The Internet domain name space continues to expand, with over 100 new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) added to the Internet's root zone, and more to come in each following week. Overall, the new gTLD expansion will result in an increase in top-level domains from a mere 22 to a total of 1400 over the next few years. The expansion creates unique opportunities but also raises new enforcement challenges for brand owners.
The Supreme Court today ruled unanimously that the burden of proving patent infringement rests with the patent holder, even in cases where the parties had agreed upon a licensing deal in the past.
The case at issue, Medtronic, Inc. v. Mirowski Family Ventures, involved implantable heart stimulation devices (pacemakers) which were licensed by Mirowski to Medtronic in 1991. In late 2007, Medtronic filed an action with the U.S. District Court of Delaware seeking declaratory relief that its new line of devices did not infringe upon the Mirowski patents. The trial court entered a judgment of non-infringement in Medtronic's favor, which was reversed in 2012 by the Federal Circuit, based on a holding that the trial court did not properly allocate the burden of proof in the initial proceedings.
The Federal Communications Commission was dealt a major blow today when a portion of its net neutrality rules were struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The rules are part of the FCC Open Internet Order adopted in 2010 aimed towards protecting consumers, which forbid Internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking services or otherwise denying content providers equal access to the network.
According to statistics released in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s “2013 Performance and Accountability Report” (pages 193-206), 2013 was a banner year for U.S. patent issuances and federal trademark registrations. New patent and trademark filings by Florida-based residents continued to accelerate in number, passing totals of several other states over the last decade and moving into 3rd place for federal trademark applications (FY2013) and 8th place for patent applications (FY2012) among the fifty U.S. states.
The Supreme Court has granted cert on several new cases today including four relating to intellectual property issues, including a copyright case, a trademark case, as well as two patent cases. Lyle Denniston of the Scotus Blog reports that the new cases will probably be argued in April, the last sitting of the term.
In what many will consider a blow to English grammar, a recent decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board found an applicant's "and/or" claim language valid.
Under Section 32 of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) which became law in 2011, the USPTO is required to work with and support intellectual property law associations across the country in the establishment of pro bono programs designed to assist “financially under-resourced independent inventors and small businesses.” In keeping with its obligations, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has announced a new charter agreement placing the burgeoning regional pro bono efforts in the hands of a newly-formed central advisory council. Specifically, the AIA Pro Bono Advisory Council has been formed to assist existing regional programs and offer assistance to new programs so that they can operate under a central framework.
As discussed earlier on our blog, the Supreme Court has granted cert on two patent cases related to fee shifting under 35 U.S.C. § 285, including Highmark Inc. and Octane Fitness. A recently issued Federal Circuit decision, in Kilopass v. Sidense Corp., may shed some light in how the Supremes might rule on the issue later this year, in which both Judge O'Malley and Chief Judge Rader issued opinions calling for the expansion of exceptional-case attorney fees.