IP News August 2016

Welcome to the end-of-summer edition of IP News This Month. Here’s your 5-minute guide to all things intellectual property, culled from news reports from around the world. Tips or comments? Send them direct to jeff.roberts AT gmail.com. Thanks for reading! – Jeff

Top 3 Stories

If at first you don’t succeed, fail again? European Commission doubles down on EU-wide “neighbouring right” scheme to let publishers demand royalties from Google for news snippets. EC plan also includes digital access rights for academics (FT)

The Rio Olympics brought new world records, testaments to the human spirit — and the usual IP overreach. The US Olymic Committee may have outdone itself by demanding companies not use Twitter hashtags without permission (Yahoo Finance)

Stephen Colbert is in an IP fight with … himself. After the late night comedian resurrected his patriot blow-hard act for the US election, Comedy Central told Colbert he may not use the Colbert character in this way (NY Post)


Trader Joes scored a victory in its long-running trademark tantrum against Vancouver-based Pirate Joes; the U.S. 9th Circuit revived the grocery chain’s lawsuit, saying it had standing to sue (WSJ Law blog)

Prof Geist offers his two cents in the debate over Canada’s innovation strategy; he thinks laws curtailing IP abuse would be a good place to start (TO Star)

United States

Google is asking SCOTUS to hear an appeal over how patent prosecution history should inform claim construction (Fortune)

An ISP has been ordered to pay $25M to a music label after a judge found its failure to forward bulk copyright notices led the ISP to lose its safe harbor (Washington Post)

Prominent designers, including Calvin Klein and Louis Vuitton, backed Apple in a closely-watched SCOTUS case on damages for design patents (Daily Mail)

The Prince “dancing baby” case will stretch into a second decade as the EFF asked SCOTUS to rule on whether copyright owners’ duty to consider fair use is an objective or subjective one (EFF)

The USPTO rejected Whole Foods’ request to trademark “World’s Healthiest Grocery Store” (Chicago Tribune)

A Texas judge threw out a patent troll’s $625M verdict against Apple on grounds a jury had conflated two cases; the parties will go at it yet again in separate September proceedings (Reuters)

Robin Thicke et al appealed the $7.4M “Blurred Lines” verdict; the appeal claims the jury’s substantial similarity finding was wrong as a matter of law since it was based on a comparison of sound recordings, not sheet music (The Wrap)

Big pharma firms continue to keep copies of biosimilar drugs off the shelves and in the courtroom; the latest example is a patent fight over a copy of blockbuster drug Humira (Bloomberg)

The 2014 SCOTUS ruling on patentable subject matter is creating big ripples; a study reports new business method patents have dried up while courts are granting two out of three Alice challenges (Bloomberg)

An indie film maker released a movie called the “The Trolls,” based on comedian Adam Carolla’s ordeal with a patent troll that claimed to own podcasting (CNBC)

Famed photographer Carol Highsmith is suing Getty Images for $1B for licensing her images without permission; she intended the works to be available, and not sold for profit by third parties (LA Times)


The UK is still participating in meetings for a pan-European patent system – even though a planned office for London is almost certainly toast given the Brexit vote (The Times)

Some UK political leaders are calling for an end to a “patent box” tax incentive, saying it’s a corporate hand-out that doesn’t yield innovation (Guardian)

The infamous “monkey selfie” saga won’t end; PETA has appealed a ruling that refused to assign property rights in the photo to a non-human (BBC)

The Guardian got lambasted on social media for a story that simultaneously mixed up patents and copyright and trademarks (Twitter)

Munich officials plan to seek EU-wide trademark protection for Oktoberfest, which could yield a possible licensing bonanza  (The Times)


Israel plans to offer corporate tax rate cuts to companies that register IP there (Mercury News)

China is planning to cut patent application and maintenance fees next month (China Daily)

An Aussie court sided with JJR Tolkein estate, and orderd the destruction of a local jeweler’s “My Precious” rings because they contained copyrighted inscriptions (The Age)

This month’s Twitter star is Michelle Olsen, former Jones Day attorney who blogs about appeals courts at Appellate Daily. Follow her @AppellateDaily

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

This content has been updated on September 30, 2016 at 17:27.