Intellectual Property - Legal Technology - Technologist
Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Recently in Intellectual Property Category

There's an old, apocryphal story about a guy who was bitten by bedbugs in a train sleeper car. He wrote a letter to the railroad president. The railroad president wrote back, saying it was the first time he had ever heard of such a thing happening, he had ordered all the rail cars fumigated, and promised it would never happen again. The president also accidentally included a copy of the sender's original letter, on which was written, in the railroad president's hand, "Send this SOB the bedbug letter."

Earlier this week, Google launched the "bedbug letter" into the 21st century when it returned documents containing trade secrets to the original owner -- along with several incriminating Post-It notes revealing its plans for the newly acquired secrets.

The world got a crash course in copyright law earlier this week when David Slater, a British photographer, requested that the Wikimedia foundation take down a photograph snapped by a macaque.

The "monkey selfie" was born when Slater set up his camera in an Indonesian forest and came back later to find that monkeys had snatched it and were snapping pictures, The Washington Post reports.

While Slater claims that he owns the rights to the photograph, Wikimedia insists that the work isn't owned by anyone -- because it was taken by a monkey.

In the 1990s, Jim Logan started a company called Personal Audio, and this was his idea: Pick your favorite newspaper or magazine articles, and he'll send you audio versions of those articles -- through the mail -- on cassette tapes. NPR's Planet Money first reported on Logan's failed business venture last year because Logan claimed his patent over this article-to-audio format covered podcasts too.

Personal Audio sued some famous podcasts, including Adam Carolla's and HowStuffWorks. To other podcasters, Personal Audio sent letters demanding license fees.

Carolla has raised more than $400,000 for what he calls the "Save Our Podcasts Legal Defense Fund," which he intended to use to litigate Personal Audio's claims. Coincidentally (read: not that coincidentally), Personal Audio asked to dismiss its case against Carolla, but Carolla refused.

A device installed in many GM and Ford vehicles has driven a music-industry group to seek a court's intervention.

The Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies, an organization that collects fees levied on the sale of home recording devices, has filed a class action complaint accusing Ford and General Motors of placing certain types of hard drives in its cars without paying the requisite fees. The drives in question are "capable of making a digital audio copied recording for private use," the lawsuit asserts.

Does your online advertising strategy keep up with the latest tech and SEO trends? Let our experts take a second look.

Today marks the anniversary of the first U.S. patent. On July 31, 1790, Samuel Hopkins was issued the first patent, for a procedure for making potash.

Two hundred twenty-four years and over 8 million patents later, here are five patently fun facts you might not know about patents and patent history:

Does your online advertising strategy keep up with the latest tech and SEO trends? Let our experts take a second look.

We called a similar case against Google "obvious from the outset" when the district court ruled book scanning "fair use." Thankfully, the Second Circuit didn't make us look like fools when the issue reappeared this year.

(Don't worry ... there's still time.)

Yesterday, on our Greedy Associates blog, we sang the praises of hypothetical open source casebooks as an alternative to publishers' ridiculous $200 tomes, especially when publishers are considering adopting a leasing model to kill the used book market.

Well, it turns out that open source casebooks aren't so hypothetical after all. We stumbled on one, then another, then another yesterday afternoon. Here they are, from most feature-packed and promising to "good efforts."

One of the most anticipated cases of the term was argued earlier this week before the Supreme Court -- ABC Inc., et al., v. Aereo, Inc.

Aereo charges subscribers a small monthly fee to watch television programming (live or recorded) on their mobile devices. The service works by retransmitting content to subscribers over the Internet using individual dime-sized antennas.

A group of television broadcasters including ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS, filed a complaint in federal court claiming that Aereo's business violates their performance rights under copyright law. They sought a preliminary injunction, which the district court denied.

The year 1790 was a very different time, but interestingly enough, the first Patent Act passed in the states wasn't that different from today's system. Sure, there were some differences (patent examinations were conducted by the the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, and the Attorney General, instead of trained patent examiners), but the system then faced some of the same issues that it does now: patentability, jury trials, and fee-shifting.

As a nod to the history of our beloved Patent Act, here are a few of those issues, along with some possible solutions:

Google Glass has been making headlines lately for where it is getting banned, and the company might soon be able to add another place -- the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO"). OK, a "ban" is too strong a word, but all of Google's efforts thus far to trademark the word "Glass" have fallen short.

Google Glass Trademark

Google has already successfully registered the term "Google Glass," but it is now trying to register the term "Glass" in that slick typeface you may have seen online. But so far, the USPTO has not registered the trademark. Instead, it sent Google a letter citing several issues with the trademark application.