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.Read More
On April 27, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision authored by Chief Justice Roberts that copyright protection does not extend to the annotations in Georgia’s official annotated code. In the case, Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc. (No. 18-1150), the majority held that because “Georgia’s annotations are authored by an arm of the legislature in the course of its legislative duties, the government edicts doctrine puts them outside the reach of copyright protection” even though the annotations themselves do not have the force of law.Read More
A district court in the recent Sinclair case found no copyright infringement by the website Mashable, where it used one of photographer Sinclair’s Instagram photos in an article, even after an unsuccessful attempt to license the photo directly from Sinclair. Sinclair v. Ziff Davis, LLC, and Mashable, Inc., No. 1:18-CV-00790 (S.D.N.Y. April 13, 2020).Read More
On March 13, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held in Photographic Illustrators Corp. v. Orgill, Inc. that a copyright licensee given the unrestricted right to grant sublicenses may do so without using express language. Specifically, the court held that a sublicense may be implied by the conduct of the sublicensor and the sublicensee. Orgill presents the first ruling by a circuit court on whether copyright sublicenses can be implied in the absence of express permission from a sublicensor. Read More
The USPTO and the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) have announced a new worksharing arrangement that aims to make it easier and faster to obtain a Mexican patent for those who have already obtained a corresponding U.S. patent. The agreement allows IMPI to leverage USPTO search and examination results in an effort to significantly reduce the review time of a Mexican patent application.Read More
The PTAB’s Precedential Opinion Panel (“POP”) issued a decision in Hulu, LLC v. Sound View Innovations, LLC, IPR2018-01039, on Friday, December 20, 2019. The issue at hand: “What is required for a petitioner to establish that an asserted reference qualifies as ‘printed publication’ at the institution stage?” Hulu v. Sound View, IPR2018-01039, Paper 29 at *2 (P.T.A.B. December 20, 2019).
This decision provides clarity on an issue that was often addressed inconsistently across panels regarding the “requirements for institution involving issues of public accessibility of an asserted ‘printed publication.’” Id. at 2.Read More