IP News July 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. Tell your friends to subscribe here! – Jeff

Top 3 Stories

The price of liberty: US Post Office must pay $3.5 million in copyright damages to a sculptor after issuing stamps depicting a replica of the Statue of Liberty from a Las Vegas Casino

Scary new scam sees hackers hijack SIM cards in order to steal valuable Instagram handles and sell them for bitcoin

A tasteful IP argument: EU’s Advocate General advises ECJ not to grant copyright in the taste of a spreadable cheese, claiming “works” can only be seen or heard


Canada needs clearer laws for who owns data and AI, according to two IP lawyers, who also recommend keeping personal data on Canadian soil as a competitive strategy

Performance rights agency SOCAN acquired a reproduction rights agency (SODRAC); the move comes amid broader consolidation of Canadian copyright bodies

United States

A jury ordered Groupon to pay $89 million to IBM for infringing two patents related to a 1980s precursor to the web

They year 2018 will set a record for copyright lawsuits thanks to big law firm Fox Rothschild, which is helping a porn studio file a wave of “troll” cases

Massachusetts became the latest state to pass anti-troll legislation to discourage bad faith patent enforcement

Famous genetics researcher Craig Venter faces a lawsuit from the company he founded; the Human Longevity Institute accuses him of taking trade secrets to start a rival venture

The USPTO issued its 10 millionth patent; it took the office 155 years to issue the first 5 million — and only 27 years for the next 5 million

The 9th Circuit killed off California’s droit-de-suite law—the only one of its kind in the country—to the dismay of visual artists and the delight of auction houses

Prince’s heirs have inherited the late singer’s copyright litigiousness, forcing Twitter to remove a video of a sidewalk crowd singing “Purple Rain” after his death

SCOTUS will settle a circuit split over what qualifies as copyright registration; the issue is important because a plaintiff must register a work before suing


US tech companies helped defeat a controversial EU proposal to introduce a “link tax” and expand the scope of websites’ liability for copyright infringement

Burberry has burned over £90m of surplus merchandise in the last five years to maintain a sense of scarcity for its brand

Elon Musk reached a settlement with the UK creator of a “farting unicorn” image after using the picture in Tesla branding without permission

The ECJ ruled Nestle can’t obtain a trademark on its “four-bar” Kit-Kat shape, in part because the chocolate bar’s shape doesn’t have iconic significance across all of Europe


China continues to aggressively steal IP from U.S. companies, according to American intelligence agencies, albeit “at a slower rate”

A Chinese official, meanwhile, dismissed a recent report on its IP theft as “rumors, surmises and half-truths”

A startup owner in IP-crazed Australia is fighting his country’s intellectual property office, claiming recent changes to subject matter rules unfairly hurt software makers

Switzerland is the most innovation country, according to an annual ranking published by WIPO and two business schools; the U.S. fell out of the top 5 while China cracked the top 20 for the first time

This content has been updated on September 28, 2018 at 19:08.