Articles Posted in Intellectual Property Law

BlogPhoto-Chapelle-201x300Hammond, Indiana – Pro se Plaintiff, Xavier Gatewood (“Gatewood”) claims to perform comedy in the Chicago area. Between 2014 and 2015, Gatewood claims Defendant, David Khari Webber Chappelle (“Chappelle”), saw him performing comedy at one or more of four places located within two miles of Chappelle’s movie shoot for “CHI-RAQ.”

According to the Complaint, Chappelle then used material from Gatewood’s performance in Chappelle’s standup special “Deep in the Heart of Texas” on Netflix. As Chappelle was allegedly paid $20 Million and the joke was exactly one minute long, Gatewood is seeking $303,030.30.

Unfortunately, the very short Complaint does not disclose the allegedly stolen joke and does not disclose or specifically allege any copyright registration or infringement. Further, while Gatewood lives in Indiana, the alleged theft took place in Illinois and Chappelle lives in Ohio, so jurisdiction may be another hurdle for Gatewood. Continue reading

USA – The Copyright Alternative in Small-Clams Enforcement (CASE) Act was enacted on December 27, 2020.  This creates a Copyright Claims Board consisting of three officers chosen by the Librarian of Congress and the Register of Copyrights.  The officers will act as arbitrators for civil copyright claims and counterclaims capped at $30,000 in damages for declaratory judgment of non-infringement or for notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  The Board is expected to be operational by December 27, 2021.

Parties may affirmatively opt out of adjudication before the board within 60 days of service. Failure to do so will serve as consent to the proceeding before the Board and will waive the right to a jury trial.

The proceedings before the Board are also less formal. While parties can conduct written discovery, they may not conduct depositions under the CASE Act. Further, unlike federal district courts, attorneys’ fees are not generally awardable to prevailing parties.

This suit is over the design of two bottle caps.

Plaintiff, Closure, claims it designed the bottle cap on the left, and Defendant, Novembal, got a patent on the bottle cap on the right.  But Closure claims that it, not Novembal is the actual “inventor” of the bottle cap design.  Perhaps fearing that Novembal was about to file suit, Closure in its home turf of New Jersey and trying to gain a home court advantage, took the initiative and sued Novembal in Indiana.  Its Complaint sought to “correct the inventorship” of Novembal’s patent and to prevent Novembal from enforcing the patent against Closure. That suit is reported here:  Closure Systems International Sues Novembal USA Seeking Correction of Inventorship.  Not surpisingly, Novembal asserted a counterclaim for patent infringement.

Photo-300x142The twist is that in the infringement counterclaim, Novembal seeks a broad injunction.  So broad, that it would prevent not just Closure, but some of Closure’s customers from infringing the patent.  In its counterclaim, Novembal seeks:

A permanent injunction enjoining CSI and its employees, agents, successors, partners, officers, directors, owners, shareholders, principals, subsidiaries, related companies, affiliates, distributors, dealers, and all persons in active concert or participation with any of them . . . from making, importing, promoting, offering, or exposing for sale, or selling the CSI Production Closures, or any other closures with designs confusingly similar to the claimed design of Novembal’s ‘442 patent.

One company that apparently gets its bottle caps from Closure is Nestle, one of the biggest sellers of bottled water.  So far, no big deal.  Except, Nestle is represented by the blue chip Washington DC patent law firm, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner.  Finnegan happens to be the same law firm that represents Novembal in the suit with Closure.  So Finnegan is attempting to get an injunction for one client (Novembal) that would apply to another client, Nestle. Continue reading

On February 18, 2020 at 12:45 pm, I will be speaking at IUPUI Center for Intellectual Property Law at Inlow Hall, Room 259. Reversal of Fortunes: Indianapolis Skyline Photo and $1,000,000 Damages (Copyright Litigation of the Year). This is a free event, however registration is required.

More information about my speech to IUPUI on February 18, 2020, Click here.


October 17, 2019.  The US Patent Office has issued an Update on “Subject Matter Eligibility.”  These Guidelines are used by the Patent Office to determine whether patent claims are eligible for protection under 35 USC 101.

Patent claims satisfy § 101’s eligibility requirement unless they are directed to an abstract idea (or other ineligible principle) and fail to add any inventive concept. Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Intern., 573 U.S. 208 (2014). In particular, claims that recite a specific advance in computer technology—including, for example, an unconventional arrangement of computer components—are eligible.

It is notoriously unclear to understand how should be applied.  For example , Judge Plager of the Federal Circuit (and former Dean of the School of Law and Indiana University – Bloomington) has stated that the “body of doctrine” is “incoherent,” “render[ing] it near impossible to know with any certainty whether [an] invention is or is not patent eligible.” Interval Licensing LLC, 896 F.3d at 1348 (Plager, J., concurring and dissenting). Other jurists have noted that the case law is “baffling,” “inconsistent,” and that “needs clarification by higher authority, perhaps by Congress.”   Athena Diagnostics, Inc. v. Mayo Collaborative Servs., LLC, 927 F.3d 1333, 1371 (Fed. Cir. 2019); Aatrix Software, Inc. v. Green Shades Software, Inc., 890 F.3d 1354, 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2018)

Judges in the Indiana Court of Appeals issued their Opinion in the case of Neptune Generics, LLC, and Fresenius Kabi USA, LLC (collectively Lilly-v-Adocia-photo-300x170“Petitioners”) versus Eli Lilly and Company. The Patent Trial and Appeals Board (the “Board”) previously held in its inter partes review (“IPR”) that claims 1-22 of Eli Lilly’s U.S. Patent No. 7,772,209 (the “’209 Patent”) were not unpatentable for obviousness. The Court of Appeals held the Board did not err in its analysis, that substantial evidence supported underlying fact findings and therefore the Board’s decision was affirmed.

The ‘209 Patent “relates to administering folic acid and a methylmalonic acid (“MMA”) lowering agent, such as vitamin B12, before administering pemetrexed disodium, a chemotherapy agent, in order to reduce the toxic effects of a pemetrexed, an antifolate.” There were three petitions for IPR relating to the ‘209 Patent for obviousness over various patents, patent applications, and articles. In each IPR, the Board found that the claims were not unpatentable for obviousness.

According to the Opinion, the Board found that it was known that pretreatment with folic acid reduces the toxicity relating to the administration of an antifolate, but there was not a reason to pretreat with Vitamin B12 in addition to folic acid before administering pemetrexed for cancer treatment. Further, the FDA, along with others, were skeptical of the treatment that supported their decision for nonobviousness.

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The Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed the Federal Circuits’ Decision for the Helsinn Healthcare v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA case regarding “secret sales” as prior art under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“AIA”). In their Opinion, the Court held that given the pre-AIA precedent that even “secret sales” could invalidate a patent, the same “on sale” language in the AIA provisions should be given the same presumption. Further, the addition of the phrase “or otherwise available to the public” does not allow the Court to conclude that Congress intended to alter the meaning of “on sale,” but instead, means that 35 U.S.C. § 102 could be applied to other non-delineated situations.

us-supreme-court-building-2-300x200Helsinn Healthcare (“Helsinn”) produces a treatment utilizing the chemical palonestron to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. During the development of this product, Helsinn entered into two separate and confidential agreements with MGI Pharma, Inc. (“MGI”) giving MGI the right to distribute, promote, sell, and market a 0.25 g dose of palonosetron in the United States. While the dosage was kept confidential, the agreements were reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission. About two years later, in January 2003, Helsinn filed their provisional patent application covering a 0.25 mg dose of palonestron. Helsinn went on to file four patent applications claiming priority to the January 2003 provisional application, with its fourth patent application being filed in 2013 and being subject to the AIA. This fourth patent application led to the issuance of U.S. Patent No. 8,598,219 (the “‘219 patent”).

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd. and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. (collectively “Teva”) sought approval to market a generic 0.25 mg palonosetron product. Helsinn, in turn, filed suit against Teva for infringement of the ‘219 patent. Teva claimed that the ‘219 patent was invalid under the AIA because the invention was “in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention.” 35 U.S.C. § 102(a)(1).

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Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Gabriella Bass of Brooklyn, New York, filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Defendant, COTR, LLC of Indianapolis, Indiana,  infringed her rights in United States Copyright Registration No. VA 2-055-082. Plaintiff is seeking damages, statutory damages, costs, expenses, attorneys’ fees, pre-judgment interest, and other relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

The copyright at issue in this case is that for photographs of the fearless girl statue in New York City with the addition of a urinating dog. Bass licensed the photographs that she took to the New York Post. They subsequently ran an article featuring the photoblogphoto-288x300graphs on May 29, 2017 with Bass listed as the photographer. Following the release of the New York Post article, COTR ran an article on their website featuring Bass’ photographs. COTR, however, failed to license the photographs from Bass or obtain her permission or consent to publish the photographs in their article.

Bass is suing for copyright infringement under 17 U.S.C. §§ 106 and 501 for COTR’s unauthorized use of her photographs. She is seeking damages and statutory damages for this violation for up to $150,000 per work infringed under 17 U.S.C. §504. Bass also alleges that COTR violated 17 U.S.C. § 1202(b) by removing copyright management information identifying Bass as the photographer. Statutory damages under this violation fall under 17 U.S.C. § 1203(c)(3) and amount to at least $2,500 up to $25,000 per violation.

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While finding the owner of a domain name has traditionally been an easy process, as of May 25, 2018, access for WHOIS information has WhoIS-BlogPhoto-300x245changed. In light of the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) adopted by the European Union (“EU”) in April 2016, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) has had to attempt to form new policies to protect registrant information. The Temporary Specification for gTLD Registration Data (“Temporary Specification”) is ICANN’s attempt to comply with the GDPR while maintaining the WHOIS system by restricting most personal data. While the personal data will not be publicly available without some effort, those with a legitimate interest in the contact information will be able to request such information through their domain registrar. They may also be able to contact the registrant through anonymized email or web forms.

These changes are really hitting home for trademark owners who may not able to file a complaint directly against the domain name registrant due to the information being restricted. While not all WHOIS information is unavailable, complainants in most cases will have extra steps that they must take in order to file a complaint. If the information is not available on WHOIS, the complainant will have to verify that the information is not publicly available in the complaint. After the complaint has been filed, FORUM will contact the registrar to obtain the restricted contact information. For Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (“UDRP”) cases, the complainant will have to amend the complaint with the newly received registrant contact information. For Uniform Rapid Suspension Systems (“URS”) cases, complaints may not be amended to include additional registrant information under the URS Procedure and Rules, however, the Temporary Specification allows FORUM to add registrant information after the complaint is filed.

The Expedited Policy Development Process (“EPDP”) initiated by ICANN will consider the adoption of the temporary specification and will likely include a discussion of a standardized access model for the restricted registration information. For any questions, you can contact the Director of Arbitration for FORUM, Renee Fossen by mail at 6465 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 480, Minneapolis, MN 55405, by phone at 952-516-6456, or email at

Indianapolis, Indiana – Plaintiff and Attorney, Richard N. Bell of McCordsville, Indiana, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendant, Joan Mattox, infringed his rights to the “Indianapolis Photo” registered on August 4, 2011 with the U.S. Copyright Office, Registration No. VA0001785115.  Plaintiff is seeking actual and statutory damages, costs, reasonable attorney’s fees and other relief deemed just and proper.

Bell has filed many copyright infringement cases on his own behalf based on his copyrights. See:

In this case, Bell claims that Mattox created a website to promote her business in the Indianapolis area with the domain name of The Defendant then used the Indianapolis Photo on the website to garner the attention of prospective customers. It is alleged that the Indianapolis Photo was displayed on the webpage on or about December 15, 2015 and was still being displayed as of the filing of the Complaint. Bell is suing for copyright infringement and vicarious liability for each third-party download of the Indianapolis Photo from the Mattox’s website. Bell claims that Mattox falsely claimed that Ready Made Resources owned all of the photos and images on their website and used the Indianapolis Photo commercially without paying for the use or obtaining authorization from the Plaintiff. Further, Bell alleges that the Defendant refuses to pay damages for the unauthorized use and has not agreed to be enjoined from further use of the Indianapolis Photo.

It is alleged that the Indianapolis Photo was displayed on the webpage on or about December 15, 2015 and was still being displayed as of the filing of the Complaint. Bell is suing for copyright infringement and vicarious liability for each third-party download of the Indianapolis Photo from the Mattox’s website. Bell claims that Mattox falsely claimed that Ready Made Resources owned all of the photos and images on their website and used the Indianapolis Photo commercially without paying for the use or obtaining authorization from the Plaintiff. Further, Bell alleges that the Defendant refuses to pay damages for the unauthorized use and has not agreed to be enjoined from further use of the Indianapolis Photo.

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