On the fast track
Google has been the biggest beneficiary of a programme for
expediting patents for an extra fee.
According to the Washington
Post, Google has obtained 875 fast-track patents,
about 14% of the 6,187 expedited patents issued by the USPTO
since the Track One programme began in 2011. The Post said that
under the programme’s fee structure Google would
have paid $3.5 million to get the 875 patents.
Ninety-seven percent of companies, universities, inventors
and others who have received expedited patents have 10 or fewer
of them. Google is well ahead of the second-placed Huawei
Technologies, which has 147 expedited patents.
Track One was created by the America Invents Act. Companies
can pay an additional fee on top of the $1,600 base fee to have
the patent approved faster. The additional fee is $4,000 for
large companies, $2,000 for smaller companies and $1,000 for
A beer company has incurred the wrath of Lucasfilm with its
name for one of its German-style bock beers. Lucasfilm argues
that Empire’s Strike Bock beer infringes on its
trade marks for the Star Wars films. Empire has filed for a
trade mark for is beer name, which Lucasfilm has opposed.
The beer has been made under that name for about seven
years. "The thing is the beer
is called 'Strikes Bock’, not 'Empire Strikes
Bock’," David Katleski, CEO owner of
'Strikes Bock,’ by Empire."
Lucasfilm believes the beer
could cause confusion. It operates a vineyard in California
that makes Star Wars-themed wines.
"Applicant's EMPIRE STRIKES
BOCK mark . . . so resembles Lucasfilm's previously used THE
EMPIRE STRIKES BACK mark as to be likely, when used in
connection with Applicant's Goods, to cause confusion, or to
cause mistake, or to deceive," said Lucasfilm’s
filing with the USPTO.
Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega has
had his lawsuit against the
creators of video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Noriega, who is serving a sentence in a prison in Panama for
drug trafficking, money laundering and murdering political
opponents, claimed that Activision Blizzard’s 2012
game damaged his reputation by portraying him "as a kidnapper,
murderer and enemy of the state". The lawsuit argued Noriega
was entitled to a share of the profits from the game.
"This court concludes that
Noriega's right of publicity is outweighed by defendants' First
Amendment right to free expression," said Judge William Fahey
of the Los Angeles Superior Court in an order this
Giuliani, Activision Blizzard’s attorney and
former mayor of New York, commented: "This ruling is an
important victory and we thank the court for protecting free
added: "This was an absurd lawsuit from the very beginning and
we're gratified that in the end, a notorious criminal didn't
win. This is not just a win for the makers of 'Call of
Duty’, but is a victory for works of art across
the entertainment and publishing industries throughout the
heard about the game from his grandchildren. "Noriega fails to provide any
evidence of harm to his reputation," said Judge Fahey. "Indeed,
given the world-wide reporting of his actions in the 1980s and
early 1990s, it is hard to imagine that any such evidence
Don’t Have to Give It Up
has said Marvin
Gaye’s estate "made a sufficient
showing that elements of Blurred Lines may be substantially
similar to protected, original elements of Got to Give It
Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams initiated court
proceedings in August 2013 after Gaye’s estate
alleged their hit song Blurred Lines infringed Got to Give It Up.
Judge John Kronstadt of the Central District of California
denied the musicians’ motion for summary judgment.
He noted the "substantial similarity" of the "signature
phrases, hooks, basslines, keyboard chords, harmonic structures
and vocal melodies".
In September it emerged that Robin Thicke
claimed in sworn
testimony that he was high on Vicodin and alcohol
when he made the song with Williams, and that Williams "wrote
almost every single part of the song".
An attempt to free Zorro from copyright has failed,
reports The Hollywood
Robert Cabell had written "Z – The Musical of
Zorro" after agreeing a deal to put on a production in Germany.
This attracted the interest of Zorro Productions, which owns
the rights deriving from Johnston McCulley’s first
Zorro story published in 1919.
Cabell brought a lawsuit in the Western District of
Washington in May 2013 seeking a declaration of
non-infringement. In it he claimed Zorro Productions "have
built a licensing empire out of smoke and mirrors," and
"fraudulently obtained federal trade mark registrations for
various Zorro marks and falsely assert those registrations to
impermissibly extend intellectual property protection over
material for which all copyrights have expired."
As The Hollywood Reporter article notes, the case is similar
to that of Leslie Klinger, who sought to free most of Arthur
Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories from
copyright. Klinger won that case,
even receiving attorneys
fees after Judge Richard Posner slammed the estate
for "a form of extortion".
However, in that case Doyle’s estate was slow
to respond to the lawsuit and argued that works published after
1920 were protected by those published before then.
In the Zorro case, Zorro Productions simply argued that the
issue should not be decided in Washington. Judge Ricardo
Martinez agreed, concluding that Zorro
Productions’ licensing agreements weren't
expressly aimed at Washington.
"Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiff has not shown a
sufficient nexus between his claims and ZPI’s
forum related activities to permit this Court to extend the
long arm of its jurisdictional authority to ZPI," wrote Judge
Also on the blog this week:
from the AIPLA annual meeting
Shout if you
want a grace period
reform: it’s not about what or how, but
in our news and analysis:
introduced to amend Patent Act and Industrial Designs
finds ZTE infringed three InterDigital patents
Initiative files nine IPR petitions
trade mark partner in LA
IP litigator in Northern Virginia
Most EU member
states yet to transpose Orphan Works Directive
and UPC resources – a guide
Works Database unveiled
orphan works licensing scheme
expands in London
OHIM to crack
down on non-payers