Supreme Court Grants Certiorari to Resolve Long-Running Debate on Assignor Estoppel

By: David G. Barker and Emily R. Parker Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Minerva Surgical v. Hologic, thereby agreeing to resolve a long-running debate on patent law’s doctrine of assignor estoppel. Minerva Surgical has asked the Court to abolish the doctrine, which bars inventors who sell their patent rights from challenging the patent’s validity in district court. The inventor in this case, Csaba Truckai, co-founded a company called NovaCept and developed two patents for endometrial ablation, a surgical process used to treat menstrual bleeding. NovaCept sold its patents to Cytyc Corp., which was acquired by Hologic.   Read More »

Posted in Patent Litigation, Post Grant Proceedings | Tagged , ,

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Supreme Court Grants Certiorari to Decide if PTAB Judges Are Constitutional

By Alysha Green and David G. Barker Are PTAB judges constitutional? This week the Supreme Court granted certiorari to answer this question. In Arthrex v. Smith & Nephew, the Federal Circuit considered whether the appointment of administrative patent judges violates the Appointments Clause of the Constitution. The Appointments Clause requires the president to appoint principal officers, who then must be confirmed by the Senate before taking office. In contrast, inferior officers can be appointed by heads of departments (like the Secretary of State or Commerce). This system of appointment accounts for the different levels of authority principal and inferior officers   Read More »

Posted in Patent Litigation, Post Grant Proceedings | Tagged , ,

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Generic.com Terms May Be Eligible for Federal Trademark Protection

By Jessica D. Kemper and David G. Barker Today, the Supreme Court held in U.S. Patent & Trademark Office v. Booking.com B.V. that a generic term paired with an internet designation such as “.com” (called a “generic.com” term by the Court) may be eligible for federal trademark registration.  When will a generic.com term be eligible for registration?  According to the Court, one key consideration is whether consumers associate the generic.com term with the source of the goods or services. A generic term—the name of the good or service itself—is not eligible for trademark protection because it cannot distinguish one company’s   Read More »

Posted in Internet and Domain Name Litigation, Trademark Litigation | Tagged ,

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Supreme Court Determines No Claim Preclusion of Defense in Trademark Infringement Suit

By Jessica D. Kemper and David G. Barker Today, a unanimous Supreme Court held in Lucky Brand Dungarees, Inc. v. Marcel Fashions Group., Inc. that claim preclusion did not prevent Lucky Brand from asserting a defense it failed to fully litigate in a prior lawsuit with Marcel.  The Court did not strictly endorse “defense preclusion”—a doctrine that would prevent litigants from asserting defenses in new litigation that were asserted or could have asserted in prior litigation; it decided the case on general claim preclusion principles. The case has a complicated history.  In 2001, Marcel sued Lucky for trademark infringement of   Read More »

Posted in Trademark Litigation | Tagged

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If No One Owns the Law, Who Owns the Statutory Annotations?

By Mary Hallerman Last week, the Supreme Court held in Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc., that legislators cannot copyright any works that they created in the course of their official duties. Though the holding may appear straightforward and narrow, the Court unearthed the centuries-old government edicts doctrine to reach its decision and emphasized the importance of the circumstances of creation in determining copyright ownership. What led to the Supreme Court’s excavation of the government edicts doctrine? Oddly enough, alleged infringement on the Internet. A nonprofit, Public.Resource.Org, published the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (“OCGA”) online without Georgia’s permission. As the name suggests,   Read More »

Posted in Copyright Litigation | Tagged

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