Week’s news headlines – Feb. 17th 2017


The future of patent-based injunctions in doubt in India after explosive Delhi High Court ruling
Bayer has failed to block an Indian generic rival from exporting an erectile dysfunction drug in a case that one observer says breaks new ground in considering how to weigh public interest issues relating to the grant or not of patent-based injunctions. The ruling comes ahead of an annual pitched battle over the country’s pharmaceutical patent laws, as well as IAM’s first conference in the country at the end of this month.

Patent Reform 2017: Changes coming from the Judiciary, Legislative and Executive Branches
While calls for widespread patent reform are not as loud as they have been in previous years, 2017 is shaping up to be a year where we may still see significant change to U.S. patent laws. What will the changes to U.S. patent laws look like over the next year? The better question may be to first ask whether those anticipated changes will be coming from the judiciary, legislative or executive branch, all of which will take center stage at some point in 2017.

Sportbrain files smartwatch fitness tracker patent suits against Apple, HP, Michael Kors and New Balance
On Tuesday, February 7th, a series of six patent infringement suits were filed by Sportbrain Holdings LLC in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (N.D. Ill.) against large companies from the worlds of consumer gadgets and personal wear. At the center of each lawsuit is the assertion of a single patent covering personal data collection technology integrated into a series of smartwatches.

New Microsoft patent program aims to give Azure cloud developers security from patent lawsuits
On Wednesday, February 8th, the official blog for Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) published a post penned by Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith announcing the launch of the Azure IP Advantage program. The program seeks to provide resources to Azure cloud subscribers that will help them “address the growing risk of intellectual property lawsuits in the cloud,” although some news outlets are misinterpreting the potential value of this system.

With Agency Accountability Act Congress moves to divert agency fees, but not Patent Office fees
Earlier this month Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) simultaneously introduced the Agency Accountability Act of 2017 (AAA) in both the House of Representatives (HR 850) and the Senate (S. 299), respectively. The AAA is a bill that would direct most fines, fees, and other unappropriated proceeds to the Treasury, making them subject to the appropriations process. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is co-sponsoring the S. 299 in the Senate, while there are currently 55 co-sponsors of the HR 850 in the House.

Congress Needs to Act So Alice Doesn’t Live Here (in the Patent System) Anymore
Now that the new year and a new Congress and Presidential Administration are beginning, it is time for policymakers to once again focus on our economy. One matter that needs attention is the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International.[1] Alice has created uncertainty in the patent/software world unlike any other decision in recent memory. Former Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office David Kappos has described the impact of Alice as “out of control”.[2]

Federal Reserve Banks file for declaratory judgment in patent case
On Wednesday, February 1st, a patent infringement suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia (N.D. Ga.) naming all 12 banks of the Federal Reserve System (the “Federal Reserve Banks”) as plaintiffs seeking declaratory judgment of non-infringement of two patents owned by Florida-based Bozeman Financial, Inc. The patents are U.S. Patent No. 6,754,640 and U.S. Patent No. 8,768,840. They are both part of the same family of patent applications and list Bozeman Financial’s principal, William Bozeman, as the sole inventor.

Michelle Lee continues to sign issued patents, possible larger Administration role suggested
In the seemingly never-ending saga of Michelle Lee and whether she remains Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, there is no concrete “news” to report. Having said that, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) continues to be the only real source of information. Issa, the Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, IP and the Internet, has been the only government official to speak on the record about Michelle Lee since this unlikely, bizarre story first started to unfold in the final days of the Obama Administration.

Top Patent Firms for 2016
We compiled a list of the top patent firms that are ranked based on the total number of U.S. utility patents that issued in 2016 where the patent firms were listed on the front of the utility patents. We have included only patent firms that have obtained at least 50 utility patents. We made an attempt to correct for typographical errors. We did not eliminate company legal departments from the list. For the list from last year see: Top Patent Firms for 2015.

Federal Circuit affirms PTAB decision to invalidate MPHJ patent
The Federal Circuit upheld the decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”), on Inter Partes Review, to invalidate as anticipated or obvious all claims of a patent owned by MPHJ Technology Investments. MPHJ’s patent describes a system and method for scanning a physical document and “replicat[ing it] into other devices or applications or the internet,” for instance, by email.

Hatch says patent venue reform likely regardless of SCOTUS decision in TC Heartland
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the Chairman of the Senate Republican High-Tech Task Force, rolled out his innovation agenda for the 115th Congress during a special event today at the United States Capitol.

CRISPR patent interference ended by USPTO because parties’ claims do not interfere
Yesterday the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued a decision in the CRISPR patent interference pending between The Broad Institute, Inc. (the Junior Party; second filer) and The Regents of the University of California (the Senior Party; first filer). The dispute related to U.S. Patent Nos. 8,697,359; 8,771,945; 8,795,965; 8,865,406; 8,871,445; 8,889,356; 8,895,308; 8,906,616; 8,932,814; 8,945,839; 8,993,233; 8,999,641; and U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 14/704,551.



The changing role of the trademark lawyer, managing complexity and generating insight to drive business advantage
The role of trademark lawyers is moving away from a purely legal, prosecution function and into the area of business strategy, driven by three primary factors: how quickly a new brand can become significant collateral for an organization; how quickly a business can globalize; and the increasing need for trademark specialists to manage more complex and nuanced applications of trademarks for brand valuation.

Beyoncé seeks trademark on daughter Blue Ivy Carter name for everything from cosmetics to high chairs
On January 22nd, 2016, BGK Trademark Holdings, LLC filed U.S. Trademark Serial No. 86883293, which would protect the use of the standard character mark BLUE IVY CARTER for a variety of goods and services in commerce. The mark has been filed for goods and services in 14 different trademark classes, a lofty goal considering that a trademark applicant has to prove the actual use of the trademark on claimed goods and services in commerce. Goods and services claimed within the trademark application includes fragrances, cosmetics, metal key chains, music CDs and DVDs, baby teething rings, baby carriages, diaper bags, baby carriers, baby changing tables, high chairs for babies, baby drinking cups, crib blankets, fitted crib sheets, hair scrunchies, baby rattles, baby swings, online retail store services and online video games. Clearly, Beyoncé is trying to build a baby lifestyle brand around the Blue Ivy Carter name, although the cosmetics, music DVD and online video game claims are evidence of a wider scope of brand building opportunities.

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