This week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled – unanimously – that Monsanto’s patent for soybeans was infringed by Indiana farmer Vernon Bowman. Even though expressly called out as limited to this case and potentially not applicable to other self-replicating technology, it bodes well for the patent community.

West Encounters East, a film by firm client Stella Holmes, a Miami-based art collector and museum trustee, is currently airing on PBS stations across the country.  West Encounters East explores the Japanese diaspora to Latin America through the eyes of artists whose work emerges from the Asian-Latin American cultural mix.  The film will be airing locally in South Florida on WPBT on May 6, 2013 at 9:00 p.m. and on May 10, 2013 at 10:00 p.m.    Click here for WEE air dates and times in your area.  The 7-minute Trailer for West Encounters East can be viewed below.

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the much-publicized gene patenting case AMP v. Myriad Genetics. Myriad and the University of Utah own several patents directed to isolated gene sequences for mutations in the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes, as well as methods of using the same for predicting risk of breast cancer. AMP is seeking to invalidate these patents for claiming inventions that are not patentable subject matter, i.e. merely products of nature, which should not be restricted from widespread use. Myriad maintains that since the patents are for isolated gene sequences, they do not cover genes as naturally occurring within the body, and therefore are not overly restrictive and should properly be the subject of patent protection.

Tuesday, 02 April 2013 14:35

ICANN Opens Trademark Clearinghouse for New GTLDs

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With potentially hundreds of new generic top level domains (“gTLDs,” e.g. .store, .law, .food) just around the corner, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)—the organization response for overseeing Internet domain name allocations--recently opened its Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH), where current brand owners can record their existing trademarks.

In addition to the often discussed “first-to-file” provisions of the America Invents Act (“AIA”), the expanded scope of public materials which patent examiners can now cite as “prior art” (when evaluating whether a patent should be granted on an applicant’s invention) provides some additional motivation for filing U.S. patent applications with more urgency than in the past. For instance, public disclosures made anywhere in the world prior to the effective filing date of a new U.S. patent application can now, for the most part, be considered as prior art. By way of contrast, under the “old” laws, there was a one year grace period in which third party publications could potentially be exempt from citation if published no more than one year before the application filing date.

It its much anticipated 6-3 decision in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., the Supreme Court ruled  that “the first sale doctrine applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad.”

Along with the widespread recognition achieved by many professional athletes comes substantial "publicity rights," which can be cultivated for financial benefit. In short, publicity rights protect a person's name or likeness from being used by others for commercial gain, unless that person grants permission. As such, publicity rights are generally regarded as a tangential aspect to traditional intellectual property rights like patents, trademarks, copyrights or trade secrets. Indeed, there can even be a certain overlap of publicity rights with other IP rights, particularly with trademark rights - such as when a person's name is linked to a specific product or service.

In connection with a trade dress infringement action by Nike, Inc. against another shoe company, Already, LLC, involving Nike’s federally registered trade dress for a certain shoe design, the U.S. Supreme Court decided an important issue regarding the scope and ramifications of covenants not to sue.