Can Appointment of Administrative Patent Judges be Unconstitutional?

For the Patent and Trial Appeal Board (“PTAB”), the Administrative Patent Judges (“APJs”) are appointed by the Secretary of Commerce in consultation with the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  For an inter parties review of a patent, three APJs conduct the instituted review and determine if claims of a patent are unpatentable.  Is the appointment of the APJs unconstitutional because it violates the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.?  The answer was YES! until the court remedied the APJs to be inferior officers. Continue Reading

Recent judgment from the CJEU may have consequences for preliminary injunctions in Denmark

In a recent judgment from The Court of Justice of the European Union (the “CJEU”) in case C-688/17, the CJEU had the chance to provide an interpretation of adequate compensation contained in article 9(7) of Directive 2004/48 (the “enforcement directive”) and whether article 9(7) precludes a national legislation that provides that a party should not be compensated for the losses suffered by him if the rights which were the basis for provisional measures are subsequently invalidated.

The main dispute

The main dispute concerned the alleged infringement of a Bayer Pharma pharmaceutical patent by the Hungarian companies Exeltis and Richter.

Bayer Pharma initially failed in obtaining provisional measures prohibiting Exeltis and Richter from offering the alleged infringing products on the market. Exeltis and Richter subsequently filed for invalidation of the Bayer Pharma patent. Continue Reading

“Pirate Ships in Dangerous Waters!”

A recent decision of the Three-Member Court of Appeals of Komotini (Felonies Department), dated 19/11/2019, has been intensely debated by the national media as resulting to the first “real” prison sentence that has ever been imposed in our country to a website owner for illegally distributing copyright-protected content.  Although the judgement has not been published yet, according to the media, the owner of the “pirate” websites “” and “”, has been sentenced to five years in prison for illegal distribution of audiovisual works, music, books, computer programs, and video games and has been led to prison immediately after hearing the verdict. Although the law also provides for a monetary penalty, this was withdrawn by the Judges due to mitigating circumstances. Continue Reading

California Clears the Way for College Athletes to Get Their “Fair” Share of Licensing Pie

Sending shockwaves across the collegiate landscape, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 206, the Fair Pay to Play Act (the Act) on September 30, 2019.

The Act takes aim squarely at the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) amateurism rules which prohibit student athletes from profiting from their athletic skill while in college and threatens to upend the fraught and controversial relationship between colleges and the athletes who represent them on the playing field. Continue Reading

Joint authorship of copyright: UK Court of Appeal tears up the script

A dispute concerning the screenplay for the 2016 Hollywood biographical comedy “Florence Foster Jenkins” (FFJ) – a film about a tone-deaf New York socialite who labours under the delusion that she is a talented opera singer – has this month produced a Court of Appeal decision centering on the parties’ own adjustment to reality. Apart from highlighting a perhaps lesser-considered pitfall of working with your other half, the judgment emphasises the practical difficulties of applying the test of joint authorship in English copyright law.

The matter first arrived at the UK’s Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) in 2017, when screenwriter Nicholas Martin brought a claim against opera singer/children’s author Julia Kogan. Mr Martin and Ms Kogan had begun a romantic relationship in 2011, and lived together until the breakdown of their relationship in 2014. During that period, early drafts of the FFJ screenplay came into being. Whilst it was accepted that Ms Kogan had introduced Mr Martin to the real-life story of FFJ, little else about the creation of the script was agreed. Continue Reading

Supreme Court Settles Circuit Split on When a Plaintiff May Sue

The Supreme Court handed down a unanimous copyright decision in March 2019 with implications for anyone involved in a copyright dispute, as well as for marketers and brands that create and use copyrighted materials. In Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporationv. Wall, LLC (Fourth Estate), the Court resolved a long-standing split among the circuits over the requirement to obtain a copyright registration before filing a lawsuit.

The creator of an original work of authorship, such as a photograph, musical composition or screenplay, automatically obtains copyright protection in his or her work, which includes the right to prevent others from reproducing or displaying the work. But under Section 411 of the Copyright Act, a copyright owner may not file an infringement lawsuit until registration of the copyright “has been made” with the Copyright Office. The question in Fourth Estate was: what does “has been made” mean? Continue Reading

Th-Inking About The Law: Tattoos Leaving Indelible Marks On Black-Letter Principles & Coloring Our Perspectives

Tattoos, one of the oldest art forms in the world, are all over the legal news in recent years.  The news runs the gamut from a tattooist suing a movie studio over replication of Mike Tyson’s facial tattoo in The Hangover II to artists looking to gaming companies for compensation for reproduction of tattoos appearing on video game avatars of professional athletes, which even made it into the Wall Street Journal and been the subject of court decisions earlier this year and late last year. Even more recently it has included a Larry Bird’s mural being altered, at his request, to remove tattoos an artist had added for a modernizing flourish. (BTW, speaking of murals, the Chuck Wepner mural I had written about has been painted over). It has also included law enforcement receiving criticism from many directions for “Photo-Shopping” tattoos out of pictures of suspects used in policy photo arrays.  Just recently, Cardi B was sued for using a photo of a tattoo on her album cover. Though the examples above may most resonate with a US domestic audience, the copyright and other legal issues emerging from, and connected to, tattooing are being considered worldwide.   Consequently, it seems like an area worth exploring here. Continue Reading

Stop the Insanity! Sports Trademarks Run Amok

Sports and sports teams have a long history with intellectual property law and, more specifically, trademarks.  Sports teams, colleges, and universities have long trademarked their names and logos, and have routinely and aggressively enforced those rights.  In 1988 Pat Riley, then the head coach of the National Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Lakers, applied for a trademark on the term “three-peat” for shirts, jackets, and hats (U.S Reg. No. 1,552,980).  Subsequently, others have attempted to trademark various terms, such as baseball player Manny Ramierz trademarking the phrase ‘Manny Being Manny’.  In 2012, football player Robert Griffin III filed for seven trademarks: RGIII, RG3, Robert Griffin III, Unbelievably Believable, Go Catch Your Dream, Light You Up, Work Hard Stay Humble, No Pressure No Diamonds, and Dream Big Live Bigger.

The desire to seek trademark protection makes sense to generate additional revenue streams, particularly for athletes whose careers will likely be short relative to their overall lifespans.  Robert Griffin III, for example, has played in only 44 total NFL games, starting 40 of them, and was out of professional football entirely in 2017.  Similarly, teams – and particularly collegiate teams – derive substantial revenue from selling branding and marketing rights.  For example, Forbes estimates that the University of Alabama Crimson Tide’s football program has a value of $93 million and generates annual profits of $45 million on $77 million in annual revenue. Continue Reading

Can Design Patents Be Limiting in Enforcement?

Suppose that you have an invention disclosure for a design of an article that you want to protect?  When you review the invention disclosure, you notice that the design is ornamental, for example a pattern, on an article such as a chair.  You draft and file a design patent application on the pattern described as applied to a chair, but you do not include any drawings showing the pattern applied to the chair.  Subsequently, you obtain the design patent and later find out that a third party is making baskets including the pattern.  Can you enforce your design patent against the alleged infringer?  The answer is NO because your design patent is limited in scope to a chair.

For a design patent, 35 U.S.C. § 171  refers, not to the design of an article, but to the design for an article, and is inclusive of ornamental designs of all kinds including surface ornamentation as well as configuration of goods.” In re Zahn, 617 F.2d 261, 204 U.S.P.Q. 988 (C.C.P.A. 1980).  The subject matter which is claimed is the design embodied in or applied to an article of manufacture (or portion thereof) and not the article itself. Ex parte Cady, 1916 C.D. 62, 232 O.G. 621 (Comm’r Pat. 1916). Continue Reading

Was Missguided Misguided? Kim Kardashian West Obtains $2.7 Million Judgment in Right of Publicity and Trademark Suit

A federal district court in California has awarded a $2.7-million default judgment to Kim Kardashian West in her lawsuit against a fast fashion online retailer that allegedly used her persona and likeness to sell its clothing, in part by repeatedly tagging her on Instagram and linking to the retailer’s e-commerce site.

Kardashian West’s suit is an example of celebrities taking action to combat the improper online use of their identities. Continue Reading