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Flo & Eddie, SiriusXM, Usher, Justin Bieber, women inventors, Donald Trump, Amazon, Cuba trade marks – the week in IP

Founding members of The Turtles settling with SiriusXM, the end of a copyright case against Usher and Justin Bieber, an increase in women inventors on international patent applications, Donald Trump registering a trade mark in China, Amazon suing over counterfeit goods for the first time, and US companies doubling trade mark applications in Cuba were in the recent intellectual property headlines

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IP diversity task force launches new network for women

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Data: US patent litigation picks up in October

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Flo & Eddie settle SiriusXM suit

Flo & Eddie, original members of 1960s band The Turtles, have settled a California federal lawsuit with SiriusXM, according to The Hollywood Reporter.  

The dispute involved royalty payments for pre-1972 sound recordings, which are not protected by federal copyright. Summary judgment was awarded in 2014, with the court finding Sirius violated public performance rights by using the music.

A joint notice of the settlement was filed with the court this week.

“While this battle appears to be over, pending approval from US District Court judge Philip S Gutierrez, the battle over pre-1972 sound recordings wages on courtesy of two similar suits on the East Coast,” writes Ashley Cullins of The Hollywood Reporter. “Sirius currently is appealing a Turtles victory in New York, and the 11th Circuit has asked the Florida Supreme Court to rule on an appeal to the digital music giant's win there.”

Copyright case Ushered out of court

The Hollywood Reporter also brings news that another copyright case looks to be ending. A Virginia magistrate judge has recommended that Justin Bieber and Usher be granted summary judgment over claims they infringed copyright in their hit “Somebody to Love”.

The case was brought by Devin “the Dude” Copeland. It was initially dismissed but then revived by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals because the court believed the choruses in the songs at issue were close enough to move the case forward.

Judge Douglas Miller ruled that Copeland did not demonstrate the defendants had access to his work before creating their song.

The inventor gender gap

A WIPO study has shown that 29% of international patent applications filed via WIPO in 2015 included at least one woman inventor, compared with 17% in 1995.

WIPO logoSpeaking at the “IP Statistics for Decision Makers 2016” conference in Australia, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry described the 20-year trend as encouraging but called on policy makers to prioritise fostering innovation among all members of their societies.

He said: “These data prove that a gender gap exists and it needs to be addressed.”

The statistics are based on international patent applications filed via WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which has 151 contracting states.

Some 48% of international patent applications filed by academic institutions showed at least one woman inventor in 2015, compared with 28% for companies.

Women’s participation rate of 29% at the global level masks variations in participation rates across countries in 2015. The Republic of Korea (50%) and China (49%) have the greatest gender equality in international patenting via the PCT in 2015, followed by Poland (40%), Spain (35%) and Singapore (34%).

WIPO commented: “These national differences can be partly explained by the countries’ industrial specialties, as women’s participation varies substantially across technological fields.”

Women participated more in fields related to biotechnology (58% in 2015), pharmaceuticals (55%), organic fine chemistry (54%), and food chemistry (51%). The technologies with the least representation of women are mechanical elements (11%), transport (13%), machine tools (14%) and engines (15%).

Trump wins again

Trump-Donald-Michael Vadon-300Hot on the heels of winning the US presidency, Donald Trump has succeeded in a bid to register the Trump trade mark to provide real estate agent services in commercial and residential properties in China, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“It wasn’t clear why Mr Trump prevailed, and more battles may come,” reported the Journal. “Of the 53 registered trademarks under the Trump name in China – in categories ranging from clothing and beauty salons to pet care and golf courses – only 21 are owned by Mr Trump.”

You can read our blog analysing what President Trump will mean for intellectual property here.

Amazon sued over counterfeit goods

Amazon has filed lawsuits against merchants that sell counterfeit goods on the website for the first time in its 20-year history, reports Fortune. It is suing  ToysNet and Joana Ferreira.

The online marketplace has been increasingly criticised recently. For example, last month Apple complained that a “flood” of counterfeit goods claiming to be Apple products were being sold on The claim concerned items sold through Amazon’s fulfilment scheme, where third parties list their goods. The company said it bought more than 100 iPhone devices, own-brand power adapters and charging cables and found almost 90% of them were fakes.

US companies double Cuba trade mark applications

The Miami Herald ran an interesting overview of trade mark registrations in Cuba since the US expanded engagement with the country at the end of 2014.

The newspaper revealed that the Cuban Office of Industrial Property (OCPI) has received more than 1,000 applications so far this year to register trade marks and distinctive signs belonging to US companies. This is more than double the number of applications received in 2015, and far more than before then. Some 78 US brands were registered on the island that year, said the article.

“The six rounds of regulatory changes since December 17 2014 have been a catalyst for an increase in registration in Cuba of intellectual property owned by US companies,” The Miami Herald quoted John Kavulich, president of the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, as saying.

In brief

-          Hal Wegner reports that Drew Hirshfeld “is expected to serve as Acting Under Secretary of Commerce in charge of the Patent Office beginning January 20 2017, for several months, up until President Elect Trump names (and has confirmed) a nominee for the permanent position.” He says USPTO director Michelle Lee and deputy Russell Slifer are expected to resign.

-          Speaking of Lee, she gave remarks at the first of two USPTO roundtables on patent subject matter eligibility.

-          More Lee news! The briefs are coming in for Lee v Tam Supreme Court over disparaging marks.  The brief of the government, which is also the petitioner, is here. Rebecca Tushnet’s 43(B)log reports it makes the "bumper sticker" argument.

-          Tushnet also revealed some personal news on her blog – she is joining the faculty of Harvard Law as the inaugural Frank Stanton Professor of First Amendment Law.

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