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.”
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.
A few weeks back, Steve discussed Apple’s recent applications to register a trio of non-verbal trademarks.
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:
Ascension to Biglaw partnership demands, obviously and above all, an enormous amount of first-rate legal work, in addition to political savvy, endurance, timing, and luck. A would-be partner’s chosen practice area also undoubtedly plays no small role. If firm leadership believes that there will be a spate of major Chapter 11 filings or trademark litigations on the horizon, obviously that will redound to the benefit of the potential bankruptcy or IP partners (although, as recent news reflects, partnership isn’t necessarily the lucrative, secure lifetime position it once was).
Late last year, ATL took a close look at the newly minted partner classes for the Vault 10 firms. Despite the great profitability and prestige of this select group, it is difficult to draw conclusions about the general direction of the legal market from the composition of these partnership classes. First of all, this is a small sample size. Second, we are witnessing an important shift in the allocation of the business within the market. A recent AdvanceLaw survey of general counsel at major global corporations found that three-quarters of general counsel were inclined to engage “less-pedigreed” firms (e.g., outside the Vault 10 or Magic Circle) for “high stakes” legal work. This survey of GCs (including those from Google, Nike, 3M, Unilever and Deutsche Bank) indicated their willingness to engage firms lower down the Biglaw totem pole.
Because of the apparent diminishment of the brand value of the most historically prestigious firms, as well as the broader trends toward disaggregation and unbundling of legal services, one must account for a larger set of law firms in order to see the fullest picture of the market for high-end legal services. With that in mind, today we look at the practice areas of the entire Biglaw partnership class of 2013….
Around here, one can’t mention the concept of something being “overrated” without reference to one of the weirdest and most enduring ATL comment memes, a play on the late, great Hitch’s assertion that the four most overrated things in life are “champagne, lobster, anal sex, and picnics.” So who are the, um, lobsters of Biglaw?
Last week, we had a look at what our audience considered to be the most underrated Biglaw firms, by practice area. Today, inevitably, we turn it around and have a look at what you’re telling us are the most overrated firms.
Among other things, our ATL Insider Survey asks attorneys to nominate firms with overrated practices within the respondent’s own practice specialty. Litigators nominate litigation departments, etc.
To be sure, these survey results need to be taken with some buckets of salt — we realize that, for some, answering this question might be a chance to take an easy shot at a more successful rival or competitor. Of course, there are crazy people who will tell you that such paragons as Benjamin Franklin or Tom Brady are “overrated,” but that probably says more about the person making that statement than anything else. But that said, these survey responses are a fun glimpse at which firms Biglaw attorneys think are more sizzle than steak….
On the day the iPhone 5 became available to the public, I wrote a post asking if the new smartphone might be a sign of the IP apocalypse. I’m not the only one, apparently.
Finally, the rumblings of discontent within the tech and legal industries haved boiled over into the mainstream. The New York Times wrote an extensive front-page story yesterday, chronicling the intellectual property arms race gripping the industry.
A lot of the subjects in the piece may be familiar to Above the Law’s readers. We’ve covered Apple’s schizophrenic attitude towards patents and the America Invents Act (and how it could affect one’s ability to patent bedroom gymnastics).
But let’s take a closer look and put it all in context…
Change is in the air! And it’s not just pollen. On the heels of an explosion of popular interest in (and subsequent boredom with) intellectual property, stemming from the Apple v. Samsung case, as well as new IP regulatory changes, the time is right to take IP reform to the streets! Let’s burn this mother down… or crowd-source it, at least.
A new partnership between the U.S. Patent Office, Google, and popular tech website Stack Exchange, will recruit average Americans to help end the patent wars. Take that, rounded corners!
We actually didn’t invest in the patent ecosystem. We weren’t patenting stuff as aggressively as we should have been. We didn’t really believe “rounded corners” were patentable. We just didn’t buy into that notion of protecting your IP, and it was a wake-up call.
They’ve stepped up the production value, they have a celebrity cameo from the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and it all fits nicely into a rap song, you guessed it, about patenting sex. So yeah, click through for some serious flow….
It was a big win for Apple, and it came surprisingly quickly. As Elie pointed out, it would take many smart people more than three days to even understand all the the terms within the 109 pages of jury instructions. Aside from the jury itself, it seemed no one was ready for the verdict. One attorney for Apple even showed up in a polo shirt.
Let’s have a post-mortem run through of the case (and a quick-and-dirty look at the massive attorneys’ fees incurred by both sides)….
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We at Kinney Asia have made a number of FCPA / White Collar US associate placements in Hong Kong / China thus far in 2014. Most of such placements have been commercial litigation associates from major US markets, fluent in Mandarin, switching to FCPA / White Collar litigation. Some have already had FCPA experience, but those are difficult candidates for firms to find (this will change in coming years as US firms are now promoting FCPA / White Collar to their 2L summers who are fluent in Mandarin and have an interest in transferring to China at some point).
Legal Week quoted Kinney’s Head of Asia, Evan Jowers, extensively in the following relevant article here.
There is a new trend in the market, though, where mid-level transactional US associates, fluent in spoken Mandarin and written Chinese, are interviewing for and in some cases landing junior FCPA / White Collar spots in Hong Kong / China at very top tier US firms.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.