Posts Tagged ‘patent litigation’

“How Singer Won the Sewing Machine War”

The “Sewing Machine War” originated from legal combats amid one of the first “patent thickets,” while a pioneering 1856 patent pool ended it. “As licensing fees dropped from $25 per machine (almost half the total price) to $5 about a decade after the pool went into effect; dozens of new manufacturers entered the industry.” [Smithsonian, earlier; related discussion, Adam Mossoff, 2009; Robert Merges, 2015]

Intellectual property roundup

  • Supreme Court suggests sanctions against patent practitioner over eccentric if not incomprehensible certiorari petition [Will Baude]
  • Some copyright and patent owners pursue market-based self-help remedies against infringement [Glenn Lammi/WLF, more]
  • DC Comics sues Spain’s Valencia soccer team because its bat logo is too similar to that of Batman [Yahoo]
  • Federal judge dings California lawyer $87K, finding suit against online news aggregator to be baseless [ABA Journal]
  • “Evidence from opera on the efficacy of copyright” [Michela Giorcelli/Petra Moser, SSRN via Tyler Cowen]
  • Go ask Alice: patent litigation takes a hit after SCOTUS ruling [Legal Ethics Forum, Alex Tabarrok]
  • Adam Carolla managed to crowdfund defense against patent plaintiff, usual cautions against trying this at home [Above the Law]

Intellectual property roundup

  • Supreme Court tackling patent law in several cases this term [Sartori and Aga, WLF; Richard Epstein; Kristen Osenga/Prawfs] New fee-shifting regime announced in Octane Fitness already bringing relief to litigants [Ars Technica on Lumen View/FindTheBest case]
  • Copyright claims on intrinsically newsworthy material: curious claim concerning suicide note [Eugene Volokh] “Is it copyright infringement to post a lawyer’s cease-and-desist letter?” Australian university seems to think so [same]
  • Fate of Prenda Law model spirals downward [Ars Technica, Volokh, EFF]
  • Comedian Adam Carolla has “decided to make himself the focus of the Personal Audio suit against podcasters.” [Steven Malanga]
  • Why, as a textbook author, Alex Tabarrok has concluded copyright law is out of control [Marginal Revolution]
  • Remembering when patent examiners were celebrities (in the 19th Century) [Slate]
  • Someone sends Jim Harper a dubious DMCA takedown notice, and this is his response [Cato]

“How the patent trolls won in Congress”

Sen. Harry Reid seems to have been central:

“We felt really good the last couple of days,” said the tech lobbyist. “It was a good deal—one we could live with. Then the trial lawyers and pharma went to Senator Reid late this morning and said that’s it. Enough with the children playing in the playground—go kill it.”…

Trial lawyers are heavy donors to Democratic politicians, including Reid. … The long history of the divide over other kinds of legal tort reform loomed over the bill, which was dubbed the Innovation Act in the House. The fact that it was the trial lawyers’ lobby that reportedly delivered the death blow suggests that the rift only got wider as debate dragged on.

Key Litigation Lobby allies like Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) spoke out against the legislation on the Senate floor. [Joe Mullin, ArsTechnica]

Intellectual property roundup

  • Federal judge invalidates two patents Intellectual Ventures had used to sue banks [Ars Technica]
  • Is there an actual debate over the economic effects of stronger vs. weaker IP protection, or are people talking past each other? [Simon Lester, Cato]
  • “Teller Wins Lawsuit Over Copied Magic Trick Performance” [Hollywood Reporter] Custom, informal law enforce joke “property” among comedians [McGraw/Warner, Slate]
  • I read the news today, oh boy/ And now I have to pay a license fee/ [ABA Journal on actions against song lyrics sites; earlier here and here; h/t for joke to Rogers T.]
  • “Paper” town, placed by cartographer on map to foil plagiarism, springs into real life [Now I Know]
  • Unsuccessful courtroom demand for access to list of donors to “Save Podcasting Campaign” [EFF]
  • Idea of giving people copyright in their faces (as against facial-recognition systems) “has two demerits: it is unconstitutional, and it is insane. Otherwise, it seems fine.” [Info/Law via @petewarden]

Intellectual property roundup

  • “The patent had an interesting enforcement clause: that anyone who copied [ship designer] Brunelleschi’s work would have their own designs set on fire” [Jeremy Kolassa, R Street]
  • British government investigates problem of orphan copyright works [U.K. Intellectual Property Office, earlier]
  • Hookah’s design not copyrightable, per Ninth Circuit, O’Scannlain, Garber, Bea [Inhale v. Starbuzz Tobacco]
  • From EFF’s “Copyright Week”: what if the penalty that accompanied a parking ticket varied unknowably and might amount to a year’s salary? [Mitch Stoltz] “Copyright’s not getting its work done” [Cathy Gellis]
  • Nineteenth Century’s sewing machine patent wars resembled today’s smartphone wars, but ended more or less happily [Adam Mossoff, Slate]
  • Universities that post papers by their own scholars hear from Elsevier’s lawyers [ABA Journal]
  • Likelihood of confusion? Underwear maker Hanes cease/desists hummus maker in Saskatoon, Canada with name derived from “Yohannes” (= “John”)[ABC News, Craig Lederhouse, CBC (auto-plays radio)]

“Why patent trolls love east Texas”

Mike Masnick on a jury verdict against Newegg: “Having Whit Diffie (who invented public key cryptography) and Ron Rivest (who basically made it practical in real life) present on your behalf, showing that they did everything prior to Jones’ patent, while further showing that what Newegg was doing relied on their work, not Jones’, should have ended the case. But…” [TechDirt; Joe Mullin, Ars Technica]

Reining in patent litigation via fee shifts

Prevailing parties in patent suits can win attorneys’ fees from losing opponents in cases deemed “exceptional.” “Under the test used to identify exceptional cases, cases must be objectively baseless and brought in bad faith.” That is already a painfully narrow exception, allowing for large volumes of poorly founded litigation, but two cases before the Supreme Court this term may provide clarity on when courts can deem cases “exceptional” and suitable for a fee shift. Broader use of fee shifts — presumably by way of deeming at least some swath of losing cases “exceptional” — would be one way of addressing the patent troll problem that would not call for new legislation. [ABA Journal, related, Corporate Counsel (arguments that judiciary can deal with trolls on its own]

In other developments, the Federal Trade Commission has voted to proceed with an inquiry into the patent troll problem [New York Times] and the Government Accountability Office has released a long-awaited report on the issue [Mike Hogan and Gregory Hillyer, Legal Intelligencer]

Intellectual property roundup