Business owners often ask whether they should protect their intellectual property with a trade secret or a patent. The answer is:  It depends.

What Can Be Protected? 

The first thing to consider is what it is that needs to be protected.  A trade secret protects a business’s confidential and proprietary information.  The information can be a formula, process, or customer list.

A patent protects an invention. The invention can be an article of manufacture, a machine, a process (such as software), or a composition of matter (like a chemical formula).
Continue Reading Trade Secret or Patent?

In November 2021, fast-food chain Jack in the Box sued FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange launched in 2019, over an allegedly infringing mascot named Lunar, referred to as “Moon Man”. FTX featured its Moon Man character in commercials running during MLB games. Jack in the Box is not happy.

In its complaint filed in Federal court in California, Jack in the Box references various tweets regarding the FTX Moon Man – “Oh look, it’s Walmart Jack in the Box!”, “Is it a dirty jack in the box thing?”, and “Jack in the Box’s drugged up cousin”.  One Twitter® user even tweeted a public post directly to FTX stating, “Hey, @FTX_Official, your mascot doesn’t look like the moon. He looks like Jack-In-The-Box with skin cancer.”
Continue Reading Jack in the Box Pops a Spring Over FTX “Moon Man” Mascot

In this episode of The Briefing from the IP Law Blog, Scott Hervey and Josh Escovedo discuss a legal dispute between Miramax and Quentin Tarantino, over his efforts to sell “Pulp Fiction” themed NFT’s.
Continue Reading Say NFT Again – I Dare You: Miramax Sues Quentin Tarantino Over Plans to Sell “Pulp Fiction” NFT

The Ninth Circuit was recently asked to determine whether to continue to apply the Circuit’s two-part extrinsic/intrinsic test for “substantial similarity” with regard to a copyright infringement claim or to depart from this approach and apply the Second Circuit’s “ordinary observer” test instead. In Johannsongs-Publishing, Ltd. v. Lovland, an unpublished opinion issued on November 29, 2021, the Ninth Circuit declined to depart from its precedence and affirmed summary judgment in favor of defendants who were accused of copyright infringement in connection with the song You Raise Me Up.
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Refuses to Adopt “Ordinary Observer” Test for Substantial Similarity and Copyright Infringement

Willful patent infringement can result in enhanced, and in some case treble, damages but not in every instance. Because the standard for finding willful infringement has traditionally been lower than that for enhancing damages, a finding of willful infringement does not guarantee an award of enhanced damages.  However, a 2019 Federal Circuit opinion caused confusion, suggesting the standards were essentially the same.  SRI Int’l, Inc.  v. Cisco Sys., Inc. (“SRI II”) 930 F.3d 1295 (Fed. Cir. 2019).  In SRI Int’l, Inc.  v. Cisco Sys., Inc. (“SRI III”) (Fed. Cir. 2021), the Federal Circuit acknowledged the confusion and clarified these standards.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Clarifies Standards for Willful Patent Infringement and Enhanced Damages