IP News December 2015

Welcome to the final CIPP’s IP News This Month of 2015. Thanks to everyone for reading – we look forward to bringing you more intellectual property facts and foibles in the new year. In the meantime, Jeff and the rest of the CIPP team wish you a safe and happy start to 2016!

Top 3 Stories

SCOTUS could hear its first design patent case in 120 years after Samsung filed an appeal in its interminable fight with Apple; the company wants the high court to consider both scope and damages issues More »

New IP rights for “Slants,” “Heeb” and “Dykes”? US Appeals court strikes down federal law that denies trademarks to offensive terms, says rule violates First Amendment by imposing content-based speech restrictions. SCOTUS review likely More »

Blame the law clerk: New Delhi High Court apologizes and retracts portion of a patent decision after discovering an “intern” plagiarized large portions of it from a journal More »


Officials refuse to grant a trademark for “Lucky Bastard” vodka despite granting one for “Fat Bastard” wine; the legal issue turns on “scandalous, obscene or immoral” marks More »

A jargon-loving exec from Toronto’s largest “innovation hub” bemoans the country’s “IP leakage” and claims the creation of collaborative urban districts can stanch it More »

United States

Taylor Swift is seeking IP rights for terms like “1989” and “Swiftmas” – prompting media outlets to mix-up copyright and trademark yet again More »

A history prof argues that the Wright Brothers’ aggressive patent strategy was “indisputably negative” for early US aviation More »

Gillette sued Dollar Shave Club for alleged infringement of a 2004 patent that covers razor coatings used in its Mach 3, Venus and Fusion products More »

A much-reviled CEO obtained rights to a toxoplasmosis drug and hiked the price 5,500 percent; the backlash led the FT to say the episode is symptomatic of deeper problems with US drug policy More »

A marketing firm called “Trump Your Competition” filed to obtain a deposition from a certain blowhard politician; the case involves a trademark opposition More »

Microsoft is using geolocation tools to quickly identify where and when people post the company’s confidential IP to social media More »

Grumpy Cat flexed her claws in a copyright and trademark complaint against a coffee company that allegedly exceeded the scope of its license to use the feline More »

Pandora shares soared after the Copyright Royalty Board imposed only a modest increase on it and other internet radio services More »

Meanwhile, yet another front opened in the legal war over digital music services; it comes in the form of a class action against Spotify over allegedly unpaid mechanical rights More »

Pepperidge Farm is suing Trader Joe’s, claiming the shape of the latter’s “Crispy Cookies” violate one of its trademarks More »

In the wake of a judge’s ruling that it didn’t have a valid copyright to “Happy Birthday,” Warner Music settled a class action that seeks damages for decades of undeserved royalty payments More »

Judges – even those in the patent troll land of East Texas – are starting to find more “exceptional” cases that merit fee shifting More »


Médecins sans Frontières released its analysis of the TPP and called some IP provisions “catastrophic” for drug policy; others are more sanguine More »

The European Commission has a draft directive that would let Netflix subscribers access their account while traveling; however, despite a flurry of proposals, broader copyright modernization appears far off More »

The copyright has finally expired on Mein Kampf and an annotated scholarly edition is about to be published in Europe; Jewish readers offer a mixed response to the project More »

The F-1 crowd is buzzing about Mercedes suing its own engineer to protect its IP; the engineer was rumored to be defecting to Ferrari More »


Hoverboards, this year’s hot gift item, are involved in a “surprisingly far-reaching patent war” that involves Chinese knock-off companies buying up brands and patent portfolios in the US More »

The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, trying to improve its IP reputation, hired a former Apple exec who helped the company track and stamp out fake iPhones More »

Australia’s plain packaging laws for cigarettes survived a major challenge from Philip Morris, which had sought arbitration under a legal mechanism called Investor-State Dispute Settlement rules More »

Kim Dotcom, who ran the mass piracy site known as Mega Upload, can be extradited to the US to face copyright and racketeering charges, a New Zealand judge ruled More »

This month’s Twitter star is prof Pamela Samuelson of UC Berkeley, a giant of fair use and internet issues. Follow her @pamelasamuelson More »


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

This content has been updated on March 26, 2016 at 17:22.