Patent Eligibility Symposium Wrap-Up

On Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, JETLaw hosted its 2013-2014 symposium, Patents 101: From Computer Code to Genetic Codes, focusing on what, exactly, is eligible for patent protection. Chief Judge Randall Rader of the Federal Circuit delivered the keynote address, and panels addressed software patents, gene patents, and principles of patent eligibility generally. The symposium was open to the public, and we expect photo and video archives to be available soon.

Monday Morning JETLawg

  • Patents:
    • The Supreme Court rules 9-0 in Medtronic v. Mirowski Family Ventures that patentees have the burden of showing infringement even in declaratory judgment actions by a plaintiff seeking a holding of non-infringement (or invalidity).
    • Patent troll (or “patent assertion entity”) MPHJ, which we previously discussed here, owns a patent it says covers every product capable of scanning documents to email — as well as every business that uses scan-to-email technology. The company has been sending thousands of businesses demand letters asking for licensing fees of $1000 per employee, which led the Federal Trade Commission to begin an investigation. The FTC was reportedly on the verge of filing suit, but MPHJ has turned the tables and sued the agency first, claiming that the FTC has no authority over its sending of patent-infringement-based demand letters.  [via SANS]
    • Google and Samsung enter into a global patent cross-licensing agreement covering existing patents in both companies, as well as new patents they may obtain over the next ten years. Statements by both companies said the move would allow them to focus on innovation and reduce the likelihood of litigation.
    • Close on the heels of that deal, Samsung announces another major patent cross-licensing deal with Ericsson, a Swedish telecoms giant that which holds patents covering mobile communications and networking.
  • Trademarks:
    •, the maker of popular Facebook game Candy Crush Saga, has obtained a trademark on the word “candy” in reference to an extremely wide variety of products and services, including video games, clothing, data processing equipment, blank CDs and tapes, educational services, vending machines (!), sporting and cultural activities, and fire extinguishers (?). Registered trademarks are presumed valid, but King’s mark may be headed for challenges soon: the company has already begun sending takedown letters far and wide to app developers who have used the word “candy.” [via Wonkette]
    • The FTC settles its case with E.K. Ekcessories over false “Made in the USA” claims. The company will be prohibited from marking any product origins unless they are true, and must contact its distributors and request that they remove any false “Made in the USA” promotional material and cover any such claims on product packaging with stickers.
  • Surveillance:
    • Leaker-whistleblower Edward Snowden denies that he worked with Russia to effectuate his leak of information on U.S. surveillance programs.
  • Privacy & Security:
    • A computer security company identifies some individuals connected to the Target data breach; meanwhile a man and a woman are arrested in Texas carrying dozens of bogus credit cards created with Target customers’ information. [via SANS]
    • The House of Representatives passes a bill that would require weekly reports to Congress on the problems affecting the federal health insurance exchange, including privacy and data security issues. [via SANS]
    • OfficeMax comes under fire on customer privacy after it sent a letter addressed to “Mike Seay / Daughter Killed in Car Crash.” Seay’s daughter had, in fact, been killed in a car crash a year earlier. OfficeMax apologized, but it is unclear how it obtained that information, or what other information it retains or acquires. [via IAPP]
  • Technology Industry:
    • Activist investor Carl Icahn says his investment in Apple shares tops $3 billion; pushes for additional stock buybacks.
    • AmLaw 100 law firm Covington & Burling issues a warning about the future of the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Agreement, which is one way U.S. companies can legally move personal data on EU individuals to the United States. There are worries that the Safe Harbor Agreement, which was negotiated by the U.S. Trade Representative in 2000, could be revisited in the wake of the NSA’s alleged surveillance of European political leaders and allies. In November, the EU previously declined to suspend the Safe Harbor Agreement outright, despite the urging of some in the EU Parliament.
    • Google announces that it is working on a “smart” contact lens to measure glucose levels through regular contact with the eye’s tears.
  • Internet & Internet Regulation:
    • In the wake of the D.C. Circuit’s recent ruling striking down the FCC’s net neutrality rule, Netflix warns that it will provoke a customer backlash if ISPs start to rate-limit or tier traffic based on its destination. The court ruled that the FCC’s rule was not based on the proper statutory authority, though it is still possible the FCC can still appeal, or develop and issue a similar rule based on other statutory authority.
    • China suffers a massive internet outage in which much of its traffic was redirected to a website in the United States; it is unclear whether this was caused by hackers, a misconfiguration in China’s censorship platform (the “Great Firewall”), or something else.
    • The FBI arrests Hunter Moore, who once operated the revenge porn site Is Anyone Up, on accusations that he was involved in a hacking conspiracy in order to obtain illicit photos.
  • Music & Entertainment:
    • Two screenwriters sue Fox, claiming the network stole their script and concept for “New Girl.”
    • Federal officials (including DHS and ICE officers) question a man wearing a Google Glass device — along with his prescription glasses — in a movie theater.
    • Kim Dotcom, the founder of Megaupload and its successor site Mega, demos Baboom, his new streaming music service, with his own artist profile page.

–Brad Edmondson

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