Category Archives: Patent

Authorship Credit for Scholarly and Creative Works: The Elusive American Attribution Right

creditWhat 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 moral) which would have required me to list her as… More

Marshmallow Justice: 10 Tales of Legal Fluff and Other Stuff

FluffJust 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

Top Eight Things You Should Know About the Hague System For International Registration of Designs

CaptureU.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

OscarThe 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 just as worthy of attention as the films… More

Sue-per Bowl Shuffle 2014: The Year in NFL-Related Intellectual Property Litigation


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, we’ve got you covered, at least when it comes to… More

A Trap For Santa: The First Santa Claus IP Fight

PosterAt this time of year, you may be wondering about the first intellectual property case involving Santa Claus. And even if you are not, we are going to tell you.

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 instead. These films became more popular after Biograph… More

Opportunities for Trademark and Copyright Lawyers To Volunteer During Pro Bono Month

CaptureOctober 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 open to all persons, regardless of income. In… More

Supreme Court Rulings Will Make Fee Awards More Likely In Trademark Cases As Well As Patent Cases

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

Can a Website Disclaimer Prevent Declaratory Judgment Actions in IP Cases? Maybe…or Maybe Not

Disclaimer-1-272x300A 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

FiberCore Case Illustrates Ownership and Transferability of “Shop Rights” to Patented Inventions


 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 case, the employer will have a “shop right,”… More

Sliding the Scale: The UK’s New “Small Claims” Court for Intellectual Property Disputes


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.

That may be changing in the UK. On October 1, 2012, the UK government launched a new “small claims track” in the Patents County Court) (“PCC”), which specializes in copyright, patent and trademark matters.

The PCC “small… More

Practice Tips for Employee IP Assignment Agreements

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

Senators Scott Brown and John Kerry Propose Massachusetts as Location for Satellite Patent Office

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