Archive: June 2017

1
One fee per class system introduced in Polish trademark law
2
Lack of distinctiveness as an obstacle for EUTM registration
3
New regulation on the protection of EU trademarks
4
Supreme Court to Consider Constitutionality of PTAB Proceedings
5
Coming Home? Part Two: Federal Circuit Denies Mandamus Petition Seeking Clarity on Waiver Issues Post-TC Heartland
6
Coming Home?: Federal Circuit Asked To Immediately Weigh In On Proper Venue Post-TC Heartland
7
The Charging Bull and the Fearless Girl: Moral Rights Protections in Australia and the U.S.

One fee per class system introduced in Polish trademark law

Changes have been introduced in the system of fees for the submission and protection of trademarks and industrial designs with the Polish Patent Office (PPO). An amendment of the Regulation of the Council of Ministers on fees relating to the protection of inventions, utility designs, industrial designs, trademarks, geographic designations and topographies of integrated circuits was published and entered into force at the end of 2016.

To read the full alert, click here.

By: Michał Ziółkowski

Lack of distinctiveness as an obstacle for EUTM registration

The distinctiveness of a trademark is one of the conditions for obtaining a European Union trade mark (EUTM) registration. The concept of a trademark is defined through the prism of distinctiveness as its inherent characteristic, and also its basic function. This distinctiveness may be inherent (due to the unprecedented and extraordinary structure or content of the sign) or acquired (as a result of use of the sign on the market). Distinctiveness should be possessed by each representable and sensory perceptible sign capable of distinguishing goods or services that should perform the functions of a trademark in business or trade.

To read the full alert, click here.

By: Michał Ziółkowski

New regulation on the protection of EU trademarks

On 16 June 2017, we saw the publication of the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council (EU) 2017/1001 of 14 June 2017, on the European Union trademark (OJEU L 154 of 16.06.2017), which is de facto the uniform text of Regulation No. 207/2009 as amended as a result of Regulation No. 2015/2424. The new regulation entered into force 20 days after being published in the Official Journal of the European Union and will apply starting 1 October 2017.

The publication of the new regulation is the result of a legal reform of trademarks in the EU. Because Regulation No. 207/2009 was amended significantly several times, for the sake of clarity and comprehensibility, the provisions have been unified.

The provisions of Regulation 2017/1001 are identical with those that were introduced by Amendment Regulation No. 2015/2424 and contain, among other items, a new definition of the term “trademark.”

Source: http://eur-lex.europa.eu

By: Michał Ziółkowski

Supreme Court to Consider Constitutionality of PTAB Proceedings

On June 12, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Oil States Energy Services, LLC’s petition for a writ of certiorari to address the following question: “Whether inter partes review—an adversarial process used by the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to analyze the validity of existing patents—violates the Constitution by extinguishing private property rights through a non-Article III forum without a jury.” The Supreme Court declined to grant certiorari on Oil States’ remaining two questions presented, relating to amendment procedures and claim construction.

Oil States’ argument is that patents are private property rights that can only be revoked by an Article III court, not by an Article I agency. In particular, Oil States urges the Supreme Court to overturn the Federal Circuit’s decision in MCM Portfolio LLC v. Hewlett-Packard Co., which held that patents are public rights and that “Congress has the power to delegate disputes over public rights to non-Article III courts.”[1]  The Federal Circuit has already upheld the constitutionality of the PTO’s ex parte reexamination process in Patlex Corp. v. Mossinghoff.[2]  In doing so, consistent with MCM, the Federal Circuit affirmed the power of an Article I agency to adjudicate the validity of an issued patent in the first instance.[3]

The Supreme Court previously rejected three other petitions challenging the constitutionality of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) proceedings. And, as recently as last month, the same issue was presented for en banc review to the Federal Circuit, which declined to review in a 10–2 vote.[4]  Accordingly, this case will present the first opportunity for the Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of the immensely popular post-grant proceedings put in place by the America Invents Act.  The case also presents interesting issues regarding a patentee’s right to a jury trial under the Seventh Amendment.

Updates to this alert will be provided as they become available.

[1] 812 F.3d 1284, 1289 (Fed. Cir. 2015).

[2] 758 F.2d 594 (Fed. Cir. 1985).

[3] Id. at 604.

[4] Cascades Projection LLC v. Epson Am., Inc., No. 2017-1517, slip op. at 2 (Fed. Cir. May 10, 2017).

By: Jason Engel, Devon Beane and Erik Halverson

Coming Home? Part Two: Federal Circuit Denies Mandamus Petition Seeking Clarity on Waiver Issues Post-TC Heartland

This legal alert is a follow-up to “Coming Home?: Federal Circuit Asked to Immediately Weigh in on Proper Venue Post-TC Heartland,” available here.

On the morning of June 9, 2017, the defendants in Cobalt Boats, LLC v. Sea Ray Boats, Inc., filed their Mandamus Petition seeking immediate review of the district court’s decision to deny their request to transfer venue. [1]  The defendants also renewed their emergency motion to stay the proceedings pending Federal Circuit review.  The Federal Circuit denied both requests late in the afternoon the same day.  The Federal Circuit did not weigh in on any of the substantive issues regarding waiver of venue challenges, but rather determined that mandamus relief was not the appropriate recourse in this instance. [2]

As with the previous denial of the defendants’ emergency motion to stay, Judge Newman dissented from the opinion.  Judge Newman again reiterated that “[t]here is little doubt that the Court’s decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Grp. Brands LLC, No. 16-341, 2017 WL 2216934 (U.S. May 22, 2017), was a change in the law of venue . . .” [3]  Judge Newman also opined that the case presented exceptional circumstances warranting mandamus review because “if the trial commences next Monday as scheduled, the landscape will have changed dramatically—without a stay, the event will be over, and an opportunity for this court to determine whether the district court’s decision was in compliance with the venue requirements revived by TC Heartland may have harsh consequences.” [4]

The district court in the underlying litigation is set to begin trial today.

Notes:
[1] No. 15-cv-21 (E.D. Va.).

[2] In re Sea Ray Boats, Inc., No. 17-124, Dkt. No. 15 at 2 (Fed. Cir. June 9, 2017).

[3] Id. at 5 (Newman, J., dissenting).

Coming Home?: Federal Circuit Asked To Immediately Weigh In On Proper Venue Post-TC Heartland

In a case pending in the Eastern District of Virginia, set to start trial on June 12, 2017, the defendants filed a motion to transfer the case to the Eastern District of Tennessee following the Supreme Court’s decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, No. 16-341, 2017 WL 2216934 (U.S. May 22, 2017).  The district court ordered expedited briefing on the issue and ultimately determined that the defendants had waived their right to challenge venue.  In particular, according to the district court, “TC Heartland does not qualify for the intervening law exception to waiver because it merely affirms the viability of Fourco [Glass Co. v. Transmirra Products Corp., 353 U.S. 222, 226 (1957)].” Cobalt Boats, LLC v. Sea Ray Boats, Inc., No. 15-cv-21, Opinion & Order at 6 (E.D. Va. June 7, 2017).

Because trial is just around the corner for these defendants, they filed an emergency motion to stay the district court case with the Federal Circuit to allow time to file a Petition for Writ of Mandamus (“Mandamus Petition”). On June 8, 2017, the Federal Circuit denied the motion without prejudice to refiling if defendants filed the Mandamus Petition.  Interestingly, however, Judge Newman dissented from the denial, stating unequivocally that TC Heartland “was a change in the law of venue.” In re: Sea Ray Boats, Inc., No. 17-124, Dkt. No. 4 at 3 (Fed. Cir. June 8, 2017) (Newman, J., dissenting).  Judge Newman explained that “[t]he processes of law are designed not for the convenience of judges, but as safeguards to litigants and warders of justice.” Id. at 4.  Because the change in law “bring[s] the propriety of the current venue directly into question,” Judge Newman believed a stay of the underlying trial was appropriate. Id.

On the morning of June 9, 2017, the defendants filed their Mandamus Petition and renewed their emergency motion to stay the trial.

Updates to this alert will be provided as they become available.

By: Jason Engel and Devon Curtis Beane

The Charging Bull and the Fearless Girl: Moral Rights Protections in Australia and the U.S.

The Charging Bull has been an iconic New York City landmark since it was placed outside the New York Stock Exchange in December 1989 in an act of guerrilla art.  Despite initially being removed, the statue’s popularity caused it to be relocated to Bowling Green days later, where it has since remained, on loan to the New York City Council.  Earlier this year, on the eve of International Women’s Day, Charging Bull was joined at Bowling Green by a second guerrilla-art installation, sculptor Kristen Visbal’s four foot statue titled Fearless Girl, who stares defiantly at the Charging Bull.

The artist behind the Charging Bull, Artutro Di Modica, claims that the placement of Fearless Girl is an insult to the Charging Bull and that her placement is ‘attacking the bull’.  The competing interests of the artists raise interesting questions in intellectual property law, specifically regarding Di Modica’s ‘moral rights’.  Does the Fearless Girl have reason to fear impending intellectual property litigation? Or will the Charging Bull have to accept the new kid on the block?

Click here to read more.

By: Sophie Taylor

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