IP News March 2018

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

A holy IP mess: the Vatican’s latest push to protect IP is aimed at a Spanish website that allegedly infringes upon its name and image rights; the site says it will stand up to “enemies [who] filled the temple with merchants”

US Justice Department charges nine Iranians with mass hacking campaign that stole “more than 31 terabytes of academic data and intellectual property from universities” around the world

Bumble declares it will “swipe left” in patent case brought by Tinder, accusing the rival dating app of resorting to IP intimidation after its acquisition offer was rejected


BlackBerry claims Facebook Messenger infringed its patents; the social network shot back that the faded telecom star “abandoned its efforts to innovate … and [wants] to tax the innovation of others.”

Education ministries are suing to recover fees they say universities overpaid to Access Copyright; the royalty collection service claims the move is an unfair blow to writers

A cranky think-tank figure blasted the government’s proposed patent collective as a “quixotic effort” that will founder in bureaucracy

United States

The CAFC stunned the tech industry by ruling Google’s use of Java API’s owned by Oracle was not fair use; the long-running $8.8 billion copyright case is likely going back to SCOTUS

Companies are using AI to put words in the mouths of dead celebrities, adding more grist to the debate over posthumous right-of-publicity laws

The estate of Harper Lee is suing to block Aaron Sorkin’s stage adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird, claiming it depicts Atticus Finch as “rude and selfish”

The creator of Pepe the Frog sued InfoWars for depicting his character in a MAGA poster; the conspiracy site claims use of Pepe, which has been co-opted by the alt-right, is fair use

Hollywood and free speech groups breathed a sigh of relief as the 9th Circuit overturned a ruling that let an actress invoke right-of-publicity to prevent a studio portraying her in a documentary

The 9th Circuit upheld a jury’s finding that the hit Blurred Lines infringed a Marvin Gaye song; the dissent warned the decision granted copyright over a musical style, and would chill creativity

Does copyright protect illegal art? A graffiti artist wants H&M to pay royalties for depicting his Brooklyn mural, but the company refused on grounds the work is vandalism


An EU court said Adidas can block a trademark application for a two stripe shoe design on the ground it’s too similar to the company’s iconic three stripe logo

Meanwhile, the same court granted no such favor to a Spanish pizzeria’s “La Mafia” trademark, ruling Italy had the right to cancel the mark on morality grounds

An EU court upheld a decision to cancel Crocs’ design patent on grounds the company had displayed the ugly plastic shoes prior to the application


As the US prepares retaliatory tariffs in response to Chinese IP theft, the NYT looks at how China acquires foreign IP through forced sharing, purchase or theft

Meanwhile, the WSJ describes how US firms resort to tactics like bug sweeping and burner phones to prevent IP theft while in China

Kim Dotcom, the copyright mass infringer facing extradition to the US, sought an order for Barack Obama to testify in his case while the former POTUS was in New Zealand

This content has been updated on June 29, 2018 at 7:32.