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Copyright Office, Katy Perry, Alice motions, in-house survey, TTAB – the week in IP



Michael Loney


A proposed overhaul of music licensing, the intellectual property angle to Katy Perry’s Super Bowl show, the percentage of motions granting patent invalidity, in-house counsel’s troll fears, and the TTAB’s denial of “Princess Kate” were in the IP headlines this week

Copyright Office suggests overhaul

The US Copyright Office has proposed changes to the way that music is licensed, as reported by Vox under the catchy title "This horribly dull government report could change music forever. We read it for it for you".

The Office’s 245-page report gives recommendations that Vox said would give an advantage to the Performance Rights Organizations and upend the business models of some digital streaming services.

"As a number of commenters remarked during the course of this study, if we were to do it all again, we would never design the system that we have today," the report says. "But as tempting as it may be to daydream about a new model built from scratch, such a course would seem to be logistically and politically unrealistic. We must take the world as we find it, and seek to shape something new from the material we have on hand."

The report’s idea are summed up by Vox as: creating some sort of database that would allow for transparency about who owns the copyrights to songs; federalizing songs recorded before 1972; changing which rights fall under compulsory blanket licensing and which rights will be subject to case-by-case negotiations; and reconsidering the antitrust decrees helping ASCAP and BMI.

Website hears Katy Perry’s lawyers roar

A 3D printing website has been ordered to take down a design for the "Left Shark" dancer from Katy Perry’s Super Bowl half-time show. Left Shark went viral because the dancer seemed to forget the dance moves for the routine.

Lawyers for Perry sent a cease and desist letter to Shapeways.com after Fernando Sosa posted his design for Left Shark on the website for download for $24.99. Gigaom reported that Sosa responded by posting the design for free on Thingiverse (see right).

"Your unauthorised display and sale of this product infringes our client's exclusive rights," said the letter from Perry’s lawyers, which Sosa posted on Instagram.


69% success for Alice motions in 2015

Some 69% of motions seeking a determination of invalidity for unpatentable subject matter have been granted in 2015 so far, according to figures from Docket Navigator. This is up from 58% in 2014 and just 25% in 2010.

The Supreme Court’s Alice v CLS opinion in June last year caused a surge of rulings on Section 101 for the rest of 2014.

According to Docket Navigator, 13 of these types of motions have been filed in 2015 so far. At this rate, 140 of these motion would be filed by the end of the year. In contrast, only 11 were filed in the whole of 2011 and eight in 2010.

The most recent motion to be granted came on February 3, when the Middle District of Pennsylvania granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment that defendant’s hypothesis testing patents were invalid for lack of unpatentable subject matter because there was no inventive concept, in Minitab v EngineRoom.

In-house scared of trolls

A new survey of US general counsel and chief legal officers reveals that intellectual property is uppermost in their minds, reports the Wall Street Journal’s law blog.

Top of the concerns in this year’s survey by the Association of Corporation Counsel was ethics and compliance, followed by data breaches and protection of corporate data.

The third worry, however, was getting hit with intellectual property lawsuits, especially those filed by patent assertion entities.

Veta Richardson, president and CEO of the Association, told Law Blog: "Patent trolls used to just try to pick off the smaller companies, the smaller inventors. But now they’re going for the bigger targets, trying to extract quick settlements."

Those in-house listing this as a concern will probably have been pleased to see Bob Goodlatte introduce the Innovation Act in the House of Representatives this week.



TTAB says no to "Princess Kate"

The TTAB has affirmed refusals to register "Princess Kate" and "Royal Kate" for cosmetics jewelry, handbags, bedding, and clothing, finding that the marks falsely suggest a connection with the Duchess of Cambridge, as reported by the TTAB Blog.

The precedential ruling also found that registration were also barred by Section 2(c) because the marks consist of or include a name identifying a particular living individual without her consent.




Also on the blog this week:

Concerns over Europeanisation of IP law



In our news and analysis this week:

Goodlatte reintroduces Innovation Act

Just published: 2015 patent firm rankings

Delhi High Court reprimands patent office over opposition procedures

France's INPI joins TM Class

Data: the busiest companies at the PTAB in 2014

China’s draft patent enforcement guidelines may not be enough

Reaction to the Federal Circuit’s Cuozzo opinion

Federal Circuit issues opinion on first IPR appeal

UK government backs diversity task force

Further details of USPTO’s SAWS programme revealed

Kilpatrick Townsend hires DC chemistry and life sciences team

Guess wins French round of Gucci trade mark row

Dentons and Dacheng deal creates world's biggest firm

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