On May 2, 2019, the United States Trademark Office issued new Examination Guidelines for goods and services associated with cannabis and cannabis-derived products and services legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill. This crack in the federal armor against the cannabis economy opens the door for the federal registration of trademark rights and is an important step toward normalizing the nation’s laws governing cannabis and cannabis-related business activities in states where such products are legal. Continue Reading
It is very common to defend against a claim of patent infringement by litigating in the district court and the PTAB in parallel. The most straightforward-way for the defendant to win is to persuade the PTAB that the asserted patent is invalid. But, that is becoming more difficult as Director Iancu pushes the PTAB to apply greater scrutiny to petitions in order to address patent owner criticism that the PTAB proceedings are unfair. However, a recent decision disposing of a non-practicing entity’s long-running litigation against Ubisoft highlights how a defendant that ultimately lost on an issue before the PTAB can use the loss to their advantage in district court. Continue Reading
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently issued three interesting, related opinions interpreting and applying the “technological invention” exception to Covered Business Method Review (“CBM Review”). These opinions serve as a reminder that litigation often turns on an advocate’s effectiveness in framing (or re-framing) a critical issue of law before the court.
The three Federal Circuit opinions are:
- IBG LLC, Interactive Brokers LLC v. Trading Technologies Int’l, Inc. (Fed. Cir. Feb. 13, 2019) (available at http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/17-1732.Opinion.2-13-2019.pdf )(“TTI I”);
- Trading Tech. Int’l, Inc. v. IBG LLC, Interactive Brokers, LLC (Fed. Cir. Apr. 18, 2019) (available at http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/17-2257.Opinion.4-18-2019.pdf) (“TTI II”); and
- Trading Tech. Int’l, Inc. v. IBG LLC, Interactive Brokers, LLC (Fed. Cir. Apr. 30, 2019) (available at http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/17-2323.Opinion.4-30-2019.pdf) (“TTI III”).
A federal decision recently reminded businesses about the importance of taking appropriate measures to protect their proprietary information before any misappropriation occurs. In Abrasic 90 Inc. v. Weldcote Medals, Inc., the court denied the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction “largely because [the plaintiff] did not protect its supposedly secret information.” The court’s order underscores that businesses may be unable to enforce as a trade secret their valuable information unless they have taken adequate steps to protect its secrecy.
In that case, a manufacturer of grinding and sanding disks sought to enjoin its former employees and their new employer from operating in the abrasives industry and from using its trade secrets. The defendants took information about the plaintiff’s pricing, customers and suppliers when they left the company to start a competing business. Yet, the court declined to issue an injunction on the ground that Abrasic had failed to protect its supposedly trade secret information. Continue Reading
Patentees and inventors of cannabis compounds may be happy to learn a district court in Colorado recently held that, based on the record before it, U.S. Patent No. 9,730,911, entitled “Cannabis extracts and methods of preparing and using same,” is not directed to unpatentable natural phenomena. United Cannabis Corporation v. Pure Hemp Collective Inc., No. 1-18-cv-01922 (Apr. 17, 2019, Order) (William J. Martinez). Continue Reading
On April 18, 2019, Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE), along with Representatives Doug Collins (R-GA), Hank Johnson (D-GA), and Steve Stivers (R-OH), released a bipartisan framework for 35 U.S.C. § 101 reform, available here. The framework outlines specific goals that any proposed legislation should aim to address.
The impetus for such reform stems from uncertainties in recent case law regarding what qualifies as “patent-eligible” subject matter since the U.S. Supreme Court’s holdings in Mayo Collaborative Services, DBA v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 566 U.S. 66 (2012), and Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International, 573 U.S. 208 (2014). The relative fluidity of patent eligibility jurisprudence since the Court’s decision in Alice has caused difficulties not only for potential inventors and industry, but also for the patent bar at large. Since the Alice decision, the USPTO has issued new guidance regarding how patent examiners are to analyze claims under section 101 at least once a year, with the exception of 2017. As many practitioners would attest, the application of the guidance can vary between examiners and art units, resulting in general confusion as to what exactly makes one claim patent eligible over another. Continue Reading
In a proceeding that included Patent Office Director Andrei Iancu on the panel, the PTAB issued an order this past week denying institution of 3 IPRs filed by Valve. The decision demonstrates that the PTAB continues to tighten its standards for institution of post-grant challenges, including based upon considerations related to what it perceives as fairness to patent owners. Continue Reading
Several states have passed new laws restricting use of nondisclosure agreements (NDAs), making it timely for companies to review their policies and practices. Below are some general “best practices” related to NDAs. Continue Reading
On January 11, 2019, the Supreme Court granted a petition for writ of certiorari over an Eighth Circuit decision involving Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), which protects from public disclosure “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential.” This marks the first time the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving this important exemption. Continue Reading
The use of blockchain (or distributed ledger) technology for games (a.k.a blockchain games) and token-based digital collectibles is on the rise. The overnight popularity of CryptoKitties was as significant to raising the awareness of digital collectibles as Pokémon Go was to location-based AR games. However, the ecosystem extends well beyond CryptoKitties, and is growing rapidly. The ecosystem includes cross-platform crypto currency and tokens, digital asset marketplaces, digital collectibles, decentralized virtual worlds and more. A significant amount of investment is going into this space. Blockchain gaming startup Forte has announced a deal with Ripple’s Xpring crypto currency platform to invest $100 million in game developers who make games based on blockchain technology. While the opportunities in this space are real, there are a number of legal issues that can arise depending on how a company implements its offerings. Continue Reading