U.S. Congress created the first statutory private federal cause of action for trade secret misappropriation when it enacted the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) on May 11, 2016. Now, more than a year since its enactment, the DTSA is being shaped and interpreted by various federal court decisions and enforcement trends are emerging.
The United Kingdom’s new Intellectual Property (Unjustified Threats) Act 2017 (the Act) was recently granted royal assent and is set to come into force in October 2017. The Act should make it easier to advise clients, avoid litigation and facilitate the negotiation of settlements by outlining what types of threats are unjustified. The Act will also harmonise the UK law on unjustified threats across patents, trade marks and design rights.
Currently, the law allows those accused of infringing intellectual property to sue for damages if threats of legal action against them are revealed to be groundless. This can lead to rights-holders becoming wary of challenging perceived threats to their intellectual property because they do not want to risk their threats being perceived as groundless and, as a result, do not exercise full protection of their intellectual property rights.
On June 12, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Oil States Energy Services, LLC’s petition for a writ of certiorari to address the following question: “Whether inter partes review—an adversarial process used by the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to analyze the validity of existing patents—violates the Constitution by extinguishing private property rights through a non-Article III forum without a jury.” The Supreme Court declined to grant certiorari on Oil States’ remaining two questions presented, relating to amendment procedures and claim construction.
Oil States’ argument is that patents are private property rights that can only be revoked by an Article III court, not by an Article I agency. In particular, Oil States urges the Supreme Court to overturn the Federal Circuit’s decision in MCM Portfolio LLC v. Hewlett-Packard Co., which held that patents are public rights and that “Congress has the power to delegate disputes over public rights to non-Article III courts.” The Federal Circuit has already upheld the constitutionality of the PTO’s ex parte reexamination process in Patlex Corp. v. Mossinghoff. In doing so, consistent with MCM, the Federal Circuit affirmed the power of an Article I agency to adjudicate the validity of an issued patent in the first instance.
The Supreme Court previously rejected three other petitions challenging the constitutionality of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) proceedings. And, as recently as last month, the same issue was presented for en banc review to the Federal Circuit, which declined to review in a 10–2 vote. Accordingly, this case will present the first opportunity for the Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of the immensely popular post-grant proceedings put in place by the America Invents Act. The case also presents interesting issues regarding a patentee’s right to a jury trial under the Seventh Amendment.
Updates to this alert will be provided as they become available. 812 F.3d 1284, 1289 (Fed. Cir. 2015).  758 F.2d 594 (Fed. Cir. 1985).  Id. at 604.  Cascades Projection LLC v. Epson Am., Inc., No. 2017-1517, slip op. at 2 (Fed. Cir. May 10, 2017).
In a case pending in the Eastern District of Virginia, set to start trial on June 12, 2017, the defendants filed a motion to transfer the case to the Eastern District of Tennessee following the Supreme Court’s decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, No. 16-341, 2017 WL 2216934 (U.S. May 22, 2017). The district court ordered expedited briefing on the issue and ultimately determined that the defendants had waived their right to challenge venue. In particular, according to the district court, “TC Heartland does not qualify for the intervening law exception to waiver because it merely affirms the viability of Fourco [Glass Co. v. Transmirra Products Corp., 353 U.S. 222, 226 (1957)].” Cobalt Boats, LLC v. Sea Ray Boats, Inc., No. 15-cv-21, Opinion & Order at 6 (E.D. Va. June 7, 2017).
Because trial is just around the corner for these defendants, they filed an emergency motion to stay the district court case with the Federal Circuit to allow time to file a Petition for Writ of Mandamus (“Mandamus Petition”). On June 8, 2017, the Federal Circuit denied the motion without prejudice to refiling if defendants filed the Mandamus Petition. Interestingly, however, Judge Newman dissented from the denial, stating unequivocally that TC Heartland “was a change in the law of venue.” In re: Sea Ray Boats, Inc., No. 17-124, Dkt. No. 4 at 3 (Fed. Cir. June 8, 2017) (Newman, J., dissenting). Judge Newman explained that “[t]he processes of law are designed not for the convenience of judges, but as safeguards to litigants and warders of justice.” Id. at 4. Because the change in law “bring[s] the propriety of the current venue directly into question,” Judge Newman believed a stay of the underlying trial was appropriate. Id.
On the morning of June 9, 2017, the defendants filed their Mandamus Petition and renewed their emergency motion to stay the trial.
Updates to this alert will be provided as they become available.
K&L Gates has prepared the first edition of Patent and Plant Breeder’s Rights Year in Review which examines the significant judgments, development and events effecting patents and plant breeder’s rights in Australia.
The Review looks at a number of cases over the year including the Australian High Court’s decision in D’Arcy v Myriad Genetics Inc in the biotech industry, whether an Australian affiliate of an international pharma company was an exclusive licensee and whether it had standing to sue, and the Productivity Commission’s “IP Arrangements” Inquiry Report plus other updates. Click here for the summary or click here for the ePublication.
Although acknowledging the ease of copying photographs on the internet, an Australian Court has warned through the publication of its decision that this copying should not continue. In the case of Tylor v Sevin, a Hawaii, U.S., based photographer sued a Melbourne, Australia, based travel agent regarding a photograph he took titled ‘Waikaki Pink Boat’. The travel agent used the photograph on its website promoting holidays to Hawaii.
After being put on notice of the case, the travel agent refused to take down the photograph or offer to pay a licence fee. Read More