How Scandalous! SCOTUS Again Takes up Whether the Lanham Act Violates the First Amendment

By Shalayne Pillar and David G. Barker On Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear a case that will decide whether the federal ban on trademark protection for “scandalous” material is unconstitutional.  In re Brunetti follows the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (“USPTO’s”) denial of trademark registration for the word “Fuct,” which held that the mark “comprises immoral . . . or scandalous matter” and thus could not be registered under Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act.  On appeal, the Federal Circuit sided with the applicant (discussed here), holding the statute violated the Free Speech provision   Read More »

Posted in IP and Technology Litigation, Trademark Litigation | Tagged , , ,

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Supreme Court to Decide Multiple IP Issues This Term

 By Taryn J. Gallup and David G. Barker On October 26, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) granted certiorari in two IP cases.  In Mission Product Holdings, Inc. v. Tempnology, LLC, SCOTUS will address a circuit split on the effect bankruptcy has on trademark license rights.  In Return Mail, Inc. v. U.S. Postal Service, et al., SCOTUS will address whether the government may challenge patents as a “person” under the America Invents Act (“AIA”). In Mission Product Holdings, Tempnology, LLC (“Tempnology”) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and cancelled a trademark licensing agreement that it had with   Read More »

Posted in IP and Technology Litigation, Patent Litigation, Trademark Litigation | Tagged , , , , ,

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Attorney Petitions SCOTUS Regarding Former Client’s Defamatory Yelp Reviews

By Anne Bolamperti and David G. Barker A California attorney and her law firm filed a petition on October 18, 2018, asking the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) to review the California Supreme Court’s ruling that reversed an injunction that would have required Yelp, Inc. to remove defamatory reviews from its website. Dawn Hassell and Hassell Law Group represented Ava Bird in a personal injury case during the summer of 2012.  Hassell withdrew less than one month after undertaking the representation due to Bird’s lack of responsiveness.  Bird then posted two defamatory reviews of Hassell and her firm   Read More »

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Supreme Court to Determine “Full Costs” Under Copyright Act

By Mark K. Webb and David G. Barker Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States granted certiorari in Oracle USA v. Rimini Street to resolve a split among the United States Circuit Courts of Appeals concerning costs awarded to a prevailing party under the Copyright Act. The Sixth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits permit an award of “full costs” under 17 U.S.C. § 505 (Copyright Act) that is not limited by the six categories of taxable costs under 28 U.S.C.  § 1920. The Eighth and Eleventh Circuits do not permit additional costs, because the “full costs” language does not “clearly,”   Read More »

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First Amendment Free Speech Protection Is Alive and Well

By Jessica D. Kemper* and Andrew F. Halaby The First Amendment’s free speech guarantee has proved determinative in a variety of very recent Supreme Court decisions. In Matal v. Tam (see here), the Court held that the First Amendment precludes denial of registration of an allegedly offensive trademark.  In National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra (“NIFLA”) (2018), the Court held that California may not compel crisis pregnancy centers to provide, against their wishes, abortion-related information.  And in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 (2018), the Court held that the First Amendment   Read More »

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