Tag: United States

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Sixth Circuit rules knurling pattern on rifle scopes could be nonfunctional trade dress
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Jury awards profits for infringing sales in post-Samsung design patent case
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Petitioners bear the burden of proving invalidity of amended claims in IPR proceedings
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Emerging trends in U.S. Defend Trade Secrets Act litigation
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U.S. Court finds Adidas’ Stan Smith shoe trade dress protectable
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USPTO Issues Report on Public Views Regarding Subject Matter Eligibility
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Louis Vuitton Seeks Supreme Court Review to Resolve Purported Circuit Split on Trademark Dilution
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Say My Name: Beyoncé files trademarks for her newborn twins’ names
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Protecting Plant Innovations in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand
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Federal Circuit Instructs the PTAB on Written Description in University Interference Proceeding

Sixth Circuit rules knurling pattern on rifle scopes could be nonfunctional trade dress

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a reasonable jury could find a design pattern on rifle scopes is “nonfunctional” and thus potentially amenable to trade dress protection. Since 2002, Leapers, Inc. has been selling adjustable rifle scopes with knurling on the surface. Knurling is a common manufacturing technique that allows users to grip and fine-tune products more easily.

Leapers asserted “that it uses a unique knurling pattern that is distinctly ‘ornamental’ and by which customers recognize [Leapers] as the source of the product.” Leapers had executed an exclusive manufacturing contract with a Chinese company, but chose to end that relationship in 2011. The manufacturer agreed to cease using all technical specifications and designs, but later a factory manager from the manufacturer formed his own company and began manufacturing scopes allegedly using Leapers’ knurling design.

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Jury awards profits for infringing sales in post-Samsung design patent case

On September 29, a jury in California awarded Columbia Sportswear more than US$3.4 million for infringement of its design patent on heat-reflective technology for clothing and outdoor gear.  Columbia accused Seirus Innovative Accessories of infringing its utility and design patents for its wavy lining material, which reflects body heat, but allows for breathability and moisture-wicking. This appears to be the first jury verdict on a design patent after the Supreme Court’s decision in Samsung v. Apple.

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Petitioners bear the burden of proving invalidity of amended claims in IPR proceedings

On October 4, 2017, the Federal Circuit held en banc that the proper interpretation of 35 U.S.C. 316(d) and (e) requires the Petitioner in an inter partes review (IPR) to prove all propositions of unpatentability, including for amended claims.  Aqua Prods., Inc. v. Matal, No. 2015-1177 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 4, 2017).  The en banc Court further determined that the PTAB must consider the entirety of the record when assessing the patentability of amended claims under 318(a), not merely the face of a motion to amend.

The Aqua case resulted in five opinions totaling 148 pages, each presenting views on judgment and underlying rationale, ultimately leading to a narrowly tailored holding.  In the decision, the Federal Circuit made clear that the burden of persuasion of patentability does not rest with the Patent Owner; instead, it is left to the Petitioner to establish that any proposed amended claims are not patentable.

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Emerging trends in U.S. Defend Trade Secrets Act litigation

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.

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U.S. Court finds Adidas’ Stan Smith shoe trade dress protectable

It’s game, set, match for Adidas when it comes to the protectable trade dress in its iconic Stan Smith tennis shoe. In a dispute between Adidas and Skechers over the “Skecherizing” of the Stan Smith shoe, the District Court for the District of Oregon denied Skechers’ motion for summary judgment finding that Adidas could show it has protectable trade dress in its well-known shoe design because the design was recognizable to consumers and not functional. Adidas America Inc. et al. v. Skechers USA Inc., D. Or (August 3, 2017) (order granting in part and denying in part motion for summary judgment).

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USPTO Issues Report on Public Views Regarding Subject Matter Eligibility

On July 25, 2017, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued Patent Eligible Subject Matter: Report on Views and Recommendations From the Public (Report). The Report summarizes public comments on the state of subject matter eligibility law.  Comments came from varied sources including industry, private practice, academia, trade associations, inventors, and small business.

After beginning with an overview of eligibility law in the U.S. and abroad, the Report summarizes the comments supportive and critical of the Supreme Court’s Bilski, Mayo, Myriad, and Alice decisions regarding subject matter eligibility. It polls opinions from the two most-impacted technology sectors, and reviews recommendations on how to move forward.

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Louis Vuitton Seeks Supreme Court Review to Resolve Purported Circuit Split on Trademark Dilution

Louis Vuitton recently petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review a Second Circuit ruling that certain handbags are fair-use parodies of Louis Vuitton products, and therefore do not give rise to liability for trademark dilution by blurring. In its petition, Louis Vuitton contends there is a split of authority between the Second and Fourth Circuits regarding parody as a fair-use defense to dilution.

Louis Vuitton is the owner of famous trademarks “that immediately bring… to mind Louis Vuitton as the sole source of handbags and other stylish, high-quality goods bearing its marks.” My Other Bag, Inc. offers handbags with images of Louis Vuitton’s famous marks reproduced on one side, and the phrase “My other bag” inscribed on the back.

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Say My Name: Beyoncé files trademarks for her newborn twins’ names

Long gone are the days where the first registration of your child’s name was on their birth certificate.  On 26 June 2017, U.S. Trade Mark Application Numbers 87506186 and 87506188 were filed for the names of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter’s newborn twins ‘Rumi Carter’ and ‘Sir Carter’ by Beyoncé’s holding company, BGK Trademark Holdings.

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Protecting Plant Innovations in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand

The development of new plant varieties can be a costly and time-consuming process. To incentivise breeding endeavours, governments around the world have developed legal mechanisms which effectively provide breeders with a period of market exclusivity in which to commercialise their new variety. The mechanisms vary from country to country, and this article briefly reviews those available in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

To read the full alert, click here.

By: Michael Christie and Margaux Nair

Federal Circuit Instructs the PTAB on Written Description in University Interference Proceeding

On June 27, 2017, the U.S. Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (Board) decisions in three interference proceedings between the Board of Trustees of Leland Stanford Junior University (Stanford) and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) (Case No. 2015-2011).

Competing inventors at Stanford and CUHK developed methods for diagnosing aneuploidies—conditions characterized by an abnormal number of chromosomes (e.g., Down’s Syndrome and Turner’s Syndrome)—using maternal blood samples.  Maternal blood contains very small amounts of fetal DNA, and maternal blood sampling is far less invasive than previous methods of sampling fetal DNA.  Competing inventors developed techniques for detecting the fetal DNA in maternal blood.

A Stanford application was filed in 2007 with claims to analyzing certain “target sequences” of fetal DNA. A CUHK application, published in 2009, described a “random sequencing” method. This method uses a massively parallel sequencing (MPS) technique that does not require use of “target sequences.” After the CUHK application published, Stanford cancelled its original claims and replaced them with claims to sampling “randomly selected” DNA fragments using MPS. The 2007 Stanford application had disclosed that “the Illumina [DNA] sequencing platform” could be used to perform MPS.

Both Stanford and CUHK requested interferences before the Board to determine who invented the random sequencing method. CUHK claimed that, in 2011, Stanford saw CUHK’s claims to random MPS, and changed its application to claim that technique. CUHK moved to have Stanford’s claims held unpatentable for lack of written description support for random MPS.  The Board found that Stanford’s specification disclosed “targeted” rather than “random” MPS, and would not have indicated to one of ordinary skill in the art that the inventor was in possession of the claimed random MPS method.  It held Stanford’s claims unpatentable for lack of written description.

The Federal Circuit, inter alia, vacated the Board’s decision, stating that the Board erred in analyzing written description, and remanded the case.  The Circuit first found the Board erred by relying on CUHK’s expert testimony and several publications discussing a DNA sequencing platform that differed from the Illumina platform.  The Circuit further stated that the Board erred because “the Board’s task was to determine whether the [Stanford specification’s] written description discloses random MPS,” “not whether the description does not preclude targeted MPS.”  Finally, the Circuit stated that the Board failed to compare specific sentences and phrases referencing the sequencing process of the Stanford specification to the Stanford claims, e.g., the specification phrase “using the attachment of randomly fragmented genomic DNA.”

On remand, the Circuit instructed the Board to examine whether a person of ordinary skill in the art would have understood that the Stanford specification disclosed random MPS sequencing, as opposed to whether the specification did not preclude targeted MPS sequencing. Specifically, it instructed the Board to determine whether a person of ordinary skill would have known, as of the Stanford priority date, that the reference to Illumina products meant random MPS sequencing as recited in the claims, by examining pre-filing date factual record evidence.

By: Peter Giunta and Jenna Bruce

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