IP News March 2015

Top 3 Stories

A jury’s decision to order Robin Thicke to pay $7.3M to the estate of Marvin Gaye over “Blurred Lines” has rattled the music industry and called into question basic copyright concepts. Critics fear the case will extend IP rights to once unprotectable aspects of music More »

Should users pay for incidental copies, and are principles of technological neutrality for real? The CIPP intervened before the Supreme Court of Canada in a key test of the country’s evolving rules on digital copyright More »

That sucks! The operator of the new “.sucks” domain is charging trademark owners $2500 to register their names in what critics are calling a “predatory shakedown scheme” More »


A Globe & Mail report suggests tech transfer offices at Canadian universities are failing at their purported goal of speeding inventions to market More »

A US trade analyst claims that Canada is faring poorly in global innovation rankings due to its use of an idiosyncratic utility standard in determining patent validity More »

Au contraire says Prof Gold, who points out that utility criteria is used by many countries and that the pharma-funded analyst has many basic facts wrong More »

United States

IP licensing does not lead to tech transfer and patents are an inhibitor to innovation, says a Stanford fellow who breaks down new empirical research by Profs Lemley and Feldman More »

A judge ordered Perfect 10 to pay $5.6M in legal fees after concluding the company, which has filed numerous IP suits over X-rated images, “is in the business of litigation, not protecting its copyrights” More »

A federal judge in East Texas, the preferred venue for patent trolls, is leaving the bench to become counsel at a patent law boutique firm More »

A NYT profile of the lawyer who won the Blurred Lines case reveals an aggressive outsider whose work may also be chilling creativity More »

The ACLU and Prof Volokh say the Trademark Office’s decision to cancel a football team’s “Redskins” trademark is a violation of the First Amendment since it denies a benefit based on viewpoint More »

A rediscovered patent from 1891 on toilet paper purportedly settles the “under” vs “over” debate once and for all More »

A sample troll that targeted the Beastie Boys came up short after a judge ruled that a contractual right-to-sue can’t found a copyright claim More »

The construction of a much-ballyhooed branch of the Patent Office in Silicon Valley is way behind schedule; a local paper is now calling it a “curse for taxpayers” More »

AT&T is stuck paying a $40M patent verdict after its lawyers missed an appeal deadline; the Fed Circuit said inaccurate docket headings did not amount to excusable neglect on the part of the lawyers, and that they should have read the underlying orders More »

A decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board served as the basis of a larger SCOTUS ruling on the “preclusion” doctrine, and when a specialized agency’s findings can bind a federal court’s discretion More »

RadioShack wants to include 65 million customer names as part of the IP up for sale a bankruptcy auction; government officials object More »

Abuse of copyright takedown rules rarely result in a sanction, but blogging platform WordPress obtained a $25K judgment this month against a “straight pride” group that used DMCA notices to censor a critic More »

Intellectual Ventures won a jury verdict against Motorola over docking station patents; the patent troll has now won four times in court, and has a further 25 lawsuits outstanding More »


Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking is seeking a trademark on his name to prevent people from using it on “inappropriate products” More »

The European Commission announced a Digital Single Market Strategy that aims to harmonize copyright rules, in part by eliminating geo-fencing More »


Microsoft is changing its global piracy strategy by offering everyone – licensed or not – free updates to Windows 10; it hopes this “temporary licensing amnesty” will provide a wider platform for paid upgrades More »

A Chinese university opened the country’s first institute dedicated to the study IP management within a business school More »

A copyright dispute among film makers in South Africa threatens the distribution of “What Dawid Knew,” a documentary of the Khomani San, who are among the last of the bushman tribes More »

Under new rules, ICANN can force the domain registrars that it oversees to act as IP enforcers; critics fear this will turn the non-profit technical body into a censorship agency More »

This month’s Twitter star is Parker Higgins, a copyright activist at the EFF who tweets a funny and insightful stream of IP and software news. Follow him @xor More »


Tips or comments? Send them to jeffrobertslegal at gmail.com

This content has been updated on March 26, 2016 at 17:18.