STLR Link Roundup – Jan. 29, 2016

Federal Marshals Raid Booth at the Consumer Electronics Show after Court Order

On January 7 Federal Marshals shut down and seized the contents of a booth at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The seizure came after a Federal Judge granted Future Motion, Inc. a court order that included a Temporary Restraining Order and Seizure Order against the booth operator, Changzhou First.[1] Future Motion makes a one-wheeled hoverboard-like device called the Onewheel. It claims that Changzhou First was marketing a copy of the device at CES that violated the patents it holds covering Onewheel. Judge Du of the District Court of Nevada signed the order on January 6 after an ex parte motion was made by Future Motion. The order cited the fact that defendant was an overseas company with no permanent presence in the United States, making it unlikely for Future Motion to successfully receive monetary damage from them in the case.

Federal Circuit Overturns Prohibition on Registering Disparaging Trademarks

In a 9-3 decision, an en banc  panel of the Federal Circuit overruled section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, which prohibits the registration of disparaging trademarks. The case arose after the petitioner, Simon Tam, tried to register the name of his band, “THE SLANTS”, as a trademark. The trademark examiner refused, explaining that the name was disparaging to people of Asian descent. Mr. Tam appealed to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”), which affirmed the examiner. He then appealed to the Federal Circuit, which affirmed the Board. The Federal Circuit reviewed the case en banc on its own motion, and reversed. The court found that the statute failed to survive the strict scrutiny required of restrictions on First Amendment rights, overturning its own precedent on the subject. Click here for more analysis on the case. 

Federal Circuit Affirms Review of Institution and Merits of IPR by same Board

In a 2-1 decision, the Federal Circuit held that the same panel of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) can decide whether to institute an Inter Partes Review and decide the merits of the review itself. The court held that it had the authority to hear the question of the PTAB’s authority to render a final decision, but decided that the statute and Constitution did not preclude the same panel from making both decisions. Judge Newman, in dissent, argued that the statute clearly required separate bodies to make the decision to institute and decide on the merits.

Federal Circuit to Decide Case Expected to Clarify Abstract Idea Concept

The Federal Circuit heard oral arguments in a case that is expected to produce clarification of the concept of the abstract idea in patent law. The case, Mcro, Inc v. Namco Bandai Games America, involves software patents that cover technology that automates the process of making animated characters’ mouths move when they speak. The District Court granted defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings on the ground that two of plaintiff’s patents were ineligible for patenting because they are abstract ideas.

 

[1] Future Motion, Inc. v. Changzhou First Int’l Trade Co., Ltd., No. 2:16-cv-00013 (D. Nev. Jan. 6, 2016) (order granting temporary restraining order and seizure).

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