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U.S., EU File IP Complaints Against China With the WTO

On March 23, the United States – through the World Trade Organization (WTO) – filed a “Request for Consultations” with the government of China concerning its technology and trade practices that are harming the IP rights of U.S. companies and innovators who enter into joint ventures with Chinese companies. The U.S. claimed that the Chinese measures are inconsistent with multiple articles of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement). The TRIPS Agreement, of which China is a member, sets out the minimum standards of intellectual property protection to be provided by each member. In its Request for...

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Patent Assignments to Native American Tribes: Brilliant or Bad Business?

The recent trend of companies transferring patents to Native American tribes has raised some concerns about anticompetitive business practices.  Lawsuits brought by patent-holding tribes as a result of these assignments have been popping up a lot lately, and major companies are fit to be tied. Essentially, companies are assigning their patents to tribes in order to take advantage of the tribes’ sovereign immunity, thus shielding them from the patent review process and potential patent invalidation.  The most recent targets of these lawsuits in the tech industry have been Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. The method works something like this.  A company files for...

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Battle of the Copper Pans

Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but such flattery is unwelcome when it comes to copying products. In the consumer product industry, hot items are quickly adapted by competing companies, resulting in consumer confusion as to the origin of the product; sometimes resulting in lengthy legal battles. We saw this most recently with retractable hoses (X Hose, Pocket Hose, etc.), which has been in litigation since 2013. Right now, the hottest product igniting lawsuits is copper. Copper pots and pans (or at least copper in color) are the latest sensation in cookware. Big sellers...

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DRTV Powerhouses Take on Amazon in Federal Court

Digital Law Group has been advocating on behalf of its clients and the direct response industry for some time now against Amazon’s unscrupulous business practices of knowingly selling counterfeit products on its marketplace. In fact, when we pitched a panel idea for a recent tradeshow on policing and enforcing intellectual property rights on online marketplaces, the organizer notified us that Amazon could not be included/mentioned in the content of our session. Naturally, we were concerned by this information and perplexed as to why so many marketers continue to do business with Amazon in spite of the fact that knockoffs and counterfeits...

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How much is that Hamdog in the (drive-thru) window?

Perhaps the first question should be: “What in the world is a Hamdog?” The Hamdog is a combination of a hamburger and a hot dog. Mark Murray, who lives in Perth, Australia, invented it in 2004. The invention has been granted patent rights in Australia and the United States, and, more importantly, has become a viral phenomenon, spawning hundreds of interviews of the inventor. Thanks to the attention the product has received, Murray has decided that rather than sell directly in the U.S., he is auctioning the U.S. patent and trademark to the highest bidder, transferring global rights (not including Australia)....

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Open for Comment: Proposed Revisions to the 1995 Antitrust Guidelines for Licensing Intellectual Property

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) recently released proposed revisions to the 1995 Antitrust Guidelines for Licensing Intellectual Property, and they have invited the public to comment on the proposed changes. The guidelines provide direction on antitrust issues that may arise when licensing intellectual property. The proposed updates to the guidelines embrace three general principles: “For the purpose of antitrust analysis, the Agencies apply the same analysis to conduct involving intellectual property as to conduct involving other forms of property, taking into account the specific characteristics of a particular property right.” “The Agencies do not presume that intellectual...

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Battle of the trolls

No, we are not talking about Middle-earth (sorry nerds). We are talking about an industry nuisance – the patent troll. Now, the image that may come to mind for you upon hearing the term “patent troll,” is one of a gnarly, greenish creature under a bridge sketching indecipherable images. The funny thing is, actual patent trolls are not that far off. A patent troll, or a non-practicing entity (NPE), is an individual or company that acquires overly broad patents for the sole purpose of extorting licensing fees from legitimate creators. Today, more than half of patent infringement claims are brought by...

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