IP News October 2016

Welcome to IP News This Month. Here’s your 5-minute guide to all things intellectual property, culled from news reports from around the world. Also, look below for some special CIPP events coming up soon.  Thanks for reading! – Jeff

Top 3 Stories

You can add “IP Pirate” to the names people are calling Donald Trump. A Chicago artist, and one-time refugee, filed a copyright suit over a Skittles image the Trump campaign used without permission to warn about the dangers of refugees (Courthouse News)

Machine patents for machines? A UK legal scholar, citing the growth of Artificial Intelligence and a need to promote future innovation, is calling for countries to change patent applications to allow for non-human inventors (Boston College Law Review)

McDonald’s is using graffiti in its stores as part of a “brand of the streets” campaign — but street artists are unimpressed, and have filed copyright suits over unauthorized use of their work (WSJ)


Netflix is winning its quest to stamp out VPN services that, until recently, allowed many Canadians to dodge IP-related geo-blocks and watch shows only offered south of the border (CBC)

The Supreme Court’s fall term will feature high profile IP cases, including one on Facebook’s use of users’ likeness in ads, and one involving a drug company dispute over rules of patent validity (Lexology)

CIPP Prof Gold and other legal experts will be speaking at “The Social Costs of Innovation” on Nov 2, and then the CIPP will host a special McGill event of thought leaders at Innovation in Context on Nov 18.

United States

SCOTUS will consider whether a patent defendant can bar damage claims with laches; in a recent and controversial case, the top court said laches could not apply in the case of copyright (SCOTUSblog)

An appeals court says it will wait for SCOTUS to decide the “Slants” trademark case before ruling on a similar issue involving offensive marks and the Washington Redskins (Washington Post)

SCOTUS appeared set to overturn a patent ruling that forced Samsung to pay Apple 100% of its profits for infringing a design, but the Justices appeared stuck on the right test for calculating design damages (Fortune)

The 2nd Circuit ruled a play that used Abbott and Costello’s famous “Who’s on First” sketch could not invoke fair use – but ruled for the defendant anyway because the copyright had lapsed (Hollywood Reporter)

A Bloomberg feature on the land of patent trolls (aka the Eastern District of Texas) suggests the infamous district is slowly changing its ways, but critics are still pushing for venue reform (Bloomberg)

LucasFilms filed an IP suit against a “Jedi and Lightsaber Academy” over unlicensed sword lessons; a NYT feature explains the studio’s complicated relations with fans and imitators (New York Times)

Copyright owners got a big win in a long-running file-sharing case as the 2nd Circuit shrank safe harbors when it comes to “repeat infringers” and “red flag” knowledge (Billboard)

The Register of the Copyright Office was dramatically sacked, raising questions about the motives for the firing, and how the office should work with other IP agencies (Patently-O)


So-called “patent boxes,” which provide reduced tax for IP in 12 EU countries, are under fire from policy makers for subverting Europe’s goal of a more even tax regime (Irish Times)

The EU Office of Brands and Design, following complaints from Italians, reportedly ordered a Spanish restaurant chain to change its “La Mafia” name (The Local)


The Nigerian Science and Technology Ministry, noting that the number of patents reflect a country’s development, said it will pay for the cost of inventors’ patents (All Africa)

The Guardian explores China’s chronic IP piracy, citing scholars who view it as part of a familiar process of a country trying to move from imitation to innovation (Guardian)

A US Congressman urged Australia’s PM to address the “bad acts” of the country’s top UN diplomat, Francis Gurry, who has been mired in a series of controversies in his role as head of WIPO (Australian Financial Review)

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

This content has been updated on November 30, 2016 at 10:41.