IP Newsletter - August/September 2020
August 1, 2020
Stairway to litigation
Led Zeppelin prevails in copyright case
The copyright infringement case involving Led Zeppelin’s classic rock anthem “Stairway to Heaven” may finally be over. In finding in favor of the band, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed some of its long-standing precedent — and this could significantly impact other copyright cases. This article reviews the appellate decision and its determination not to use the inverse ratio rule. A short sidebar covers the court’s decision that a deposit copy limited the scope of the copyright under the 1909 Copyright Act.
Skidmore v. Led Zeppelin, Nos. 16-56057, -56287, March 9, 2020, 9th Cir.
Patentee misses the mark on pre-lawsuit infringement damages
Patent owners have to do more than simply obtain their patents if they want to recover full damages for patent infringement. This article reviews one case in which a patent owner’s infringement action was dismissed because the owner failed to give the public notice of the patent by marking products that use the patented invention, thus dramatically limiting the amount of recoverable damages.
Arctic Cat Inc. v. Bombardier Recreational Products Inc., No. 2019-1080, Feb. 19, 2020, Fed. Cir.
Trademark licensee denied preliminary injunction
Court finds license isn’t “perpetual”
Preliminary injunctions generally are considered extraordinary remedies, as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit recently reminded a popcorn manufacturer. The manufacturer had sought a preliminary injunction against a trademark licensor that terminated its agreement. This article reviews a district court’s finding that an injunction was warranted because the manufacturer held a “perpetual license,” and why the appellate court disagreed.
Mrs. Fields Franchising LLC v. MFGPC, Nos. 19-4046, -4063, Nov. 7, 2019, Fed. Cir.
Use it or lose it: Protecting IP during a public health crisis
Owners of intellectual property (IP) — whether it’s a patent, trademark or copyright or it’s something else — need to protect and enforce their rights, even during tumultuous times like the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the crisis forced the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), the U.S. Copyright Office and some courts to close to the public, this short article reminds IP owners that their rights must always be protected.