Monday, 05 April 2010 19:50

GENE PATENTS INVALID?

Written by
Gene patents are currently a hotly debated topic, having caught the attention of the public and the media, including the news program 60 MinutesTM. The debate essentially pivots around the interpretation of whether a gene patent improperly covers a gene as it occurs within the human (or when isolated is no different from the natural gene), as opponents contend, or whether the patent is merely protecting an isolated version of the gene as produced by the hand of man (and therefore is no different than any other chemical compound), as proponents maintain.
 
The debate has been raging in federal court in New York since last May, concerning several patents owned by Myriad Genetics that involve the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are implicated in breast cancer. Last week, the judge in that case ruled that several claims of the patents were invalid for encompassing non-statutory subject matter. Association for Molecular Pathology, et al. v. United States Patent and Trademark Office, et al. (S.D.N.Y.). Some interpret this to mean that gene patents are invalid.
 
But before leaping to that conclusion, consider: only some of the claims were found invalid, leaving many other claims valid. Also, the decision concerned particular claims of certain patents; the Court did not address the broader constitutionality aspects of the case, so this decision is narrowed in its scope. Additionally, the Defendants are appealing this judgment to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, who will review the decision and may overturn it. It seems likely, though, that since this is such a significant case, it could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court before the public, and patentees, have a final answer on this important question.

A Bradenton, Florida company has sued Cup Solutions, Inc., an online seller of cups used for mixing drinks with shots of hard liquor, alleging that the Defendant's "YAAGBOMB" cups, pictured below, infringe a patent owned by Hurricane Shooters, LLC, the Plaintiff. 

Wednesday, 31 March 2010 19:48

URBAN DICTIONARY SUED FOR TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT

Written by

A Fort Lauderdale company that claims ownership of trademark rights for the term "MEANAGER" in connection with clothing has sued Urban Dictionary, an online dictionary of slang words and phrases, and another Defendant, for allegedly selling competing goods that use the term "MEANAGER".   The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and is pending before Chief Judge Federico A. Moreno. 

The complaint alleges that Urban Dictionary is infringing the Florida company's trademark by using the term "MEANAGER" on articles that it sells through its website.  According to the complaint, Urban Dictionary sells articles that feature the slang words and phrases that appear on its website, and takes issue with the sale of articles bearing the term "MEANAGER".  The term has three definitions on the web site, one as a slang phrase for a mean boss, i.e. a "MEANAGER" (as a play on words for Manager); and the other two relating to teenagers that exhibit hurtful behavior (a play on words for the terms Mean and Teenager).  According to Wikipedia, another online dictionary, Urban Dictionary currently has 4.79 million definitions on its website. 

The Florida company alleges that it has promoted its mark through websites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn.  With the ever increasing amount of business that is done through the internet, it is no surprise that cases such as these are being filed a more rapid rate.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010 19:48

GOOGLE'S EUROPEAN VACATION

Written by

In a decision released earlier today, the European Court of Justice held that Google was not liable for the sale of AdWords to a retailer who, in turn, used the trademarked keywords in connection with the sale of counterfeit goods. The decision stemmed from Google's nearly five-year old appeal of a French decision in favor of Louis Vitton. Pursuant to the Court's holding, Google is not responsible for investigating the authenticity of a retailer's goods prior to selling its keywords. Nevertheless, with an eye toward future litigation, the Court did call for more transparency from companies such as Google with respect to the identity of sellers purchasing and using the trademarked keywords.

Read the decision here.

Saturday, 23 March 2013 19:33

THE POWER OF A DESIGN PATENT

Written by

Everyone has experienced an auto accident of some form, be it a fender-bender or a more severe impact. While more forceful impacts can damage structural and/or functional components of a vehicle, even low-speed impacts can cause cosmetic damage that can be costly to replace.

So the next time you find yourself in a body shop pondering the cost of replacing cosmetic auto parts, consider this: many automobile body parts are patented. Companies in the auto industry have begun procuring design patents on the ornamental design of certain auto parts, including fenders, grilles, and quarter panels. This has led to some recent debate, since these design patents allow the manufacturers control over the original part, as well as replacement parts having the same patented design.  

The Statute of Anne, widely considered the world’s first copyright statute and the precursor to modern copyright law, went into effect on April 10, 1710, thus making this year (2010) the "tricentennial of copyright law."

The Statute of Anne was formally entitled "An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by Vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or Purchasers of Such Copies, During the Times therein Mentioned" and was enacted in the United Kingdom during the reign of its namesake, Queen Anne.

Thursday, 11 March 2010 19:31

HOW FAR CAN YOUR LOGO GO IN FLORIDA?

Written by
Currently in Tallahassee, State Senator Mike Fasano of New Port Richey, who is the chairman of the transportation budget committee, is drafting legislation that may allow your logo to go further than ever before in Florida. Specifically, the legislation would allow corporations to sponsor license plates and place their trademarks on the same.  The proposed legislation is being drafted to generate funds for the state and would use some of the proceeds received to give drivers who purchase the corporate tags a discount on annual registration fees. 
 
It is rumored that the legislation is being modeled after legislation passed in Texas in 2009 which began by featuring the RE/MAX logo and slogan.  It is also rumored that Disney is interested in being the first to put their trademarks on Florida license plates. Whether the legislation is passed this session, the mere consideration evidences the value of trademarks and the need to adequately protect the same.
Friday, 05 March 2010 19:19

CUBA LIBRE?

Written by
Days after the death of prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo, the breath of the United States Embargo against Cuba is presently before Congress. What may surprise you, however, is that the issue is being raised by Section 211 (a)(2) of the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act adopted by the U.S. Congress in 1998, which is not about human rights, but rather about trademarks. Specifically, Section 211 is about whom can use trademarks and is a product of the Havana Club controversy. And while the issue has been litigated for years and in several countries, Section 211 is designed to protect trademarks that belonged to businesses whose assets were confiscated by the Cuban government after the communist revolution of 1959 and establishes that no court in the United States may recognize any claim regarding trademarks and commercial names related to properties confiscated by the Cuban government. The change was challenged by the European Union and ultimately criticized by the World Trade Organization when it was first introduced. 
 
The present debate however, given the political climate may call into question the US Embargo and the purpose of its Intellectual Property carve out and as such promises to be a historic one. To read more click here.