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IP Newsletter - October / November 2019

October 1, 2019

Active or Passive?
What makes website operators directly liable for copyright infringement
As many copyright holders have learned the hard way, the Internet opened a whole new frontier in the world of infringement, particularly when it comes to pinning liability on the appropriate parties. This article discusses a recent case involving the unauthorized use of thousands of copyrighted photographs, where the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit laid out the types of behaviors that will — and won’t — make a website operator directly liable for copyright infringement on their sites. A short sidebar discusses the application of the fair use defense.
VHT, Inc. v. Zillow Group, Inc., No. 17-35587, March 15, 2019, Ninth Cir.

Vehicle charging station patents short-circuit under Alice analysis
The U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals continues to wield the so-called Alice test to knock down patents for abstract ideas. This article reviews one such decision, in which the court explained that abstract ideas aren’t patent-eligible in the absence of an inventive concept that makes a claim “significantly more” than just the abstract idea — and the underlying abstract idea can’t provide that inventive concept.
ChargePoint, Inc. v. SemaConnect, Inc., No. 18-1739, March 28, 2019, Fed. Cir.

Supreme Court ruling leaves a mark
Trademark right survives licensor's bankruptcy
It’s never good news for a business when a company that the business has contracted with files for bankruptcy. But, according to a new U.S. Supreme Court ruling, there’s some good news for trademark licensees. This article summarizes a decision that resolves a split among federal courts of appeal, in which the Court held that in some circumstances a licensee can continue to use the licensed marks despite the licensor’s rejection of their agreement during the bankruptcy process.
Mission Product Holdings, Inc. v. Tempnology, LLC, No. 17-1657, May 20, 2019, U.S.

PTAB rejects inherently obvious finding
What’s obvious to one person isn’t always obvious to another, and the same is true when it comes to patents. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit demonstrated this principle in rejecting the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB’s) determination that a patent was inherently obvious. This article reviews the court’s decision shedding light on what factors establish when a claimed feature of a patented invention was “inherent” in an earlier invention.
PersonalWeb Technologies, LLC v. Apple, Inc., No. 18-1599, March 8, 2019, Fed. Cir.

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