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September 2013 Archives

Common Sense v. Common Practice in Patent Expiry Dispute

The Naval Research Laboratory maintains a patent portfolio. If the renewal period is approaching, the man in charge, NRL patent attorney John Karasek, checks to see whether the patent has been worth anything and whether anyone has asked to license it.

If not, he lets it lapse.

One time, however, he let it lapse, and shortly thereafter, he received an inquiry about licensing the patent from someone who had been trying to get a hold of him for some time. Karasek filed a late renewal, checked the "unintentional lapse" box, and paid the fee.

Hughes Confirmed Unanimously; First Openly Gay Appeals Ct. Judge

Unlike many of President Barack Obama's nominees for the federal bench, this one did not face delays or opposition. The White House announced today that 46-year-old Todd Hughes was confirmed unanimously by the Senate, filling a long-standing vacancy on the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

Hughes' confirmation marks the first time an openly-gay judge has served on a Federal Court of Appeals. Interestingly enough, the president's former nominee for the seat, Edward DuMont, whose confirmation was stalled for years before he withdrew, is also openly gay.

Fed Cir Rejects DHS' Request In TSA Whistleblower Case

Last month, the Federal Circuit rejected a petition from the Justice and Homeland Security departments (DHS). On August 30, the U.S. Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit assessed a petition from the DHS requesting a full court review of a decision supporting former TSA air marshal Robert MacLean and his whistleblower actions back in 2006, CNN reports.

Seven years ago, MacLean had exposed a 2003 DHS decision to sever the inclusion of federal air marshals on long-distance flights, even with the increasing threat of terrorism on passenger flights. Marshal was then fired for leaking this information about air marshal travel cuts.

Army Contractor Case Kicked Back to CFC Over Kickbacks

Contractors, subcontractors, and kickbacks. Is anyone even mildly surprised here?

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the United States Army contracted with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, now known simply as KBR, to provide dining services. KBR, despite previous difficulties with the subcontractor, handed over operations of Camp Anaconda to Tamini Global Company.

After years of bills, adjustments, negotiations, and renegotiations, an Army audit found that KBR billed $41.1 million in unreasonable expenses, and refused to pay.

The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association ("OSGATA") are not giving up. They may have lost the latest round of litigation, with Monsanto Technology, LLC ("Monsanto"), earlier this summer but that's not stopping them. Last week, the group consisting of 73 farmers petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, according to AgriMarketing.

Fed. Cir. Clarifies Newegg Opinion, Crushes Patent Troll

Ever used an online shopping cart? Of course you have. We all have. Nearly every e-commerce site uses the ubiquitous digital representation of the real-life counterpart, yet a so-called patent troll, Soverain, alleged that its patents (purchased from the original "inventor") covered the technology, as well as related the related technological innovation of a unique session identifier.

Their claims worked. According to Ars Technica, they squeezed tens of millions of dollars worth of settlements out of heavyweights like Amazon, and obtained verdicts and ongoing royalties against Victoria's Secret and Newegg.

Newegg fought back, however. And crushed them.

Many parents are concerned about the supposed risks between vaccination and autism, but the CDC has stated that the studies have not supported a link between vaccinations and incidence of autism. Because of the rise of litigation in the '70s and '80s with big damage awards, even in the absence of scientific evidence, Congress enacted the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act ("Vaccine Act") to limit liability and address public health concerns.