IP News September 2019

Welcome to IP News This Month, your monthly round-up of intellectual property developments, culled from news reports around the globe. Please send any comments toJeff—and tell your friends to subscribe here

Top 3 Stories

French publishers accuse Google of “blackmail” after search giant says it will remove news snippets to avoid new copyright royalties

Pot patents going up in smoke: the huge valuation of cannabis companies has been driven by IP, but the USPTO has been rejecting would-be marijuana inventions on subject matter and obviousness grounds

Jerry Seinfeld got the last laugh in a copyright battle over “Comedians in Cars” as ajudge found claims by a former collaborator to have invented the show were time-barred


A Globe & Mail investigation says non-compete clauses are proliferating in employee contracts, and suggests they are being abused; the CIPP’s Prof Moyse weighs in on potential chilling effects

The Supreme Court upheld a ruling that denied Ontario surveyors’ claim to a copyright in their plans, saying the IP belongs entirely to the Crown

A U.S. lobby group for farmers is opposing the new NAFTA treaty, saying concessions by the Canadian dairy industry aren’t worth new patent protections for Big Pharma

United States

The Stairway to Heaven case went before the 9th circuit en banc; the decision could be a blockbuster a time when many are worried recent rulings have allowed the copyrighting of basic building blocks of music

Peloton, already reeling from an ugly IPO, faces new woes after music companies doubled their damages claims in a copyright case

Amazon and book publishers are in legal battle over whether captions for audiobooks are covered by a distinct copyright

In the latest ruling in the 50-year copyright dispute over John Steinbeck’s estate, a court quoted Bleak House to admonish the participants over unending litigation

Mercedes Benz and Detroit muralists are in a closely-watched court fight that could redefine how copyright applies to street art


New York and U.K. police arrested a 19-year-old British man for breaking into famous musicians’ websites, and selling their copyrighted works online 

A new Labour party policy calls for a public company to make patented medicines the NHS can’t afford; proponents cite compulsory licensing schemes in Brazil and India


Chinese official media continues to tout recent rulings protecting Pippa the Pig as evidence the company is respecting IP norms

Artists in Namibia are complaining the country’s copyright law doesn’t provide for meaningful enforcement, or protection of digital works

Australia is poised to abolish a low-cost patent regime designed for small business; the government says few people used the regime, which issues “second tier” patents in a manner of months

New Zealand’s national airline has angered the Maori community by filing totrademark Kia Ora (“hello”) for its in-flight magazine

In the latest copyright controversy over Australia’s Aboriginal flag, an indigenous health clinic had to pay $2,200 in licensing fees to a private company after using the flag on free t-shirts

This content has been updated on November 8, 2019 at 16:18.