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In November of last year, the Federal Circuit narrowed the types of patents eligible for covered business method (CBM) review. In Unwired Planet, LLC v. Google Inc., Case No. 15-1812, (Fed. Cir. Nov. 21, 2016), the court found that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) exceeded its authority in permitting CBM review for patents with claims that are “incidental to a financial activity” or “complementary to a financial activity.” The court’s decision narrowed what patents are eligible for CBM review, and provided some guidance for future cases seeking to determine whether a patent falls within the statutory definition of a CBM patent. This decision apparently raises the bar for CBM eligibility but does not resolve the existing split among PTAB panels in deciding the same.
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By Stan Soocher
To survive preemption under §301 of the Copyright Act, courts consider whether a state law claim in a lawsuit has an “extra element” that qualitatively distinguishes it from a federal copyright claim. Courts typically find that state law claims, such as breach of contract, have an extra element. Other state law claims, such as conversion, get varying court determinations as to whether they are preempted.
By Darin Snyder, Brad Garcia, Amy Liang, and Daniel Silverman
In the past year, the Federal Circuit has repeatedly required the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas to transfer patent infringement suits from that district to more convenient venues, and in doing so it has provided increasingly specific — and often pointed — guidance to courts and litigants on the appropriate analysis for transfer motions.
By Robert W. Clarida and Robert J. Bernstein
The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Unicolors v. H&M Hennes & Mauritz to address the following question: “Did the Ninth Circuit err in breaking with its own prior precedent and the findings of other circuits and the Copyright Office in holding that 17 U.S.C. §411 requires referral to the Copyright Office where there is no indicia of fraud or material error as to the work at issue in the subject copyright registration?”
By Scott Graham
The agency announced that the Department of Commerce has applied to register the USPTO’s marks in a bid to crack down on scammers who are impersonating the agency.