Intellectual Property Law Blog

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On June 30, the Supreme Court issued an 8-1 holding in U.S. Patent & Trademark Office v. Booking.com B.V., finding that whether a “GENERIC.COM” mark qualifies for trademark protection depends on its ability to act as a source identifier to consumers. In other words, a “GENERIC.COM” mark may or may not actually be generic. Adding “.COM” to an otherwise generic, and unregistrable, mark does not automatically affect whether the mark qualifies for trademark protection.…
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced a pilot program for fast-tracking appeals of applications for original utility, design, or plant patents. The so-called “Fast-Track Appeals Pilot Program” is intended to provide a vehicle for advancing applications during the ex parte appeals process before the PTAB (Patent Trial and Appeal Board).…
On June 11, 2020, USPTO Director Andrei Iancu authorized an initiative[1] that may apply to an applicant who has filed an earlier foreign patent application[2] or a U.S. provisional patent application[3] and has missed the one-year deadline to file a U.S. nonprovisional utility patent application but would still like to obtain the right of the earlier filing date. Typically, the applicant still has two additional months to petition the USPTO to restore this right with a petition fee.[4] The USPTO has authorized an initiative to further extend the two-month period, while waiving the petition fee, in…
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (“PTAB”) institution rate for inter partes reviews (“IPRs”) has fallen virtually every year.  In its recent decision in Apple, Inc. v. Fintiv, Inc. issued on May 13, 2020, the PTAB denied institution of Apple’s petition for IPR and set forth a new test for determining whether to institute an IPR based on the status of the underlying district court proceedings, which suggests that institution rates may continue to fall.…
The current COVID-19 environment has disrupted standard operations in nearly every industry and created fertile grounds for innovation. This is the first of a series of blog posts that will look at how industries have enabled technologies at lightning speed, in an effort to pay homage to the wonders of science innovation in view of COVID-19.…
On May 4, the USPTO made available a new web-based intellectual property (IP) platform, Patents 4 Partnerships, to provide the public with a user-friendly, searchable repository of patents and published patent applications related to the COVID-19 pandemic. To be included in the repository, the patentee or patent applicant must indicate that the patent or patent application is available for licensing. The platform can help entities find collaborations to encourage voluntary licensing and commercialization of key innovations by helping to bring to the marketplace new products and technologies for the prevention, treatment, and diagnosis of COVID-19.…
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced a new Prioritized Examination Pilot Program for qualified patent applications relating to COVID-19.  This program is available without the usual prioritized-examination fees and the USPTO’s goal under the program is to reach final disposition of applications in the program within twelve months from the date prioritized status is granted.  However, the USPTO notes that it may be able to reach final disposition in six months if applicants provide more timely responses to notices and actions from the USPTO.  This pilot program is limited to a total of 500 accepted requests,…
On March 31, 2020, the USPTO announced that it is permitting applicants, for delays that are based on the ongoing COVID-19 emergency in the United States, to request a 30-day extension of the time allowed to file certain documents and to pay certain fees. We provided an explanation of this announcement when it was published. Since then, the USPTO provided a form to be used for the “statement of delay” required in claiming a COVID-19-related filing extension. Extensions were originally applicable to due dates falling between March 27 and April 30. The USPTO, on April 28, 2020, extended the applicable…
Imagine a scenario where the International Trade Commission (ITC) finds a respondent infringes a standard essential patent (SEP).  An SEP that was included in a standard based on a voluntary promise to license it on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.  What happens when the complainant has breached its FRAND obligation, and at the same time demands that the ITC exclude the alleged infringing product from the United States market?  Does the Commission need to consider the circumstances surrounding the FRAND obligation when reviewing the public’s interest in excluding the product?  The decade-old debate will endure on for now, but…
At the beginning of April, 3M, the nation’s largest producer of the now infamous N95 mask, filed two lawsuits against companies it claimed were confusing and deceiving buyers by falsely associating 3M with the defendants and re-selling its N95 masks at “grossly inflated”[1] prices. Such behavior, according to 3M, violates federal trademark law. The lawsuits, which were filed in the Southern District of New York[2] and the Eastern District of California[3], were some of the first major trademark lawsuits to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the same day, 3M also filed suit against a
As the world grapples with its response to COVID-19, the availability and nature of intellectual property protection afforded for diagnostic tests, treatments, vaccines, and accompanying data is likely to have a significant impact on whether and how that information is shared—and therefore necessarily will implicate the response time for containing the virus and resolving the pandemic.  This article explores those available protections, and how they may enhance or impede innovation.  This article also discusses several alternative approaches that could be used during these extraordinary times to incentivize swift collaboration while still protecting the financial interests of the innovators.…
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held today (April 23, 2020) that a brand owner is not required to prove a defendant’s trademark infringement was willful as a precondition to an award of the defendant’s profits. The Court’s decision – Romag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil Group, Inc.[1] – vacated the decision of the Federal Circuit, which held that, under Second Circuit law, an award of profits could not be sustained for Romag’s failure to establish Fossil’s infringement was willful.[2]  The Court’s decision resolves a Circuit split regarding the interpretation of Section 1117(a) of the Lanham Act, which states…
Many life sciences contracts, including intellectual property licensing agreements, development agreements and supply agreements, contain force majeure clauses.  Depending upon the language of these clauses, the COVID-19 pandemic may be an event that triggers these clauses and provides a defense to nonperformance of the contract.  Companies that are experiencing difficulties complying with or enforcing compliance with their contracts should carefully examine their contracts to determine if a force majeure clause may excuse performance.…