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Amazon, Bob Marley, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, Supreme Court, Blurred Lines – the week in IP

An intriguing Amazon patent application related to 3-D printing, a Bob Marley lawsuit, two NFL trade mark stories, the reply of a Foley & Lardner attorney ordered to show why he shouldn’t be sanctioned by the Supreme Court, and the latest in the Blurred Lines copyright trial were in the IP headlines this week

Amazon’s 3-D printing future?

Amazon is taking a keen interest in the possibilities that 3-D printing holds for its future, if its patent applications are anything to go by.

The Verge this week reported on an intriguing patent application by Amazon “for a system that could print goods on-demand in ‘mobile manufacturing hubs’ – trucks outfitted with 3D printers that could rapidly produce and deliver items on their travels.”

Amazon said in its application: “The patents would help improve the delivery process and reduce the warehouse space Amazon needs. Time delays between receiving an order and shipping the item to the customer may reduce customer satisfaction and affect revenues generated."

Foley partner defends faulty brief

The Foley & Lardner partner asked by the Supreme Court to show why he should not be sanctioned for a filing a faulty brief this week gave his response. As noted on the Patently-O blog: “Foley went all out, hiring Paul Clement to write it. Boiled (way way down – it’s 41 pages), the approach was to say that the client wanted this petition this way, and the client is in charge of the goals of the representation. ‘I had no choice and you’re overreacting,’ might be the headline.”

Sigram Schindler’s petition for cert was expected to be denied, given its long, confusing question. But not only was the petition denied, the Supreme Court in December took the unusual step of ordering Schindler’s attorney – Howard Shipley of Foley & Lardner – to “show cause…why he should not be sanctioned”.

The reply submitted this week states: “In this case, attorney Howard Shipley had to reconcile the competing demands of the duty of loyalty that he owed his client and the duty that he owed this Court as a member of the Supreme Court Bar. Mr Shipley’s client had deeply held views about patent law and insisted on articulating his basic argument (that the Federal Circuit was ignoring the guidance of this Court) in his own words, as he had done in prior amicus briefs filed in this Court by other counsel.”

No likeness, no cry

The heirs of reggae legend Bob Marley have had their trial win over merchandisers using Marley’s face without permission affirmed by the Ninth Circuit, says The Hollywood Reporter.

Fifty-Six Hope Road Music, which controls the licensing of Marley’s image, sued AVELA and other companies in 2008 for selling t-shirts of Marley in retailors including Walmart and Target. In 2011, Marley’s heirs won $750,000 in profits, $300,000 in damages and were awarded $1.52 million in attorney fees.

This win was affirmed on February 20. "This case presents a question that is familiar in our circuit," wrote Judge Randy Smith in the opinion. "When does the use of a celebrity's likeness or persona in connection with a product constitute false endorsement that is actionable under the Lanham Act?"

I’m just here for a trade mark

Marshawn Lynch, running back for the Seattle Seahawks, is seeking a trade mark from the USPTO for the phrase “I’m just here so I won’t get fined”.

Lynch said the phrase more than 20 times in a mandatory press conference before the Super Bowl, which his team lost to the New England Patriots. Rather than having to pay a fine as a result of the press conference, Lynch is looking to make money from it. quoted Chris Bevans, who runs Lynch's "Beast Mode" apparel line, as saying: "We heard from our fans, and so many of them were saying that they wanted that phrase on the clothing. This is just listening to the marketplace."

Lynch owns four “Beast Mode” trade marks and has filed for four more. He has also filed for a trade mark on the phrase “About that action BOSS”, a phrase he said in last year’s Super Bowl press conference.

Redskins go on offence

In other NFL intellectual property news, the Washington Redskins have claimed that barring the registration of its controversial name as a trade mark is unconstitutional, reports The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board last summer cancelled the American Football team’s trade marks because it ruled the name is derogatory to native Americans.

The team’s lawyers wrote in a brief filed this week that the TTAB's decision unfairly singles out the Redskins "for disfavored treatment based solely on the content of its protected speech, interfering with the ongoing public discourse over the Redskins' name by choosing sides and cutting off the debate. This the US Constitution does not tolerate.”

A hearing is scheduled for May 5.

In the Thicke of it

The Wrap has an entertaining overview of proceedings in the “Blurred Lines” copyright trial. Robin Thicke this week took the unusual step of playing a medley of songs in an effort to show how easy it is to view any song as similar to another.

The Wrap noted: “Thicke also said he has been referred to in the past as ‘the white Marvin Gaye,’ which he always considered to be an honor and so he embellished stories to the media to capitalize upon the connection. While there was laughter in the courtroom in response, the Gaye family did not appear amused.”

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Also on the blog this week:

Some proposed fixes to the US patent system, but is it even broken?

A trip to Beijing

Managing IP’s first 25 years – a timeline

Unitary Patent and UPC – the story so far

Blog readers promotion – last chance

Check out the recently-launched Managing IP US

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Managing IP testimonials – Ted Chwu, Bird & Bird and Catherine Zheng, Deacons

Managing IP testimonials – David Kappos (Cravath) and Francisco Bernardo (ABG Patentes)

The US Patent Forum is coming soon to DC and Silicon Valley

Meet the Managing IP team: James Nurton

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In our news and analysis this week:

Ericsson files multiple lawsuits against Apple, while Smartflash sues again

Lee’s USPTO nomination clears Senate committee

SIIA says Copyright Office is badly in need of restructuring

EPO statistics: who's up and who's down

Knobbe Martens hires LA partner from St Jude Medical

Texas jury orders Apple to pay Smartflash $533 million

How to work with your engineering colleagues

How to train the UPC judges

Olswang hires four-person team in London

Average price paid per patent in US transactions up 10% – report

The law firms used most for US patent filing

Utynam’s Heirs

IP Clinic: How do we encourage more women to stay and progress in the profession?

Taiwan’s model IP enforcers

Lessons on eligibility from recent SPC rulings

Data: the busiest companies at the PTAB in 2014

Don’t be afraid of bifurcation

Rules that reflect different traditions

Trade mark guidance from the CJEU in 2014

Inside Beijing’s new IP Court

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