Category: IP Litigation

1
Misappropriators Beware: Motorola Court Embraces Extraterritorial Application of the Defend Trade Secrets Act
2
Unconstitutionality of PTAB judges corrected by Federal Circuit decision
3
Sky v Skykick AG – is this the end of a claim for “computer software?”
4
IPR of pre-AIA patent not an unconstitutional taking
5
New USPTO Requirement: U.S. Licensed Attorney Representation for Foreign Trademark Applications and Registrations
6
Second update of PTAB Trial Practice Guide issued
7
New Intellectual Property (Dispute Resolution) Bill In Singapore
8
Federal Circuit Upholds TTAB Ruling on Specimens of Use
9
SENSIS v SENSES – Federal Court makes findings of deceptive similarity
10
Bega claims the peanut butter throne in $60M war with Kraft Heinz

Misappropriators Beware: Motorola Court Embraces Extraterritorial Application of the Defend Trade Secrets Act

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.[1]  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.[2]  While Motorola is not the first case to recognize that the DTSA provides a private right of action for foreign misappropriation,[3] it appears to be the first substantive analysis of extraterritorial application of the DTSA to date.[4]   

Case Background

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.[5]  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.[6]  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.[7]  Hytera proceeded to sell its newly developed radios both internationally and in the United States.[8]  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.[9]  In particular, Hytera advertised, promoted, and marketed products embodying the allegedly stolen trade secrets at numerous domestic trade shows.[10]

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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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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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IPR of pre-AIA patent not an unconstitutional taking

In a notable, albeit not surprising, U.S. Federal Circuit decision today, the panel in Celgene Corp. v. Peter confirmed that an inter partes review finding of unpatentability of a pre-AIA patent is not an unconstitutional taking. (slip op. 2018-1171 (July 30, 2019)).

Noting an opening in the recent Supreme Court decision in Oil States, the Federal Circuit deemed the circumstances exceptional as their basis for review of an issue not before the PTAB in the underlying proceeding. The panel reasoned that the proceeding being “curative” in nature, and the approximately forty year period of time in which PTAB proceedings have existed subjecting granted patents to potential cancellations for that duration weighted against any unconstitutionality.

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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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New Intellectual Property (Dispute Resolution) Bill In Singapore

On 8 July 2019, the Intellectual Property (Dispute Resolution) Bill (Bill) was tabled in Parliament, after a public consultation on the draft Bill that was conducted in March 2019 by the Singapore Ministry of Law.

The Bill aims to ensure that the Singapore Intellectual Property (IP) regime continues to support innovative activities in Singapore and positions Singapore as a choice of venue for international IP dispute resolution.

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Federal Circuit Upholds TTAB Ruling on Specimens of Use

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).

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SENSIS v SENSES – Federal Court makes findings of deceptive similarity

The Federal Court of Australia has found that the use of “SENSES DIRECT” was deceptively similar to an applicant’s earlier registered “SENSIS” trade marks. Sensis Pty Ltd v Senses Direct Mail and Fulfillment Pty Ltd [2019] FCA 719 concerned the Australian marketing and advertising business, Sensis (Applicant), who brought a claim for trade mark infringement against Senses Direct Mail and Fulfillment (Respondent), a direct mail services business. The Respondent cross-claimed on the grounds of non-use, arguing for the removal of SENSIS from the Trade Mark Register in relation to certain class 35 services.

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Bega claims the peanut butter throne in $60M war with Kraft Heinz

What you need to know

  • Under Australian law, an entity can’t transfer an unregistered trade mark to another entity without also transferring its entire business.
  • To transfer a trade mark without transferring a business, the transferor first needs to register its trade mark.
  • Failing to register a valuable trade mark used in a business can have major unforeseen consequences in the context of M&A transactions, especially where the business is operated by a subsidiary in a corporate group.
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