U.S. patent applications are predominately filed by foreign corporations, while for all other national patent offices the domestic applications comprise a super majority. In 2016, the Chinese patent office received totally 3,465,000 applications for th…Continue Reading ...
The HuffPost recently published a piece authored by Massachusetts State Senator Eric P. Lesser (D), which is titled Patent Trolls Are Trolling Startups In Massachusetts – And We Need To Change That. The piece attempts to engage readers by taking a situation from the HBO sitcom Silicon Valley and apply it to real world business activities currently ongoing within the state of Massachusetts. However, critical analysis of Lesser’s article indicates glaring flaws with his logic in a way that makes…
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“It’s not very helpful to talk about quality,” said former Chief Judge Michel. We agree. Quality has too many meanings for too many people. We all want quality patents, but we do not agree on what quality means. A better objective for patent strategy and patent management is the pursuit of valuable patents. “But wait!” […]
The post Patent Quality Isn’t the Question. Patent Value is the Question. appeared first on IPWatchdog.com | Patents & Patent Law.
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District Court Finds Diagnostic Claims to Be Directed to Patent Ineligible Subject Matter By Donald Zuhn — Last week, in Athena Diagnostics, Inc. v. Mayo Collaborative Services, LLC, District Judge Indira Talwani of the U.S. District Court for the Dis…Continue Reading ...
CAPE TOWN — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in South Africa has confirmed that the long-awaited national draft IP policy will be published in the Government Gazette this month. This comes after Cabinet approved the draft IP policy at its la…Continue Reading ...
William Adams is the well-known front man for the music group The Black Eyed Peas and is known as will.i.am. Adams’ company – i.am.symbolic, llc – already owns trademarks on WILL.I.AM for certain goods and services, and also the mark I AM (typed drawing) for clothing in class 25. The trademark examining attorney refused registration of the standard character trademark I AM on the ground of likelihood of confusion with existing registered trademarks. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board…
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Feng Li appeals from the decision of the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granting
the motion of the United States Patent and Trademark
Office (“USPTO”) and the Director of the USPTO
(collectively, “Appellees”) to dismiss Mr. Li’s complaint for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a
claim, thereby affirming the USPTO’s decision to exclude
Mr. Li from practice before the USPTO. Li v. Matal, No.
15-cv-668 (E.D. Va. Jan. 22, 2016). We affirm.
The case has a New Jersey connection:
After successfully obtaining a
judgment for his clients, Mr. Li disagreed with his clients
on the amount of attorney’s fees he was owed, resulting in
his clients filing suit in New Jersey state court. Knowing
the fees were in dispute, Mr. Li transferred $1.2 million of
the judgment into trust funds in his children’s names.
The New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics determined that
Mr. Li violated the New Jersey Rules of Professional
Conduct by taking possession of client funds he knew to
be disputed. In 2013, the Supreme Court of New Jersey
disbarred Mr. Li from the practice of law based on attorney
Mr. Li’s response to the
Notice and Order did not dispute the fact that he had
been disbarred in New Jersey, but rather argued that
reciprocal discipline by the USPTO was not justified
because the New Jersey Supreme Court did not have
jurisdiction to disbar him based on his conduct in New
York. He further argued that the New Jersey Supreme
Court’s actions violated the due process, equal protection,
and Ex Post Facto clauses of the U.S. Constitution. On
April 28, 2015, the Director of the USPTO issued a final
order pursuant to 37 C.F.R. § 11.24, excluding Mr. Li from
practice before the USPTO. The USPTO Director carefully
applied § 11.24 and found that Mr. Li failed to meet his
burden to show by clear and convincing evidence that: (1)
the New Jersey disciplinary process was “so lacking in
notice or opportunity to be heard;” (2) there was an “infirmity
of proof” establishing his conduct; or (3) a “grave
injustice” would result from his disbarment.
Of CAFC review:
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Our review of a district court’s
decision on a petition brought pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 32
is de novo, “reapplying the standard” applied by the
district court under the APA.
Symbolic lost its appeal to the CAFC from an adverse decision
from the TTAB. Its arguments:
Symbolic argues that the Board erred in its likelihood
of confusion analysis by: (1) holding that the will.i.am
restriction is “precatory” and “meaningless” and therefore
not considering it in analyzing certain DuPont factors;
(2) ignoring third-party use and the peaceful coexistence
on the primary and supplemental registers and in the
marketplace of other I AM marks; and (3) finding a likelihood
of reverse confusion. We will address each argument
Likelihood of confusion is a question of law based on
underlying findings of fact. In re Chatam Int’l Inc., 380
F.3d 1340, 1342 (Fed. Cir. 2004). We assess a likelihood
of confusion based on the factors set forth in DuPont. 476
F.2d at 1361. “The likelihood of confusion analysis considers
all DuPont factors for which there is record evidence
but ‘may focus . . . on dispositive factors, such as
similarity of the marks and relatedness of the goods.’”
Herbko Int’l, Inc. v. Kappa Books, Inc., 308 F.3d 1156,
1164–65 (Fed. Cir. 2002) (quoting Han Beauty, Inc. v.
Alberto–Culver Co., 236 F.3d 1333, 1336 (Fed. Cir. 2001)
(alteration in original)). While evidence of actual confusion
may be considered in the DuPont analysis, “a showing
of actual confusion is not necessary to establish a
likelihood of confusion.” Id. (citing Giant Food, Inc. v.
Nation’s Foodservice, Inc., 710 F.2d 1565, 1571 (Fed. Cir.
1983)). In the likelihood of confusion analysis “doubts are
to be resolved against the newcomer and in favor of the
prior user.” San Fernando Elec. Mfg. Co. v. JFD Elecs.
Components Corp., 565 F.2d 683, 684 (CCPA 1977).
The Coach case arose:
Furthermore, Symbolic’s reliance on Coach is misplaced.
Although it is true that word marks identical in
sound and appearance may have different meanings and
commercial impressions, 668 F.3d at 1369, the Board’s
finding that this is not such a case is supported by substantial
evidence. Unlike in Coach, Symbolic did not
establish that the words “I AM,” which comprise the
totality of the mark, by themselves “ha[ve] many different
definitions in different contexts,” or that I AM when
applied to Symbolic’s goods “brings to mind” something
different from I AM when applied to registrants’ marks.
Of reverse confusion:
“The term ‘reverse confusion’ has been used to describe
the situation where a significantly larger or prominent
newcomer ‘saturates the market’ with a trademark
that is confusingly similar to that of a smaller, senior
registrant for related goods or services.” In re Shell Oil
Co., 992 F.2d 1204, 1208 (Fed. Cir. 1993) (quoting Sands,
Taylor & Wood Co. v. Quaker Oats Co., 978 F.2d 947, 957
& n.12 (7th Cir. 1992)). In that situation, “[t]he junior
user does not seek to benefit from the goodwill of the
senior user; however, the senior user may experience
diminution or even loss of its mark’s identity and goodwill
due to extensive use of a confusingly similar mark by the
junior user.” Id. Trademark law “protects the registrant
and senior user from adverse commercial impact due to
use of a similar mark by a newcomer.” Id.; see also Wallpaper
Mfrs., Ltd. v. Crown Wallcovering Corp., 680 F.2d
755, 762 (CCPA 1982) (explaining “even where there is
reverse confusion . . . another source with superior de jure
rights may prevail regardless of what source or sources
the public identifies with the mark”).
Symbolic argues that the Board found a likelihood ofContinue Reading ...
reverse confusion and that that finding is not supported
by substantial evidence. The PTO responds that the
Board did not find a likelihood of reverse confusion and
that its finding that the fame of the marks, the fifth
DuPont factor, is neutral is supported by substantial
We agree with the PTO that the Board did not find a
likelihood of reverse confusion. The Board treated the
fifth DuPont factor as “neutral” and explained that the
“purported lack of fame” of registrants’ marks was of
“little consequence.” Symbolic I, 116 U.S.P.Q.2d at 1412;
Symbolic II, 2015 WL 6746544, at *8; Symbolic III, 2015
WL 6746545, at *8. That determination is consistent with
our precedent holding that the purported lack of fame of a
registrant’s mark has “little probative value” in the likelihood
of confusion analysis. Majestic Distilling, 315 F.3d
Symbolic points to a footnote in the Board’s opinions
in support of its contention that the Board found a likelihood
of reverse confusion.
In re i.am.symbolic, LLC (Fed. Cir. 2017) will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas (and solo) has a registered mark on his professional name, but is now seeking a mark of more biblical proportions: “I AM.” Actually, his company i.am.symbolic already has registered the mark “I AM” for all sorts of clothing in class 25, but is now […]Continue Reading ...
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