Category: Court Decisions

1
To 3D, or not to 3D, that is the question: Another twist in the Rubik’s Cube and its EU trade mark protection
2
Unconstitutionality of PTAB judges corrected by Federal Circuit decision
3
Music to our ears: some clarity on joint authorship of copyright
4
Sky v Skykick AG – is this the end of a claim for “computer software?”
5
Style is everything, but style names aren’t “trade marks”
6
Don’t B Late; Federal Circuit Interprets the B Delay Calculation
7
The Scotch Whisky Saga: Where Name and Reputation is not enough
8
Towards a Uniform Theory of Patent Law: The Federal Circuit Declines to Create Design-Patent-Specific Rules for Exhaustion or Repair
9
New USPTO Requirement: U.S. Licensed Attorney Representation for Foreign Trademark Applications and Registrations
10
Second update of PTAB Trial Practice Guide issued

To 3D, or not to 3D, that is the question: Another twist in the Rubik’s Cube and its EU trade mark protection

The long running and highly publicised Rubik’s cube case has taken another twist. On 24 October 2019, the EU General Court confirmed the cancellation of the EU trade mark for the 3D shape. The mark was cancelled because its essential characteristics were deemed necessary for its technical function (i.e. the shape’s ability to rotate).

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Unconstitutionality of PTAB judges corrected by Federal Circuit decision

In a Halloween decision, the Federal Circuit issued its opinion in Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc. et al., an appeal from IPR2017-00275. Without wading into the technical merits of the decision, the three judge panel of Judges Moore, Reyna, and Chen, issued a decision that, at first glance, sent tremors through those who practice before the PTAB in AIA-based post-grant review proceedings: finding the appointment of PTAB judges unconstitutional.

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Music to our ears: some clarity on joint authorship of copyright

In the recent decision of the case Kogan v Martin, the UK Court of Appeal overturned an Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) decision and identified a new test for determining when contribution is sufficient to be recognised as a joint author of a copyright work.

The case has now been remitted for a retrial before a different judge, due to the judge of first instance adopting an erroneous approach to the evidence and applying incorrect legal standards.

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Sky v Skykick AG – is this the end of a claim for “computer software?”

On 16 October 2019, Advocate General Tanchev of the CJEU has issued his opinion in Sky v SkyKick one of the most intriguing trade mark cases at the moment which will likely have a significant impact on EU trade mark law. Crucially the AG has advised that:

  1. “registration of a trade mark for ‘computer software’ is unjustified and contrary to the public interest” because it confers on the proprietor a “monopoly of immense breadth which cannot be justified”, and it lacks sufficient clarity and precision; and
  2. trade mark registrations made with no intention to use, in relation to the specified goods and services, may constitute bad faith.
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Style is everything, but style names aren’t “trade marks”

Pinnacle Runway Pty Ltd v Triangl Limited [2019] FCA 1662

In a recent decision commenced by Pinnacle Runway against well-known swimwear brand Triangl, the Federal Court has chastised the parties involved for partaking in so called “ill-advised proceedings”. The Court also confirmed that use of a word as a style name to differentiate between product lines will not amount to use as a trade mark so as to constitute trade mark infringement.

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Don’t B Late; Federal Circuit Interprets the B Delay Calculation

Mayo Foundation v. Iancu reads more like an arithmetic problem than a Federal Circuit decision. The reason is the case involves the Patent Term Adjustment Act (PTA) (see 35 U.S.C. § 154(b)). PTA determinations require calculating how many days of delay, from the effective filing date to the Notice of Allowance, are attributable to the applicant and how many to the PTO. Under one PTA scenario, the applicant is entitled to an adjusted term, recovering every day the application is pending beyond three years past the effective filing date for the balance of delay attributable to the PTO. This is called a “B Delay” (§154(b)1)(B)). However, the B Delay is subject to several exclusions. The disputed exclusion in Mayo concerned a Request for Continued Examination (RCE) of the application, which Mayo filed before the PTO declared an interference. 

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The Scotch Whisky Saga: Where Name and Reputation is not enough

William Grant & Sons, the distiller, blender and owner of Glenfiddich, the independent whisky company which markets itself as the “World’s Most Awarded Single Malt Scotch Whisky”, was unsuccessful in its recent opposition of Glenfield’s label trade mark application.

Back in 2018, Mumbai-based business man Vivek Anasane filed a trade mark application for the label of his ‘Glenfield’ Scotch whisky in an attempt to expand his drinks company into the UK. This was quickly opposed by William Grant & Sons who argued that the Glenfield mark was “visually and phonetically highly similar” to the Glenfiddich word mark.

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Towards a Uniform Theory of Patent Law: The Federal Circuit Declines to Create Design-Patent-Specific Rules for Exhaustion or Repair

On Tuesday July 23, 2019, the Federal Circuit declined to fashion design-patent-specific doctrines of exhaustion or repair. Automotive Body Parts Ass’n v. Ford Global Techs., LLC, Case No. 2018-1613, slip op. at 2 (Fed. Cir. July 23, 2019).

Instead, the court reemphasized that the same rules apply to utility patents and to design patents unless otherwise provided by law. Id. Also concluding that “aesthetic appeal” is not functional, the court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in Ford’s favor. Id. The decision is notable for its widening of the gap between trade dress and design patents and for its reaffirmation of the principle that design patents and utility patents should, whenever possible, receive identical treatment under the law.

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New USPTO Requirement: U.S. Licensed Attorney Representation for Foreign Trademark Applications and Registrations

On Tuesday July 2, 2019, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued new Rules and Regulations under Title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts 2, 7, and 11. They take effect on Saturday August 3, 2019.

The impact of the rule, as implemented, is a new requirement for a licensed U.S. attorney to serve as counsel for applicants, registrants, or parties to a trademark proceeding whose domicile is not located within the United States (i.e. foreign applicants, registrants, or parties). Previously, a substantial number of such trademark applications had been filed without a U.S. attorney by applicants domiciled in other jurisdictions.

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Second update of PTAB Trial Practice Guide issued

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a second update to its Trial Practice Guide, clarifying a number of logistical matters for practitioners and outlining the PTAB’s expectations and preferences for certain stages of the trial process.

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