IP News July 2016

Welcome to the “it’s-too-damn-hot” aka July edition of IP News This Month. As always, here’s your 5-minute guide to the latest in IP, culled from news reports around the world. Tips or comments? Send ’em to jeffjohnroberts at gmail.com Thanks for reading!

Top 3 Stories

Queen v. The Donald: Trump’s chaotic campaign is under fire from the famous UK band for using “We are the Champions” without asking. But the quirks of American IP rights mean he and other candidates don’t need a band’s blessing (Vox)

Pity the patent system: the first audit of quality at the USPTO since the 1970s suggests examiners lack clear definitions of what should be patented, and are motivated by a bonus system that incentivizes volume over quality (Washington Post)

Mmmmm, Brexit: Britain’s bolting from the EU has set off an irrational rush of food-based trademark claims. These include brewer Sam Adams’ request for a Brexit hard cider, and filings related to tea and biscuits (Guardian)


Prof Gold, CIPP founder and former tech lawyer, has a must-read on creating a national IP policy that does more than make Canada a patsy for foreign corporations (Globe & Mail)

Practitioners weighed in too, saying trade deal “loop holes” and sovereign patent funds are among Canada’s best strategy for countering IP laws imposed by the U.S. (Globe & Mail)

The trademark office refused to grant a mark for an iconic red square badge that came to symbolize Quebec’s student protest movements (National Post)

United States

Drug companies are working to keep so-called “biosimilars” for popular biotech drugs off the market by piling up stacks of ancillary patents; such biosimilars are common in Europe and have been approved by the FDA (NYT)

A comp-sci prof and a famous hacker, backed by the EFF, sued to strike down the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA; they claim it violates free speech by inhibiting them from research and publishing (Fortune)

The IRS is fed up with the IP-based tax strategy of Facebook and other tech giants; the agency claims the company’s asset transfers to Ireland in 2010 were undervalued (Bloomberg)

A report says Yahoo’s patent portfolio is a steaming pile of garbage due to vulnerabilities posed by Alice, IPR, etc; the patents, now up for sale, are likely worth tech much less than the $1B optimists predicted (Fortune)

Prof Ochoa reminds us that the Melania Trump speech debacle was plagiarism but, for various reasons (de minimis, merger, fair use, ownership, etc), it was NOT grounds for a copyright case (Eric Goldman blog)

A California jury took less than a day to clear Led Zeppelin of copyright infringement; they found “Stairway to Heaven” was not substantially similar to an earlier song – a remarkably different outcome than last year’s multi-million dollar “Blurred Lines” verdict (Hollywood Reporter)

Apple, which has become the music industry’s BFF, proposed a new “simplified” royalty scheme; the idea would likely ruin Spotify and other digital music services (Fortune)

Apple won a patent that would permit it to disable iPhones in response to IP violations at concerts or movies; the civil liberties crowd is not amused (Washington Post)

IP lawyer in handcuffs: an attorney is going to prison for six years after swindling $5M, in part by billing his company for fake patent expertise from his wife (Denver Post)

Thomson Reuters sold its IP and science business – which provides research tools to companies and governments – to two private equity firms for $3B (Reuters)


Polish authorities arrested the man behind the world’s largest file-sharing site, Kickass Torrents; the U.S. is now seeking his extradition (BBC)

A Paris Tribunal ruled a French rights-collection society can’t force Microsoft’s Bing to block all domains that contain the word “torrent” (The IPKat)

In bad news for aspiring “Mc” and “Mac” registrants in Europe, a court agreed to McDonald’s request to knock out an Asian company’s “MacCoffee” trademark (BBC)


Samsung sued Huawei in China, escalating an already massive patent showdown between the two Asian phone makers (Reuters)

IP litigation is soaring in China and that might not be a bad thing for US companies, says the WSJ; optimists point to an 81% success rate for foreign plaintiffs and cheap legal costs (WSJ)

The US Justice Department is trying to seize IP royalties from “Wolf of Wall Street” from corrupt Malaysian officials (CNN)

The China Daily says IP pressures will force the closure of an “infamous” Shanghai market popular with tourists looking for fakes; locals are unfazed, noting there are two similar markets in the city (China Daily)

“What the Australians are saying is ‘Let us steal your patents,’” said U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch as part of an escalating dispute between the two countries over bio-related IP (The Age)

This month’s Twitter star is University of Minnesota law prof, William McGeveran who offers up a helpful mix of IP and privacy-related tweets. Follow him @BillMcGev


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


This content has been updated on August 29, 2016 at 11:44.