Trade Secrets Without Borders: The Defend Trade Secret Act’s Promise as an Extra-Territorial Statute Finally Comes to Pass

28 09 2021

One of the primary arguments for enacting the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) in 2016 was the perceived need for the protection of the trade secrets of U.S. companies abroad.  These issues received significant media attention with the focus far and away on China; by way of example, 60 Minutes cited the Justice Department as saying “the scale of China’s corporate espionage is so vast it constitutes a national security emergency, with China targeting virtually every sector of the U.S. economy, and costing American companies hundreds of billions of dollars in losses — and more than two million jobs.”  A consensus emerged that existing civil trade secret remedies at the state court level were inadequate.  These concerns led to calls for a robust federal statute that would provide a civil remedy empowering federal courts to assert their jurisdiction over parties outside the United States.  An important decision issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois last year, Motorola Solutions v. Hytera Communications Corp.,  2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35942 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 31, 2020), paved the way for other federal courts over the past year to exercise jurisdiction over international actors and international conduct under the DTSA.  This blog post summarizes these recent decisions.

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Takeaway:  As these cases over the past 18 months illustrate, federal courts are willing to apply the DTSA to foreign parties who have taken actions that further acts of misappropriation.  These decisions are an important first step in furthering the DTSA’s goal of protecting U.S. companies’ trade secrets that are misappropriated abroad.

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The content in this post was found at https://www.lexblog.com/2021/09/27/trade-secrets-without-borders-the-defend-trade-secret-acts-promise-as-an-extra-territorial-statute-finally-comes-to-pass/ Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com

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Design Protection: Don’t Sleep on Copyrights

28 09 2021

LexBlog/99 Park Row
James Aquilina
September 27, 2021

In a recent decision, the Review Board of the United States Copyright Office (“Board”) reversed an examiner’s prior refusal to register a copyright in the artistic elements present in the bed shown above, paving the way for the applicant to obtain a copyright registration in this work.

Copyright law does not protect useful articles per se (i.e., articles having a useful function that does not serve merely to portray the appearance of the article or to convey information), but does protect any artistic feature that is applied to or incorporated in a useful article, if the feature: “(1) can be perceived as a two- or three-dimensional work of art separate from the useful article and (2) would qualify as a protectable pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work—either on its own or fixed in some other tangible medium of expression—if it were imagined separately from the useful article into which it is incorporated.”  Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., 137 S. Ct 1002, 1007 (2017).

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The content in this post was found at https://www.lexblog.com/2021/09/27/design-protection-dont-sleep-on-copyrights/ Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com

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Artificial Intelligence And Subject Matter Eligibility In U.S. Patent Office Appeals – Part Two Of Three

2 09 2021

LexBlog/99 Park Row
Jim Soong
September 1 2021

Note: First published in The Intellectual Property Strategist and Law.com.

This article is Part Two of a Three-Part Article Series

Artificial intelligence is changing industry and society, and metrics at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) reflect its impact. In a recent publication, the USPTO indicated that from 2002 to 2018 the share of all patent applications relating to artificial intelligence grew from 9% to approximately 16%. See “Inventing AI, Tracing the diffusion of artificial intelligence with U.S. patents,” Office of the Chief Economist, IP Data Highlights (October 2020). For the foreseeable future, patent applications involving artificial intelligence technologies, including machine learning, will increase with the continued proliferation of such technologies. However, subject matter eligibility can be a significant challenge in securing patents on artificial intelligence and machine learning.

This three-part article series explores USPTO handling of Alice issues involving artificial intelligence and machine learning through a sampling of recent Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decisions. See Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014). Some decisions dutifully applied USPTO guidelines on subject matter eligibility, including Example 39 thereof, to resolve appeal issues brought to the PTAB. In one case, the PTAB sua sponte offered eligibility guidance even with no Alice appeal issue before it. These decisions inform strategies to optimize patent drafting and prosecution for artificial intelligence and machine learning related inventions.

Part One can be viewed here.

Part Two

“No More Than Conceptual Advice To Use Machine Learning”

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The content in this post was found at https://www.lexblog.com/2021/09/01/artificial-intelligence-subject-matter-eligibility-u-s-patent-office-appeals-part-two Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com

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Artificial Intelligence And Subject Matter Eligibility In U.S. Patent Office Appeals – Part One Of Three

2 09 2021

LexBlog/99 Park Row
Jim Soong
August 25, 2021

Note: First published in The Intellectual Property Strategist and Law.com.

This article is Part One of a Three-Part Article Series

Artificial intelligence is changing industry and society, and metrics at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) reflect its impact. In a recent publication, the USPTO indicated that from 2002 to 2018 the share of all patent applications relating to artificial intelligence grew from 9% to approximately 16%. See “Inventing AI, Tracing the diffusion of artificial intelligence with U.S. patents,” Office of the Chief Economist, IP Data Highlights (October 2020). For the foreseeable future, patent applications involving artificial intelligence technologies, including machine learning, will increase with the continued proliferation of such technologies. However, subject matter eligibility can be a significant challenge in securing patents on artificial intelligence and machine learning.

This three-part article series explores USPTO handling of Alice issues involving artificial intelligence and machine learning through a sampling of recent Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decisions. See Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014). Some decisions dutifully applied USPTO guidelines on subject matter eligibility, including Example 39 thereof, to resolve appeal issues brought to the PTAB. In one case, the PTAB sua sponte offered eligibility guidance even with no Alice appeal issue before it. These decisions inform strategies to optimize patent drafting and prosecution for artificial intelligence and machine learning related inventions.

Part One

“Generic Machine Learning Algorithm”

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The content in this post was found at https://www.lexblog.com/2021/08/25/artificial-intelligence-subject-matter-eligibility-u-s-patent-office-appeals-part-one Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com

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Locast’s free TV service is in peril as Big 4 networks win copyright ruling

2 09 2021

ars technica
Jon Brodkin
9/2/2021

The major broadcast networks have won a big copyright ruling against Locast, a nonprofit organization that provides online access to broadcast TV stations. Although it’s a partial summary judgment, the ruling by a federal judge rejects Locast’s primary defense against claims of copyright infringement.

Locast was sued by ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC in July 2019. The companies alleged that Locast “must have a license to retransmit copyrighted television programming” even though the TV channels are available over the air for free. The lawsuit argued that Locast must “secure the consent of the broadcasters to retransmit the broadcast signals” in the same manner as cable, satellite, and online video services. Locast fought the lawsuit, saying it qualified for a copyright-law exemption available to nonprofits.

US District Judge Louis Stanton yesterday granted the networks’ motion to dismiss Locast’s affirmative defense that its service is exempt from liability under the US copyright law.

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The content in this post was found at https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/09/locasts-free-tv-service-is-in-peril-as-big-4-networks-win-copyright-ruling/ Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com

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Illinois Governor Signs New Non-Compete Bill

24 08 2021

LexBlog/99 Park Row
Gregory H. Andrews
August 23, 2021

The Illinois General Assembly passed a major bill in May that significantly alters how and when employers can use restrictive covenants with Illinois employees.  Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed the bill into law on August 13, 2021, and it will go into effect January 1, 2022.

We provided details and analysis on the new law here.

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The content in this post was found at https://www.lexblog.com/2021/08/23/illinois-governor-signs-new-non-compete-bill/ Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com

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Want to Engage in Anti-Competitive Trademark Bullying? Second Circuit Says: Great, Have a Nice Day!–1-800 Contacts v. FTC

16 06 2021

Technology & Marketing Law Blog
Eric Goldman
June 14, 2021

Starting in the mid-2000s, 1-800 Contacts sought to control how its competitors bought search engine advertising triggered by its (so-called) trademarks, a process I call competitive keyword advertising. To do this, 1-800 Contacts typically sued its competitors and then quickly entered into a no-money settlement agreement that required each party to stop bidding on each others’ trademarks.

To property maximalists, 1-800 Contacts’ efforts may sound like run-of-the-mill trademark enforcement. However, the scheme was actually extremely unusual (few, if any, other trademark owners did anything similar), and it had several pernicious effects. The settlements deprived consumers of additional helpful information from competitive advertising. The settlements distorted the keyword ad auctions that the search engines were trying to conduct. Most importantly, the settlements helped 1-800 Contacts avoid competing on price, which has allowed 1-800 Contacts to systematically charge higher prices to consumers (a point 1-800 Contacts freely admits).

1-800 Contacts’ competitors “voluntarily” entered into the settlement agreements, but they were goaded in part by 1-800 Contacts’ threat to wage lawfare against them if they didn’t. This threat wasn’t idle. 1-800 Contacts likely spent $1M+ suing a holdout to its settlement “deal,” Lens.com, even though Lens.com made only $21 of profit from competitive keyword advertising. (Lens.com claimed it incurred at least $1.4M of defense costs). In other words, 1-800 Contacts proved to the industry that it would engage in economically irrational litigation to punish any competitors who tried to compete against it on price.

Five years ago, the FTC initiated an administrative complaint against 1-800 Contacts. The FTC won at the initial administrative hearing and then at the Commission level.

Last week, the Second Circuit reversed and dismissed the FTC’s administrative complaint, saying that the FTC misapplied the applicable antitrust standard and did not make a strong enough evidentiary showing of an antitrust violation. This opinion is mostly antitrust inside-baseball, but I want to highlight a few things.

Case citation: 1-800 Contacts, Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission, 2021 WL 2385274 (2d Cir. June 11, 2021)

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The content in this post was found at https://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2021/06/want-to-engage-in-anti-competitive-trademark-bullying-second-circuit-says-great-have-a-nice-day-1-800-contacts-v-ftc.htm Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com

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District Court in 3rd Circuit Sides with 9th Circuit: §230 Protects Social Platforms from State Law Intellectual Property Claims

4 06 2021

LexBlog/99 Park Row
Evangeline Phang
August 17, 2020

It is another win for social media platforms in the realm of the Communications Decency Act’s Section 230. In a case of first impression within the Third Circuit, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Hepp v. Facebook ruled that social media platforms are immune under the Communications Decency Act for right of publicity violations under state law by users of such platforms.

Karen Hepp, a television news anchor for FOX 29 News, filed a complaint against several social media platforms, including Facebook, Imgur, Reddit, and Giphy (collectively, “social media defendants”), alleging that the social media defendants violated Pennsylvania’s right of publicity statute and Hepp’s common law right of publicity, based on such defendants’ “unlawful use of her image.”

Two years before filing her complaint, Hepp discovered that a photograph of her was taken without her consent by a security camera in a New York City convenience store. The photograph was subsequently used in online advertisements for erectile dysfunction and dating websites. For example, Hepp’s photograph was featured: (a) on Imgur under the heading “milf,” and (b) on a Reddit post titled “Amazing” in the subgroup r/obsf (“older but still $#^able”). Hepp alleged that, as a public figure, she suffered harm from the unauthorized publication of her image on the platforms hosted by the social media defendants, but she did not allege that such defendants created, authored, or directly published the photograph at issue.

In response to Hepp’s complaint, each social media defendant filed a motion to dismiss, asserting, among other things, immunity under Section 230 of the CDA. As we have noted in prior articles, Section 230(c) provides a federal safe harbor for internet service providers against liability for content originating from third-party users and content creators. This safe harbor is not boundless, however. For example, Section 230(e)(2) carves out causes of action “pertaining to intellectual property.” Hepp attempted to use this exception to get around the Section 230 immunity afforded to the social media defendants, but the court was not convinced. Ultimately, the court sided with the social media defendants and granted their motions to dismiss.

In reaching its decision, the court acknowledged the circuit split between the Ninth Circuit and several district courts over whether the CDA preempts state intellectual property claims.

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The content in this post was found at https://www.lexblog.com/2020/08/17/district-court-in-third-circuit-sides-with-ninth-circuit-section-230-protects-social-media-platforms-from-state-law-intellectual-property-claims/ Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com

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Three Keyword Advertising Decisions in a Week, and the Trademark Owners Lost Them All

4 06 2021

Technology & Marketing Law Blog
Eric Goldman
August 17, 2020
If you are a trademark owner suing over competitive keyword ads, you are almost certainly making a bad business decision, and your attorney might be milking your bank account. If you are an attorney representing a trademark owner in a competitive keyword ad lawsuit, please reexamine your professional decision-making to ensure that you are, in fact, prioritizing the best interests of your clients.

This is my first time blogging keyword ad cases in almost a year. However, in an odd coincidence, we got three rulings in the same week. When it rains, it pours. This post rounds up how trademark owners are doing in these cases (TL;DR: they lose). I don’t have a conclusion at the end of this post because, honestly, what’s left to say? If the conclusion to this post isn’t obvious after reading it, take off your plaintiff-colored glasses.

Passport Health, LLC v. Avance Health System, Inc., 2020 WL 4700887 (4th Cir. Aug. 13, 2020). Prior blog post.

Smash Franchise Partners LLC v. Kanda Holdings Inc., 2020 WL 4692287 (Del. Ct. Chancery Aug. 13, 2020)

Sen v. Amazon.com, Inc., 2020 WL 4582678 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 10, 2020). Prior blog post; and also referenced here.

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The content in this post was found at https://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2020/08/three-keyword-advertising-decisions-in-a-week-and-the-trademark-owners-lost-them-all.htm Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com

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The Supreme Court’s Holding that Generic Terms Can Be Trademarks Is Not Fair to Struggling Startups

4 06 2021
IP Watchdog
Loletta Darden
August 17, 2020

At a time when small businesses are reeling, the Supreme Court decided to make life even more challenging for startups and mom and pop shops. The Court recently decided that a generic term combined with “.com” or “.net” could be registered as a federal trademark. If that sounds like no big deal to you, you have not thought it through. Based on the Court’s decision in United States Patent and Trademark Office et al. v. Booking.com, someone could register a trademark for autorepair.com. That would mean that Joe of Joe’s Auto Repair would have to get permission, and likely pay a licensing fee, to use the name Joe’s Auto Repair on his website and marketing materials. Multiply that by thousands of other generic business categories and the reality becomes clear.
 

The content in this post was found at https://www.ipwatchdog.com/2020/08/17/supreme-courts-holding-generic-terms-can-trademarks-not-fair-struggling-startups/id=124084/ Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post and was not authored by the moderators of freeforafee.com

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