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Adding Initials to a Surname Does Not Necessarily Create a Protected Trademark

March 26, 2020 | Blog | By Susan Neuberger Weller, Harold Laidlaw

In a recent precedential decision, the TTAB held that the addition of one initial —or possibly even more than one initial—in front of a surname does not necessarily create the impression of a personal name. Rather, the Board held that a surname plus one or more initials may remain “primarily a surname” and, as such, cannot be registered on the Principal Register without proof of acquired distinctiveness.
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Adding another layer of complexity to sensitively marketing in the COVID-19 environment, YouTube announced on March 11 that it will permit certain creators to monetize (i.e., enable ads on) content relating to coronavirus.  Companies and brands should review their approach in this pandemic, including refining YouTube content exclusion parameters and policing their ad environments, if they do not wish to risk association with potentially undesirable videos. 
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On Tuesday, March 24, 2020, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) designated two inter partes review (“IPR”) decisions as precedential and one as informative. These decisions concern PTAB’s discretion to deny institution of an IPR under 35 U.S.C. § 325(d) and 314(a). 
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2nd Circuit Affirms 5Pointz Whitewashing Violated Visual Artists Rights Act

March 25, 2020 | Blog | By Susan Neuberger Weller, Harold Laidlaw

The Second Circuit recently affirmed that a developer’s whitewashing of street art painted at the “5Pointz” warehouse complex in Long Island City was a violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act (“VARA,” codified at 17 U.S.C. § 106A).
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Federal Circuit Denies En Banc Rehearing of Panel Decision in Arthrex, Which Held PTAB Appointments Were Unconstitutional

March 25, 2020 | Blog | By Daniel Weinger, Michael Newman, Vincent Ferraro, Matthew Galica

This week the en banc Federal Circuit declined to revisit a panel ruling that found the appointment of Administrative Patent Judges (“APJs”) of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) violates the Appointments Clause of the Constitution.  This decision is notable for at least two reasons. First, it declined to review or disturb the panel’s conclusion and its remedy—vacatur and remand of PTAB decisions made by unconstitutionally appointed APJs. Second, four of the Federal Circuit judges dissented, disagreeing with the panel’s finding and saying that its corresponding remedy improperly rewrites the statute contrary to Congressional intent.
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Earlier this month, a Northern District of Illinois jury returned a verdict in favor of Motorola for over $700 million after a trial in which Motorola alleged that Hytera hired three engineers away from Motorola’s Malaysian office, and that those engineers stole and brought with them thousands of Motorola’s trade secret technical documents that Hytera used to develop a state-of-the-art digital radio that was functionally indistinguishable from Motorola’s.
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The Masters’ Green Jacket is Now a Registered Trademark

March 10, 2020 | Blog | By Susan Neuberger Weller

Since 1949, a green jacket has been awarded to the winner of the Masters Tournament, one of golf’s four major championships.
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The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in February that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) cannot cancel claims for indefiniteness in an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding. The case is Samsung Electronics America, Inc., v. Prisua Engineering Corp., case number 19-1169, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
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In a February 19, 2020 decision the Federal Circuit held that a patentee does not escape 35 U.S.C. § 287’s marking requirement merely by ceasing sales of the practicing product.  Instead, the Federal Circuit held that once a patentee (or its licensees) sell articles that practice the patent, the obligation to mark in order to obtain pre-suit damages continues regardless of whether sales of the product in question cease. 
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Infringement Contentions: Fair Notice?

February 18, 2020 | Blog | By Michael Renaud, Adam Rizk, Catherine Xu

Some respondents at the ITC have taken advantage of using infringement contentions as a procedural tool to deny patent owners from getting their day in court.  In some investigations, respondents have gone so far as to delay their own production of discovery until after the infringement contention deadline, then claim lack of fair notice when the patent owner uses the late discovery in its expert report.
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An Informative PTAB Decision on Patent Eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101

January 30, 2020 | Blog | By Christina Sperry, Justin J. Leisey

The U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) recently designated its decision in Ex Parte HANNUN (Appeal 2018-003323) (“HANNUN”) as being informative regarding the application of the latest 2019 revised guidance on patent-eligible subject matter. 
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In our first blog in this multi-part series, we explored key considerations for protecting artificial intelligence (“AI”) inventions in biotech and synthetic biology. In this part 2 of the series, we will examine some key considerations and hurdles in patenting machine learning-based biotech or synthetic biology inventions.
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Update on Federal Register Notice on Artificial Intelligence (AI) Patent Issues

January 21, 2020 | Blog | By Michael Renaud, Marc Morley, Paul Brockland

As noted in our previous post, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a request for comments for a list of questions regarding Artificial Intelligence (AI) Patent Issues in the Federal Register on August 21, 2019. While the comment period has closed, a few developments regarding AI patent issues have occurred that are particularly relevant.
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On Tuesday, October 22, 2019, the US House of Representative approved, by 410-to-6, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act of 2019, introduced under H.R.2426 by Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).  This bill aims to “establish an alternative dispute resolution program for copyright small claims,” and creates the Copyright Claims Board, a body within the U.S. Copyright Office, to decide copyright disputes. 
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The Federal Circuit affirmed a district court award of over $360,000 in costs and attorneys’ fees against a non-practicing entity, citing the need “to deter future abusive litigation.”
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Mintz is recognized as among the top ten firms in ITC Section 337 litigation by Patexia in its inaugural "ITC Intelligence Report". We are pleased to be among the firms included in this publication and thrilled that it has come on the heels of a great year at the ITC for the Mintz team.
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Year in Review: The Most Popular IP Posts of 2019

January 6, 2020 | Blog | By Christina Sperry

As 2020 begins and intellectual property (IP) strategies are being developed for the new year, it is a good time to reflect on what IP issues were prominent in 2019.  According to many readers, hot topics included § 112 written description, prosecution history estoppel, and venue in the wake of TC Heartland.
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On December 18, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in Fox Factory v. SRAM, Nos. 2018-2024 and 2018-2025, reversed the Board’s Final Written Decision in a pair of inter partes reviews (“IPRs”) that the challenged claims of U.S. Patent No. 9,182,027 (“the ’027 patent”) were not invalid as obvious, and remanded for further proceedings.
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When licensing discussions with an intransigent implementer break down, SEP owners face a difficult question: what remedies are available (injunctive relief or damages) in each U.S. court (International Trade Commission and U.S. district courts) as redress against infringement?
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Federal Circuit affirms Safe Harbor ruling and $70 million award in Amgen Inc. v. Hospira, Inc.

December 20, 2019 | Blog | By Thomas Wintner, Peter Cuomo, Nana Liu

On December 16, 2019, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued an opinion that fully upheld the District of Delaware’s denial of Hospira, Inc.’s motion for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL), or alternative motion for new trial, in Amgen Inc. v. Hospira, Inc., Nos. 2019-1067, 2019-1102.  
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