IP News March 2017

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. Tips or comments? Send them direct to jeffjohnroberts AT gmail.com. Thanks for reading! – Jeff

Top 3 Stories

Three cheers for copyright! SCOTUS issues sweeping decision in cheerleader uniform case, rules any design that can be separated from a useful article can be copyrighted. Ruling likely to launch more infringement suits — and thousands of IP articles (SCOTUSblog)

Canada wins $500M fight vs Eli Lilly as NAFTA tribunal confirms country can reject patents for lack of utility. Ruling comes as boost for state sovereignty on IP—and nets Canada $5M in legal fees (TechDirt)

IP showdown on the farm: Proposed “right to repair” bills in several states would lift copyright restrictions so farmers could tinker with internet-connected tractors—but Apple and John Deere have other ideas (The Guardian)


A prof at a Montreal university is under fire from publishers for scanning poetry books and making the entire work available online (Globe & Mail)

The CIPP’s Prof Gold offered some pithy comments on Twitter about the Eli Lilly patent “fiasco” (@IP_Policy, @IP_Policy)

Canada will begin a statutorily-mandated review of 2012 copyright reforms; Prof Geist says the country is now among the world’s toughest when it comes to anti-piracy (Globe & Mail)

United States

SCOTUS is set hear the landmark Kraft case about forum-shopping; a ruling could drive a stake into the infamous patent troll hotbed of East Texas (Wired)

Big Law firm Ropes & Gray is spinning off its patent prosecution practice; the move comes as SCOTUS decisions and new USPTO rules have resulted in less overall IP work (American Lawyer)

Amazon is launching a registry intended to allay brands’ IP concerns at a time when the website’s third party seller network is starting to resemble eBay (Fortune)

Controversial fund manager Kyle Bass—who challenges the validity of drug companies’ patents while shorting their stock—suffered a new defeat at the USPTO over a popular MS med (FiercePharma)

The entertainment industry is cheering a proposed law to make the position Register of Copyright a political appointment; librarians described the idea as “mystifying” (Broadcasting & Cable)

In a victory for patent owners, SCOTUS ended laches claims in patent cases; the court held the Patent Act’s statute of limitations obviated the common law defense (PatentlyO)

Costco is in an IP fight with the struggling golf industry; it sued to obtain a declaration that its popular Kirkland Signature balls don’t infringe on Titleist products (USA Today)

Can patents stop people from refilling printer cartridges? SCOTUS heard arguments in a case on exhaustion that has critical implications for retailers and resellers (Fortune)

Google added a patent claim to what is shaping up to be a brutal IP fight with Uber over self-driving car technology (Reuters)

The University of Houston has done its bit for legal education, blowing over $500K on a trademark case with another law school that used “Houston” in its name (Houston Chronicle)

IBM said it will donate a 2017 patent for out-of-office email to the public after critics pointed out the invention covers decades-old technology and is “stupefyingly mundane” (Ars Technica)


A UK judge applied an ECJ ruling in an interminable fight between pub owners and the Premier League over copyright grey-market TV decoders; both sides are claiming victory (IP Kat)

Paul McCartney faces new headwinds in reclaiming songs under U.S. copyright termination rules; Sony told a New York court the former Beatle is “forum shopping” and the dispute belongs in the UK (Hollywood Reporter)


The Beijing Intellectual Property Court boasted of its new prowess to resolve patent disputes, pointing to its new team of technical investigators (China Daily)

IP-loving Australians are gloating about defeating a plan, supported by Google and Facebook, to expand copyright safe harbor laws for web platforms (The Australian)

Some media outlets made hay of Trump receiving 38 new trademarks from China—including one for escort services—but the story is more banal (defensive registration against squatting) (Washington Post)

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

This content has been updated on June 1, 2017 at 13:50.