IP News September 2016

Welcome to a busy, back-to-school 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. – Jeff

Top 3 Stories

It’s an IP bonanza at SCOTUS! America’s top court starts its session with a docket featuring cases about design patents, trademarks, first sale and copyright for fashion. More could arrive via prominent positions on fair use and patent venue (Corporate Counsel)

EU goes copyright crazy? Critics assail new directives, including “ancillary rights” over snippets and failure to fix panorama laws, as backward-looking and ineffective (Ars Technica)

Canada’s Supreme Court will see IP action too this term, including a trademark case over whether a plaintiff can order Google to block sites worldwide, and another over personality rights on Facebook (TO Star)


A t-shirt maker who reproduced images of a famous Montreal stadium has run afoul of the architect’s copyright; the CIPP’s Prof Moyse weighs in on the fuss (CBC)

The federal government is set to clash in court with a company it calls a “copyright troll” because the firm wants payment whenever civil servants forward a news article (National Post)

The tobacco industry is invoking its IP rights in a campaign to block plain packaging laws for cigarettes, urging Canada not to “repeat Australia’s failed experiment” (Globe & Mail)

United States

SCOTUS will hear a free speech challenge to a law banning disparaging trademarks brought by Asian-American band “The Slants” – the case will likely resolve a related controversy over the Washington Redskins (NYT)

In a win for the music industry, a court rejected the Justice Department’s call for “full work” licensing; this would have created a one-stop for royalties in the case of a song with multiple authors (Bloomberg)

The USPTO Director told Congress that patent examiners who had billed for 300,000 hours they didn’t work had been fired or told to attend counselling (Washington Post)

Donald Trump’s son tweeted an image of Skittles to compare the candy to refugees, leading a photographer to use a copyright claim to remove it; Skittles added the analogy was “not appropriate” (Washington Post)

Profs are suggesting the fuss over EpiPen price gouging is tied to a successful attempt by the pen maker to extend its monopoly with a “layered patent” strategy (Stl Today)

Palantir is suing one of its advisers who sought patents based on its research; the secretive data firm also says a trademark application for “Shire” is an attempt to piggy-back on its Lord of the Rings-inspired moniker (Fortune)

Judge Lucy Koh, who has presided over some of the biggest IP trials in Silicon Valley, won committee approval for a 9th Circuit posting– but her nomination could be tripped up by a larger Republican campaign to block all judicial nominees (SF Gate)


The Icelandic government is upset over a UK frozen food firm’s trademark “Iceland,” saying it’s unfair a company is using the name without its inhabitants having a say (BBC)

A major ECJ ruling involving Playboy imposes new copyright obligations on commercial websites, requiring them to monitor links to infringing content (Bloomberg)

Another ECJ ruling said shops offering free WiFi must impose user and password requirements if they wish to avoid copyright liability tied to customer activity (Fortune)


The gene-editing tool known as “crispr” has powerful potential for medicine, and is leading to massive corporate investment — but a fight over who owns the IP is getting larger (WSJ)

An Australian man has patented the “hamdog” – a hotdog/hamburger combination and is now selling it (BBC)

A UN report accuses the former head of WIPO of staggering corruption and reprisals against whistle-blowers (Fox News)

A New Zealand appeals court heard closing arguments over extraditing Kim Dotcom to the US for copyright charges related to a massive illegal file-sharing site (Reuters)

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

This content has been updated on November 2, 2016 at 8:58.