In case you have been on vacation for the past two weeks, here is a quick update of some major developments in the intellectual property arena. Depending on your position, they may represent the “good,” the “bad” or the “ugly.”
Alice Corporation Supreme Court Decision
Yesterday, in the Alice Corporation
case, the Supreme Court provided further comment on patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101 in the computer software context. The patent claims-at-issue were directed to “a computerized scheme for mitigating ‘settlement risk.’” The Court held, in part, that “the claims at issue [were] drawn to the abstract idea of intermediated settlement, and that merely requiring generic computer implementation fails to transform that abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.” The takeaway is that merely reciting a computer system configured to implement an abstract concept will not be patent-eligible subject matter.
As previously reported, Federal Circuit Judge Randall Rader stepped down as chief judge last month in the midst of criticism over his controversial e-mail. Last week, Judge Radar announced
that he will be retiring from the bench at the end of the month. He intends to teach.
Washington Redskins Trademarks Cancelled
On June 18, 2014, the Trademark Trail and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) in the Amanda Blackhorse
matter cancelled Pro-Football, Inc.’s trademark registrations consisting in whole or in part for the term REDSKINS for professional football-related services. The marks were cancelled because they were found to be disparaging to Native Americans and as such, were obtained in violation of 15 U.S.C. §1052(a), which prohibits “registration of marks that may disparage persons or bring them into contempt or disrepute.” The TTAB was quick to point out that its decision solely related to the right to register these marks and does not deal with the right to use such marks. This is an important distinction as this case will surely be appealed and does not extinguish any common law enforcement rights that may exist. Thus, if you are thinking about starting your own REDSKINS clothing line, you might want to rethink that decision.