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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 Li-Jen Shen, Cory Smith and George C. Chen
The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) has finally filled a gap left by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the standard for finding deceptive intent when trying to prove fraud on the USPTO.
By Robert W. Clarida and Robert J. Bernstein
The Ninth Circuit ruling in Flo & Eddie may turn out to be last stop on the long and winding road the owners of pre-1972 recordings have traveled in their efforts to obtain compensation for public performances through platforms like Sirius.
By Willem Klein
Patent marking is an important step in the patent lifecycle as it is generally required to seek damages from infringers prior to the date the suit is filed. While virtual marking has somewhat reduced the overhead of marking, it suffers from the same problems all Internet-based evidence runs into in court: websites are ephemeral and have intermittent accessibility, as well as poor public logging of when information existed where, and for how long. NFTs on a digital blockchain could potentially overcome these hurdles, while still providing the benefits of virtual marking via websites.
By Joshua R. Stein and Jeffrey S. Ginsberg
Pair of Federal Circuit Decisions Address Standing to Appeal Adverse IPR Decision