Overall, 2013 is shaping up to be a big year in intellectual property law. There are several key cases to watch in the areas of trademark, copyright, and patent law.
Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc.: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to delve back into the scope of patentable subject matter, as it applies to medical genetics. The primary question before the Supreme Court is whether isolated genes are “products of nature” that are ineligible for patent protection or products of human intervention and ingenuity.
The result is: genes are a product of nature and cannot be patented.
Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons: This copyright infringement case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012, but a decision will be issued in 2013. The lawsuit addresses the tension between the first-sale doctrine and the Copyright Act’s ban against importing a work without the authority of the copyright owner. While the case involves foreign textbooks made and legally acquired abroad and then imported into the United States, the Supreme Court’s decision is expected to impact the larger, million-dollar “gray market” for goods, upon which companies like Costco and eBay rely.
The result: in a 6-3 decision, the Court held that the first-sale doctrine applies to copies of copyrighted works lawfully made abroad.
American Broadcasting Cos. v. Aereo: New technology will continue to test the limits of the Copyright Act in 2013. The Second Circuit is poised to decide whether start-up company, Aereo, has infringed the copyrights of networks, including ABC and Fox Television, by taking broadcast television signals and retransmitting them over the Internet to its subscribers. Because the decision could shake up how consumers get their television, the media and technology industries are closely watching the case.
Currently: Aereo 2, ABC 0, waiting for the Court to decide.
Apple v. Samsung: The ongoing litigation between Apple and Samsung is just one example of the so-called “software patent wars” that dominated 2012. With lawsuits still pending in California and across the globe, the two tech giants will likely continue to dominate legal headlines.
Currently: Bickering back and forth enough to annoy the judge in the case. Likely not to go to trial this year. Samsung has asked for a new trial due to problems with the original trial which could make cell phones obsolete before these two get a verdict.
In addition to these cases, there are a number of regulatory changes in the works, most notably the official conversion to a first-to-file patent system under the America Invents Act.
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– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +