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Craft beer disputes, Stairway to Heaven, Kim Dotcom, Nike, WWE, PTAB, Thomson Reuters – the week in IP

Craft brewery trade mark disputes, the sale of Thomson Reuters’ IP business, a request for fees in the Stairway to Heaven copyright case, Kim Dotcom’s plans to relaunch Megaupload, Nike’s opposition to a WWE application, and the PTAB’s new processing system going live were in the intellectual property headlines in the past week

We’ve posted the following articles in the past week (log in via subscription or free trial):

CJEU rules on patent licensing question in Genentech case

Blocking order available to IP owners in UK

IPOS open to soft IP for loan applications

All eyes on ASEAN

Federal Circuit reverses Section 101 invalidation of life science patent

When brands meet art, public policy and genericide

Awards recognise anti-counterfeiting achievements

EPO to implement fundamental appeal reforms

June is busiest month for PTAB filing of 2016

Brexit 10 days on: latest developments

Online courts and the future of IP litigation

UPC scenario 5: Enforcing a patent inside and outside the UPC

Beer trade mark disputes brewing

The more than 4,600 craft breweries in the US are increasingly finding themselves in legal battles over trade marks in beer and brewery names, reports the Wall Street Journal. The USPTO has seen more than 25,000 active registrations and applications related to beer.

The article said most naming disputes get resolved out of court or in USPTO proceedings. However, some go further, such as when Brooklyn Brewery last year sued a California start-up called Black Ops Brewing, claiming it violated a trade mark for its expensive stout called Brooklyn Black Ops. After three months of litigation and a preliminary injunction, the California start-up is now called Tactical Ops Brewing.

The article says trade mark attorneys are even turning on each other. A dozen lawyers are opposing San Diego lawyer Candace Moon’s efforts to register “Craft Beer Attorney” as a trade mark.

Thomson Reuters’ IP business sold

Onex Corporation and Baring Private Equity Asia will acquire Thomson Reuters’ intellectual property and science business for $3.55 billion.  

The business’s portfolio includes Web of Science, Thomson CompuMark, Thomson Innovation, MarkMonitor, Cortellis and Thomson IP Manager. It is based in Philadelphia, and employs about 4,100 people in more than 40 countries.

Fees sought in Stairway to Heaven case

Warner/Chappell is seeking $800,000 in fees and costs from the losing plaintiff in the recent “Stairway to Heaven” copyright trial, reports The Hollywood Reporter

Michael Skidmore, a Trustee for the estate of the band Spirit’s guitarist, Randy "California" Wolfe, sued Led Zeppelin, claiming that the band’s famous "Stairway to Heaven" was a rip off of Spirit’s "Taurus". In June, a jury decided there was no copyright infringement

As reported on this blog last week, Skidmore’s attorney Francis Malofiy, has been suspended from practicing law for three months after an appellate panel upheld a recommended suspension for violating “various rules of conduct” during a copyright trial over Usher’s “Bad Girl”. 

Warner/Chappell in its memorandum in support of attorneys’ fees, filed by Law Offices of Peter J Anderson, argues that Skidmore’s assertion of “nearly half-century old claims” had not been asserted before because any similarity between the songs “results from the use of a centuries-old, public domain descending chromatic line”.

Warner/Chappell’s filing also claims that the plaintiff “tried to tar” Jimmy Page and Robert Plant and highlights Malofiy’s conduct during the trial, such as resistance to discovery and ignoring pretrial rulings barring certain evidence.

A hearing is scheduled for August 8.

The return of Megaupload?

Kim Dotcom plans to relaunch Megaupload in January 2017, reports the BBC. The file-sharing site was shut down in 2012, after accusations that copyright pirates used it heavily.

Dotcom revealed on Twitter that the new Megaupload would be formally launched on January 20, five years to the day since his home was raised. He said the new service would reinstate the accounts of all former users of the original site.

He added the new version would give people 100GB of storage, have no data transfer limits and let people synchronise all their devices to it.

Nike in trade mark brawl with WWE

Nike is trying to smack down World Wrestling Entertainment’s efforts to register the phrase “Just Bring It” as a trade mark, reports Forbes.

Nike swoosh 300The WWE filed for federal trade mark protection in October 2014 with the intent to use it in connection with a variety of clothing.

Nike is opposing the application, arguing it is confusingly similar to its “Just Do It” trade mark.

According to entertainment law attorney Darren Heitner, who wrote the Forbes article, the WWE has a month to answer the opposition. “The WWE promotes just bringing it, and Nike just did it,” concluded Heitner.

Teething troubles for PTAB E2E

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s new processing system launched this week. The USPTO recently announced that the Patent Review Processing System was being replaced with a new system called Patent Trial and Appeal Board End to End (PTAB E2E). 

PTAB E2E uses a web browser (Chrome is the preferred browser) and a step-by-step filing programme to enable petitioners and patent owners to provide metadata and upload PDF documents to the system. PTAB E2E also provides an interface to the USPTO Next Generation financial system for paying fees.

However, users reported some issues on the day the new system was launched. For example, Oblon’s Scott McKeown on Twitter commented: “PTABE2E is not ready for prime time. This is a mess for filers today.”

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