One of the most common defenses to patent infringement is that the asserted patent is invalid. The reasons for invalidity regularly range from lack of utility, to incorrect inventorship, and even to fraud (as I’ve recently written about). Often, the defendant asserts that the patent is invalid for lack of novelty or non-obviousness–pointing
The Law Rewards Creativity
Toward the end of last week, a couple of friendly ironmongers (John Welch and Ron Coleman) had an interesting dialogue on Twitter, with some great insights about creativity and the law.
John noted that copyright’s requirement of “originality” is not the same as the requirement of “novelty” in patent law. Ron then…
PTAB-Lovers Rejoice; IPR Lives!
Five months ago to the day, I predicted that the U.S. Supreme Court would uphold inter partes review (“IPR”) proceedings at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) as constitutional in Oil States v. Greene Energy. On April 24, 2018, the Court so-held.
Back in November, the questions at…
Supreme Court Justices’ Questions in Oil States Suggest Inter Partes Review Will Be Upheld as Constitutional
On Monday, November 27, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court heard argument in Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC, No. 16-712. The case presents a direct challenge to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (“USPTO’s”) “inter partes review” (“IPR”) process, under which third parties can petition the USPTO’s Patent Trial and …
A $10 Billion Idea, without a Patent, is just an Idea
— Jessica Gutierrez Alm, Attorney
Have you ever seen an ad for something and thought to yourself, “Hey, I had that idea years ago!” Some people take that thought a step further. One Florida man claims to have invented the iPhone in 1992, and is suing Apple to the tune of over $10 billion.…
Santa Claus is in Town!
– Nicola Hill, Browne Jacobson
Season’s Greetings one and all! Welcome to the Christmas Day DuetsBlog, where you can find a spot of light-hearted IP cheer being brought to you direct from the fireside in the United Kingdom.
Now, I hope that Father Christmas has been good to all of our readers this year and…
Apple Takes Us Back to PENCIL and PAPER
-Martha Engel, Attorney
If you are a member of the Cult of Apple, like tech, or even just watch the news, you’re probably aware that yesterday was Apple’s big fall event where they announce new product launches and updates. The event showcased a new iPhone with enhanced photo features (as this Wired article aptly puts…
I’m a Patent Attorney – Isn’t that Scary Enough?
A Hoppy Halloween from all of us ghoulish folks here at DuetsBlog!
Spending for Halloween this year is likely to hit $11 billion dollars, possibly more than is spent decorating for Christmas. This fact is easily witnessed in many neighborhoods around town, especially this one where just about every house has some sort of…
Quilted Toilet Paper Design Flushed As Functional
As the court ruled, and repeatedly reminded: "Toilet paper. This case is about toilet paper."
Just last week the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit enjoyed applying only a modicum of potty humor while deciding Georgia Pacific Consumer Products LP v. Kimberly-Clark Corporation, a case involving alleged non-traditional trademark rights in Georgia-Pacific’s Quilted Diamond Design embossed on the surface of toilet paper (shown above):
- "Georgia-Pacific unrolled this suit against Kimberly-Clark, alleging unfair competition and trademark infringement under the Lanham Act, for Kimberly-Clark’s introduction of its redesigned toilet paper."
- "We review the district judge’s grant of summary judgment de novo, viewing all facts in favor of the nonmoving party. . . . Therefore, despite the fact that the judge dutifully plied her opinion, we now wipe the slate clean and address Georgia-Pacific’s claims."
Actually, I think the court could have enjoyed itself even more with this case, since most agree double ply humor is far superior than single ply, especially when it’s on a roll.
Returning to the substance in hand, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the district court that Georgia-Pacific’s Quilted Diamond Design, found on the surface of Quilted Northern brand toilet paper — and made recognizable from the television commercials with cartoon quilters — "is functional and therefore cannot be protected as a registered trademark."
It is unfortunate for Georgia-Pacific that it was unable to capture both patent protection for a limited term and trademark protection for eternity. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive intellectual property rights, but as this decision painfully demonstrates, if planning, coordination, and great care is not exercised, any hope of eternal trademark protection will be wiped away.
As you may recall, I’ve emphasized the importance of legal and marketing types working together in graceful collaboration to stand a reasonable chance of avoiding the many pitfalls in creating valid and protectable traditional and non-traditional trademark rights (Furminator, Smash Burger, and Bawls Guarana).
But, this decision, rejecting trademark protection for the above-depicted federally-registered design trademarks, highlights the importance of not only having talented legal and marketing types working together for common intellectual property goals, but also, the equally strong need for very close collaboration between patent counsel and trademark counsel.…
Continue Reading Quilted Toilet Paper Design Flushed As Functional
Samuel Adams Better Beer Glass . . . No Trademark For You?
If the "Soup Nazi" were employed as a Trademark Examining Attorney at the USPTO, he might be heard crabbing at the makers of Samuel Adams Boston Lager, were they to attempt to register or claim as a trademark the shape of their "new" beer glass from 2007, now almost four years old: "No trademark …