IP News June 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

Canada imposes IP Law on the World: In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court upheld a worldwide injunction that obliges Google to remove search results not just in Canada but globally too. The Court downplayed the concerns of civil liberties advocates, calling them “theoretical.” (Fortune)

SCOTUS strikes down trademark statute’s “anti-disparagement” provision, calls it an unconstitutional “happy talk” clause. 8-0 ruling comes as victory for Asian-American band The Slants and opens the door to a spate of off-colour trademark applications (Scotus Blog)

Oops, Zillow picks the wrong copyright fight. Real estate site withdraws IP threats against blogger who ridicules “McMansions” after lawyers shred claims as frivolous and unsupportable (WaPo, Prof McGeveren)


Canada should treat its review of the Copyright Act as an opportunity to address deficiencies in how IP law accounts for aboriginal rights, says Prof Oguamanam (Policy Options)

The Canadian government won a pledge from China to halt cyber-attacks on its companies, but security experts suggest the pledge is just a tactic as China adopts more sophisticated forms of IP theft (Globe & Mail)

The former CEO of BlackBerry says Canadian innovation policy has been “dumb” and is pushing for the government to create “IP clusters” like those deployed in other countries (The Star)

Supreme Court lowers utility requirements for patents over CIPP objections, tears up ‘promise doctrine’  (Prof Gold, SCC)

United States

The Justice Department gave up its legal battle to revoke the Washington Redskins’ offensive trademark, citing the SCOTUS decision on the Slants (Politico)

A massive trade secret battle over self-driving technology is turning on files stolen from Google by an engineer who took $250M to take a job at Uber (WaPo)

Senators launched an IP bill with a typically stirring name—the STRONGER Patent Act—to undercut a popular mechanism to challenge  bad patents (JD Supra)

Generic drug makers applauded a SCOTUS ruling that will make it easier to sell so-called biosimilar drugs (Bloomberg)

USPTO director Michelle Lee resigned and Trump administration turmoil means no replacement will arrive soon; the office is now being led by interim director Joe Matal (Law360)

Scientific publishing giant Elsevier won a $15M US judgment against a Russian outfit that provides free access to its journals through a pirate site (Higher Educ Chronicle)

In a recent episode of Silicon Valley, the startup Pied Piper is sued by a patent troll, who turns out to be an attorney who buys old IP at auction (Recode)

Kiss guitarist Gene Simmons sought to trademark a finger gesture used by the band, but one that is similar to gestures used in sign language and sports (Ars Technica)

Fashion retailer J.Crew put up its IP as security for junior bondholders in an usual restructuring plan, but senior creditors sued to stop the arrangement (NY Post)


The EJC ruled that the Pirate Bay can be found liable under copyright “making available” doctrine; meanwhile, anti-piracy attention is shifting to new loaded “boxes” that offer illict streams (BBC)

A UK investment firm is giving $200M to eight Australian universities in return for licenses and ownership stakes in researchers’ IP (Guardian)

European film-makers are fighting an impending plan to create a single EU market for digital goods, arguing it will destroy their business models (Hollywood Reporter)


New Zealand is deciding whether to follow Australia’s example and introduce fair use (NZ Stuff)

Chinese IP mandarins continue to beat the drum for more “good-quality” patents (China Daily)

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

This content has been updated on November 30, 2017 at 14:27.