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February / March 2018 IP Newsletter

Ideas on Intellectual Property Law

February 1, 2018

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Whose home is it?
House designs avoid copyright infringement
A recent case decided by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals illustrates the competitiveness in the world of affordable home design. And, as the plaintiff learned, copyright law provides only limited protection. This article discusses the court’s decision to deny the plaintiff’s claim of copyright infringement. A short sidebar covers why the existence of copyrighted materials on the Internet couldn’t, by itself, justify an inference that the defendants had accessed them.
Design Basics, LLC v. Lexington Homes, Inc., No. 16-3817, June 6, 2017, 7th Cir.

Beat it
Heart disease diagnostic method isn’t patent-eligible
Inventors in the pursuit of “personalized medicine” patents were likely discouraged by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in The Cleveland Clinic Foundation v. True Health Diagnostics LLC, which involved a diagnostic method. This article reviews the court’s ruling highlighting the difficulty of obtaining patents for such methods.
The Cleveland Clinic Foundation v. True Health Diagnostics LLC, No. 16-1766, June 16, 2017, Fed. Cir.

Why facts matter when using the fair use defense in trademark cases
The fair use defense can prove to be the bane of a trademark holder’s infringement claim. The good news for trademark holders, though, is that the defense is difficult to establish before trial, giving them the opportunity to prove their cases to juries. This article examines a recent case in which this happened.
Marketquest Group, Inc. v. BIC Corp., No. 15-55755, July 7, 2017, 9th Cir.

Failure to prove obviousness revives patent application
A patent applicant’s first round of appeals is to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). But if a patent applicant receives a negative ruling from the PTAB, it isn’t necessarily the end of the road. This brief article reviews a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals case that made this clear when it faulted the Board for failing to adequately lay out just why an invention was obvious and therefore unpatentable.
In re Stepan Co., No. 16-1811, Aug. 25, 2017, Fed. Cir.

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