IP News April 2019

Top 3 Stories

A law firm is preparing to sue 55,000 Canadians on behalf of a Hollywood studio in a so-called “reverse class action”; critics call the process a “litigation mill” that will bully innocent citizens into paying settlements

High-priced home cycling service Peloton filed an antitrust suit against the music industry, after copyright complaints forced it to drop Drake and Justin Timberlake

IP Game of Thrones: HBO has asked President Trump to stop using its fonts and slogans on Twitter, saying it doesn’t want the show’s intellectual property used for political purposes


Canada is unlikely to replicate the EU’s controversial copyright directive, says Prof Geist and other academics, even as musicians and publishers urge the country to do so

Ontario will tap former BlackBerry CEO Jim Basille to lead a panel of IP experts, which include a law prof, in scrutinizing patent practices at the province’s universities and startup accelerators

Canada is no longer on America’s obnoxious “priority watch list” for IP; U.S. officials credit NAFTA negotiations and tougher enforcement actions

United States

SCOTUS, two years after striking down a statute that barred disparaging trademarks, wrestled with a ban on “scandalous and immoral” marks; the judges were skeptical of the provision but worried about opening the floodgates to racism and obscenity

The TV studio Starz apologized after overzealous counsel filed copyright complaints to take down tweets by the EFF, a journalist and a law professor

Can building codes be copyrighted? A startup that uploads codes to provide a “spellcheck for buildings” will be an important test case for whether publishers can exert IP over government mandated standards

The U.S. may sue drug maker Gilead for infringing on a government patent for the HIV prevention drug Truvada; possible remedies may be a share of royalties or lower prices from the company, which charges $2000/month for the drug

Mercedes and graffiti artists in Detroit are in a dispute over the car maker’s Instagram shots of a luxury truck in front of a mural; the case tests a copyright exception that permits the use of building exteriors

The Department of Agriculture announced U.S. hemp producers can now apply for IP protections that have long been offered to other plant breeders


Now that the EU Copyright Directive has passed, countries will turn to implementing; TechDirt frets France will go first with the “dumbest of all implementations” and other countries will follow its lead

But not everyone is pessimistic: a Loyola law prof and drafter of the DMCA argues that increasing copyright accountability for social media platforms is reasonable, and that the U.S. may follow Europe’s example


The U.S. charged a GE engineer with stealing trade secrets and sending them to China, allegedly as part of a “Made in 2025” initiative to improve Chinese tech know-how in aviation and power generation

In a bid to stop copycat wine labels, Australia is launching a “Wine Label Intellectual Property Directory” that will require producers to be listed in order to export their bottles

This content has been updated on May 3, 2019 at 16:34.