Posts made in March, 2014

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USPTO Proposes Rule Change for Patent Ownership

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in Patent

On Wednesday, March 26, 2014, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) held a public hearing at Hastings College of Law in San Francisco on its proposed change to disclosure of patent ownership.  The proposed rule would require that all attributable owners of a patent be disclosed.  Currently this disclosure is voluntary.  These additional owners could be title owners or anyone who can enforce patent rights in court. This disclosure would be made when a patent application is submitted.  Any subsequent ownership transfer or grant of an exclusive license would also have to be reported with 90 days.  Otherwise the patent would be abandoned.  A patent would also be abandoned if an exclusive licensee refuses to disclose its individual owners. This proposed rule change comes as the Executive branch is looking to crack down on patent trolls, companies which do not manufacture products but instead exist to enforce licenses.  This goal was been stressed by President Obama and by many intellectual property legal experts.  In fact, many parties at the hearing where support of the rule change. However, some patent attorneys fear mandating the publicity of an exclusive license will discourage the practice.  They are also reluctant to support a rule change that can result in patent abandonment. ...

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Are Silent Films Still Protected by Copyright? 0

Are Silent Films Still Protected by Copyright?

Posted by on Mar 25, 2014 in Copyright

Film enthusiasts may be familiar with the silent film Safety Last!  Starring Harold Lloyd, this film debuted in 1923.  Even those who are not familiar with the movie may recognize the iconic scene where Lloyd is dangling from the hands of a giant clock. Cupecoy Home Fashion Inc. produces a 12” metal clock with a man dangling from the minute hand.  This clock drew the ire of Harold Lloyd Entertainment, who filed a copyright infringement lawsuit on March 11, 2014. Harold Lloyd Entertainment alleged the clock was a direct appropriation of the iconic clock scene.  It also highlighted that it had previously licensed the rights to create a derivative version of the clock scene before.  The movie Back to the Future obtained permission to film the scene of Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) hanging from the clock tower towards the end of the movie.  Most recently, Harold Lloyd Entertainment granted a license to Martin Scorsese to create a similar scene in the movie Hugo.  In fact, posters for the movie featured this scene. It may seem like a movie 1923 is too old to still be protected by copyright.  However, it is the edge of copyright protection.  If it debuted in 1922, it would be in the public domain.  1923...

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Patent Enablement: Patenting Tropical Storms

Posted by on Mar 10, 2014 in Enablement, Patent

On Tuesday, February 25 2014, the Federal Circuit upheld a decision of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to deny a method patent for a tropical hurricane control system.  The invention was created by two inventors and involves shooting supercool liquid nitrogen from a storm plane into a hurricane to break up the storm.  Specifically, super coolant would cause the wall of the eye of a storm to implode, diminishing the storm’s intensity.  Unfortunately for them, the USPTO felt the patent application did not have enough information to enable others to use the invention. The inventors feel they did present enough information and the USPTO simply did not pay enough attention.  However the Federal Circuit concluded not only was the information insufficient, but the inventors’ calculations were wrong.  Additionally, those calculations were never tested.  The USPTO examiner specifically took issue with unexplained assumptions in the patent application.  Patents must be enabling to others skilled in the art.  Therefore the patent application has been rejected for requiring undue experimentation by others to achieve the results claimed in the patent application. The inventors claimed the government had already implemented their method in secret.  However, the court said the inventors had no evidence to back their claim.  All they had...

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