Category: United States

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Trademark infringement case update: Lucky Brands Dungarees v Marcel Fashion Group
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New USPTO Requirement: Mandatory Electronic Trademark Submissions and Physical Addresses
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No Time Like the Right Time* – To update your DMCA safe harbor copyright agent registration
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In the Weeds: Key Intellectual Property Takeaways for the Cannabis Industry
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Don’t B Late; Federal Circuit Interprets the B Delay Calculation
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New USPTO Requirement: U.S. Licensed Attorney Representation for Foreign Trademark Applications and Registrations
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U.S. Supreme Court strikes down ban on “immoral” or “scandalous” trademark registrations
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Webpage specimens not automatically use in commerce
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U.S. Supreme Court Decides Two Copyright Cases and Impacts Registration Strategy for Copyright Owners

Trademark infringement case update: Lucky Brands Dungarees v Marcel Fashion Group

A nearly 20-year dispute between two competitors in the apparel industry will be heard by the Supreme Court Monday January 13, 2020, on the legal issue of claim preclusion – highlighting the practical pitfalls of releasing trademark infringement claims in settlement agreement between parties that continue to use the marks at issue. The case is Lucky Brands Dungarees, Inc. v. Marcel Fashion Group, Inc., Case No. 18-1086.

The practical lessons to draw from this dispute are numerous:

  1. the importance of initially clearing marks and implementing a plan to handle potential third party objections
  2. strategic enforcement as to when, and against whom, to enforce trademark rights – and squarely on point with this nearly 20 year battle now before the Supreme Court
  3. careful drafting of what claims are released in the context of future use of the same or similar trademarks.
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New USPTO Requirement: Mandatory Electronic Trademark Submissions and Physical Addresses

On Tuesday July 31, 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, and 7. They were to take effect on December 21, 2019, but will now take effect of February 15, 2020.

The impact of the rule, as implemented, is a new requirement for all trademark applicants and registrants to:

  1. electronically file trademark applications, subsequent documents concerning trademark applications, and documents regarding registrations;
  2. provide and maintain a working e-mail address for receiving correspondence from the USPTO for each trademark application and registration; and
  3. provide and maintain an accurate domicile address as a backup for the USPTO to contact if an e-mail correspondence address fails to work.
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No Time Like the Right Time* – To update your DMCA safe harbor copyright agent registration

All companies that conduct business online should take note of a potential upcoming renewal deadline for the “safe harbor” from copyright infringement liability. Online service providers seeking safe harbor under 17 U.S.C. § 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)[1] must designate a copyright agent with the U.S. Copyright Office and renew that designation at least once every three years. Failure to do so will negate the online service provider’s ability to claim the safe harbor from copyright infringement liability under § 512(c). Many companies renewed their designations between December 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017 using the Copyright Office’s new electronic filing system. For those that did, the three-year renewal deadline may be approaching.

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In the Weeds: Key Intellectual Property Takeaways for the Cannabis Industry

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.

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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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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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U.S. Supreme Court strikes down ban on “immoral” or “scandalous” trademark registrations

On June 24, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Iancu v. Brunetti that the Lanham Act’s prohibition on registration of “immoral” or “scandalous” trademarks violates the First Amendment. The holding was in favor of Respondent Erik Brunetti, who had been denied a trademark registration for “FUCT” in connection with various clothing items.

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Webpage specimens not automatically use in commerce

On April 10, 2019, the Federal Circuit issued a precedential opinion, at the request of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), regarding submissions of webpages as specimens of use. In re Siny Corp is an important reminder to applicants and practitioners to carefully consider whether webpage specimens to be submitted to the USPTO actually comprise the offering of goods and/or services at the point of sale, or whether they are mere advertising.

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U.S. Supreme Court Decides Two Copyright Cases and Impacts Registration Strategy for Copyright Owners

March 4, 2019, marked the first time in over 100 years that the Supreme Court of the United States issued two copyright decisions in the same day[1] – both unanimous and both strict interpretations of statutory language.  In the first of these two decisions, the Supreme Court unanimously held in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v. Wall-Street.com that copyright owners must obtain a registration from the U.S. Copyright Office prior to filing an infringement action.[2]  The Court, in an opinion authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, resolved a long-standing circuit split on whether the “application approach” (merely filing a copyright application) or the “registration approach” (obtaining a copyright registration) is sufficient to file a copyright infringement suit under § 411(a) of the Copyright Act of 1976.  In the second decision, the Court in Rimini Street, Inc. v. Oracle USA, Inc. determined that “full costs” under § 505 of the Copyright Act did not authorize awarding litigation expenses beyond those specified in the general costs statute.

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