Patent trolls are patent assertion entities who buy up patents from bankrupt businesses, auctions and inventors for pennies on the dollar. They traditionally would then use these purchases to go after large corporations and sue for infringement. They do not engage in any business other than suing operating companies.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO) recently inducted 19 of the country’s greatest inventors (nine of which are still living) into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. The gala event, held at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., spotlighted the transformative role of innovation in our society and reminded us all of the importance of protecting our own innovations.
It is important to understand the implications of technology patents for real-world applications. A thorough evaluation by experienced intellectual-property counsel can uncover ways to use a patent that the owner may not have been previously considered.
The USPTO has recently promulgated new guidance related to computer- and software-related patent applications. The new guidance changes how USPTO examiners are to determine patent eligibility of such applications.
Cannabis has become an attractive industry for entrepreneurs as more states legalize its use for medical purposes, as well as a recreational drug. As a result, protecting brands, processes, trade names, logos and other intellectual property has become a more critical issue within the cannabis industry.
UGG boots have been popular women’s winter wear for more than a decade. For much of that time, UGG’s parent company Decker Outdoor Corporation (DOC) has spent considerable time and effort to protect its soft, moccasin-like boot made of sheepskin with a wooly lining against cheaper knockoffs. Unfortunately, the general appearance of the UGG boots has been challenging to protect, so DOC has recently tried to become more creative in fighting off encroachment.
Intellectual property rights are established to create legal protection so companies do not steal products or ideas. However, there are a growing number of cases where companies are engaging in playful back and forth using parody. This seems to be particularly popular among small craft breweries.
We recently talked about a unique type of trademark based on the senses such as sound, scent and color. As we wrote, these kinds of marks, while rare, can be registered when a color is associated with a product, service or company in the marketplace such as brown with UPS or canary yellow with Post-It notes.
This spring, we posted a series on the theme of this year’s World Intellectual Property Day: “Powering change: Women in innovation and creativity.” As we said then, our intellectual property law firm encourages girls and women to continue to excel in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Last week we talked about the most common type of U.S. patent — the utility patent. In that post, we described that utility patents protect invented objects and processes, speaking broadly. Today, we will touch more on the design patent.