IP News January 2018

Welcome back to IP New This Month, the CIPP’s regular round-up of IP news culled from media sources around the world. Tips or comments? Send them here. Tell your friends to subscribe here. Thanks for reading! – Jeff

Top 3 Stories

We Shall Overcome bad copyright decisions: famous civil rights song follows Happy Birthday into the public domain after prolonged legal battle (NYT)

Goodbye Double Irish, hello USA: recent changes to the US tax code—notably a 13% rate for overseas royalties and a minimum rate on foreign income—could mean the end of tech companies’ favourite IP-based accounting gimmicks (WSJ)

I won an IP case, it was awful: the owners of frowning feline Grumpy Cat won trademark and copyright damages against a coffee company that sold cat-branded products beyond the scope of a license (WaPo)


The idea of expanding US-style safe harbors—which shield internet platforms from IP and other claims— to Canada and Mexico was a hot topic at NAFTA talks (TF, EFF)

Mark your calendar: CIPP is co-hosting a week of conferences in Montreal on innovation and intellectual policy staring Feb 19 (CIPP)

The Canadian Mint filed a patent suit against Australia, alleging infringement of coloured-coin technology; the complaint asks for 500,000 $2 coins to be turned over or destroyed (National Post)

United States

The music industry is celebrating a 44% increase in the mechanical royalty rate paid by Spotify, Apple et al (Billboard)

Banks have been unusually aggressive in seeking blockchain patents (Bloomberg)

The latest forum for video piracy is PornHub, where users are illegally streaming safe-for-work fare like Disney, Star Wars and Hamilton (Quartz)

The US Copyright Office refused to register American Airlines’ logo on grounds it lacked originality (Cruz Law blog)

A Texas university invoked sovereign immunity to defeat a photographer’s copyright claim; in response, he is suing under the state’s illegal takings clause (Houston Chronicle)


An EU court rejected a trademark application from a hit German movie franchise—”Fack Ju Göhte”—on the grounds the name is obscene in English (DW)

An Italian man was surprised to discover his image on cigarette warning labels, and brought a personality rights claim against the EU (IP Kat)


New outlets in China, despite the country’s recent support for IP, make a business of reproducing translated articles from western media companies like Bloomberg (CNBC)

Amidst choppy Sino-US trade relations, the US obtained a criminal conviction for trade secret theft against China’s largest wind turbine maker (Bloomberg)

Liberia’s IP community is aghast over an official allegedly appointing himself to the country’s top agency job (Liberian Observer)

Monsanto is preparing court papers to stop Brazil from revoking its seed patents (Reuters)

The rapid spread of AI raises the question of whether a work produced by a robot is an expression covered by copyright (TechCrunch)

This content has been updated on June 29, 2018 at 7:33.