EU Says Inventors Must Be Human

The European Union (EU) recently rejected two patents applications where the invention was created by artificial intelligence (AI).  These inventions were created by a “creativity machine” comprised of a system of multiple artificial neural networks. These networks generate new ideas, analyze their performance, and assess distinctions between existing inventions and the newly generated idea. The EU Patent office found both AI inventions to be new and industrially applicable; however, the patents were refused because the invention was not created by a human.

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Do the Scots own BURNS NIGHT?

The Scotch Whisky Association recently filed an opposition to the mark BURNS NIGHT filed by an Atlanta distiller of American malt whiskey.  The Association claims that BURNS NIGHT is “highly evocative of Scotland when used on a whisky product,” and is likely to cause a consumer to believe that the spirit being purchased is a Scotch as opposed to an American whiskey.

The mark would not seem to be a simple geographic indicator so can an annual celebration of the Scottish poet Robert Burns prevent registration of the mark?  It is an interesting question as Robbie Burns Night is acknowledged in many other parts of the world as well, particularly Canada and the US.



What Constitutes a Counterfeit?

Rolex has recently filed suit against laCalifornienne for allegedly dealing in fake watches. LaCalifornienne has been adding non-Rolex sanctioned dials, crystals, and other accessories to pre-owned Rolex® watches and reselling them as genuine Rolex® watches.  Rolex considers any watch that includes a non-Rolex part to be a counterfeit.

Rolex filed a similar case against a jeweler that was “enhancing” Rolex® watches with gemstones and other decorative adornments.  The Fifth Circuit sided with Rolex in that case.

In a similar case involving the modification of circuit breakers, the Ninth Circuit held “that “when an original mark is attached to a [reconditioned] product in such a way as to deceive the public [as to the source of the product], the product itself becomes a ‘counterfeit’ just as it would if an imitation of the trademark were attached.”



Actor Who Died 64 Years Ago To Star in Upcoming Film

Actor James Dean died in 1955 at the age of 24 but that has not stopped him from appearing in the new action film “Finding Jack.”   The film is set to feature Dean in a co-starring role, using computer images generated from old footage. While the producers and film makers appear to have legally acquired Dean’s personality rights, many feel the role does a disservice to Dean’s legacy.


Chinese National Working for Monsanto Indicted for Trade Secret Theft

A Monsanto employee was recently indicted for theft of trade secrets.  The Chinese national, Haitao Xiang, allegedly resigned from his position, purchased a one way ticket to China and was arrested at the airport with Monsanto trade secrets in his possession. Xiang received his PhD in agricultural engineering within the United States, following the same path as many others accused of similar crimes.


Can the Owner of a Building Control Reproductions of its Likeness?

Canadian Parliament is considering whether building owners can control the reproduction of a famous building’s likeness.  Author James Bow was set to release a new book featuring a cover-art collage which included an image of the CN Tower, a large radio antenna and tourist attraction located in Toronto.  A representative from CN Tower requested the removal of the artwork from the book claiming that it created a commercial link between the book and CN Tower.



NCAA to Allow Athletes to Profit from their Name, Likeness & Image

On October 29th, the NCAA announced it will begin a process that will eventually allow athletes to profit from their image, name and likeness.  For years student athletes have used their talents to negotiate college scholarships but many see this as insufficient compensation in light of the enormous revenue that sports bring to these universities. The NCAA announcement may allow students to profit from their rights of publicity much as professional athletes do.


Does Sovereign Immunity Apply to States in Copyright Infringement Cases?

In 1996, Blackbeard’s famed ship Queen Anne’s Revenge was discovered by a private salvage company.  A film crew was subsequently hired to capture the expedition.  The State of North Carolina used both the videos and images captured during the shoot without a license and a copyright suit was filed.  North Carolina is defending itself by (i) claiming that sovereign immunity provides an exemption and (ii) that the Copyright Clarification Remedy Act (which would repeal sovereign immunity to states) is overly broad and therefore unconstitutional.  The 4th Circuit has agreed.  The Supreme Court is set to hear the arguments in early November.