The Supreme Court in AliceMayo, Myriad, and Bilski -- four cases in just four years -- dramatically redefined the issue of subject matter eligibility in patent law.  That is, the initial threshold question of whether an invention is eligible for obtaining patent protection in the first place.  The broad strokes of these cases left much to be desired, particularly and most recently in Alice, in which the Supreme Court created a vague 2-step analysis in determining when a (software or business method) invention is merely an "abstract idea", and therefore not patent eligible.  Understandably, the US PTO has encountered difficulty in applying the Alice analysis following the case, but has strived to offer some additional clarity in its latest July 2015 update to its prior 2014 Interim Guidance on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility.

Apple’s newest device the Apple Watch, which was released a few months ago, is now the subject of a trademark dispute with a European trademark holder. Probendi, an Irish software development company and owner of the rights to the “iWatch” trademark in the European Union, is upset that Apple bought Google ads for the term “iWatch”. If you run a Google search of the term “iWatch”, the top result and advertisement will be for the Apple Watch.

Probendi, filed a lawsuit on June 26 with a court in Milan protesting Apple’s use of the “iWatch” term in its advertisements. According to a tribunal filing, Probendi claims that “Apple has systematically used iWatch wording on the Google search engine in order to direct customers to its own website, advertising Apple Watch,” the document says.

Probendi co-founder Daniele Di Salvo claimed that the company was working on an Android smartwatch that would use the “iWatch” name and undercut the Apple Watch price. Di Salvo further claimed that the company had warned Apple against using the term “iWatch” before the release of the Apple Watch. 

In 2012, Apple paid $60 million to settle a trademark dispute in China over the rights to use the name iPad. Even though Apple’s newest product is not called “iWatch”, Di Salvo and Probendi might be “licking their chops” to get some of that Apple money as well. A hearing for the “iWatch” case is scheduled for November 11, 2015 in Italy. 

Electronic Dance Music (EDM) Famed DJ Deadmau5 and The Walt Disney Company have settled their trademark dispute over the use of the “Deadmau5 Mouse Head” Logo. Just when it seemed likely that the two sides were headed for a lengthy legal battle over the use of the Deadmau5 logo, it has been revealed that the two sides have reached a settlement agreement.

As discussed earlier on our blog, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case of Kimble v. Marvel Ent. Inc., a patent case deciding if its prior decision in Brulotte v. Thys Co., 379 U.S. 29 (1964) should be overruled.  This week, the Supreme Court upheld Brulotte in Kimble v. Marvel Ent. Inc., 576 U.S. ___ (2015) in a 6-3 decision involving Spider-man references, the classic doctrine of stare decisis, and a spirited dissent.

Monday, 01 June 2015 15:50

“Borrowing” A Stairway To Heaven?

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Heirs of the estate of Randy Craig Wolfe, aka Randy California, lead guitarist, singer and songwriter for the band Spirit, have filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania alleging that key portions of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven”, arguably the band’s biggest hit, are actually from the California penned “Taurus”, a song he composed while just 16 years old.

In a 6-2 decision handed down in Commil v. Cisco, the Supreme Court has held that a defendant's good faith belief that a patent is invalid does not serve as a defense to charges of inducing infringement of that patent, overturning the previous U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) decision.  

Last March, the District Court for the Northern District of California entered a final judgment in the Apple v. Samsung saga, awarding Apple almost $930 Million in damages for Samsung’s infringement of Apple's trade dress, both registered and unregistered, and design and utility patents. After several appeals, the Federal Circuit announced that Apple’s trade dress is functional and remanded to the District Court for entry of final judgment on damages only pertaining to the various patent infringements.

The Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (Hague Agreement) will go into effect for the United States next Wednesday, May 13, 2015.  Under the Geneva Act, it will be possible for U.S. applicants to file a single international design application either with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) or through the USPTO as an office of indirect filing to obtain protection in a number of countries that are party to the Hague Agreement.  In addition, applicants filing international design applications on or after May 13, 2015 will be able to designate the United States for design protection. U.S. design patents resulting from applications filed on or after May 13, 2015 will have a 15 year term from issuance.
Learn more at http://www.uspto.gov/patent/initiatives/hague-agreement-concerning-international-registration-industrial-designs

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