This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the premiere of the original series of Star Trek, which first aired on NBC in September 1966. On July 22, this milestone will be marked in earnest when Paramount Pictures releases the new film, Star Trek Beyond (which sadly includes the final Chekovian performance by the recently-departed Anton Yelchin).
Category Archives: Patent
Trademark and Copyright Law Blog author Catherine Muyl was interviewed by Andrew Chung of Reuters yesterday about the impact of Brexit on European Patents and Trademarks. You can find a link to the story here. Catherine’s blog posts about the implications of Brexit for trademark owners are available here and here.
Updated June 24, 2016
A few hours ago, citizens of the United Kingdom voted in favor of leaving the European Union. This is a monumental step which historians will analyze in order to understand why and how it became possible. In the meantime, lawyers will have to figure out the consequences, including how to untangle this 60 year-old relationship.
European patents should not be affected by Brexit because the Munich Convention is not a European Union instrument. It currently… More
Let’s face it, we live in a food-crazed world. Our current preoccupation with food has less to do with eating it; we also are fascinated with looking at it. Posting photos of food on Instagram is now a universal pastime. Food reality shows like Top Chef, Cake Boss, and Chopped are extremely popular and chefs are now considered bona fide celebrities, known internationally for their signature recipes.
Many top chefs today are also known for their artistic food designs… More
The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine archives copies of websites every few weeks or months, going back to 1996. The Wayback Machine currently has almost 500 billion archived webpages. By entering a website into the Wayback Machine, a user can see what archived copies of the website are available and then view those historical copies. For example, this link brings you to a copy of the Trademark & Copyright Law blog as it existed on April 28, 2010, shortly after its founding. … More
Last week, in a departure from the partisan gridlock that has gripped Washington, the House of Representatives joined the Senate in passing a sweeping new statute to protect trade secrets. The legislation, which President Obama strongly supported and is expected to sign within days, creates a new federal civil cause of action for trade secret theft.
The speed with which Congress passed this legislation – entitled the Defend Trade Secrets Act of… More
Designers like Alexander Wang, Rebecca Minkoff, and Michael Kors are all gearing up to premier their 2016 fall/winter collections this month during New York Fashion Week. Fashion Week draws more than 230,000 attendees each year to over 500 runway shows and events in New York City. The economic impact of this biannual event is estimated to be close to $900 million. That’s more than the U.S. Open, which generates approximately $750 million annually for New York, and the Super Bowl, which generated an estimated $550 million when it was held in the… More
Around this time last year, I started worrying about what would happen if someone at a Super Bowl party asked me to explain an NFL-related lawsuit, particularly one of those IP-ish lawsuits that I’m supposed to know about. So I put together the first Sue-per Bowl Shuffle, a guide to the year’s gridiron disputes over trademarks, copyright, the right of publicity and other matters with a First Amendment flavor.
This year, we’ve got you covered again. Although the deflate-gate… More
It is often said Christmas is creeping ever-backwards, each year striving to begin its domination of our collective consciousness and consumer dollars at an earlier date. In the realm of litigation, Christmas creep manifests itself in part in the Yule-themed disputes that can occur at any time of the year, particularly in the areas of intellectual property and free speech. In order to get the Trademark and Copyright Law Blog into the holiday spirit, we’ve rounded up twelve Christmas-themed legal matters (“res” in Latin) that resulted in a written opinion during the last twelve months. Merry Christmas!
Patents can be vitally important for protecting the innovations of a start-up company, just as it is important for start-ups to be mindful of trademark, copyright, and domain name strategies (see our other guides for start-ups, including Trademark, Copyright, and Domain Names). A patent is a government-granted right that prevents others from making, using, selling, or importing a patented invention. Having patents covering a start-up company’s key products or services can prevent theft of intellectual property by larger… More
What if were to tell you that I jointly authored this article with a colleague, but that I’m not going to give her any credit or attribution because I don’t feel like it? Can she sue me for copyright infringement? No, because we are joint authors, so I have as much a right to publish this article as she does. If we lived in Europe, my colleague might have relied on her inherent right of attribution, a moral right (or droit… More
Just about one hundred years ago, Archibald Query of Somerville, Massachusetts invented the first commercial marshmallow cream, which he pedaled door-to-door in Union Square. Around 1917, he sold the recipe for $500 to two candy makers in Lynn who had just returned from World War I, and their company (Durkee-Mower) still makes Marshmallow Fluff today. In 2006, Union Square boosters began celebrating Query’s achievement with the Fluff Festival, a day of activities literally and figuratively stuffed with marshmallows. In honor of the 10th annual Fluff Festival, which takes place… More
U.S. applicants will soon be able to use a streamlined international filing procedure for design patents similar to the Madrid Protocol for trademark registrations. Currently, U.S. applicants seeking to protect designs in multiple countries must file separate applications for each of the countries through their national or regional patent offices. Starting May 13, 2015, when the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs goes into effect in the U.S., applicants will be able to file a single international design application (IDA) for protection in up to 64… More
And the Lawsuit Goes to . . . An Oscar-Time Guide to “Best Picture” Intellectual Property Litigation
The film that wins the Best Picture Oscar this year is certain to attract more viewers and more box office receipts than it had before receiving the award. But Best Picture winners also tend to attract more lawsuits, including intellectual property claims. Plaintiffs show up out of nowhere claiming to be the true authors of the underlying work, infringing defendants come out of the woodwork to unlawfully grab a little bit of the success for themselves, and so on. Sometimes the lawsuits are… More
Heading into this year’s Super Bowl party season, there are two things every lawyer should be concerned about. First, why can’t your team get it together? Second, what do you do if you are asked to explain to your friends and neighbors some NFL-related litigation that you haven’t been following? We can’t help you with the first problem (although, as an Iggles fan living in the heart of Patriots Nation, I feel your pain). As to the second problem, however,… More
The Biograph Company was founded in 1895 by William Kennedy Dickson, a former employee of Thomas Edison. Biograph became known for its two-minute long documentaries made using a 68mm film format (in order to avoid the litigious Edison’s patents on 35mm technology), but over time it began making short narrative films… More
October is Pro Bono Month in many states, including Massachusetts, New York, Michigan, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Indiana, Tennessee, and Alabama. The ABA has created an annual weeklong National Pro Bono Celebration, which this year is October 19-25. Recognizing the countless lawyers who devote their time and efforts to representing people of limited means, and urging all lawyers to do more, these pronouncements remind us that every attorney has an ethical responsibility to make sure that our system of justice is… More
Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court decided Octane Fitness, LLC v. Icon Health & Fitness, Inc. and Highmark v. Allcare Health Management System, Inc., companion cases that will make it easier for prevailing parties to recover attorneys’ fees in patent infringement litigation. Together, the cases may have far-reaching consequences for litigation strategy and case management in cases involving a range of intellectual property disputes, not just patents.
Previous Standard for Recovering Attorneys’ Fees
Section 285 of the Patent Act authorizes a district court to award attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party “in exceptional cases.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for… More
A decision this week from the Federal Circuit, in a patent invalidity action, has been getting a lot of press for its suggestion that patent (and by implication trademark) holders may be able to avoid challenges to the validity of their IP simply by crafting a website disclaimer explaining that they will not sue certain competitors or other potential challengers. The decision has been argued by some to be an extension of the reasoning of the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year in Already, LLC v. Nike, in which… More
An employer may have rights in a patent on its employee’s invention in three situations:
(1) if there is an express agreement to assign or license the patent to the employer,
(2) if the employee was “hired to invent” and the employer can show an implied contract to assign the patent rights in the invention, or
(3) if there was no express or implied agreement but the employee used the employer’s facilities to conceive of the invention. In this last… More
An often-frustrating aspect of IP law is that in relatively small matters, the cost of litigation can quickly become disproportionate to the value of the intellectual property in dispute. In other words, there is no automatic sliding scale of expenses that shifts according to the value of the IP.
A recent Federal Circuit decision discussing the effect of an Employee Intellectual Property Assignment Agreement upon the ownership of inventions made by the employee (Preston v. Marathon Oil Co., Nos. 2011-1013, -1026 (Fed. Cir. July 10, 2012) (decision here)) offers a number of practice pointers. Marathon Oil had filed suit against Preston, its former employee, claiming ownership of a patent obtained by Preston on an invention made while Preston was employed by Marathon. The Federal Circuit held that Marathon Oil was the rightful owner of the patent. The useful lessons would appear to be as follows:
1. Refer to… More
On November 17, 2011, Senators Scott Brown and John Kerry sent a letter to David Kappos, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, urging him to consider Massachusetts as a location for one of the satellite patent offices that was authorized under the recently enacted America Invents Act.
The letter points out that Massachusetts is home to many world-class universities, including MIT, Harvard, Boston College, Boston University, Tufts, and the University of Massachusetts, and would therefore be an ideal location from which to recruit talented… More