Category: United States

1
A Fair Use Tale, or All’s Well That Ends: the U.S. Supreme Court Holds Google’s Use of Java Code to Be a Fair Use under U.S. Copyright Law
2
When Is an Office Chair Design Famous? U.S. Supreme Court Won’t Hear Herman Miller’s Trade Dress Appeal Regarding the Eames Chair
3
“Lettuce Turnip the Beet” Pun on T-Shirts Not Trademark Use, Ninth Circuit Affirms
4
U.S. Spending Bill Includes Sweeping New Copyright and Trademark Measures
5
PTAB Decisions Can Now Be Nominated Anonymously
6
Can’t “Shake It Off” Yet: Court Denies Taylor Swift’s Motion to Dismiss Copyright Infringement Lawsuit
7
PTAB’s Motion to Amend Patentability Powers
8
U.S. Supreme Court Allows Booking.com to Trademark Its Domain Name
9
Show me the money: Supreme Court rules that trademark infringers may disgorge profits even if the law was not willfully violated
10
COVID-19: USPTO further extends certain filing and payment deadlines to June 1, 2020 for those affected by COVID-19 outbreak

A Fair Use Tale, or All’s Well That Ends: the U.S. Supreme Court Holds Google’s Use of Java Code to Be a Fair Use under U.S. Copyright Law

By: Mark H. WittowPaul J. BrueneTrevor M. Gates

On 5 April 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court resolved a major copyright dispute that had wound through the federal courts for over a decade. In a 6-2 decision written by Justice Breyer, the Supreme Court held that Google’s copying of roughly 11,500 lines of declaring Java code for Google’s mobile Android platform was a fair use as a matter of law and thus not copyright infringement. The decision addresses the application of copyright law to software and updates and extends the Supreme Court’s copyright fair use jurisprudence. Read our recent client alert here.

When Is an Office Chair Design Famous? U.S. Supreme Court Won’t Hear Herman Miller’s Trade Dress Appeal Regarding the Eames Chair

The U.S. Supreme Court decided not to take up Herman Miller, Inc.’s appeal from a Ninth Circuit holding that partially overturned a jury verdict and held that Herman Miller’s popular Eames office chair (average retail price US$1,200) is not “famous” enough to qualify for trade dress dilution protection.[1] The Supreme Court’s denial of Herman Miller’s petition means the Ninth Circuit’s decision will stand.

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“Lettuce Turnip the Beet” Pun on T-Shirts Not Trademark Use, Ninth Circuit Affirms

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).

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U.S. Spending Bill Includes Sweeping New Copyright and Trademark Measures

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.

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PTAB Decisions Can Now Be Nominated Anonymously

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) now allows “individuals to anonymously nominate any routine decision of the Board for designation as precedential or informative.” (Click here for PTAB Decision Nomination form.)

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Can’t “Shake It Off” Yet: Court Denies Taylor Swift’s Motion to Dismiss Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

On September 2, 2020, a California federal judge denied musician Taylor Swift’s motion to dismiss copyright infringement claims related to the lyrics in Swift’s hit song Shake It Off. On remand from the Ninth Circuit, the district court held the merger doctrine did not apply at this stage and that plaintiffs Nathan Butler and Sean Hall sufficiently alleged a protectable sequence of creative expression and substantial similarity in the lyrics at issue. This ruling comes nearly three years after Hall and Butler originally filed suit, and nearly one year after the Ninth Circuit breathed new life into the case by reversing the district court’s prior dismissal of this lawsuit.

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PTAB’s Motion to Amend Patentability Powers

In a 2-1 split decision on Wednesday, July 22, 2020, the Federal Circuit confirmed that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB“) had the authority to reject substitute claims under 35 U.S.C. §§ 101 and 112, statutory grounds not available to the PTAB for evaluating patentability of granted patent claims in inter partes review (“IPR“). (Uniloc 2017 LLC, v. Hulu, LLC et al., Case No. 2019-1686, slip op. at 3 (Fed. Cir. July 22, 2020).)

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Booking.com to Trademark Its Domain Name

On June 30, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court held in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office v. Booking.com B.V., 591 U.S. ___ (2020) that “Booking.com” is eligible for trademark registration because consumers do not perceive “Booking.com” as a generic name.[1] The 8-1 decision written by Justice Ginsburg rejected the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s argument that when a generic term is combined with a generic Internet-domain-name suffix like “.com,” the resulting combination is necessarily generic, noting that such an unyielding legal rule that entirely disregards consumer perception is incompatible with the Lanham Act.

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Show me the money: Supreme Court rules that trademark infringers may disgorge profits even if the law was not willfully violated

The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that brand owners are not required to prove willful intent before obtaining a defendant’s lost profits. On April 23, 2020, the Supreme Court resolved a longstanding circuit split and unanimously held that trademark infringers may have to hand over their profits even if they did not willfully infringe.

In Romag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil Group, Inc., the Supreme Court was tasked with determining whether the rule that a plaintiff can win a profit remedy only after showing a defendant willfully infringed its trademark can be reconciled with the statute’s plain language. Ultimately, the Supreme Court sided with the plaintiffs, Romag Fasteners (Romag), holding that:

“[a] plaintiff in a trademark infringement suit is not required to show that a defendant willfully infringed the plaintiff’s trademark as a precondition to a profits award.”

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COVID-19: USPTO further extends certain filing and payment deadlines to June 1, 2020 for those affected by COVID-19 outbreak

In a Notice issued April 28, 2020, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) further extended certain filing and payment deadlines to June 1, 2020, provided that the filing is accompanied by a statement that the delay in filing or payment was due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This Notice supersedes the prior March 31, 2020 Notice that offered 30-day extensions to certain deadlines through April 30, 2020.

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