The IP Law Blog

Focusing on legal trends in data security, cloud computing, data privacy, and anything E

Order in Netflix Lawsuit is a Reminder of the Bounds of Copyright Protection

Posted in Copyright Law, Entertainment Law, IP

Virginia Vallejo, a well known Colombian journalist and media personality, authored the memoir “Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar”.  The book is a factual account of her romantic relationship with Pablo Escobar and a chronicle of the rise of the Colombian drug cartel.

Vallejo claimed that certain scenes in the television series Narcos infringed the copyright in her book, and she sued Narcos Productions, the producer of the series, Gaumont Television, the series’ distributor, and Netflix, the U.S. broadcaster.  Specifically, Vallejo claimed that certain scenes in the series were copied from various chapters in her book, including one that describes a sexual encounter between Vallejo and Escobar involving a handgun, and Continue Reading

Federal Circuit Holds Administrative Patent Judges Appointments Unconstitutional

Posted in IP, Patent Law

In Arthrex Inc. v. Smith & Nephew Inc. et al., case number 18-2140, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently considered whether the appointment of the Board’s Administrative Patent Judges (“APJs”) by the Secretary of Commerce, as currently set forth in Title 35, violates the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  The Federal Circuit held that the statute as currently constructed makes the APJs principal officers.  To remedy the violation, the Federal Circuit concluded that severing the portion of the Patent Act restricting removal of the APJs is sufficient to render the APJs inferior officers and remedy the constitutional appointment problem.  As the final written decision on appeal issued while there was an Appointments Clause violation, the appropriate course of action was for this case to be remanded to a new panel of APJs. Continue Reading

What Happens When the Intellectual Property Laws Clash with the Antitrust Laws?

Posted in Copyright Law, IP, Patent Law, Trademark Law

Should a company be required to license its patents to a competitor?  That’s one question that arises when intellectual property law and antitrust law intersect.

The Sherman Act, section 1, prohibits concerted action (agreements, combinations, or conspiracies) that restrain trade.  Four types of conduct are per se unlawful; i.e., illegal regardless of the reason.  They all involve agreements between competitors, also called horizontal agreements.  It is per se unlawful to agree with a competitor to fix prices, rig bids, participate in group boycotts, or allocate markets.  Other types of conduct are unlawful under the Rule of Reason; their illegality depends on the conduct in the relevant market (the product market and the geographic market) and whether there is a rational business reason for the conduct.  Examples of unlawful conduct include certain types of exclusive dealing arrangements, some kinds of price discrimination or restrictions on sales, tying arrangements, and some mergers and acquisitions. Continue Reading

When Does A Patent Expire? Ask the Federal Circuit!

Posted in IP, Patent Law

Before 1995, the term of a U.S. utility patent was 17 years from the day the patent issued.  In 1994, the federal statutes were changed to make the patent term 20 years from the effective filing date of the patent application.  This change was part of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act and was intended to make U.S. patents comparable to foreign patents, which, in most countries, expire 20 years from their filing dates.

However, in order to address the problem of delays caused by the Patent and Trademark Office during the prosecution of a patent, Congress enacted statutes providing for the addition of specific numbers of days to a patent’s term.  See 35 U.S.C. section 154(b). Continue Reading

PTAB Invalidates Data Privacy Risk Assessment Patent

Posted in IP, Patent Law, Privacy

Many resources are being devoted to preventing data breaches and protecting privacy.  In fact, patents have issued on various approaches.  But are those approaches really patentable?   In a recent challenge to OneTrust’s patent, which is related to data privacy risk, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) found the subject matter patent ineligible.

OneTrust’s patent, U.S. Patent No. 9,691,090 (“’090 Patent”), relates to privacy management software that calculates the risk to personal data that has been collected and is being used, for example, by a business.  OneTrust explained its software platform is used by companies to comply with data privacy regulations. Continue Reading

Counterculturalist Banksy to Defend His Intellectual Property in a European Cancellation Proceeding

Posted in Copyright Law, IP, Trademark Law

If you’re familiar with Banksy, you know he’s the epitome of counterculturalism. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Banksy, he is an anonymous England-based street artist, vandal, political activist, and film director who has been active since the 1990s. His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine graffiti and dark, sometimes morbid, humor. If you have a minute, take a look at his work. He certainly isn’t someone who you would expect to turn to the legal system to protect his intellectual property. In fact, he’s openly stated that “copyright is for losers.” Continue Reading

Compliance Deadline for California’s New Privacy Act Coming Up Fast; Are You Ready?

Posted in Cyberspace Law, IP, Privacy, Web/Tech

The deadline for business to implement compliance with the California Consumer Privacy Act is just around the corner and chances are most businesses are not ready.

On June 28, 2018, Governor Brown signed into law the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018.  The Act applies to any business which does business in California, and i) has annual gross revenues in excess of $25 million; ii) buys, receives, sells, or shares for commercial purposes, the personal information of 50,000 or more consumers, households, or devices; or iii) earns more than half of its annual revenue from selling consumers’ personal information.  Continue Reading

Federal Circuit Holds That Claim Language Can Limit the Scope of a Design Patent

Posted in IP, Patent Law

In Curver Luxembourg SARL v. Home Expressions Inc., case number 18-2214, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently held that the claim language of a design patent can limit its scope where the claim language supplies the only instance of an article of manufacture that appears nowhere in the figures.

Plaintiff Curver had asserted U.S. Design Patent No. D677,946 (’946 patent), entitled “Pattern for a Chair” and claiming an “ornamental design for a pattern for a chair.” Curver sued defendant Home Expressions alleging that Home Expressions made and sold baskets that incorporated Curver’s claimed
design pattern and thus infringed the ’946 patent. The design patent’s figures, however, merely illustrate the design pattern disembodied from any article of manufacture. Continue Reading

LinkedIn Profiles and the Applicability of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

Posted in Cyberspace Law, IP, Privacy, Web/Tech

LinkedIn is a popular professional networking website with more than half a billion members. Many of its users, in an effort to enhance their networking capabilities, make their profile public and available to anyone to review their personal details such as their employment, education, skill sets and other personal information. Although LinkedIn disclaims any ownership of the information its users post, this information has enormous value in the online marketplace. Continue Reading

Landlords – Watch out for Trademark-Infringing Tenants!

Posted in IP, Trademark Law

Landlords whose tenants sell counterfeit goods can be liable for trademark infringement if they have knowledge of the infringing acts or are willfully blind to the infringement.

In Luxottica Group v. Airport Mini Mall, LLC, 932 F.3d 1303 (11th Cir. August 2019), Oakley, Inc. and its parent Luxottica sued the owners of a shopping mall in Georgia for contributory trademark infringement under the Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. §1114).  Luxottica and Oakley make and sell high-end sunglasses under the Ray-Ban and Oakley trademarks.  Continue Reading