HILARY J. SUMNER
Creating Assets from Innovations

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IP In the News


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New EU Copyright Law Requires Tech Giants to Pay for Content

Posted on March 29, 2019 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (0)

New EU legislation known as Article 11 and Article 13 was recently passed, requiring companies such as Facebook, YouTube and Google to take more responsibility and provide compensation for copyrighted material posted on their respective sites.  The law also limits how copyrighted material may be shared on online platforms. Google complains that this will chill creativity and freedom on the internet.

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Walmart Ordered to pay $95.5 Million for TM Infringement

Posted on February 19, 2019 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Walmart was recently ordered to pay Variety Stores after a jury found that the company infringed Variety's registered trademark BACKYARD. The jury concluded that Walmart's use of the mark in a line of grilling products constituted willful infringement, resulting in a $95.5M treble damage award.

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Levi Throws Its Weight in TM Suit and Loses

Posted on February 9, 2019 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Since 1936, Levi has been placing a small fabric tag with the name LEVI on the pockets of uts denim products.  The company recently filed a trademark suit against Barbour, an English clothier that has been in business since 1894.  Levi claimed that the blue fabric tags placed in the pckets of Barbour clothing created a liklihood of confusion. On February 1st, a Judge dismissed the case calling Levi Strauss a "bully."

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Chinese Telecom Company Huawei Indicted for Theft of Trade Secrets

Posted on February 2, 2019 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

The United States has charged tech company Huawei with trade secret theft,  wire fraud, and obstruction of justice.  The DOJ alleges that the company took photos and measurements of a phone-testing robot and used that information to build a similar device. Huawei denied the theft, claiming it was the work of miscreants; however, recent emails offering bonuses to employees stealing information from competitors was recently uncovered.

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Music Modernization Act Signed Into Law

Posted on November 20, 2018 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)

The President recently signed the Music Modernization Act into law.   This legislation streamlines payment to songwriters by creating a single mechanical licensing database for streamed music.  The database is managed by music publishers and songwriters and paid for by digital streaming services.  

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"Scandalous" trademarks on the Heels of Matal v. Tam

Posted on September 26, 2018 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Proctor & Gamble has recently filed two trademark applications for  "WTF" and "FML" - two colorful acronyms containing the word "F*CK".  These marks would have formerly been rejected on the basis that they are "scandalous" or "immoral;"  however, recent decisions validating registration of THE SLANTS (a band with Asian members) and REDSKINS (an NFL team) has changed the trademark landscape. A recent Federal Court decision noted, "the First Amendment protects private expression, even private expression which is offensive to a substantial composite of the general public,” holding that FUCT is a registerable trademark.

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USPTO Director Iancu Suggests a New Effort to Clarify Patent Eligibility

Posted on September 26, 2018 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)

USPTO Director Iancu recently proposed new patent eligibility guidelines at the quarterly meeting of the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC).  Iancu noted that clarity is needed both by examiners and applicants asking, "how can a claim be novel enough to pass 102 and nonobvious enough to pass 103, yet lack an "inventive concept" and therefore fail 101? Or, how can a claim be concrete enough so that one of skill in the art can make it without undue experimentation, and pass 112, yet abstract enough to fail 101? How can something concrete be abstract?"  Hopefully the new guidelines will address these issues and give some much needed clarity.

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Scientist Admits to Trying to Steal GlaxoSmithKline's Trade Secrets for China

Posted on September 4, 2018 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)

A Chinese American Scientist working in Phildelphia admitted to being involved in a plot to steal GlaxoSmithKline trade secrets for China.  The trade secrets involved medical treatments for cancer and other illnesses. CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE

Supreme Court Holds that Tribal Sovereign Immunity Cannot be Used to Shield Against USPTO Proceedings

Posted on August 1, 2018 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Drug company Allergan transferred its Restasis drug patents to a Mohawk tribe in upstate NY.  Under the deal, Allergan paid the Indian tribe $13.75 million and agreed to further payment of $15 million in annual royalties while the patents were in force. In exchange, the tribe agreed to lease the patents back to Allergan and promised to claim sovereign immunity in any USPTO patent challenges.  Under the law, Indian tribes possess inherent sovereignty; however, this sovereignty may be limited through treaty or federal statute. Additionally, Congress possesses plenary power over tribes, allowing it to alter or abolish tribal sovereignty at will.  The US Supreme Court recently held that Indian tribes cannot use sovereign immunity to shield themselves from patent challenges brought within the USPTO.  The court did not decide whether sovereign immunity claims could be used by states.

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Supreme Court to Hear On-Sale Bar Case

Posted on July 5, 2018 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

The Supreme Court recently granted a petition for writ of certiori in Helsinn Healthcare S.A. v. Teva Pharm. USA, Inc.  The court will be asked to determine whether the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) bars an inventor from selling to a third party when that third party has a duty of confidentiality to the seller.  Such an "on-sale" bar would prevent the inventor or assignee from filing a patent for that invention.

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Update:  Supreme Court holds that that a secret sale qualifies as prior art.

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