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This week in Other Barks & Bites: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Chief Judge Moore is investigating Judge Pauline Newman’s fitness to continue serving on the court; the CAFC issues six precedential IP decisions; a district court grants Google a partial win in its patent dispute with Sonos; the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) indefinitely delays the collection of registration statements from patent practitioners; and the rapper Cam’ron faces a copyright lawsuit for the unauthorized use of a photo of himself.
Judicial Council of the Federal Circuit Issues Statement on Chief Judge Investigation Into Judge Newman
On Wednesday, April 12, IPWatchdog was first to break the news that U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Chief Judge Kimberly Moore has identified a judicial complaint against Judge Pauline Newman under the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act. In response to IPWatchdog’s report and subsequent reporting by other news outlets, the court on Friday, April 14, issued a statement confirming the information provided by IPWatchdog’s sources and making the previously sealed documents public. In addition to the March 24 Order, the CAFC also released an April 13 Order today indicating that the special committee in charge of the investigation into Newman will include Judges Moore, Prost and Taranto and that the Committee has expanded the scope of the investigation to consider whether Newman has failed to cooperate in violation of Rule 4(a)(5) for Judicial Conduct and Judicial Disability Proceedings. More to come soon.
CAFC Affirms District Court Finding that Digital Imaging Patent Claims Challenged by Snapchat are Ineligible as Abstract
On Thursday, April 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential opinion affirming the U.S. district court for the Central District of California’s invalidation of certain claims of Sanderling Management Ltd.’s digital imaging patents as ineligible under Section 101. The CAFC agreed with the district court’s conclusion that the claims are directed to the abstract idea of “providing information – in this case, a processing function – based on meeting a condition,’ e.g., matching a GPS location indication with a geographic location.” The CAFC also affirmed the district court’s denial of Sanderling’s motion for leave to amend its complaint, thus siding with the parent company of the popular social media platform, Snapchat.
USPTO Director Vidal Recaps First Year in Office
In a blog post published Thursday, April 13, and a conversation with the intellectual property press on Wednesday, April 12, USPTO Director Kathi Vidal said her second year in office will be about action and implementation of the various initiatives she has spent the last year gathering input on. Vidal also addressed criticism of the PTAB, saying it could be working better, and the Office apologized for miscommunication that led to some being unable to participate in the January USPTO-FDA Listening Session. Read the full report here.
USPTO Indefinitely Delays Collection of Registration Statements from Patent Practitioners
On Thursday, April 13, the USPTO issued a Federal Register Notice indefinitely delaying its implementation of the biennial mandatory registration statement required from registered patent practitioners and individuals granted limited recognition to practice before the USPTO in patent matters. It does not expect the collection of the registration statements to begin until approximately 2025. A six-month advance notice will be posted before the collection of the registration statement. According to the notice, “The decision to delay is based on a close analysis of operational priorities and budget… [and] will allow the Office to conserve resources by integrating the registration statement with other USPTO information systems.”
District Court Grants Google Small Victory in Mixed Ruling Ahead of Patent Infringement Trial with Sonos
On Thursday, April 13, a district court issued a ruling in Sonos Inc.’s lawsuit against Google. The California district court granted a summary judgment ruling for the invalidity of one Sonos patent but denied Google’s motion to invalidate two other patents from Sonos. The case has a May 8 trial date and involves sprawling litigation including lawsuits from 5 different countries. The two companies have traded patent infringement lawsuits back and forth over the past years.
Federal Circuit Upholds District Court Ruling that Parkinson’s Treatment Patent Claims are Invalid
The CAFC on April 12 issued a precedential ruling affirming a district court’s finding that certain claims of UCB, Inc.’s patent on transdermal rotigotine patches for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease are invalid. UCB had sued Actavis in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, but the court found the asserted claims of the patent invalid for anticipation and obviousness. On appeal, the CAFC said the district court’s fact findings on overlapping ranges, teaching away, unexpected results, and commercial success were not clearly erroneous and thus affirmed.
CCB Dismisses Copyright Complaint against Cloudflare
On Tuesday, April 11, the Copyrights Claim Board (CCB) dismissed a copyright complaint against Cloudflare. The reading app Anystories filed the initial complaint in September 2022, and the company had to file two additional amended claims after the CCB ruled the claims were non-compliant. The latest complaint was Anystories’s last chance to file a compliant claim, but the CCB said, “[the] allegations fail to state a claim for infringement because they do not present facts about Cloudflare engaging in or facilitating any infringing activity.”
USPTO Announces Award to Honor Brand Owners Addressing Humanitarian Issues
On Monday, April 10, the USPTO announced a new awards program, Trademarks for Humanity, to recognize brand owners who are attempting to solve humanitarian problems. The first iteration of the program will have a specific focus on brand owners looking to improve the environment. “Climate change poses a tremendous threat, and it will take creativity and energy from both the public and private sector to overcome that threat,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. The USPTO has made environmental issues a focus in recent months having also announced a joint work-sharing program with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a green partnership with the World Intellectual Property Organization.
TTAB Rules Baseball Grants Aaron Judge Victory in Trademark Case
On Wednesday, April 12, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) published a decision that protects New York Yankees star Aaron Judge’s trademark rights to several judicial-themed marks. The Board blocked Michael P. Chisena’s attempt to register the marks “Al Rise” and “Here Comes the Judge” because they could be confused with Aaron Judge’s trademarks. The precedential opinion reaffirmed the rights of sports teams and players to hold the trademarks on clothing and merchandise that reference them.
USPTO Announces Public Listening Sessions and Asks for Public Comments on Patent Pro Bono Programs
On Tuesday, April 11, the USPTO issued a Federal Register Notice announcing two public listening sessions on its network of pro bono patent programs. The first listening session will be held on June 5 and seek input from inventors, entrepreneurs, and small businesses. In the second listening session on June 7, the USPTO will hear from legal experts. The Office is also seeking public comments on the study of patent pro bono programs. The goal of these programs is to bring more people into the U.S. innovation system.
Rapper Cam’ron Hit with Copyright Lawsuit for Using a Photo of Himself
On Tuesday, April 11, photographer Djamilla Cochran filed a copyright lawsuit against the rapper Cam’ron for selling merchandise and clothing that featured an iconic picture of himself in a pink mink coat, according to Billboard. The lawsuit alleges that Cam’ron failed to obtain a license to use the photograph. Cochrane also claimed that Cam’ron continued to use the image after he received a letter warning him to stop.
USPTO Seeks Stakeholder Input on AI
On Monday, April 10, the USPTO issued a Federal Register Notice announcing the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Inventorship Listening Session on April 25. The event will be held at USPTO Headquarters, National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum, 600 Dulany St., Alexandria, Virginia. The USPTO is holding the listening session to seek input from stakeholders on the state of artificial intelligence and issues that are arising for inventors. In May, the USPTO will announce a second listening session that will take place on the West Coast.
This Week on Wall Street
EPA Proposes Highest Pollution Standards to Stimulate Electric Vehicle Production
On Wednesday, April 12, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new proposed vehicle emission standards to cut vehicle emissions by 56% by 2032. According to the EPA, the proposed cuts would provide total net benefits of over $1 trillion by 2055. The overarching goal of the proposal is to “accelerate the ongoing transition to a clean vehicles future and tackle the climate crisis.”
Federal Reserve Predict “Mild Recession” at the End of 2023
On Wednesday, April 12, the Federal Reserve published minutes from the March meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee in which staff predicted a “mild recession” to close out 2023. A summary of the minutes stated, “the staff’s projection at the time of the March meeting included a mild recession starting later this year, with a recovery over the subsequent two years.” The meeting was held on March 21-22. The statements in the published minutes contrast slightly with Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s more noncommittal statements on the potential for a recession.
Quarterly Earnings – The following firms identified among the IPO’s Top 300 Patent Recipients for 2022 are announcing quarterly earnings next week (2022 rank in parentheses):
- Monday: None
- Tuesday: Johnson & Johnson (23), Bank of America (75), Intuitive Surgical (227)
- Wednesday: IBM (2), Abbott Laboratories (147), ASML Holding (186),
- Thursday: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (6), AT&T (47), Nokia (60)
- Friday: SAP SE (65), Proctor & Gamble (100)
Image Source: Deposit Photos
Image ID: 147352089