his music on several of the biggest streaming services, because he claimed those services took advantage of the artists.

Prince’s catalog can only be found online on a small number of platforms like Pandora and SiriusXM, which rely on compulsory licenses to perform music. The question now, is whether his music will see a wider release in the wake of his untimely death. Soon, the prolific artist’s catalog could become more widely available on streaming services. The decision to release Prince’s music more widely online, will depend on whoever is in charge of the administration of his estate and whether Prince had any provisions in his will regarding how his intellectual property may be used in the future. At this time this remains unknown.

USPTO Issues Revisions to PTAB Post Grant Procedure

Today, the US PTO issued revisions to the Rules of Procedure for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, at 81 Fed. Reg. 18750.  This Federal Register Notice includes various changes to the duty of candor, the rules on pleading page limits, as well as grounds for instituting IPR and PGR proceedings. 

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Original Wright Brothers Patent Documents Discovered After Nearly Three Decades

The National Archives reports that the original patent documents for the Wright brothers’ Flying Machine surfaced recently after having been mis-filed in 1979. The document was recovered after a targeted search of more than 269 Million documents maintained by the Archives. The discovery is timely, as the documents were due to be displayed next month during the 110th anniversary of the patent grant date. U.S. Patent No. 821,393 was filed in March of 1903, several months before the historic flight, which would have been good advice from the brothers’ patent attorney.