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AIPLA Newsstand 2017 as appearing in Lexology

Rule 36 Summary Affirmance May Support Collateral Estoppel Decision ​A summary affirmance under Federal Circuit Rule 36 of a summary judgment of noninfringement in a prior case can support a collateral estoppel disposition of a later case involving the same patent claims, similar products, and different defendants, the Federal Circuit held April 17, 2017. Phil-Insul Corp. v. Airlite Plastics Co., Fed. Cir., No. 2016-1982, 4/17/2017. While the summary affirmance simply confirms that the trial court entered the correct judgment, according to the Court, it nonetheless may be preclusive for issues of res judicata, collateral estoppel, or law of the case. Even though a summary affirmance was not preclusive in TecSec, Inc. v. International Business Machines Corp., 731 F.3d 1336 (Fed. Cir. 2013), the Court explained that collateral estoppel there was to not show with proof that the ruling on the allegedly precluded issue was actually necessary to the judgment in the case.
​USPTO Launches Initiative to Improve PTAB Trial Proceedings

USPTO announced April 7, 2017 that it is launching an initiative to use nearly five years of historical data and user experiences to further shape and improve trial proceedings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), particularly inter partes review proceedings. According to the USPTO, the purpose of this initiative is to ensure that PTAB proceedings are as effective and fair as possible. Over time, the USPTO has listened to stakeholder experiences and compiled data derived from thousands of case filings and dispositions. This data, along with input received from small and large businesses, startups, individual inventors, IP law associations, trade associations, and patent practitioners, will be used to examine procedures including, but not limited to, procedures relating to multiple petitions, motions to amend, claim construction, and decisions to institute. As the initiative progresses, the USPTO will share news through their website. 
USPTO Hosts Roundtable Discussion to Fight Fraudulent Trademark Solicitations​
​On July 26, the Trademark Organization and the Trademark Public Advisory Committee plan to hold a roundtable discussion on fraudulent solicitations. In light of recent events involving fraudulent solicitations in the news, such as a recent scheme where thousands of trademark applicants were defrauded in Glendale, California, the USPTO is continuing to work hard to publicize and combat this ongoing issue. If you or your client would like to share your experience with a fraudulent advertisement at the roundtable, please contact Leigh Lowry at TMPolicy@uspto.gov.

​​President Trump Signs Executive Order to Combat Infringing Imports​ ​The President, on March 31, 2017, signed an executive order on imports that, in part, requires the disclosure of information to IP rights holders on imports to help them determine if there is an infringement. 82 Fed. Reg. 16719, 4/5/2017.  The order directs that the Secretary of Homeland Security, through the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), to develop and implement a strategy and plan for combating violations of United States trade and customs laws. They are instructed to take all appropriate steps, including rulemaking, to ensure that intellection property rights (IPR) holders are notified concerning any information necessary to determine whether there has been an IPR infringement or violation. In 2015, the Commissioner of CBP was similarly empowered to inspect for violations of IPR rights and to disclose his findings to rights holders in a new Section 628a of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 USC 1628a). 

​AIPLA Comment Letter on China Anti-Unfair Competition Law
​​AIPLA submitted a letter on March 23, 2017 to The National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China on the February 26, 2017 draft of the Anti-Unfair Competition Law of the People’s Republic of China (“AUCL”). Among other things, the letter states that AIPLA is concerned about Article 2’s definition of the term “unfair competition” as using “unfair methods in market transactions, harming the lawful rights and interests of other business operators, disturbing market order.” This definition may be read as a series of three independent acts, which would suggest that harming lawful rights itself may suffice as an act of unfair competition, even if the methods used were not unfair and do not harm lawful rights. Because most legal competitive acts will cause harm to other business operators in some manner, AIPLA respectfully submitted a request for clarification. 
Senator Reintroduces Patent Education Bill​
​U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Jim Risch (R-ID) announced that they have reintroduced the Small Business Innovation Protection Act, bipartisan legislation to help small businesses protect their intellectual property by improving education on obtaining and protecting patents. The bill will require the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to work together to leverage existing outreach programs in order to better educate more small businesses on domestic and international patents. Peters, Risch and then-Senator David Vitter (R-LA) introduced this legislation in the 114th Congress, where it passed the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

House Judiciary Committee Approves Bill on Copyright Register Selection

​The House Judiciary Committee on March 29, 2017, approved the “Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017” (H.R. 1695) by a vote of 27-1. The legislation, introduced by Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va), would amend Section 701(a) to make the Register of Copyrights a Presidential appointee subject to Senate confirmation. The bill would also limit the Register’s service to a 10-year term, renewable by another Presidential nomination and Senate confirmation. AIPLA sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee in support of this legislation, stating that it is consistent with AIPLA's call for modernization of the Copyright Office. Under the current Section 701 of the Copyright Act, the Register of Copyrights serves as director of the Copyright Office, and acts under the supervision of the Librarian of Congress.

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments on Patent Venue

The Supreme Court on March 27, 2017, heard oral argument on whether amendments to the general venue statute at 28 U.S.C. §1391 overturned the decisions in Fourco Glass Co. v. Transmirra Products Corp., 353 U.S. 222 (1957), that the patent venue statute at 28 U.S.C. 1400(b) is not supplemented by general venue statute. TC Heartland LLC, v. Kraft Food Brands Group LLC, U.S., No. 16-341, oral argument 3/27/2017. The Petitioner challenged the Federal Circuit’s conclusion in VE Holding Corp. v. Johnson Gas Appliance Co., 917 F.2d 1574 (Fed. Cir. 1990), that the amendments did so.  Justice Kagan noted that nearly 30 years passed before the Federal Circuit decision was challenged; Justice Breyer questioned the use of venue statutes to police filings in the Eastern District of Texas; and Justice Sotomayor questioned the role of the special patent venue statute after the Federal Circuit decision.
Director Lee Establishes Working Group on RegulatoryReform​

​Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Michelle Lee has assembled a Working Group on Regulatory Reform to consider, review, and recommend ways that USPTO regulations can be improved, revised, and streamlined. This new initiative is an attempt by the Department of Commerce to become compliant with two recently signed Executive Orders; the “Presidential Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs” colloquially known as the 2-for-1 regulation reduction order, and the “Presidential Executive Order on Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda” which demands that agencies form a task force to oversee implementation of the regulatory reform initiatives and policies. Members of the public are encouraged to submit their ideas to improve, revise, and streamline USPTO regulations to: RegulatoryReformGroup@uspto.gov.

Cheerleader Uniforms Are Protectable As CopyrightableDesigns of Useful Articles

​Cheerleader uniforms made from fabric that features a pattern of lines, chevrons, and colorful shapes and that is registered at the Copyright Office are copyrightable as a design of a useful article with graphical features that are separable and independently identifiable, according to a 6-2 Supreme Court decision.  Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc., U.S., 15-866, 3/22/2017. The opinion by Justice Thomas sets out the correct analysis for determining whether copyrightable pictorial, graphical, or sculptural features incorporated into the design of a useful article are sufficiently separable and can be imagined to exist independent of the useful article to be protectable. Commenting on the capacity of the copyrightable feature to exist apart from the useful aspects of the article, Justice Thomas wrote “the feature must be able to exist as its own pictorial, graphic or scultural work … once it is imagined apart from the useful article.”

Laches Does Not Bar Damages for Infringement Within 6 yearsof Suit

A laches defense cannot preclude a damages claim for patent infringement that occurs within the six-year period identified in 35 U.S.C. §286. SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC, U.S., No. 15-927, 3/21/2017. Agreeing with AIPLA’s position in a July 22, 2016 amicus brief, the Supreme Court decided to expand its copyright decision in Petrella to patent law. In a 7-1 decision consistent with an AIPLA amicus brief, the Supreme Court applied the reasoning from its copyright decision in Petrella that laches cannot curtail a legal right created by Congress. The Court applied this rule to patent cases because laches is a judge-made remedy that has no role to play when Congress acts to create a statute of limitations.

Public Meeting on Consumer Messaging in Connection WithOnline Transactions Involving Copyrighted Works

​The Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force will host a public meeting at the USPTO facility in Alexandria, Virginia, to discuss how best to communicate to consumers regarding license terms and restrictions in connection with online transactions involving copyrighted works. This follows up on one of the recommendations that the Task Force presented in its January 2016 White Paper on Remixes, First Sale, and Statutory Damages. The public meeting will be held on April 18, 2017, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time. Registration will begin at 12:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Global Intellectual Property Academy (GIPA), Madison Building (East), Second Floor, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. All major entrances to the building are accessible to people with disabilities.

​Supreme Court Declines Review in Nonbviousness and Patent Eligibility Cases ​The Supreme Court on March 20, 2017, denied petitions for certiorari related to determinations of nonobviousness and patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. 101. In one case, the petitioner asked whether the Federal Circuit erred in restricting the Board’s ability to rely on the common sense and common knowledge of skilled artisans to establish the obviousness of patent claims. Google, Inc. v. Arendi S.A.R.L., No. 16-626, 3/20/2017. In another case, the petitioner asked if secondary considerations of patentability evidence should be considered in patent eligibility determinations under Section 101. Data Treasury Corp. v. Fidelity Nat'l Info. Svcs., Inc., No. 16-883, 3/20/2017.
Missing Limitations May Not Be Supplied by What Skilled Artisan Could Immediately Envision​ ​A reference that is missing limitations found in a patent claim does not become an anticipating reference simply because a skilled artisan would immediately envision those limitations, the Federal Circuit ruled March 14, 2017. Nidec Motor Corporation v. Zhongshan Broad Ocean Motor Co. Ltd., Fed. Cir., No. 2016-1900, 3/14/2017. Reversing an invalidity decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, the Court explained that the Board misapplied Kennametal, Inc. v. Ingersoll Cutting Tool Co., 780 F.3d 1376 (Fed. Cir. 2015), which involved a reference that disclosed binding agent combinations without disclosing the specific claimed combination. However, the reference in Kennametal taught that any of the disclosed binding agents could be used with any of the disclosed coating techniques, which included the challenged claim. It does not teach that a missing limitation can be supplied where it would be “at once envisaged” by a skilled artisan, the Court held.

Supreme Court of California Asked To Clarify Rights in pre-1972 Recordings

​The Ninth Circuit has certified two copyright questions to the California Supreme Court: does the California Civil Code give copyright owners of pre-1972 sound recordings sold to the public before 1982 an exclusive right of public performance; and if not, does California’s common law of property or tort otherwise grant such copyright owners an exclusive right to public performance? Flo & Eddie, Inc., v. Pandora Media, Inc., 9th Cir. No. 15-55287, 3/15/2017.  Plaintiff Flo & Eddie filed similar actions in New York and Florida; the New York Court of Appeals held that copyright holders do not have a right of public performance under New York common law; the Florida Supreme Court has set oral argument for similar questions later this year. 
The United States District Court of the Northern District of Indiana on March 9, 2017, granted a motion for interlocutory appeal to the Seventh Circuit on the question of whether the dicta in the Supreme Court’s Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., decision abrogated the discovery rule in copyright cases. Design Basics, LLC, v. Lancia Homes, Inc., N.D. Ind. No.: 1:16-CV-47-TLS. The Copyright Act states that “[n]o civil action shall be maintained under [its] provisions . . . unless it is commenced within three years after the claim accrued.” The district court applied the traditional “discovery rule,” which states that a claim accrues when the injured party discovers or should have discovered that an infringing act occurred. Defendant Lancia Homes, Inc. argued that the Petrella opinion states that a claim accrues at the time of the infringing act.
​Data Retrieval and Payment Claims Lack Inventive Concept for Patent Eligibility ​ ​Patent claims for receiving and validating user payments and for validating user payments before retrieving audio, video, text, and software data over the Internet are ineligible for patent protection under 35 U.S.C. 101 because they are directed to an abstract idea and do not include an inventive concept sufficient to transform the nature of the claims into patent-eligible subject matter, the Federal Circuit held March 1, 2017. Smartflash LLC v. Apple, Inc., Fed. Cir., No. 2016-1059, 3/1/2017 non-precedential decision. Reversing a district court refusal to grant a JMOL motion, the Court compared the claims here to the advertising and content distribution claims found ineligible in Ultramercial, Inc. v. Hulu, LLC, 772 F.3d 709 (Fed. Cir. 2014). As in Ultramercial, the Court concluded, the claims in this case recite routine computer activities (e.g., storing payment data and transmitting payment validation) that are insufficient to confer patent eligibility.
​​Supreme Court Will Not Review Well-Known Marks Decision ​ ​The Supreme Court on February 27, 2017, refused a request to review a Fourth Circuit decision that the owner of a well-known foreign mark need not plead its prior use in U.S. commerce to have standing for a Section 43(a) unfair competition claim against a defendant using the same mark in the United States. Belmora LL v. Bayer Consumer Care AG, U.S., No. 16-548, 2/27/2017. The Fourth Circuit opinion stated that, unlike an infringement action, an unfair competition action under Section 43(a) has no requirement that plaintiffs use their marks in U.S. commerce, and that it has no authority “to introduce a requirement into §43(a) that Congress plainly omitted.” There is a circuit split on the well-known marks doctrine, with Ninth and Fourth Circuit applying it and the Second Circuit refusing to do so. AIPLA filed an amicus brief in the Fourth Circuit case endorsing the doctrine.
Senate Confirms Wilbur Ross to Serve as Secretary of Commerce ​ ​The Senate on February 27, 2017, voted 72 to 27 to confirm Wilbur L. Ross of Florida to serve as Secretary of Commerce. The private equity investor is expected to be sworn in on February 28 to lead the agency that oversees, among other things, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the National Telecommunications & Information Administration.
CBM Patent Must Have Claim Containing Financial Activity Element​ ​A patent alleged to be eligible for a “covered business method” (CBM) proceeding before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board must include a claim that contains, however phrased, a financial activity element, the Federal Circuit held February 21, 2017 in a 2-1 decision. Secure Axcess, LLC, v. PCN Bank National Association, Fed. Cir., No. 2016-1353, 2/21/2017. Reversing a decision of the Board, the Court said the measure of an eligible patent is the claim as understood in light of the written description. The Court objected to the Board’s use of non-statutory words “incidental to” or “complimentary to” financial activity in interpreting the statutory definition of a “covered business method patent.” In a dissenting opinion, Judge Lourie wrote that the claimed invention (method for web site authentication) satisfies the CBM definition, particularly as all of the named infringers are in the banking industry.
​AIPLA Argues PTAB Failure to Observe Time Bar on IPR Petitions Is Appealable​ ​The statute (35 U.S.C. 314(d)) barring appeals of Patent Trial and Appeal Board decisions to institute inter partes review proceedings (IPR) does not apply to the statute (35 U.S.C. 315(b)) prohibiting the Board from instituting an IPR on a petition filed more than one year after the petitioner was sued for infringement, according to an AIPLA amicus brief to the en banc Federal Circuit. WiFi One, LLC v. Broadcom Corp., Fed. Cir., No. 2015-1944, amicus brief filed 2/23/2017. The brief noted that the non-appealability provision in Section 314 is limited to determinations “under this section,” which are primarily concerned with the sufficiency of the petition. The brief explained that the time bar under Section 315, by contrast, is an express limitation on the authority of the Board to institute an IPR.
Suppling Single ​​Component Abroad Does Not Infringe Patent under §271(f)(1) ​Supplying a single component abroad for the manufacture of a multicomponent invention does not constitute supplying a "substantial portion" of the components to give rise to patent infringement liability under 35 U.S.C. 271(f)(1), according to the Supreme Court. Life Technologies Corp. v. Promega Corp., U.S., No. 14-1538, 2/22/2017. Reversing and remanding a decision of the Federal Circuit, the Court declined to accept that and important or essential element of the invention can be a "substantial portion" of the components supplied, concluding that "substantial" in this context is a quantitative term rather than a qualitative term. The Court relied on the context of the surrounding provisions, and declined to leave the matter to a case-by-case determination which it said would compound rather than resolve the ambiguity of the term "substantial." However, the Court disclaimed any attempt to decided how close to "all" components a "substantial portion must be."​
​CAFC Hears Argument on USPTO Entitlement to Attorneys' Fees as Expenses​ ​The Federal Circuit on February 9, 2017, heard oral argument on whether the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is entitled to an award of attorneys' fees under the statutory language in 35 U.S.C. 145 stating "All the expenses of the proceedings shall be paid by the applicant." Nantkwest, Inc. v. Lee, Fed. Cir., No. 16-1794, 2/9/2017. The district court denied the USPTO motion for attorneys' fees as part of an expenses award (162 F. Supp. 3d 540 (ED Va 2016)?), declining to apply a similar decision from the Fourth Circuit which permitted such an award under a similar trademark statute. Shammas v. Focarino, 784 F. 3d 219 (4th Cir. 2015. That case construed 15 U.S.C. 1071(b)(3).​
Obviousness Ruling Must Explain How Person of Skill Would Combine References ​ ​A determination of obviousness invalidity requires not only an explanation that a person of ordinary skill could combine the cited prior art references, but also an explanation of how he/she would do so, the Federal Circuit held February 14, 2017. Personal Web Technologies, LLC v. Apple, Inc., Fed. Cir., No. 16-1174, 2/14/2017. Vacating and remanding an obviousness invalidity decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, the Court said it was not enough to state that a skilled artisan, once presented with two references, would have understood that they could be combined. While the amount of explanation depends on context, the Court pointed out that this case lacked “a clear, evidence-supported account of the contemplated workings of the combination” to adequately explain and support the conclusion that a relevant skilled artisan would have been motivated to make the combination and reasonably expect success in doing so.
Design Patent Profits Question in Apple-Samsung Case Is Remanded to District Court ​ ​The Federal Circuit remanded to the district court the question of whether the phrase “article of manufacture” in design patent law for computing a profits award refers to the end product or simply a component of that product. Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., (Fed. Cir., No. 14-1335) (2/7/2017). This installment of the iPhone war is on remand from the Supreme Court, which was asked how to apply the profits award provision for design patents at 35 U.S.C. § 289. The Federal Circuit decided to remand because the “district court is better positioned to parse the record to evaluate the parties’ competing arguments.” By doing so, according to the Federal Circuit, the district court “will have the opportunity to set forth a test for identifying the relevant article of manufacture for purposes of § 289, and to apply that test to this case.”
President’s Regulatory Freeze Delays Effective Date of New Trademark Rule  ​Applying President Trump’s freeze on new regulations, the USPTO on February 10, 2017, announced a 60-day delay of the effective date of the new rule entitled ‘‘Changes in Requirements for Affidavits or Declarations of Use, Continued Use, or Excusable Nonuse in Trademark Cases.’’ 82 Fed. Reg. 10273. The USPTO’s new rule, published in the Federal Register on January 19, 2017, allows it to remove outdated or erroneous trademarks from the government’s books. However, due to the President’s regulatory freeze announcement on January 20, 2017, the new rule is now scheduled to be effective on March 21, 2017. According to the USPTO, the 60-day delay is “necessary to give officials the opportunity for further review of the issues of law and policy raised by the rule.”
​AIPLA Amicus Brief Argues CAFC Read Venue Statute Correctly ​The Federal Circuit correctly interpreted the general venue statute at 28 U.S.C. 1391 as providing a definition of “resides” in the patent venue statute at 28 U.S.C. 1400(b), AIPLA argued to the Supreme Court in a February 6, 2017 amicus brief.  TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, U.S., No. 16-341, amicus brief filed 2/6/2017. Although the Supreme Court in Fourco Glass Co. v. Transmirra Products Corp., 353 U.S. 222 (1957), found the two statutes worked independently, Congress changed the law in 1988 by adding to the general venue statute “for purposes of venue under this chapter.” According to the brief, the deletion of that phrase in 2011 did not return the law to the Fourco rule because it was replaced with the phrase “for all venue purposes.” Nor does the added phrase “except as otherwise provided by law” adopt the Supreme Court’s Fourco rule, the brief concluded.
U.S. Brief Urges Supreme Court to Deny Cert in Well-Known Mark Case ​ ​A government brief to the Supreme Court argues that the Fourth Circuit correctly held that the Lanham Act does not require the owner of a foreign mark to plead prior use of that mark in U.S. commerce to establish standing for an unfair competition claim against a defendant using the same mark in the United States. Bellmora, LLC v. Bayer Consumer Care AG, U.S., No. 16-548, 1/24/2017. The government is a respondent in an appeal of a Trademark Trial and Appeal Board decision to cancel Belmora's registration for "Flannax," a mark Bayer has long used in Mexico and that is well known in Hispanic communities in the United States. The district court dismissed the appeal for lack of standing, and the Fourth Circuit vacated and remanded. The government position is consistent with an AIPLA amicus brief filed in the Fourth Circuit.
​Copyright Office Extends Comment Period for Section 512 Study ​The Copyright Office on January 27, 2017, announced an extension of the deadline for submitting comments and empirical studies on the impact and effectiveness of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act safe harbor provisions contained in 17 U.S.C. 512. 82 Fed. Reg. 8629. According to the notice, written responses to the questions outlined in the Second Notice are now due no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on February 21, 2017. Empirical research studies are due no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on March 22, 2017. An initial invitation for comment produced 92,000 responses, and a second notice sought responses to 16 additional questions and invited empirical studies. The deadlines were extended to ensure commenters sufficient time to respond.
AIPLA Urges Supreme Court to Make No Changes to Patent Exhaustion Doctrine  ​AIPLA, in a January 24, 2017 amicus brief, argued to the Supreme Court that its decisions in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 133 S. Ct. 1351 (2012), and Quanta Computer, Inc. v. LG Electronics, Inc., 553 U.S. 617 (2008), require no change to the Federal Circuit law of international patent exhaustion and conditional sales. Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc., U.S., No. 15-1189, 1/24/2017. The brief explains that Kirtsaeng, interpreting a copyright statute stating the “first sale” doctrine, does not control the longstanding patent exhaustion doctrine set out in Jazz Photo Corp. v. International Trade Commission, 264 F.3d 1094 (Fed. Cir. 2001). It further explains that Quanta, which found that sale limitations in a Master Agreement rather than in a patent license failed to avoid patent exhaustion, was a case-specific application of the rules of conditional sales set out in Mallinckrodt, Inc. v. Medipart, Inc., 976 F.2d 700 (Fed. Cir. 1992)​
FTC and DOJ Issue Updated Antitrust Guidelines for IP Licensing​ The Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department on January 13, 2017, issued updated Antitrust Guidelines for the Licensing of Intellectual Property. The guidelines explain how the federal antitrust agencies evaluate licensing and related activities involving patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and know-how. According to a press release, this update modernizes the agencies’ 1995 IP Licensing Guidelines, ensuring that they continue to play a fundamental role in the agencies’ analysis of the licensing of intellectual property rights and provide guidance to the public and the business community about the agencies’ enforcement approach to intellectual property licensing. It states that the agencies reiterate that the flexible effects-based enforcement framework remains applicable to all IP areas, a wide body of DOJ and FTC pertinent guidance remains available to evaluate a variety of conduct involving intellectual property, including standards-setting activities and the assertion of standards-essential patents.
Copyright Office Invites Public Comment on Moral Rights Protection  The Copyright Office on January 23, 2017, invited public comment on a new study to assess current U.S. law on the moral rights of authors with respect to attribution and integrity. 82 Fed. Reg. 7870. The study will review existing law in the Copyright Act as well as in other federal and state laws to determine whether any a​dditional protection in this area is advisable. To support this effort and provide thorough assistance to Congress, according to the notice, the Office is seeking public input on a number of particular questions. Written comments are due by March 9, and reply comments must be received by April 24.
AIPLA Files Comments at USPTO on Patent Eligibility​ The American Intellectual Property Law Association on January 18, 2017, filed comments at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on improvements needed to examiner understanding of patent eligibility, and on the unworkability of patent eligibility law under recent judicial decisions. The letter summarizes AIPLA’s long and consistent position that 35 U.S.C. 101 sets forth patentable subject matter categories, and that any limits on eligibility should be few. While laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ide​as exist in the public domain for all time, according to the letter, protecting the public commons does not require further limits on or exclusions beyond those categories. If what is claimed is a machine, manufacture, composition of matter, or process, or an improvement of any of these things, and if it is useful, the letter continues, it is eligible for patenting, subject to the conditions and requirements of sections 102, 103, and 112.
USPTO Seeks Comments on Whether to Retain 'Accelerated Prosecution' The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is requesting comments from its stakeholders on whether the accelerated examination program should be retained, according to a January 12, 2017, Federal Register notice. 82 Fed. Reg. 3758. In an August 16, 2016 notice updating the p​rogram to reflect c​hanges in the law and examination practice, the USPTO indicated that the number of accelerated examination requests has been quite low. In particular, in each of the fiscal years 2012-2015, fewer than 250 applications were accepted into the accelerated examination program. The USPTO is therefore seeking feedback from its stakeholders on whether the accelerated examination program provides a sufficient benefit to the public to justify the cost of implementation. The notice states that written comments must be received on or before March 13, 2017, to be ensu​red of consideration, and that no public hearing will be held.
​​Federal Circuit Appeal of PTAB Decision Requires Proof of Standing​ 

​An appellant seeking Federal Circuit review of a Patent Trial and Appeal Board decision must prove standing by showing an injury in fact that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct that is likely to be redressed by the Federal Circuit decision, according to the appellate court. Phigenix, Inc. v. Immunogen, Inc., Fed. Cir., No. 2016-1544, 1/9/2017. This requirement applies even though the Patent Act imposes no standing requirement for the PTAB to institute an inter partes review proceeding. Since evidence of standing may not be of record before the PTAB, such evidence must be presented to the appellate court by affidavit, the court explained, but here the declaration evidence of competitive injury from the PTAB decision was insufficient. There is no evidence the patent here has ever been licensed to anyone, much less to entities that have obtained licenses from the appellee, according to the court.

 

 
En Banc Federal Circuit Will Review Appealability of Decision to Institute IPR  The en banc Federal Circuit on January 4, 2017, agreed to reconsider its ruling that a Patent Trial and Appeal Board decision to initiate an inter partes review is not appealable where the decision involved time-bar issues under 35 U.S.C. 315(b). Wi-Fi One, LLC v. Broadcom Corp., Fed. Cir., No. 2015-1944, en banc order 1/4/2017. The question posed for briefing is the following: “Should this court overrule Achates Reference Publishing, Inc. v. Apple Inc., 803 F.3d 652 (Fed. Cir. 2015) and hold that judicial review is available for a patent owner to challenge the PTO’s determination that the petitioner satisfied the timeliness requirement of 35 U.S.C. § 315(b) governing the filing of petitions for inter partes review?” The Court will consider whether the timeliness provision is “closely related” to the institution decision or beyond the bounds of the Section 314(d) ban on appeals.
​​USPTO Announces Sign-up for March 14-16 STEPP Training

The USPTO on January 3, 2016, invited members of the public to sign up for its three-day Stakeholder Training on Examination Practice and Procedure (STEPP) program, set for March 14-16. The training course on examination practice and procedures will be held at the San Jose, California USPTO regional office. This training is intended for those who have recently passed the Patent Bar and will make use of statutes, rules, and guidelines relevant to practicing before the USPTO. The course is led by USPTO trainers and is based on material developed for training patent examiners and other employees.


The United States District Court of the Northern District of Indiana on March 9, 2017, granted a motion for interlocutory appeal to the Seventh Circuit on the question of whether the dicta in the Supreme Court’s Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., decision abrogated the discovery rule in copyright cases. Design Basics, LLC, v. Lancia Homes, Inc., N.D. Ind. No.: 1:16-CV-47-TLS. The Copyright Act states that “[n]o civil action shall be maintained under [its] provisions . . . unless it is commenced within three years after the claim accrued.” The district court applied the traditional “discovery rule,” which states that a claim accrues when the injured party discovers or should have discovered that an infringing act occurred. Defendant Lancia Homes, Inc. argued that the Petrella opinion states that a claim accrues at the time of the infringing act
 
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