Knobbe/Martens: Intellectual Property Law

Nicole R. Townes

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February 21, 2018 Nicole R. Townes and Douglas B. Wentzel

Before Newman, Bryson, and Moore.  Appeal from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

Summary: Prosecution disclaimer occurred when an applicant explained why claims were amended and the Examiner confirmed the reasons for allowance.


Beware! A Trademark Trial and Appeals Board Decision Can Stop You in Your Tracks

January 29, 2018 Nicole R. Townes and Jeff Van Hoosear

It has been a few years since the Supreme Court decision in the case B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc., and we are beginning to see the aftermath in the district courts.  In B&B Hardware, the Supreme Court held that decisions of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) regarding whether a trademark should be entitled to federal registration can have a preclusive effect in trademark infringement actions in district court.  Specifically, the Supreme Court held that “[s]o long as the other ordinary elements of issue preclusion are met, when the usages adjudicated by the TTAB are materially the same as those before the district court, issue preclusion should apply.”  See B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 1293, 1310 (2015).


January 26, 2018 Nicole R. Townes and Clayton R. Henson

Before Moore, O’Malley, and Wallach.  Appeal from the Eastern District of Texas (Judge Gilstrap).

Summary: Claims directed to summarizing and presenting information on display interfaces for electronic devices are patent eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 when they are directed to a specific improvement over prior systems rather than an abstract idea.


January 25, 2018 Nicole R. Townes and David J. Grant

Before Dyk, Schall, and Reyna.  Appeal from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

Summary: Final written decisions by an administrative tribunal invalidating a patent can have a preclusive effect.


January 10, 2018 Nicole R. Townes and Daniel Kiang

Before Dyk, Linn, and Hughes.  Appeal from the Northern District of California.

Summary: Claims directed to behavior-based virus scanning, as opposed to the traditional code-matching method, constituted a patent-eligible improvement in computer functionality.  Also, for reasonable royalty damages, apportionment beyond the smallest, identifiable technical component of an accused product is required if the technical component contains non-infringing features.

General Mills Finds Out That Yellow Is Not “Magically Delicious”: Brands Fighting To Protect Their True Colors

September 13, 2017 Nicole R. Townes and Jonathan Hyman

Years after the Christian Louboutin v. Yves Saint Laurent battle over red soled shoes, trademark protection for color continues to be a hot topic.  On August 22, 2017, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) held that General Mills was not entitled to a trademark registration for its yellow Cheerios’ box shown below:

Meow - Copycat Fur and Bows - Forever 21 Stares Down Puma

As discussed in our previous blog post Puma Treads New Territory Hitting Forever 21 with Copyright Allegations after the Supreme Court’s Star Athletica Decision, Puma sued Forever 21 for design patent infringement, trade dress infringement, copyright infringement and unfair competition in the Central District of California.  Specifically, Puma alleged that Forever 21 copied its “Fenty” label shoes which were designed by Puma with the help of famous pop star, Rihanna. 

RED GOLD for Jewelry: Obviously Generic (Or Maybe Not…)

April 11, 2017 Nicole R. Townes and Jason J. Jardine

On March 24, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the term “red gold” may not be a generic term for jewelry and watches, and thus, may serve as a trademark.  Specifically, the Ninth Circuit found that there were questions of fact that needed to be decided by a jury as to whether the term was generic.

Design Patents – The Often Forgotten, But Useful Protection for Accessories and a Designer’s Timeless and Staple Pieces

February 6, 2017 Nicole R. Townes and Robert Roby

Although trademarks and copyrights most frequently come to mind when considering the types of intellectual property protection available for fashion items, design patents can also offer valuable protection.  A design patent is a form of legal protection directed to the ornamental appearance of an otherwise functional item.

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