Season 2, Episode 1: Spark of Genius, Trademarking Hashtags

Topic: The function and registration of hashtags as trademarks, current case law relating to use of hashtags as mark, types of hashtags, and the role of social media in the use of hashtags as marks

Hosts: China Smith & LaShaila Spivey

Music written and supplied by Dr. Robert L. Eoff, Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Design Patent Damages: A Critique of the Government’s Proposed 4-Factor Test for Determining the “Article of Manufacture”

by Perry J. Saidman, Saidman DesignLaw Group, LLC

from Volume 8 (2018-2019)

Download this Article in PDF format from The Jerome Hall Law Library’s Digital Repository.

The Supreme Court in Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple, Inc. wrestled with the question of determining the meaning of “article of manufacture” in 35 U.S.C. § 289 when it comes to calculating the total profit of the infringer that is awarded to the patentee.

In its Petition for Certiorari, Samsung raised the novel theory that the article of manufacture could be less than the entire product sold by the infringer. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the following issue, as framed in Samsung’s Petition:

Where a design patent is applied to only a component of a product, should an award of infringer’s profits be limited to those profits attributable to the component?

Samsung argued that for a multi-component product, such as a smartphone, the article of manufacture needs to be defined in terms of only portions or components of the smartphone. Since Apple’s design patents were drawn to portions of the iPhone, rather than the entire iPhone, Samsung sought to limit its liability to its total profit on those portions. This would have greatly reduced the jury award of $399 million, which had been based on the total profit derived from Samsung’s sales of their entire smartphones to which the patented designs had been applied.

The Supreme Court said that the only question before it was narrow: “[W]hether, in the case of a multicomponent product, the relevant ‘article of manufacture’ must always be the end product sold to the consumer or whether it can also be a component of that product.”

Looking to the statutory text, the Supreme Court concluded that the term “article of manufacture,” as it is used in § 289, “encompasses both a product sold to a consumer and a component of that product.” The Court further indicated that the term “article of manufacture” is “broad enough to embrace both a product sold to a consumer and a component of that product, whether sold separately or not.” The Court declined, however, to “set out a test for identifying the relevant article of manufacture at the first step of the § 289 damages inquiry.”

Thus, the narrow question left unanswered from Samsung is how to determine the relevant article of manufacture for a multi-component product, such as a kitchen oven (the example given by Justice Sotomayor). If the product is a single component product, such as a dinner plate (again, Justice Sotomayor’s example), there is no issue, because, as she put it, “the product [sold to a consumer] is the ‘article of manufacture’ to which the design has been applied.”

The meaning of “total profit” was not at issue; as the Court stated: “‘[t]otal,’ of course, means all.” Thus, the Court left undisturbed the long-standing design patent rule against apportionment of the infringer’s total profit, as well as its sister rule prohibiting an inquiry into causation.

As noted above, the Court left formulation of a test for determining the article of manufacture to the lower courts in future litigation.

TC Heartland: It’s Time to Take Stock

by Daniel Kazhdan & Sanjiv P. Laud, Jones Day

from Volume 8 (2018-2019)

Download this Article in PDF format from The Jerome Hall Law Library’s Digital Repository.

It has been a little over a year and a half since the Supreme Court issued its groundbreaking venue decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, shaking up the status quo in U.S. patent infringement litigation. The first months after TC Heartland saw a flurry of activity as litigants and courts wrestled with the impact of the decision on pending cases, pondered the true meaning of a “regular and established place of business,” and explored many other questions left by the TC Heartland decision. Eighteen months and several writs of mandamus later, it is now a good time to take stock of the newly emerging status quo in patent venue. This article does just that.

Registration is Fundamental

by Nicole Pottinger, University of Kentucky College of Law & Brian L. Frye, University of Kentucky College of Law

from Volume 8 (2018-2019)

Download this Article in PDF format from The Jerome Hall Law Library’s Digital Repository.

Under the Copyright Act, copyright owners can file infringement actions only if registration of their copyright claim with the Copyright Office “has been made” or “has been refused.” The United States Supreme Court recently granted certiorari in Fourth Estate v. Wall-Street.com, in order to decide whether registration is “made” when a claimant files a registration application or when the Copyright Office registers the claim.

This article argues that the Court should hold that registration occurs when the Copyright Office registers the claim, in order to ensure that federal courts can benefit from the expertise of the Copyright Office. The Copyright Office recently began publishing the opinions of Copyright Office Review Board. This article uses those administrative opinions to show how the Copyright Office has developed the concepts of “originality” and “creativity” in ways that are helpful to the federal courts. It concludes with an Appendix listing the Copyright Office Review Board opinions addressing originality and explaining the basis for each decision.