At Long Last, Supreme Court Resolves Circuit Split Over Lanham Act Profits

By Mary Hallerman The Supreme Court unanimously held that willfulness is not prerequisite to an award of a defendant’s profits under the Lanham Act. The decision in Romag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil Group resolved a longstanding circuit split on this issue, but given the swift manner the Supreme Court dealt with the issue, one wonders why courts were even split in the first place. The Lanham Act provides that a prevailing plaintiff is entitled to recover a defendant’s profits “subject to the principles of equity.” See 15 U.S.C. § 1117(a). Certain circuits—the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eleventh—considered willfulness   Read More »

Posted in Trademark Litigation | Tagged , ,

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Unintended Sublicenses Through Social Media: “Embedding” and the Pitfalls of Public Posts

By Deborah Gubernick and Gabrielle Morlock In this era of social media and image sharing, it is not uncommon for account holders to make their profiles public in attempt to garner as many followers and as much attention as possible. Social media platforms can be a form of relatively low-cost personal and corporate advertising. However, as a photographer recently learned, using social media platforms can have unintended consequences that compromise intellectual property rights. Stephanie Sinclair, a professional photographer who is the exclusive U.S. copyright owner of a photo titled “Child, Bride, Mother/Child Marriage in Guatemala,” posted a copy of her   Read More »

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Supreme Court Holds PTAB Decisions on IPR Time Limit Nonappealable

By Anne Bolamperti and David G. Barker Yesterday, in Thryv, Inc. v. Click-To-Call Technologies LP, the Supreme Court held that Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) decisions regarding the time limit for filing inter partes reviews (“IPRs”) are not subject to judicial review. Thryv filed an IPR against Click-To-Call’s patent for anonymous telephone call technology. Click-to-Call argued the IPR was untimely because it was filed outside the one-year limit in 35 U.S.C. § 315(b). The PTAB nonetheless instituted the IPR and invalidated 13 patent claims. On appeal, the Federal Circuit ultimately held the IPR was time barred and vacated the PTAB’s decision with   Read More »

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

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Ninth Circuit Holds “Bad Spaniels” Dog Toy Is an “Expressive Work”

By Anne Bolamperti and David G. Barker The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held in VIP Products LLC v. Jack Daniel’s Properties, Inc. that the “Bad Spaniels” dog toy is an expressive work entitled to First Amendment protection. The court vacated the United States District Court for the District of Arizona’s judgment that the toy infringed the Jack Daniel’s trade dress and registered bottle design. VIP Products designs and sells rubber dog toys that employ entertaining adaptations of various beverage brands.  Beginning in July 2013, VIP began selling the “Bad Spaniels” version of the toy, which resembles the iconic   Read More »

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Supreme Court: Statute Exposing States to Claims of Copyright Infringement Must Walk the Plank

By Daniel M. Staren and David G. Barker Today a unanimous Supreme Court struck down the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act of 1990 (“CRCA”), which sought to expose States to copyright infringement suits. See 17 U.S.C. § 511(a). The Court’s decision in Allen v. Cooper affirmed a Fourth Circuit decision holding that neither Congress’s Article I powers nor Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment granted Congress constitutional authority to enact the CRCA. In 1996, North Carolina hired Frederick Allen to document the State’s efforts to recover the shipwrecked remains of Queen Ann’s Revenge, the flagship vessel of pirate Edward Teach—Blackbeard. Allen   Read More »

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