IP News October 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: jeffjohnroberts AT gmail.com. Know someone who likes IP News? Tell them to sign up here!

Top 3 Stories

The IP Cold War is heating up: VP Pence used a major speech to blast China over ruthless technology theft, while the Justice Department indicted and extradited a Chinese official over trade secrets

After President Trump played “Happy” at a rally after the Pittsburgh massacre, Pharrell Williams sent a copyright cease-and-desist and noted there was “nothing happy about the tragedy”

Popular vape device maker Juul is seeking to smoke its rivals with a wave of patent and trademark lawsuits


Canada granted major IP concessions to the US to secure a NAFTA deal, including a 20 year copyright term extension; Prof de Beer says the outcome is ugly but could have been worse

The big telcos used an Anton Piller order to conduct a 12 hour search of the home of a man who runs an app-streaming website; the case is part of a copyright crusade against Kodi boxes, which are popular with pirates

In a novel test of how copyright applies to AI, a Montreal artist and her gallery is suing the owner of a machine-run “art factory,” alleging the machines created an infringing work

United States

Harvard Law Library has just put 6.5 million state and federal cases online for free, a move that will benefit scholars and could undercut the power of LexisNexis

In a victory for right-to-repair advocates, the Copyright Office granted exemptions to rules that forbid tinkering with smartphones and vehicles

In a hell-freezes-over moment, long-time IP hawk Microsoft pledged its entire patent portfolio to a non-aggression network dedicated to open source software

Maryland asked SCOTUS to review an appeals court ruling that found the state’s law on drug price-gouging to be unconstitutional

The USPTO Director likened stories of patent trolls to fairy tales while speaking in the infamous troll venue of East Texas; the tech industry is not amused, and warned trolls remain a menace

A Guardian profile of Walt Disney’s in-house library describes it as an “Aladdin’s cave of intellectual property” with 65 million items the company continues to monetize


The CEO of YouTube is warning that thousands of small creators will lose income if an impending EU law that would force platforms to monitor uploads goes into force

The UK’s Intellectual Property Office is exploring “administrative site blocking” as a lower cost way for copyright owners to attack piracy websites

The British Legion and the UK’s IP Office is cracking down on a slew of vendors selling fraudulent poppy merchandise ahead of Remembrance Day


A South African IP attorney claims patents in Africa are valuable despite weak enforcement resources, pointing to tax benefits and relief from anti-trust law

Bombardier is suing Mitsubishi for trade secret theft; the aircraft giant claims departing employees sent confidential documents to their Gmail accounts

An ambitious plan to track global shipping using blockchain technology is on the rocks; some big companies say they won’t sign on because IBM and Maersk control the IP

Members of the WTO are meeting in Canada without the U.S. or China as part of a bid to revise the trade pact’s IP rules that are a major irritant to the Trump Administration

This content has been updated on December 3, 2018 at 18:35.