The owner of the trademark “LETTUCE TURNIP THE BEET” cannot prevent third parties from printing the mere phrase on t-shirts, tote bags, or other products. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed on January 20, 2021 that consumers are likely to purchase such products because they find the phrase aesthetically pleasing and not because they associate the phrase with any particular source. LTTB LLC v. Redbubble, Inc., 19-16464 (9th Cir. 2021).Read More
In a bold departure from its focus on allegedly misleading and deceptive statements in commerce, the National Advertising Division’s (“NAD”) decision in PLx Pharma, Inc. (Vazalore), Report #6912, NAD/CARU Case Reports (December 2020), arguably stretches its jurisdictional scope to include certain pre-national launch investor statements.Read More
The UK IP Enterprise Court has ruled that an Austrian shoe company infringed a registered community design (“RCD”) held by a US based sustainable fashion brand although there was no infringement of the corresponding unregistered community design (“UCD”). The decision is a relatively rare example of a UK, or EU, based Court analyzing fashion items and addressing design novelty issues between 2017 and now. A full copy of the decision can be found here.Read More
Luxury car manufacturer Bentley Motors has lost its appeal against a ruling which found it infringed the trade marks of a small, family company called Bentley Clothing. A full copy of the decision can be found here.
Following the ruling, Bentley Motors must stop using the trade mark BENTLEY and their combination sign – the B-in-Wings logo and the word BENTLEY (shown below) – on clothing.Read More
On Monday, 21 December, U.S. Congressional leaders passed a spending bill that included government funding and folded in several controversial intellectual property provisions that will expand the rights of intellectual property owners. These provisions include the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforce (CASE) Act, the Trademark Modernization Act (TMA), and a law to make certain illegal streaming a felony. The bill was signed into law by President Trump on 27 December 2020.Read More
On March 5, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois entered a final judgment on a jury verdict of approximately $764.6 million in a high profile trade secret misappropriation case — Motorola Solutions, Inc. v. Hytera Communications Corp. Ltd. This judgment was made possible, in large part, by an earlier order from the district court holding that the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) applies to misappropriation that occurs outside the United States if (1) the misappropriator is a U.S. citizen or entity, or (2) “an act in furtherance of” the misappropriation occurred domestically. While Motorola is not the first case to recognize that the DTSA provides a private right of action for foreign misappropriation, it appears to be the first substantive analysis of extraterritorial application of the DTSA to date.
The Motorola case centered on allegations that Hytera, a Chinese rival of Motorola, misappropriated Motorola’s trade secrets to develop and sell a competing digital radio. Motorola claimed that Hytera hired three engineers away from Motorola’s Malaysian office, and that those engineers stole thousands of technical, confidential Motorola documents containing trade secrets and source code. According to Motorola, Hytera used Motorola’s trade secrets to develop a state-of-the-art digital radio that was functionally indistinguishable from Motorola’s digital radios. Hytera proceeded to sell its newly developed radios both internationally and in the United States. While the key actions that enabled Hytera’s acquisition of Motorola’s trade secrets took place overseas, certain actions related to the misappropriation occurred in the United States. In particular, Hytera advertised, promoted, and marketed products embodying the allegedly stolen trade secrets at numerous domestic trade shows.Read More
The Federal Circuit’s decision last week in Fox Factory, Inc. v. SRAM, LLC provided clarity regarding the nexus requirement of secondary considerations of non-obviousness, particularly with respect to whether a patentee is entitled to a presumption of nexus.  Despite the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) finding that the cited art disclosed all the limitations of the challenged patent—which claimed a bicycle chainring for engagement with a drivetrain—and that a skilled artisan would have been motivated to combine the cited prior art, the PTAB found that, based on an analysis of secondary considerations, the claims of the challenged patent were not obvious.  The Federal Circuit focused in on the comparison of the patentee’s product and the scope of the challenged claims.  In doing so, the panel found that “[a] patent claim is not co-extensive with a product that includes a ‘critical’ un-claimed feature . . . that materially impacts the product’s functionality.” Read More
Cannabis is a rapidly evolving field with 33 states and the District of Columbia having passed laws broadly legalizing some form of medicinal or recreational use. Of those states, eleven and the District of Columbia have adopted the broadest form of legalization: recreational use. General trends of decriminalization and legalization of cannabis, at the state level, may encourage future legalization at the federal level as well. As with any other high-growth opportunity, business investment in cannabis is on the rise, and intellectual property is a vital concern. Below are five intellectual property takeaways to consider for cannabis-related endeavors.Read More
Part of the trademark registration process is submitting a specimen of the mark as used in commerce (“specimen of use”). Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) upheld the decision of a split Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) panel that refused to register the trademark “CASALANA” for “knit pile fabric made with wool for use as a textile in the manufacture of outerwear, gloves, apparel, and accessories,” stating that Siny Corp. (the applicant) did not submit an acceptable specimen of use. See In Re: Siny Corp. (Fed. Cir. Case. No. 18-1077).Read More
On October 11, 2018, President Trump signed the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (MMA) into law. The MMA is intended to “modernize copyright law” as applied to songwriters, music publishers, digital music providers, record labels, and others involved in the creation and distribution of music.