Intellectual Property

‘I get paid to play Candy Crush and do laundry all day!’

Imagine, if you will, a world where you’re able to do absolutely nothing but surf the internet, watch all the daytime TV you can stand, go on as many online shopping sprees as your wallet will allow, and like and comment on every Facebook status in the world, all while being paid your regular salary (ranging from $60,000 to $80,000), and maintaining performance-based bonus eligibility (with awards ranging from $2,000 to $3,500).

If you think that sounds great, then maybe you should apply to become a paralegal specialist for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), because that judicial body apparently wasted up to $5.09 million on salary payments for what was nothing more than paralegal playtime.

Ain’t life grand as a federal employee?

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What is it with insane NY-related bureaucrats and their attempts to “own” things? In the past, we’ve covered how New York State is a pretty big trademark bully over the “I ♥ NY” phrase, and did you know that the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) claims ownership over the phrase “If you see something, say something”? And, now, we find out that the controversy-ridden Port Authority of NY and NJ appears to be claiming ownership of the NYC skyline. No joke. It apparently sent a cease-and-desist letter to Fishs Eddy, a housewares store in Manhattan that is selling some city themed dishes.

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Past Disparagement Results in Present Cancellation: REDSKINS Marks Cancelled by TTAB

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) cancelled six registrations for marks consisting in whole or in part of the term REDSKINS for use in connection with a professional football team, because the marks were found to be disparaging to Native Americans at the time they were registered (between 1967 and 1990).

The Board found that when used in connection with football services, REDSKINS retains the meaning of “Native American.” Videos of football games, newspapers, and press guides created between 1967 and 1990 established that the respondent “made continuous efforts to associate its football services with Native American imagery.”

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Supreme Court Sets New Indefiniteness Standard

In Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., Appeal No. 13-169, the Supreme Court vacated and remanded Federal Circuit’s reversal of summary judgment because the Federal Circuit’s definiteness standard was too lenient.

Biosig filed a patent infringement suit claiming Nautilus’ exercise machines infringed its patent. Biosig’s patent claims a heart rate monitor that includes a “live” electrode and “common” electrode “mounted . . . in spaced relationship with each other.” The district court granted Nautilus’ motion for summary judgment on the basis the claim term “in spaced relationship with each other” failed the definiteness requirement of 35 U.S.C. § 112, second paragraph. The Federal Circuit reversed and remanded, finding a patent claim meets the definiteness threshold so long as the claim is “amenable to construction” and the claim is not “insolubly ambiguous.”

The Supreme Court held the Federal Circuit’s test does not satisfy the statute’s definiteness requirement and can leave courts without a reliable compass. The Court held a patent is invalid for indefiniteness if its claims, read in light of the specification and the prosecution history, fail to inform, with reasonable certainty, those skilled in the art about the scope of the invention. The Court emphasized this standard not only takes into account the inherent limitations of language, but also requires a patent must be precise enough to afford clear notice of what is claimed. The Court vacated and remanded to the Federal Circuit for reconsideration under the proper standard.

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Screen shot 2014-08-04 at 1.27.43 PM

A few weeks back, Steve discussed Apple’s recent applications to register a trio of non-verbal trademarks.

Spoiler alert:

This post contains the USPTO’s ultimate decision regarding the registrability of the design and layout of various application icons as part of a computer operating system, using rectangular geometric figures in rows. However, it isn’t a spoiler for Apple’s applications referenced above (those applications have yet to be assigned to an examining attorney).

No, instead, I’m referring to a since-abandoned application that provides some interesting contrast with Apple’s applications. In 2012, Microsoft filed an intent-to-use application for the mark shown below:

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* “We’re in uncharted waters.” Following a split vote down party lines, the House of Representatives authorized Speaker Boehner to move ahead with his lawsuit against President Obama. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “Vultures! Don’t take our pound of flesh.” Despite last-minute settlement talks, it seems Argentina has defaulted on its debt for the second time in 13 years. Oopsie! [DealBook / New York Times]

* The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has added 19 additional schools to its law school clinic certification pilot program. IP is hot right now, so congrats if your school made the cut. [USPTO.gov]

* What are some of the pros of working before going to law school? Well, if you can’t get a job after you graduate, you can go back to your old field, so that’s a plus. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* California probate attorneys’ hearts were all aflutter following Shelly Sterling’s win against her husband, specifically because of the new precedents the Clippers case left in its wake. [National Law Journal]

* Court needed a Chinese language interpreter. Rather than find a professional legal interpreter, the judge just told the lawyer to head down to the local Chinese restaurant and grab somebody. [Legal Cheek]

* News from former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s trial. As one tipster summed up the story: “Hon, I think I dropped my keys under that bus. Would you take a look?” [Slate]

* Everyone concedes Ted Cruz is smart. Why exactly? [Salon]

* A follow-up from a previous story: Connolly, Geaney, Ablitt & Willard shuts down after the foreclosure market that made them turned on them. [Mass Lawyers Weekly (sub. req.)]

* Interesting look at the volume of patent cases throughout history. Check out the troll phenomenon with charts! [Patently-O]

* More folks wasting time complaining about blog posts. [South Florida Lawyers]

* Clint Eastwood talks with Chief Judge Kozinski and Judge Fisher at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference. These days it’s exciting whenever Clint isn’t talking to an empty chair. Video embedded below… [YouTube]

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* Proximate cause and the Incredible Hulk. Whatever, everyone knows Kirby was the real brains behind Palsgraf. [The Legal Geeks]

* Someone is having fun with their RFAs: Admit… that we are going to whip the dog piss out of you. We were specifically chided: “please don’t say ‘only in Arkansas,’” so we won’t. You should feel free to say exactly that though. [Hawg Law Blog]

* Not really surprising, but patent trolling is the worst it has ever been. I’ll sit here and wait for the New York Times to blame millennials. [io9]

* The most important Supreme Court decision you’ve never heard of! Well, except I have heard of it. In fact, there was a year-long college debate topic about it. But it’s still important. [Washington Post]

* What’s the appropriate sentence for having a dog off a leash? Confining the guy to a seven-county area? [LA Weekly]

* Things to do in Denver when you’re a lawyer: allegedly scam a few million off a client. [Denver Post]

* Meet the lawyer who came up with the quirky reading that got the D.C. Circuit to temporarily derail Obamacare. [Wall Street Journal]

* Meanwhile, this title says it all about Halbig: “Well, Conjecture, Tendentious Misreadings, and Cherry Picking Are Kinds of Evidence.” Pour a little out for Lionel Hutz. [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* Everyday we (the ABA) hustlin’. [Law and More]

* Have you all called the Breaking Bad law firm number yet? Because it works, so go for it! [Legal Cheek]

* How to make airlines more profitable: make everyone sit on bicycle seats! [Lowering the Bar]

* Ilya Somin explains why the D.C. Circuit’s interpretation in Halbig isn’t absurd. And it’s not absurd. It just reflects the hilariously cynical conservative opposition to giving their own citizens tax breaks. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* Ohio State fired its band director amid sexual harassment allegations. To fire a guy, Ohio State must have dotted every “i” in this investigation. [USA Today]

* Speaking of sexual harassment, the Navy’s Blue Angels are the subject of a sexual harassment suit. And somehow it involves a blue and gold penis seen from space. [Slate]

* The Chevron battle over Ecuador continues. Turns out the star witness Chevron paid upwards of $1 million to testify took 50 days of prep to finally get his ever-shifting story straight. [Huffington Post]

* There’s a new book out called Kate’s Escape from the Billable Hour (affiliate link). We haven’t read it, but apparently this tale of “a burnt-out, second-year attorney working in the dysfunctional world of Big Law” mentions ATL. So they definitely did their research. [Amazon]

* Watch a drunk guy give cops a lesson in Con Law. Video after the jump…. [Barstool Sports]

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Just try telling him to put out his smokes. Not gonna happen.

* Looming legal battle over the confidentiality agreement at the center of lawsuit over which team John Travolta plays for. [Gawker]

* The fallout from yesterday’s Obamacare Appellageddon continues. The D.C. Circuit and the Fourth Circuit are going to have some awkward parties until this gets resolved. [Federal Regulations Advisor]

* Somebody got confused and thought that Stand Your Ground laws applied to protect black people. [News 4 Jax]

* In Louisiana, a justice of the peace is given public money to hire all their staff and buy all their equipment and pay themselves whatever salary they want out of the remainder. One guy had a very clever idea about how to allocate that money and it set off a legal fight. Oh, and apparently the best job in Louisiana is to be a constable. So now you know. [Times-Picayune]

* Do you know the 12 Rules of Client Service? Are you at least ready to fight over them? [What About Clients?]

* Newark police can’t even come up with constitutional excuses for 75 percent of what they do. [Slate]

* Lululemon figured that patent trolls were onto something and patented its clothing designs and aggressively pursues anyone who dares design a tank top with a built-in bra. Who would ever have thought of such an original idea? [Jezebel]

* The University of California is increasing non-resident enrollment for budget reasons. Law schools presumably follow suit. [TaxProf Blog]

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