'Assignor estoppel' is a common law doctrine that prevents, in district court patent litigation, an assignor of a patent from challenging the validity of the assigned patent as a defence to infringement allegations. The Supreme Court recently heard oral argument in a case that could limit or eliminate the doctrine of assignor estoppel and reduce the disparity between the ability of assignors to challenge the validity of patents in district courts and at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently discontinued its fraudulent specimen pilot reporting programme, which enabled the public to report fraudulent specimens via a dedicated USPTO-monitored email address. Instead, trademark owners can now report fraudulent specimens to the USPTO by submitting a traditional letter of protest.
After 10 years of litigation, the Supreme Court has put an end to the copyright case of the century, Google v Oracle, ruling that Google's use of Oracle's application programming interface Java code in the development of its Android operating system is a fair use as a matter of law. In the doctrine-expanding six-to-two opinion, the court found that all four fair use factors weighed in Google's favour.
Trademark holders often face the dilemma of whether and how to respond when their marks are used for comic effect, particularly when the humour is at their expense for another's commercial gain. Instinctively, trademark holders want to protect their marks, often with an aggressive legal response. However, that approach is not always wise and is now less likely to succeed, at least in one appellate circuit, following a recent case involving the well-known Jack Daniel's brand.
The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in a case that addresses whether administrative patent judges (APJs) – who preside over inter partes reviews at the United States Patent and Trademark Office – are unconstitutionally appointed principal officers and, if so, whether that constitutional violation can be cured by severing 'for cause' employment protections for APJs.