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Category Archives: Patent and Trademark

POGO – Trump’s Trademarks Pose Ethics Challenge for the Executive Branch

POGO – “Last week, President Trump’s campaign committee filed a legal complaint against a textile manufacturer in South Carolina for applying to trademark the use of “Make America Great Again” on bath towels, bed blankets, and pillow cases. The complaint was brought before a panel called the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (Trademark Board), a panel within the Commerce Department’s Patent and Trademark Office in the executive branch. Unlike judges in judicial branch courts, Trademark Board judges ultimately work for Trump. Can they neutrally preside over a case involving him? Against the recommendation of the government’s top ethics official, President Trump has rebuffed calls to divest himself of his business interests and place the assets in a blind trust, which means the federal government will continually be placed in situations where its decisions will impact Trump’s continued ownership interests and his bottom line. While he is not required by law to divest, as the late Antonin Scalia wrote in 1974 for the Office of Legal Counsel, the President’s “failure to observe” conflict of interest standards applicable to every other federal employee “will furnish a simple basis for damaging criticism, whether or not they technically apply” to the President. Because Trump retains a financial interest directly in his companies and at the same time runs the federal government, which affects his companies’ revenues and costs, the conflicts of interest posed are potentially vast. The relatively unexplored conflicts facing the Trademark Board offer a window into the broader conundrum faced by the federal government because of Trump’s decision not to divest. Government integrity is at stake, namely whether the executive can maintain the appearance of impartiality in matters involving Trump and his family members’ business interests. The case filed last week is Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. v. Springs Global US, Inc., first reported by the trade publication World Intellectual Property Review. Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. is a corporation registered in the state of Virginia that is the principal campaign committee for Trump. Trump had previously trademarked the use of “Make America Great Again” for a number of political campaign uses, clothing, athletic bags, dog apparel, and other items…”

Paper – Challenge Restraints and the Scope of the Patent

Hovenkamp, Erik, Challenge Restraints and the Scope of the Patent (November 8, 2016). Available for download at SSRN: “Patent rights are not the only important legal entitlements conferred by the Patent Act. It also vests “challenge rights” in third parties, permitting them to challenge granted patents as invalid or uninfringed, and potentially clearing a… Continue Reading

FTC Report Sheds New Light on How Patent Assertion Entities Operate

“A new Federal Trade Commission report spotlights the business practices of patent assertion entities (PAEs), firms that acquire patents from third parties and then try to make money by licensing or suing accused infringers.  The report includes several recommendations for patent litigation reforms. “This report is a big step forward in enhancing our understanding of… Continue Reading

GAO – Patent Office Has Opportunities to Further Improve Application Review and Patent Quality

Intellectual Property: Patent Office Has Opportunities to Further Improve Application Review and Patent Quality, GAO-16-883T: Published: Sep 16, 2016. Publicly Released: Sep 16, 2016. “U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) examiners face a variety of challenges in reviewing patent applications and issuing high quality patents. Some challenges affect examiners’ ability to complete a thorough review… Continue Reading

CRS – Stealing Trade Secrets and Economic Espionage

Stealing Trade Secrets and Economic Espionage: An Overview of the Economic Espionage Act, Charles Doyle, Senior Specialist in American Public Law. August 19, 2016. “Stealing a trade secret is a federal crime when the information relates to a product in interstate or foreign commerce, 18 U.S.C. 1832 (theft of trade secrets), or when the intended… Continue Reading

Final Report of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology Patent Damages Workshop

Graham, Stuart J.H. and Menell, Peter S. and Shapiro, Carl and Simcoe, Timothy, Final Report of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology Patent Damages Workshop (August 15, 2016). Texas Intellectual Prfoperty Law Journal, Forthcoming. Available for download at SSRN: “The determination of patent damages lies at the heart of patent law and policy,… Continue Reading

The Federal Circuit Rules on Trademarks Considered Offensive

CRS Reports & Analysis Legal Sidebar – The Federal Circuit Rules on Trademarks Considered Offensive: May Affect Redskins Trademark Dispute. August 4, 2016. “Two separate cases involving the revocation of the Washington Redskins’ federally registered trademarks (Pro-Football, Inc. v. Blackhorse) and the refusal to grant registration for a rock band’s name (In re Tam) raise… Continue Reading

GAO Reports – Patent Office Audits

Intellectual Property: Patent Office Should Define Quality, Reassess Incentives, and Improve Clarity, GAO-16-490: Published: Jun 30, 2016. Publicly Released: Jul 20, 2016: “GAO found that district court filings of new patent infringement lawsuits increased from about 2,000 in 2007 to more than 5,000 in 2015, while the number of defendants named in these lawsuits increased… Continue Reading

The National Archives of the US Coloring Book of Patents 2016

“The National Archives of the US Coloring Book of Patents 2016 We’ve chosen some of our favorite patents from our holdings for you to color. We’d love to see how you color them in—share them with us on Twitter by using the hashtag #ColorOurCollections and tagging @usnatarchives. These patents came from the Records of the… Continue Reading

CRS Report – Intellectual Property Rights Violations

Via FAS – Intellectual Property Rights Violations: Federal Civil Remedies and Criminal Penalties Related to Copyrights, Trademarks, Patents, and Trade Secrets. Brian T. Yeh, Legislative Attorney. May 27, 2016. “This report provides information describing the federal civil remedies and criminal penalties that may be available as a consequence of violations of the federal intellectual property… Continue Reading

MailChimp Content Style Guide

MailChimp Content Style Guide – MailChimp 2016. This work is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. [Note – I am a MailChimp customer and am pleased this guide is available.] Continue Reading

NASA Makes Dozens of Patents Available in Public Domain to Benefit US Industry

“NASA has released 56 formerly-patented agency technologies into the public domain, making its government-developed technologies freely available for unrestricted commercial use. In addition to the release of these technologies, a searchable database now is available that catalogs thousands of expired NASA patents already in the public domain. These technologies were developed to advance NASA missions… Continue Reading