Knobbe/Martens: Intellectual Property Law

Bita Kianian

Federal Circuit Rejects Claim Construction That Improperly Narrowed the Claim

July 11, 2019 Bita Kianian and Kendall Loebbaka


Before Newman, Linn, and Wallach. Appeal from Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

Summary:  It is improper to read limitations from a preferred embodiment described in the specification into claims without any clear indication that the patentee intended the claims to be limited.


No Apologies: Nirvana v. Marc Jacobs

February 22, 2019 Bita Kianian and Ian W. Gillies

On December 28, 2018, Nirvana LLC filed a lawsuit against designer Marc Jacobs in the Central District of California, alleging copyright and trademark infringement. Nirvana LLC is the legal entity which controls the band Nirvana’s financial, legal, and business affairs.  Nirvana LLC was formed in September 1997 by the band’s two surviving members, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, along with the Cobain Estate, controlled by Courtney Love. The lawsuit was triggered by Jacobs’ new “Bootleg Redux Grunge” Collection, and alleges infringement of Nirvana’s satirical smiley face design, created by Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain in 1991. The design was first introduced in 1992, and has since been licensed for use on numerous items, often appearing in yellow against a black background.


The Crown Jewels: How to Protect Your Jewelry Designs

Knock-offs and ‘copycat’ designs are nothing new to the fashion world.

Aloha, Copyright Infringement

January 16, 2019 Bita Kianian and Ian W. Gillies

On October 23, 2018, Rube P. Hoffman, a California textile manufacturer known for their Hawaiian prints and aloha shirts, filed a copyright infringement suit in the Central District of California against Zara USA, Inc., one of the world’s largest fast fashion retailers with over 2,000 stores worldwide. The copyright infringement claim is based on alleged similarities between two of the companies’ textile designs. In the complaint, Hoffman claims exclusive rights and ownership of U.S. copyright registrations over the two textile designs at issue, and further claims that they had never granted permission, license, or consent for Zara to use the designs. Hoffman also asserts claims for Unfair Competition under the Lanham Act and California law. Hoffman demands an end to any further production, distribution, or sale of the allegedly infringing designs; the delivery and destruction of all merchandise bearing the designs; damages; and legal fees.



January 14, 2019 Bita Kianian and Nicole R. Townes

Before Lourie, Chen, and Stoll. Appeal from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

Summary: A generic pharmaceutical company had standing to appeal the Board’s decision in an IPR that claims of a patent were not obvious even though it may be incapable of maintaining a parallel Hatch-Waxman suit because it demonstrated a controversy traceable to the patent and redressable by the Court.  


Attorney Finder