This Week in Intellectual Property News

Looking back on the week in intellectual property news never ceases to amaze. Apple is once again in the news for intellectual property litigation purposes, more photography claims including the famous monkey selfie, an overall look at intellectual property litigation and more are included in the article below.

Also on the blog this week:

US trade mark litigation falls to 10-year low

A total of 3,449 trade mark litigation cases were filed in
the US in 2015, according to
an analysis by legal analytics company Lex Machina
this week. This was fewer than any of the previous 10 years,
and 11.6% lower than the median for that period.

The fourth quarter was particularly weak, with only 822
trade mark cases filed. This was lower than any other quarter
in the past five years.

Lex Machina also reported that copyright litigation fell in
the fourth quarter of 2015, with both filesharing cases and
other copyright cases decreasing.

trademark litigation

Federal Circuit holds Apple hearing  

The FOSS Patents blog had
a thorough write-up of the Federal Circuit’s
on the cross-appeal of the second California Apple
v Samsung case, and it did not view Apple favourably.

In the blog post, Florian Mueller said that even Judge Reyna
– “a glowing admirer of Apple’s impact on
the smartphone market,” according to Mueller –
appeared to conclude that some of Apple’s patents
have big shortcomings.

“This blog, which used to be rather
sympathetic to Apple’s patent enforcement efforts because the
‘rip-off’ story appeared credible for some time,
has been highlighting the weaknesses of such patents as the
‘647 ‘quick links’ patent or the slide-to-unlock
patent family for a couple of years,” wrote Mueller. “Even
though things that judges say at a hearing are not the same as
an actual decision, the mere fact that the Federal Circuit has
expressed massive doubts about those patents already validates
my scepticism.”

The blog said that Apple’s lead counsel, William Lee,
conceded at the hearing that the Federal Circuit’s claim
construction was narrower than the one Judge Koh’s court

its write-up of the hearing
, Reuters reported that
Apple’s “quick links” patents accounts for more
than $98 million of the damages award. It said Samsung’s
attorney Kathleen Sullivan argued Samsung did not use the same
technology as Apple to detect and link to specific data in its
phones’ browser and messenger applications.

“Two of the three judges at the hearing seemed to question
Apple’s arguments over the interpretation of the patent, which
Sullivan said the appeals court had already rejected in a
separate case. But Lee cautioned against accepting Samsung’s
theory, which was rejected by the jury,” reported Reuters.

More monkey selfie  

In unsurprising but notable news, a federal judge in San
Francisco this week ruled that a macaque monkey that took a
selfie does not own the copyright in the photo,
reports The New York Times

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) had sued
photographer David Slater, whose unattended camera was grabbed
by the macaque monkey who took a few snaps, claiming the monkey
owned the copyright.

Judge William Orrick wrote: “While Congress and the
president can extend the protection of law to animals as well
as humans, there is no indication that they did so in the
Copyright Act.”

told the BBC
: “They [Peta] are more about money and
publicity than animals. They have wasted people’s
donations on pursuing this case.”

Artist sued for copyright infringement

New York-based artist Richard Prince has been sued for
copyright infringement by a photographer who accuses Prince of
reproducing his work without seeking permission,
reports The Guardian

Prince held an exhibition in 2014 featuring 37 prints on
canvas of what he called “screen saves” of Instagram posts
including one of Graham’s photo Rastafarian
Smoking a Joint. Graham filed a complaint on December 30
against Prince and the gallery’s owner.

The copyright issues in the exhibition had previously drawn
attention when Doe Deere, a member of the SuicideGirls
burlesque collective, pointed out a reproduction of one of her
photos had sold for $90,000. The only modification Prince made
to the photos was to blow them up and add comments below the

According to the complaint, Prince said in 2011: “Copyright
has never interested me. For most of my life I owned half a
stereo, so there was no point in suing me, but
that’s changed now and it’s
interesting . So, sometimes it’s better not
to be successful and well-known and you can get away with much
more. I knew what I was stealing 30 years ago but it
didn’t matter because no one cared, no one was
paying any attention.”

Mein Kampf enters public domain

At the end of last year Mein Kampf entered the public domain
in Germany,
reports NPR
. Since 1945 the German state of Bavaria had
held the copyright on Adolf Hitler’s
autobiographical work, and prevented reprints of the book. The
copyright on that has now expired, however, with annotated
copies of the book returning to German
booksellers’ shelves.

The copyright in the US, which expires in 2020, has been
held by Houghton Mifflin since 1979. It donates all royalties
and profits to organisations that promote diversity and
cross-cultural understanding.

This past week attention has also been drawn to the
copyright of The Diary of a Young Girl, written by Anne Frank.
The 70-year copyright on that was also set to expire in France
on January 1, given Frank’s death in 1945, with
various parties planning to publish the book.

However, Anne Frank Fonds, a group founded by her father
Otto Frank in 1963, is disputing. It claims the father is a
co-author. Otto Frank died in 1980.

The IPKat blog also this week
reported on an OHIM Fourth Board of Appeals ruling last
that found that the title The Diary of Anne Frank was
distinctive enough to be registered as a trade mark.

Hoverboard intrigue at CES

The stand of a Chinese manufacturer of so-called hoverboards
was raided by US marshals at the CES technology show in Las
Vegas, reports the
. The company, Changzhou First International Trade, is
being sued by rival Future Motion for patent infringement.

In further evidence of the increasing disputes in the
hoverboard market, VentureBeat this week
reported that Segway has filed a fresh lawsuit against Swagway
and Razor

In our news and analysis: