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Google, Oracle, Uber, Amazon, Twitter hashtags, stays pending IPR – the week in IP

The Obama administration agonising over which side to back in Google v Oracle; a dispute over a Twitter hashtag; Uber being granted a design patent; Amazon’s application for a drone delivery patent; and the success rate for motions stays were in the IP headlines in the past week

Choosing a side?

Reuters this week revealed that the Obama administration is in an internal dispute about what its position should be in the Google v Oracle case.

The government must decide whether to take a side in the Supreme Court case by the end of May. The dispute is over how much copyright protection should be given to Java programming language. Oracle won a Federal Circuit ruling last year allowing it to copyright parts of Java. Google argued that it should be free to use Java without paying a licensing fee.

Reuters noted: “It is unclear what position the administration will ultimately take. Deliberations within the Obama administration have mirrored the larger debate in the technology world about how broadly copyright should apply to software, the sources said.”


The New York Times this week reported on a dispute over the Twitter hashtag #takingbackthestreets.

The Little Italy Street Art Project used the hashtag to promote its murals on Instagram. A lawyer for bottled water company Wat-aah sent a cease and desist letter to the Little Italy group, claiming the water company had a trade mark on the phrase for its own street art campaign promoting "healthier lifestyle choices” for children. The letter said use by another mural group could cause confusion.

The New York Times quoted Richard Lehv, a trade mark lawyer at Fross Zelnick, as saying he had never heard of a hashtag being trademarked. “Yes, you can protect a phrase like ‘taking back the streets,’ but you don’t get a monopoly for any and all purposes,” he said.

Uber’s patent application drive

Car service Uber has received a notice of allowance on a pending application, as well as a design patent.

According to Envision IP, the notice of application covers a “system and method for providing dynamic supply positioning for on-demand services”, and is directed towards determining an under-supplied service region based on the number of drivers and requesting passengers in an area and then notifying drivers in these areas.

Uber has six patent applications in a request for continued examination status after receiving a final rejection, three that have received a final rejection, and four that have received a non-final rejection. It also has four pending applications that have not yet been reviewed by the USPTO. “In addition, we believe that Uber likely has a number of pending applications that have not been published yet,” said Envision IP. According to Envision IP, Sidecar was previously the only company in this industry with an issued patent. Uber was also in the news this week for reportedly being interested in paying $3 billion for Nokia’s mapping technology, according to The Verge. It is also being accused of stealing trade secrets by Kevin Halpern, who claims he invented the technology behind the app, according to CNET.

Bring it to me

Amazon hit the headlines this week for a patent application revealing new details on how delivery by drone would work, according to CNN.

The application describes a customer option titled “Bring It To Me”, under which the drone can deliver an item to the location the customer is in using GPS data. "As the ordered item is retrieved from inventory, the current location of the user's mobile device may be determined and the delivery location correspondingly updated. As such, the ordered item will be delivered to the user while the user is at their friend's house, or any other location," says the application.

Motions to stay success rises in 2015

US district courts have now decided 140 motions to stay pending IPR in 2015 with a success rate of 62%, according to Docket Navigator. This amounts to 87 granted motions to stay.This compares with a success rate of 56% in 2014 and 60% in 2013.

Also on the blog this week:

Photos from our Women in IP Network drinks reception

Guest blog: How high will UPC fees be?

Free webinar: Avoiding pitfalls in PTAB post-grant trials during the Second Phase

Highlights from INTA’s biggest ever meeting

Unitary Patent: Stop talking, start planning

In our news and analysis this week:

.Sucks registry unconcerned with criticisms

Interview: Gyu-wan Choi of the Korean IP Office

UK Supreme Court upholds law on passing off

PTAB data – Car makers accelerate filing against Signal IP in April

Beyond Spain’s Unitary Patent challenge

Patent practitioners react to Unitary Patent ruling

April busy for IPR filing, including 10 petitions from Kyle Bass

Lawyers sceptical about move to clarify AIA grace period

Interview: Adair Zhou of DJI, the world's largest drone company

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