This week in IP: Avanci snags new licensees, Thaler seeks DABUS revival
Egypt launches national IP strategy; Goodyear loses trade secrets case; Crocs and Walmart settle; Maradona rights owner reaches new deal; Steve Perry seeks TM cancellation; Mewburn Ellis wins sustainability award
EUIPO Iceland hearing gets warm reviews
The EUIPO’s Grand Board of Appeal had its first ever oral hearing earlier this month.
In-house and private practice sources told Managing IP that the proceeding showed the GBoA had the capabilities to tackle the most complex cases and was a step towards ensuring greater accountability.
João Negrão, president of the BoA in Alicante and who led the GBoA panel, added that oral hearings at the GBoA level would become more regular.
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Avanci hails milestone with Toyota, Nissan additions
Avanci expanded its licensee base to more than 80 car brands with the addition of several new sign-ups, the patent pool operator announced on Wednesday, September 21.
The new brands included Toyota, Nissan, Stellantis and Honda.
Avanci, founded in 2016 by former Ericsson chief intellectual property officer Kasim Alfalahi, now licenses more than 100 million connected vehicles.
The company predicts that number will grow by 30 to 40 million in the next year.
“We are incredibly pleased with the overwhelming adoption of our solution across both the telecommunications and automotive industries,” Alfalahi said.
“We look forward to making licensing simpler and more efficient for a wide range of companies, as we explore new programmes,” he added.
The brands signed up to Avanci pay a fixed rate for a licence to 2G, 3G, and 4G cellular technologies used in connected vehicles.
Earlier this month, Avanci raised the price for a 4G licence by $5, meaning new licensees will pay $20 per vehicle.
The rate increase does not affect 4G licences agreed before September 1.
Avanci launched a 5G licensing programme in 2020 but has yet to reveal details of the scheme or how many brands have agreed to take a licence.
Fed Circuit urged to revisit DABUS refusal
Computer scientist Stephen Thaler again asked the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to recognise artificial intelligence tool DABUS as an inventor on Monday, September 19.
Thaler and the team of lawyers behind the AI Project petitioned for an en banc review of an August 2022 decision, in which a three-judge panel stated that only a person could be named as an inventor on a patent application.
In Monday’s filing, the DABUS team argued that the panel’s opinion didn’t match the purpose of the Patent Act.
Lawyers for Thaler cited the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in Mohamad v Palestinian Authority, which they said supported their interpretation of the law and an AI-inclusive definition of inventor.
In that case, the court said the term individual didn’t always refer to a natural person when used in a statute.
In its August ruling, the Federal Circuit panel ruled that the Patent Act’s definition of an inventor only included natural persons.
“The panel’s opinion that the plain language of the Patent Act unambiguously precludes an AI inventor is inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent, given that an AI literally fits the Act’s statutory definition,” the petition said.
The appeal stems from an initial refusal by the USPTO to grant a patent naming DABUS as the inventor.
Thaler has applied for similar patents in multiple jurisdictions around the world, and his team is pursuing legal challenges in countries including the UK and Australia.
The UK Supreme Court confirmed this month that it would hear the case, but has yet to schedule a date for the hearing.
Egypt launches national IP strategy
Egypt's prime minister Mostafa Madbouly launched the country’s first National Strategy for Intellectual Property during an event held in the New Administrative Capital on Wednesday, September 21.
The strategy contained plans for digitally transforming registration and filing services using modern technology, conducting a comprehensive review of IP legislation, and encouraging commercial exploitation of assets.
The policy also included a proposal to establish a national IP authority.
Egypt’s first-ever IP exhibition was also held during the event. It showcased designs and inventions relating to different spheres, including green fuels and sustainable products.
WIPO director general Daren Tang and several Egyptian ministers attended the launch event.
Goodyear faces $64 million trade secrets verdict
A jury held that Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company should pay $64 million after misappropriating five trade secrets related to self-inflating tires on Monday, September 19.
Coda Development won the case in the District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. It was awarded $2.8 million in compensatory damages and $61.2 million in punitive damages.
The jury awarded the punitive damages because it found that Goodyear’s misappropriation was wilful and malicious.
Coda stated in its 2019 complaint that Goodyear had based its self-inflating tire patents on the technology developed by Coda chief executive Frantisek Hrabal.
Crocs and Walmart settle TM dispute
Crocs and Walmart have settled a trademark dispute, it emerged on Friday, September 16.
The shoe company sued the retailer in the District Court for the District of Colorado in July 2021. Crocs claimed that Walmart had sold knockoffs of its clogs under different brand names. It sued 20 other businesses at the same time.
Crocs has also since settled disputes with Cape Robbin, Loeffler Randall, Yoki Fashion, Fullbeauty Brands, Shoe-Nami and PW Shoes.
Maradona rights owner agrees on new deal to continue footballer’s legacy
A UK venture builder teamed up with the rights owner for Diego Maradona's name and image to create a new company aimed at promoting charitable causes that the late footballer supported, it was announced on Tuesday, September 20.
Podium Ventures completed a deal with Sattvica to launch Maradona Global.
The ex athlete’s sisters, Lili and Rita Maradona, also joined the partnership and will lead the programme.
The new London-based company will build upon the Maradona brand and create new ventures with partners across the globe who share the principles of social equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Sanjay Wadhwani, chief executive of Maradona Global, said: “I am thrilled to have been given the honour of building and leading Maradona Global with the purpose of sharing the story of a remarkable man and – in time – promoting social and charitable causes in his name.”
Rita Maradona said: “Maradona should not be left in a certain time and place. All of the things he worked on up until his passing, led him to leave a legacy which we, the family, want to continue building on for all people to enjoy and to stand for many generations to come.”
Former Journey frontman seeks TM cancellation order
Steve Perry, former frontman of rock band Journey, filed a petition to cancel a slew of trademarks applied for by two former bandmates, it emerged this week.
Perry filed a petition at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) to cancel registrations that had been filed by Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain in 2020. Perry’s petition was filed on September 11.
The singer reportedly claimed that the 2020 USPTO trademark applications violated an earlier deal between band members which outlined that agreements had to be made with the prior, written and unanimous consent of all partners.
The guidelines remained in place for songs where Perry is the sole credited songwriter, including ‘Hopelessly in Love’, ‘Stay Awhile’ and ‘Lovin', Touchin’, Squeezin'. Those track titles were among the 20 trademarks applied for by Schon and Cain.
The applications were processed via a company called Freedom JN and intended for use in marketing hats, T-shirts, jackets and other paraphernalia.
Mewburn Ellis receives silver medal for sustainability
European law firm Mewburn Ellis became the first IP practice with a UK presence to receive a silver medal from universal sustainability rating provider EcoVadis, it emerged this week.
The firm was ranked in the top 25% of all accredited companies and the top 19% of all legal and accounting firms globally.
“This is the culmination of several years’ work and is a significant achievement,” said Richard Clegg, managing partner at Mewburn Ellis in the UK.
EcoVadis sustainability assessments are used by over 90,000 companies in more than 160 jurisdictions and 200 industries.
The ranking announcement coincided with Mewburn Ellis’s launch of its sustainability paper – The Mewburn Ellis Forward Community Programme Special Report 2022 – which covered its plans on diversity, inclusion, community giving, and the environment.
“As a forward-looking IP firm, environmental, social, and governance concerns have been high on our agenda for some time now and to have this recognition from EcoVadis is hugely rewarding,” said Clegg.