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April / May 2018 Ideas on Intellectual Property Law

Cantor Colburn IP Newsletter

April 1, 2018

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Train in vain
Patents for mass transit fare systems struck down
The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals continues to engage in abstract thinking — thinking about the patent-eligibility of abstract ideas, that is. The Federal Circuit has repeatedly reviewed whether patents are invalid because they covered patent-ineligible inventions. This article discusses a case in which the plaintiff ended up having four patents wiped out as invalid on this basis. A short sidebar discusses how improvements can preclude the abstract idea bar.
Smart Systems Innovations, LLC v. Chicago Transit Authority, No. 16-1233, Oct. 18, 2017, Fed. Cir.; Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 573 U.S. __, 134 S.Ct. 2347 (2014).

Who owns the copyright of stock photos?
Thanks in part to the proliferation of websites over the past couple of decades, the use of stock photography is more widespread than ever. And the posting of photos online — as well as in print — has created a copyright infringement bonanza. But who has the right to enforce copyright claims involving use of stock photographs? This article looks at a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case that recently tackled this question.
DRK Photo v. McGraw-Hill Global Education Holdings, LLC, No. 15-15106, Sept. 12, 2017, 9th Cir.

Proving infringement of system patents
Court rejects jury’s infringement finding in phone case
Some might think it would be easier to prove infringement of a patented system having multiple components. The more parts, the more opportunity to prove infringement. Not so. But this article summarizes a case in which one patentee learned the hard way that more parts means more to prove.
Intellectual Ventures LLC v. Motorola Mobility LLC, No. 16-1795, Sept. 13, 2017, Fed. Cir.

Federal Circuit clarifies surname test for trademarks
What’s in a name? The answer to that question might determine whether a mark that includes someone’s surname is eligible for trademark registration. This article reviews a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals case that sheds some light on when a mark with a surname is — and isn’t — registrable as a trademark.
Earnhardt v. Kerry Earnhardt, Inc., No. 16-1939, July 27, 2017, Fed. Cir.

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