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In 2013, the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) adopted a new policy under which any party commencing a de novo proceeding challenging a PTO decision would be responsible to pay a pro rata share of the salaries of the government attorneys working on the matter, based on a new interpretation of language that has appeared in the Patent Act for 175 years — and more recently was included in the Lanham Act as well. That language requires the plaintiff seeking de novo review to pay “all expenses of the proceedings,” win or lose. However, the term expenses had always in practice been construed (until recently) to mean only lesser costs — not attorneys’ fees. On Dec. 11, 2019, the Supreme Court rejected the PTO’s new interpretation of the Patent Act in Peter v. NantKwest, Case No. 18-801, slip op., which held that the American Rule, a centuries-old principle under which each party bears its own attorneys’ fees, does apply to this statute. The Court further concluded that the actual language of the statute itself simply does not support shifting fees.
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By Rudy Y. Kim
With fewer restraints after Octane, district courts now have broader discretion to grant motions for attorney’s fees. But understanding the circumstances under which exceptionality has been found is critical. Recent decisions by the Federal Circuit post-Octane provide some important guidance on when attorney’s fees may be available under Section 285.
By Stan Soocher
Part Two of a Two Part Article
This article discusses, among other things, the Swedish music industry perspective on the European Union’s Copyright Directive, the growth of multi-country music licensing hubs and the impact of Brexit.
By Scott Graham
Defendants Led Zeppelin and its music labels were the winners in the copyright decision by the Ninth Circuit over the song “Stairway to Heaven.” But the estate of songwriter Randy Wolfe (p/k/a California) wasn’t the only one who got the short end. Among the collateral damage from the ruling was a 2002 precedent written by former Chief Judge Alex Kozinski that endorsed the so-called “inverse-ratio” rule.
By Shaleen J. Patel
VARA Lives On: A $6.75M Lesson on Respecting Moral Rights