Obama has signed the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA) into law. This law amends the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, creating a federal civil remedy for the misappropriation of trade secrets. It also provides an additional means of protection for intellectual property.
There is a lack of certainty when it comes to intellectual property rights in outer space. Space Law is generally uniform in its application while intellectual property law varies from country to country. What happens when a patent is infringed in outer space? Currently, nothing as patent laws apply only within the territory of the granting country. And because the standards of copyright infringement vary from country to country there is an additional uncertainty of what artistic expression is protectable in space. This is an area of the law that will require attention as our presence in space grows.
LeBron James’ tattoo artist recently filed suit against the makers of NBA2K16 claiming that their use of the tattoo in the video game constitutes copyright infringement. The Plaintiff asserts that LeBron James is a “medium of expression.” But whether a live body qualifies as a medium of expression is unsettled. One would argue that the person exhibiting the tattoo should have some right to allow the use of that tattoo in conjunction with that person’s likeness. And if a tattoo is given copyright protection could the artist enjoin the destruction or alteration of that tattoo on a person’s body?
Successful entrepreneurs like Elon Musk say it is not failure that most people regret, but inaction.
Pluto may be out of the picture but scientists say that our solar system has a new ninth planet called Planet X. This planet is approximately the same size of Neptune and orbits the sun once every 15,000 years.
The recent US Supreme Court decision of Alice v. CLS Bank has specificed a Section 101 framework in which software patents must now be examined. The court has enumerated two questions that must be asked in a software patent:
1. Does the claim merely cover an “abstract idea”?
2. Is there an (additional) “inventive concept” that turns this idea into a patentable application of the abstraction?
This decision does not eliminate the possibility of software patents but certainly leaves their patentability uncertain and open to challenge.
The recent case of Motio Inc. vs. Avnet Inc. has provided one example of how to circumvent this issue. In that case the court found the that the “inventive concept” was an “automated agent” eligible for patent protection.
Thoth Technology of Ontario, Canada recently secured a patent for a space elevator. The device would extend 12 miles above the earth’s surface, allowing materials to be transported to and from space. The company estimates that an elevator of this nature could save more than 30 percent of the fuel of a conventional rocket.
As 3D printing technology improves, the potential for printing human organs is becoming a reality… but are human tissues and organs patentable under the law? The America Invents Act (AIA) clearly prohibits the patenting of any claim “directed to or encompassing a human organism.” The question becomes whether a 3D printing of tissues and/or organs constitutes a human organism. In the past, patents have issued for organisms that are “non-naturally occurring” such as a bacterium that breaks down crude oil. As technology improves this is sure to be a uncertain area of the law.
Google’s Library Project offers digital versions of books sent to the project by libraries. Google has not secured permission to use these works by the copyright holders; however, only certain portions or “snippets” of each of the works is viewable to the users of the project. Once a search term is entered, the service provides the user with a list of books containing the search terms along with the frequency of those terms in each book. The Author’s Guild has been opposing this project for the past ten years and filed suit against Google for copyright infringement. In mid-October, the Second Circuit granted summary judgment for Google finding that the display of “snippets” constituted a fair use.
In 2005, an Australian woman named Annabelle Young wanted to start a tea company. In order to protect her IP she decided to trademark the name HONEST TEA in Australia. Not too long after her trademark issued, an American company using the same name brought suit against her claiming global rights in the name. That company was unsuccessful but shortly thereafter, Coca-Cola bought the US based company and took aim at Young again, claiming that her product was not a tea. After ten years of legal battles and immense legal fees, Young finally succeeded in defending her trademark. This case highlights the importance of trademarking your names, logos and slogans early on in the business development stages in protecting your brand.