April 2, 2015

Patent Office Issues 181 Patents To Indiana Citizens in March 2015

The U.S. Patent Office issued the following 181 patent registrations to persons and businesses in Indiana in March 2015, based on applications filed by Indiana patent attorneys:

PAT. NO. Title
D725,756 Shower wall 
D725,754 Tub 
D725,741 Handheld shower 
D725,581 Vehicle console portion 
D725,411 Furniture piece 
D725,409 Bedrail apron 
8996878 Controlling an analysis system of biological samples 
8996258 Vehicle safety system having methods and apparatus configurable for various vehicle geometries 
8994932 Multimodal platform for nonlinear optical microscopy and microspectroscopy 
8994396 Variation-tolerant self-repairing displays 

Continue reading "Patent Office Issues 181 Patents To Indiana Citizens in March 2015" »

March 30, 2015

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Announces Russell Slifer as Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office


On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced the appointment of Russell Slifer as the next Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO"). Slifer left his role as the Director of the USPTO's Rocky Mountain Regional Office in Denver. He began his new duties at USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, VA, on the day of the announcement.

While Director of the USPTO's Denver office, which opened on June 30, 2014, Slifer served as the agency's primary liaison with the innovation community in the Rocky Mountain Region. He was actively engaged in education and outreach initiatives, empowering the USPTO to develop programs, policies, and procedures to meet the needs of the Rocky Mountain West innovation community.

"Russell has an impressive track record of success across several disciplines and will be a tremendous asset to the USPTO," said Secretary Pritzker. "His leadership will be instrumental in the USPTO's efforts to foster economic growth and promote American innovation by reducing the patent application backlog and enhancing patent and trademark quality. I look forward to working with Russell in his new role, along with Director Lee and the rest of the USPTO team."

Slifer has practiced intellectual property law for the last 20 years. Prior to serving as Regional Director for the USPTO's Rocky Mountain Regional Office, he spent eight years as Chief Patent Counsel for Micron Technology in Boise, Idaho. He also was a design engineer for Honeywell and spent more than nine years in private practice in Minnesota helping a wide variety of clients, including individual inventors, universities, and Fortune 100 companies, build patent portfolios to protect their innovations.

"Russ has proven tremendously successful at launching the USPTO's Rocky Mountain regional operations and building a solid foundation from which that office is primed to continue serving the unique needs of the regional innovation community," said Under Secretary for Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee. "And I look forward to working more directly with Russ now at headquarters to improve operations across the USPTO and make the agency more responsive to the needs of the American innovators."

"It has been my privilege to serve as the Director of the Rocky Mountain Regional Office and I look forward to bringing that area's unique perspective to the USPTO," said Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Russell Slifer.

Serving alongside Under Secretary for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director Michelle K. Lee, Slifer will take charge of an office that encourages innovation and technological advancement, and helps businesses protect their investments, promote their goods and safeguard against deception in the marketplace.

The USPTO plans to name an interim director soon, and will work swiftly to appoint a new director for the Denver office to continue the strong education and outreach initiatives and public engagement programs tailored to the Rocky Mountain West's unique ecosystem of industries and stakeholders.

March 27, 2015

Indiana Trade Secret Litigation: Precision Drone Sues Channel Masters for Misappropriating Trade Secrets


Indianapolis, Indiana - Indiana intellectual property lawyers for Precision Drone, LLC of Hamilton County, Indiana ("Precision") commenced trade secret litigation in Hamilton County Superior Court alleging that Channel Masters, LLC of Wisconsin ("Channel") breached its contract with Precision by improperly misappropriating and revealing trade secrets belonging to Precision.

Precision designs, engineers, manufactures and sells drones for use by farmers to monitor crops. It also develops and sells related software. Defendant Channel connects companies offering products to dealers of those products.

According to the complaint, in September 2014, Precision engaged Channel to sell the PaceSetter™ Drone to dealers of such products. To assist in Channel's sales efforts, Precision provided Channel with equipment and training, some of which Precision contends is protected by Indiana trade secret law. As part of the sales agreement that the parties entered into, Precision states that Channel was prohibited from disclosing any of Precision's confidential information without written authorization. The agreement also prohibited Channel from adversely interfering with Precision's customers and prospective customers.

Plaintiff Precision alleges that, while Channel was working for Precision, it was also promoting and selling crop-imaging drones offered by AgriImage, a company that competes with Precision. Plaintiff also contends that Channel used Plaintiff's images and training manual to demonstrate the competing AgriImage drones.

Precision claims copyright protection for the website that it uses to promote and advertise its products, as well as contending that at least one of its images was improperly displayed at a trade show by Channel, but the complaint listed no overt assertion of copyright infringement. The complaint, filed by Indiana intellectual property attorneys for Precision, instead alleges the following:

• Count I: Breach of Contract

• Count II: Misappropriation of Trade Secrets

Precision seeks judgment in its favor including damages, attorneys' fees and costs.

Indiana copyright lawyers for Channel have removed the case to the Southern District of Indiana, arguing that such a removal is proper based both on federal question jurisdiction and diversity of citizenship.

Continue reading "Indiana Trade Secret Litigation: Precision Drone Sues Channel Masters for Misappropriating Trade Secrets" »

March 26, 2015

Patent Law: Maintaining Your Patent

All utility patents that issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") from applications filed on or after December 12, 1980 are subject to maintenance fees, which must be paid to maintain the patent in force. Information regarding which patents are subject to maintenance fees and the time of payment for maintenance fees is found in Chapter 2500: Maintenance Fees of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure.

Maintenance fees are due three times during the life of a patent, and may be paid without surcharge at:

• Three to three and a half years after the date of issue for the first payment;

• Seven to seven and a half years after the date of issue for the second payment; and

• 11 to 11 ½ years after the date of issue for the third and final payment.

Maintenance fees may be paid with a surcharge during the following "grace periods":

• Three and a half years and through the day of the fourth anniversary of the grant of the patent;

• Seven and a half years and through the day of the eighth anniversary of the grant of the patent; and

• 11 ½ years and through the day of the 12th anniversary of the grant of the patent.

If the last day for paying a maintenance fee or any applicable surcharge falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday, the fee may be paid on the succeeding day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday.

You may view the fee schedule for information on current fees and costs associated with your patent here.

Three Ways to Pay

All fee payments must include both patent and application numbers. If the fee is being paid for reissue, the application number required is the reissue application number. Patent maintenance fees may be paid by using one of the following three options:

• Visit the USPTO's Office of Finance Online Shopping Page and use its secure online payment options, including using a credit card, a deposit account, or EFT payment methods.

• Pay the USPTO by fax using a credit card or deposit account. If paying by fax, complete the "Maintenance Fee Transmittal Form" and the "Credit Card Payment Form" (if paying with a credit card), and fax them to 571-273-6500.

• Send payments to the USPTO by mail using a check or money order, credit card, or deposit account. If paying by mail, complete and submit the "Maintenance Fee Transmittal Form" and the "Credit Card Payment Form" (if paying with a credit card).

Mailing address if paying with a check or money order:

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
P.O. Box 979070
St. Louis, MO 63197-9000

Mailing address if paying with a credit card or deposit account (or by hand delivery):

Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Attn: Maintenance Fees
2051 Jamieson Avenue, Suite 300

Alexandria, VA 22314

Note: A maintenance fee payment can be timely made using the certificate of mailing or transmission procedure set forth in 37 CFR 1.8, or the USPS Express Mail procedure set forth in 37 CFR 1.10.

Petitions for delayed payment of maintenance fees should be sent to the address below. An ePetition can also be filed via EFS-Web and may be automatically granted.

Mail Stop Petition
Commissioner for Patents
PO Box 1450

Alexandria, VA 22313-1450

Please send correspondence related to maintenance fees that does NOT accompany a maintenance fee payment (e.g., entity status changes, fee address changes) to:

Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Attn: Maintenance Fees
2051 Jamieson Avenue, Suite 300

Alexandria, VA 22314

Updating the Entity Status

Maintenance fees are reduced by 50 or 75 percent if the owner of the invention qualifies as a small or micro entity, such as independent inventors, small businesses, or nonprofit organizations. A written assertion of entitlement to small entity status or certification of micro entity status must be filed prior to or at the time of paying a maintenance fee and signed by a recognized party. (See 37 CFR 1.27 and 1.33(b).). If you qualify, form SB/15A or SB/15B should be used to make a proper certification of micro entity status. Notification of a change in status resulting in a loss of entitlement to small or micro entity status must be filed prior to or at the time of paying the maintenance fee.

If you are paying a patent maintenance fee online and the entity status is not correct, send your entity status change request by using EFS-Web or by fax to the Maintenance Fee Branch at 571-273-6500. Please allow the USPTO enough time to receive and process your request before attempting to pay your maintenance fee. The requests are generally processed within 2-3 business days after receipt. If you are paying by mail, requests for updating the entity status should be submitted with your maintenance fee payment.

Checking the Maintenance Status of Your Patents

Bibliographic data and the fee amounts due for a specific patent are available through the Office of Finance Online Shopping Page. This information is also available through the USPTO's Maintenance Fee Branch. To contact the Maintenance Fee Branch, call 571-272-6500. Select option #1, then option #1 again when prompted by the USPTO's automated system.

Weekly lists of patents for which maintenance fees may now be paid and of patents expired for failure to pay maintenance fees are available through the Official Gazette Notices. Choose the year and week of interest, and select either the "Notice of Maintenance Fees Payable" or the "Notice of Expiration of Patents Due to Failure to Pay Maintenance Fee" link, located near the top of the Web page.

Expiration for Failure to Pay Maintenance Fees

If the maintenance fee and any applicable surcharge are not paid, the patent will expire at the end of the applicable grace period as listed above. A patent that expires for failure of payment will expire on the anniversary date that the patent was granted in the fourth, eight, or 12th year after the grant of the patent.

You can verify the status of your patent with regard to the payment of maintenance fees online or by contacting the Maintenance Fee Branch at 571-272-6500.

The information presented on this site does not constitute legal advice. It should not be considered to replace advice from an intellectual property attorney. If you have any questions or concerns about patent law, you should contact an Indiana patent lawyer.

March 25, 2015

Indiana Patent Litigation: Competing Indiana-Based RV Manufacturers Head to Federal Court


South Bend, Indiana - Indiana patent attorneys for Heartland Recreational Vehicles, LLC ("Heartland") of Elkhart, Indiana initiated a patent lawsuit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Gulf Stream Coach, Inc., ("Gulf Stream") of Nappanee, Indiana infringed Patent Nos. 7,278,650; 7,878,545 and 8,162,352, each of which is titled "Travel Trailer Having Improved Turning Radius," and which have been registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Heartland manufactures recreational vehicles ("RVs"), including a type of travel trailer referred to as fifth-wheel travel trailers. Plaintiff contends that many of these fifth-wheel travel trailers incorporate and use one or more of the inventions of the patents-in-suit.

Gulf Stream allegedly manufactures RVs with some similar characteristics. These trailers are marketed under the names Canyon Trail, Sedona, and Ridgeline.

Heartland has sued Gulf Stream in federal court, claiming that Gulf Stream has infringed its patents. At issue are three patents: United States Patent Nos. 7,278,650; 7,878,545 and 8,162,352. According to Heartland, these patents "involve designs and technology relating to turning radius issues typically found in fifth wheel travel trailers, particularly when being towed by short-bed pick-up trucks, and Plaintiff's Patents help avoid corner collisions between travel trailers and short-bed pick-up trucks, by changing the shape of the fifth wheel cap and/or chassis, as compared with prior caps and chassis."

In its complaint, filed by Indiana patent lawyers, a single count - Patent Infringement - is alleged. That count covers all three patents-in-suit.

Plaintiff asks for a declaration of infringement of one or more claims of all three patents; equitable relief, including a permanent injunction; damages for the alleged infringement of the patents-in-suit; a declaration that any infringement was willful and increased damages, up to and including treble damages; and a declaration that the case is "exceptional" and, pursuant to that, an award of attorneys' fees and expenses.

Continue reading "Indiana Patent Litigation: Competing Indiana-Based RV Manufacturers Head to Federal Court" »

March 23, 2015

Copyright Law: Jury Finds "Blurred Lines" Infringes Copyright; Awards $7.3 Million


Los Angeles, California - The eight-person jury in the highly publicized trial over the song "Blurred Lines" concluded that Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke had infringed the copyright of Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up" and awarded almost $7.4 million to Gaye's family.

The 2013 smash hit "Blurred Lines" has been the subject of copyright infringement litigation for about a year and a half. The family of Gaye, who was known at the peak of his career as the Prince of Motown, privately approached Williams and Thicke with allegations of copyright infringement. Nona and Frankie Gaye, two of Gaye's children, contended that "Blurred Lines" infringed Gaye's 1977 hit "Got to Give It Up." Copyright attorneys for Williams and Thicke responded by filing a lawsuit under the Declaratory Judgment Act, asking the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to declare that they had not infringed. The Gaye family countersued, asking for more than $25 million for the copyright infringement that was alleged.

Over the eight-day trial, copyright lawyers for Thicke and Williams emphasized two points in particular. First, they argued, any protection under copyright law extended only to the compositional elements in the sheet music for "Got to Give It Up." Other elements of "Blurred Lines," such as the percussion and the singing, they contended, were not protected by the copyright issued by the U.S. Copyright Office.

The copyright attorneys also argued that the works were not similar, introducing testimony that highlighted the differences between the two songs at issue, and that many well-known songs included similar elements. To help demonstrate the latter point, Thicke's testimony included playing a piano medley of U2's "With Or Without You," The Beatles' "Let It Be," Alphaville's "Forever Young," Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry" and Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror," which was designed to show the similarity between many famous songs. Other testimony included that of musicologists for both sides, who provided professional opinions regarding similarities in the signature phrases, hooks, keyboard-bass interplays, lyrics and themes of the songs.

Despite testimony and arguments to the contrary, the jury found that "Blurred Lines" did infringe Gaye's copyright. Thicke and Williams were ordered to pay $4 million in copyright damages plus the profits attributable to copyright infringement. Those damages were calculated as $1.8 million and $1.6 million for Thicke and Williams, respectively, for a total of $7.4 million. The jury declined to hold that the copyright infringement had been willful.

Clifford Harris, Jr., the rapper more commonly known as "T.I.," who also performed in "Blurred Lines," and the record label were not found liable for copyright infringement.

March 20, 2015

Indiana Trademark News: Indiana Brewer Settles Trademark Dispute


Munster, Indiana - The parties in this dispute were two beer makers, Three Floyds Brewing Company of Munster, Indiana and White Flame Brewing Company of Hudsonville, Michigan, both of which recently manufactured an imperial stout that each named "Black Flame."

Three Floyds, Indiana's second-largest brewer, made its Black Flame as a limited-run beer. Microbrewer White Flame, which opened in 2012, also produced a limited run of 600 bottles of a beer called Black Flame. White Flame's version, which is aged in maple syrup bourbon barrels, was made to celebrate the company's third anniversary.

White Flame learned of the Three Floyds beer in February and e-mailed Three Floyds to discuss the identically named beers. Bill White and Andy Steenbergen of White Flame later drove to Indiana to meet with Three Floyds.

Negotiations included lunch and beer and were concluded with the much-larger Three Floyds agreeing to discontinue use of the name after its current run of Black Flame had been completed. The matter was settled with a handshake.

March 19, 2015

Indiana State Law: Trademarks - Not Just a Federal Matter


In addition to protection under federal trademark law, trademarks can be protected under the state law of Indiana.

What does the Indiana Trademark Act protect?

The Indiana Trademark Act (I.C. §24-2) protects words, phrases, symbols or designs, or any combinations thereof when they are used to distinguish the source of the goods or services rendered by one party from the goods or services of another party. Marks are checked against other marks registered in Indiana, but not against corporate, fictitious, or assumed names. It is the duty of the applicant to perform these searches.

How do trademark rights originate?

Trademark rights arise from actual use of the mark in commerce. A mark cannot be registered until it has been used in Indiana. Indiana defines a mark being "used" when it is placed in any manner on the goods or their containers or on the tags or labels affixed thereto, or when it is used to identify the services of one person and distinguish them from the services of others, and such goods or services are sold, otherwise distributed, or rendered in this state.

Are trade names registered with the Indiana Secretary of State?

Trade names are not registered with the Indiana Secretary of State; they are registered in the respective County Recorder's office in the county where the business office of the company seeking filing is located.

Who may file an application for a trademark?

The application must be filed in the name of the owner of the mark, which is usually an individual, corporation or partnership. Trademark protection may be sought by an individual, corporation, association, partnership, or any other entity. Forms are available from the Indiana Secretary of State or from an Indiana intellectual property lawyer.

What is the trademark registration fee for a registration with the State of Indiana?

There is a $10.00 filing fee for each registered mark. The fee is payable by check or money order to the Secretary of State of Indiana. This fee is non-refundable.

What are the required specimens?

Three specimens are required in order to register a mark. The specimen must be an actual sample of how the mark is currently being used in commerce. The specimens may be identical or they may be examples of three different uses showing the same mark. If the mark is used on goods, examples of acceptable specimens are tags or labels which are attached to the goods, displays associated with the goods, or photographs of the goods showing the use of the mark on the goods themselves. If the mark is used for services, the specimens must show the mark and include some clear reference to the type of services rendered under the mark. Examples of acceptable specimens are signs, brochures about the services, advertisements, business cards or stationery, and photographs which show the mark as it is used either in the rendering or advertising of the services.

What does it mean to disclaim something?

An entity cannot claim exclusive ownership of certain words, phrases, or pictorial features. This information contained in the mark must be disclaimed.

What should be disclaimed on an application for registration?

Any words, phrases, and pictorial features that are merely descriptive of the goods or services are primarily geographic should be disclaimed. The names of cities, states, any reference to a person living or dead and designation of corporate status should also be disclaimed (e.g., Inc., company, Indiana).

How long is a trademark registration valid?

A registration is valid for five years, and the Indiana Secretary of State will notify the registrant at the last known address six months prior to the renewal date.

Who is the trademark contact person at the Indiana Secretary of State's Office?

You may call (317) 232-6540 or write:

Indiana Secretary of State
Trademarks Deputy
302 W. Washington St., Rm E-018
Indianapolis, IN 46204

What do I do if someone is using my mark?

You should seek advice from an Indiana attorney specializing in trademark or intellectual property law. A general rule of thumb is first in use, first in right.

What are assignments?

An assignment transfers the ownership of a mark along with all the goodwill associated with the mark to a new owner. Assignments must be recorded with the Indiana Secretary of State. Once the assignment has been filed, a new registration is valid until the end of the five-year term, and it is renewable in the same way the original would have been.

Do press releases count as usage?

No, these are usually not considered bona fide uses of the mark. No sale of goods or services has been made.

Is there an intent-to-use provision?

Unlike federal trademark law, Indiana law does not have a provision for reservation of marks with the intent to use the mark in the future.

Can I use the website to search for trademarks?

A search for trademarks registered in Indiana is available at www.in.gov/apps/sos/trademarks/.

If you have further questions, you should contact an Indiana trademark lawyer.

The information presented on this site does not constitute legal advice. It should not be considered to replace advice from an Indiana intellectual property attorney.

March 18, 2015

Member Of Megaupload Conspiracy Pleads Guilty to Copyright Infringement Charges and is Sentenced to One Year in U.S. Prison


A computer programmer for the Mega copyright piracy conspiracy, Andrus Nomm, 36, of Estonia, pleaded guilty recently in connection with his involvement with Megaupload.com and associated piracy websites. He was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for conspiring to commit felony copyright infringement.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew G. McCabe of the FBI's Washington Field Office made the announcement. U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady of the Eastern District of Virginia accepted the guilty plea and imposed the sentence.

"This conviction is a significant step forward in the largest criminal copyright case in U.S. history," said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. "The Mega conspirators are charged with massive worldwide online piracy of movies, music and other copyrighted U.S. works. We intend to see to it that all those responsible are held accountable for illegally enriching themselves by stealing the creative work of U.S. artists and creators."

"This outcome is the result of years of hard work by our office and our partners from the Criminal Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation," said U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente. "The Mega Conspiracy engaged in massive criminal infringement of copyrighted works on the Internet, and we are confident that this case will be a sign to those who would abuse technology for illegal profit."

"Today one conspirator who infringed upon the work of countless artists, actors and musicians takes responsibility for his actions," said Assistant Director in Charge McCabe. "We continue to pursue his co-conspirators until they face justice in the American legal system. This sentence and the remaining charges in this case are the direct result of the hard work of dedicated FBI Special Agents, intelligence analysts and prosecutors who have invested countless hours of effort to bring justice in this case."

Nomm agreed to waive his extradition hearing in the Netherlands, where he was arrested in January 2012, and plead guilty in the United States. In light of his role in the conspiracy and acceptance of responsibility, prosecutors agreed to recommend the sentence of a year and a day in federal prison.

Nomm was initially charged along with six other individuals and two privately-held corporations by a federal grand jury on Jan. 5, 2012, and a superseding indictment with additional charges was subsequently returned on Feb. 16, 2012. The superseding indictment charged the defendants with three separate conspiracies: conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit money laundering. In addition, the defendants are charged with five counts of criminal copyright infringement and five counts of wire fraud. The indictment alleges that, for more than five years, the Mega Conspiracy operated websites that willfully reproduced and distributed infringing copies of copyrighted works, including works that had not been commercially released. The charges and allegations contained in an indictment are merely accusations and the remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

In court papers, Nomm agreed that the harm caused to copyright holders by the Mega Conspiracy's criminal conduct exceeded $400 million. He further acknowledged that the group obtained at least $175 million in proceeds through their conduct. Megaupload.com had claimed that, at one time, it accounted for four percent of total Internet traffic, having more than one billion total visits, 150 million registered users and 50 million daily visitors.

In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Nomm admitted that he was a computer programmer who worked for the Mega Conspiracy from 2007 until his arrest in January 2012. Nomm further admitted that, through his work as a computer programmer, he was aware that copyright-infringing content was stored on the websites, including copyright-protected motion pictures and television programs, some of which contained the "FBI Anti-Piracy" warning. Nomm also admitted that he personally downloaded copyright-infringing files from the Mega websites. Despite his knowledge in this regard, Nomm continued to participate in the Mega Conspiracy.

An extradition hearing for co-defendants Kim Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, Bram Van der Kolk and Finn Batato is currently scheduled for June 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. Co-defendants Julius Bencko and Sven Echternach remain at large.

This case is being investigated by the FBI's Headquarters and Washington Field Office. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Counsel Ryan K. Dickey and Brian L. Levine of the Criminal Division's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay V. Prabhu of the Eastern District of Virginia. The Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs also provided significant assistance.

March 16, 2015

Indiana Trade Secret Law: Court Declines to Enter Protective Order Stipulated by Parties


Fort Wayne, Indiana - In the matter of CCT Enterprises, LLC v. Kriss USA, Inc., trade secret lawyers for the parties agreed to a protective order and submitted it to the court pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c). United States Magistrate Judge Susan Collins of the Northern District of Indiana denied the parties' request for a protective order, holding that the proposed order was overly broad and, thus, invalid.

Magistrate Judge Collins first noted that Rule 26(c) allows the court to enter a protective order for good cause shown. For material to be protected, it "must give the holder an economic advantage and threaten a competitive injury...business information whose release harms the holder only because the information is embarrassing or reveals weaknesses does not qualify for trade secret protection."

In the parties' proposed order, no categories of material were provided to restrict what discovery materials would be treated as confidential. Instead, it allowed either party "in good faith" to deem any discovery materials to be confidential. Magistrate Judge Collins held that this was overbroad and that a protective order must extend only to "properly demarcated categor[ies] of legitimately confidential information." Moreover, a mere assertion of harm to a litigant's competitive position would not suffice but rather "the motion must explain how." Consequently, the court held that because a showing of good cause had not been made, the proposed protective order could not issue.

The court also noted that the proposed order provided that it would continue to be binding after the conclusion of the litigation, thus implying that the court would retain jurisdiction after the lawsuit had been resolved. The court refused to enter an order that would have such an effect. Instead, it suggested that the parties should agree contractually among themselves for the return of sensitive documents.

Continue reading "Indiana Trade Secret Law: Court Declines to Enter Protective Order Stipulated by Parties" »

March 13, 2015

Intellectual Property: Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights and Trade Secrets

How should I protect my intellectual property?


Different types of intellectual property are protected by different means.

In the United States, patents may be available to any person who "invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof." Patent protection must be sought by application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO"). There are three types of patents:

Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof;

Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture; and

Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.

More information on patents is available here: USPTO's patent process website.

Trademarks protect words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods. Registration with the USPTO is not required, but does provide certain advantages. More information on trademarks is available here:
Online IPR Tutorial (Module 3)
USPTO's trademark process website

Copyrights protect original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and certain other works, both published and unpublished. In the United States, the U.S. Copyright Office handles copyright registration that, although not required for protection, does confer advantages. More information on copyrights is available here:
Online IPR Tutorial (Module 3)
U.S. Copyright Office website

How long does patent, trademark or copyright protection last?

A U.S. utility patent is generally granted for 20 years from the date the patent application is filed; however, periodic fees are required to maintain the enforceability of the patent.

A design patent is generally granted protection for 14 years measured from the date the design patent is granted.

A U.S. trademark generally lasts as long as the trademark is used in commerce and defended against infringement.

Copyright protection is for a limited term. For works created after January 1, 1978, copyrights last for 70 years after the death of the author. For works "made for hire" (covering the usual type of work owned by a small business), the copyright lasts for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. For more detailed explanation of copyright terms, visit the Copyright Office webpage or consult this guide on Duration of Copyright provided by the Copyright Office.

A trade secret can be protected indefinitely as long as the secret is commercially valuable, its value derives from the fact that it is secret, and the owner take reasonable precautions to maintain its secrecy.

The information presented on this site does not constitute legal advice. It should not be considered to replace advice from an Indiana intellectual property attorney. An Indiana intellectual property lawyer can help you with matters involving patents, trademarks, copyright or trade secrets.

March 12, 2015

Indiana Copyright Litigation: Joe Hand Promotions Files Two New Interception Complaints


Evansville and Hammond, Indiana - An intellectual property attorney for Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. of Feasterville, Pennsylvania filed two Indiana lawsuits, one in the Northern District of Indiana against Robert J. Matijevich and UDL, LLC, both d/b/a L F Nortons, of Lake Station, Indiana and the other in the Southern District of Indiana against John Backes and Backes Frontier, LLC, both d/b/a New Frontier Restaurant and Bar, of Evansville, Indiana. Both lawsuits allege that defendants illegally intercepted a satellite signal and broadcast protected content.

Joe Hand Promotions, a commercial distributor of sporting events, asserts that it was granted exclusive domestic rights to the commercial distribution of the Ultimate Fighting Championship 158: Georges St. Pierre v. Nick Diaz ("program"), which was broadcast on March 16, 2013.

Two recent complaints were filed by the intellectual property lawyer for Joe Hand Promotions in federal courts in Indiana. In each complaint, both the business entity that owns the accused establishment and an individual charged with responsibility for that establishment's operations have been named as defendants.

The allegations against the defendants include such wrongful acts as interception, reception, publication, divulgence, display, exhibition, and "tortuous" [sic] conversion of the program. Joe Hand Promotions asserts that the acts were "willful, malicious, egregious, and intentionally designed to harm Plaintiff Joe Hand Promotions." As a result of these alleged acts, defendants have been have been accused of violating 47 U.S.C. § 605 and 47 U.S.C. § 553. Each complaint also lists a count of conversion.

Joe Hand Promotions seeks statutory damages of $100,000 to $110,000 for each willful violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605; $10,000 for each violation of 47 U.S.C. § 553; $50,000 for each willful violation of 47 U.S.C. § 553; compensatory and punitive damages on the claim of conversion; costs, including costs incurred for the service of process and the investigation of potential wrongdoing; and attorney's fees.

Continue reading "Indiana Copyright Litigation: Joe Hand Promotions Files Two New Interception Complaints" »

March 11, 2015

Indiana Intellectual Property Law: Patent Infringement Allegations of Pro Se Plaintiff Dismissed


Indianapolis, Indiana - Judge Sarah Evans Barker of the Southern District of Indiana dismissed the patent infringement claims asserted in the amended complaint of pro se Plaintiff Dennis Lee Maxberry against ITT Technical Institute ("ITT"). Also included in Maxberry's amended complaint were claims for copyright infringement, deprivation of disabled veterans' benefits, sabotage of Maxberry's bachelor's degree, stalking, sabotage of Maxberry's employment opportunities, RICO liability against ITT and the State of Wisconsin, malicious prosecution of intellectual property actions against Maxberry, violations of various executive orders relating to Maxberry's service in the military, violations of the Higher Education Act, and violations of a number of Maxberry's constitutional rights.

The parties in this patent infringement litigation are Defendant ITT, an Indiana-based for-profit higher education company, and Maxberry of West Allis, Wisconsin, who had previously been enrolled in an M.B.A. graduate course at ITT. In April 2014, Maxberry, acting as his own patent attorney, sued Defendant ITT alleging multiple harms, which the court summarized as follows:

It appears that Plaintiff accuses Defendant of stealing his federal student loan money, failing to award him grades for the classes that he completed, and applying money from his educational loans towards tuition payments even after he withdrew from school. Plaintiff also accuses Defendant of "being unconscious to the plaintiff by arbitrating the contract," searching his person or property "without a warrant and without probable cause," using excessive force upon him, failing to provide him with "needed medical care," "false credit testimony, mayhem on property, defamation, false imcriminalization [sic], malicious prosecution, conspiracy, and/or any other claim that may be supported by the allegations of this complaint." Plaintiff's Complaint makes reference to 28 U.S.C. § 1983, 1985, and 1986, "Title IX, and Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act," the "False claim act," and avers that "[t]he criminal proceeding by the defendants ... [is] still pending," but that Plaintiff "was innocent."

The court dismissed Maxberry's initial complaint on two grounds. First, Judge Barker noted that the Plaintiff was asking the Southern District of Indiana, a federal court, to review the rulings of a Wisconsin state court. Such a review, which would in effect place the Indiana federal court in the position of acting as a Wisconsin appellate court, was impermissible under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. The court further found that the assertions in the complaint were "cast in such an incoherent and confusing manner that they must be dismissed under [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)] based on Plaintiff's failure to give Defendant (as well as the Court) fair notice of what they actually are."

The court allowed Maxberry to file an amended complaint, which ITT moved to dismiss. In this complaint, Maxberry again made multiple claims, including five claims involving patent 8,632,592, for an "expandable vertebral body replacement device and method." Maxberry asserted that this patent encompassed a cure for cancer, an automotive window-locking device, as well as a type of computer display equipment.

The court dismissed these "facially implausible" patent infringement claims with prejudice. Judge Barker noted that, not only was it wildly improbable that a single patent covered all of the asserted functions, but the records of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office showed that the patent-in-suit was not registered to Maxberry.

The court also dismissed Maxberry's other claims but granted him leave to reformulate those claims in a more understandable form and resubmit them.

Continue reading "Indiana Intellectual Property Law: Patent Infringement Allegations of Pro Se Plaintiff Dismissed" »

March 6, 2015

Patent Office Issues 123 Patents To Indiana Citizens in February 2015

The U.S. Patent Office issued the following 123 patent registrations to persons and businesses in Indiana in February 2015, based on applications filed by Indiana patent attorneys:

PAT. NO. Title
D722,803 Chair 
8965805 Method and system for delivering and accessing files 
8965636 Systems and methods for detecting jack contact with ground 
8965613 System, method, and apparatus for controlling power output distribution in a hybrid power train 
8964952 System and method for self-configuring sip-capable device 
8963721 Hand hygiene compliance device 
8963195 Flexible lighting device including a heat-spreading layer 
8963079 Systems and methods for transfer of ions for analysis 
8963071 Detection of buried explosives 
8962954 Inbred sunflower (Helianthus annuus) line designated CN5110R
8962729 Soy methyl ester polystyrene blends for use in concrete 

Continue reading "Patent Office Issues 123 Patents To Indiana Citizens in February 2015" »

March 5, 2015

142 Trademark Registrations Issued to Indiana Companies in February 2015

The U.S. Trademark Office issued the following 142 trademark registrations to persons and businesses in Indiana in February 2015 based on applications filed by Indiana trademark attorneys: 

Serial Number Reg. Number Word Mark Click to View
86376930 4692572 SERVICETOWN View
86341641 4692351 RAE SECURITY View
86341637 4692350 RAE SECURITY View
86339607 4692203 THE AURORA View
86338386 4692095 H View
86338000 4692065 VIRTUAL LANDFILL View
86335762 4691943 RWC360 View

Continue reading " 142 Trademark Registrations Issued to Indiana Companies in February 2015" »