Author: Frederick Spaeth

Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment: Patent Licensors, Beware Getting Caught In Brulotte’s Web

On June 22, 2015 in Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment, 576 U.S. ___ (2015), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a rule it established in 1964 in Brulotte v. Thys Co., 379 U.S. 29, which said that a patent holder cannot charge royalties for the use of a patented invention after the patent has expired. As a result of this ruling, Marvel does not owe royalties to Stephen Kimble based on sales of Spider Man “Web Blaster” accessory toys that fell under Kimble’s expired patent. (The Web Blaster lets would-be spidermen shoot foam web strands from their wrists, just like Peter Parker. Shazam!)

Nautilus vs. Biosig: A Bright Star to Sail By?

A few weeks ago, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals released its decision in Biosig v. Nautilus, (Fed. Cir. 2015) on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, Nautilus v. Biosig, 134 S. Ct. 2120 (2014) which instructed the Federal Ciruit to reconsider whether the claims of the patent in suit were sufficiently clear to meet the requirements of 35 USC 112. The Federal Circuit had already reviewed those claims and found them to valid under that court’s prevailing formulation for clarity: the claims in question were neither “insolubly ambiguous” nor “not amenable to construction.” Biosig Instruments, Inc. v. Nautilus, Inc., 715 F. 3d 891 (Fed. Cir. 2013), but was required to review the claims once again under the new “reasonable certainty” standard.

Hiding Secrets in Plain Sight? Unsealed Court Papers can Jeopardize Trade Secrets, Part II

In my previous post I discussed the recent remand by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals of DuPont’s $919 million dollar verdict in its trade secret misappropriation case against Kolon Industries. In that decision, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals asked the trial court to consider whether the trade secrets in question had lost their proprietary status because they were disclosed in unsealed court documents in a prior litigation. In this post I will briefly summarize the principles that will guide the trial court in resolving this question.

Hiding Secrets in Plain Sight? Unsealed Court Papers can Jeopardize Trade Secrets

In 2011 DuPont won a near billion-dollar verdict in a trade secret case which is now subject to remand following the defendant’s appeal, providing a lesson for future litigants. DuPont initiated the high-stakes litigation against competitor and a former employee, alleging that the employee shared DuPont trade secrets with Kolon Industries in breach of an obligation of confidentiality the employee owed to DuPont.

Some Words about Invention Promotion Firms

Invention Promotion Firms (IPFs) hold themselves out as providing a range of valuable services to novice inventors. For example, many of these firms offer to evaluate the patentability of inventions, file patent applications, present the invention to manufacturers, build prototypes, and market inventions. They often point out that most conventional services, i.e., law firms and marketing consultants […]

Trademarks – Is a Little Mark Better than None at All?

Conventional wisdom holds that it is better, at least in the long run, to adopt and register a strong trademark than a weak one. Still, weak marks have their allure: they are easier to invent than strong marks and, as a recent precedential decision by the United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) demonstrates, the weaker they are, the easier they may be to register. The ruling is In re Hartz Hotel Services, Inc., Serial No. 76692673 (March 19, 2012) [precedential], which came to my attention via John Welch’s THE TTABlog, one of my favorite IP blogs.