Top Patent, Trademark, and IP Stories from Last Week (4/29-5/5/19)
Every week, we will be highlighting the top patent, copyright, trademark, intellectual property, etc. stories of the previous week in our “In Case You Missed It” segment. The list itself is in no particular order and includes a wide range of stories from the patent world that are informative, noteworthy, or just plain bizarre. The stories included encompass everything from Supreme Court cases to insights into growing industries. Please feel free to comment your thoughts on the stories or share an important one we missed!
“China Dusts the U.S., Finland, and South Korea With 34% of Key 5G Patents”
The next generation of mobile connectivity, known as “5G,” will offer faster speeds and improved reliability across cellular networks. The highly anticipated technology has set off a global arms race for standard essential 5G patents in which China is dominating its peers, applying for roughly “34% of the world’s major 5G patents” (as of March 2019). Trailing behind is South Korea with 25%, the U.S. and Finland with 14% each, Sweden with 8%, and Japan at 5%.
The company currently leading the way in 5G innovation is highly controversial tech giant Huawei (China) who holds 15% of the world’s 5G patents. Other companies include Nokia (Finland) with 14%, Samsung (South Korea) with 13%, and LG (South Korea) with 12%. The top U.S. companies include Qualcomm with 8% of filings and Intel with 5%.
Such dominance from China echoes a story we previously wrote about in which China filed 10% more patents in 2018 than 2017 and nearly became the world’s top patent filer. The emergence of Chinese technology is being felt on a global scale and may soon surpass the U.S. To read more about this story, click here (via VentureBeat, May 2nd, 2019).
“New Trademark Bill Could Allow Government Entities to Obtain Trademarks for Flags”
A new congressional bill was introduced in April that will allow government entities to register trademarks on flags, coats of arms, or other government insignia. “H.R. 1999: Fair Licensing Access for Governments (FLAG) Act of 2019” would amend the Trademark Act of 1946 to “provide for the registration of marks consisting of the flag, coat of arms, or other official insignia of the United States, any State or municipality of the United States, or any foreign nation.” If passed, the bill would allow for the protection of these trademarks in commerce, conventions, etc.
Currently there is an explicit bar on the registration of these entities as well as marks including flags and seals where all significant features are displayed. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries who introduced the bill argues the measure will prevent counterfeit goods and “generate needed revenue for local public resources and services.” To read more about this story, click here (via IPPro Magazine, May 3rd, 2019).
“Bank of America Granted Patent for Cryptocurrency Risk Detection System”
A new patent from Bank of America shows America’s second largest bank is developing cryptocurrency technology. The patent, named “Cryptocurrency Risk Detection System,” will calculate risk for individuals performing cryptocurrency transactions. The patent indicates such a system will help institutions dealing with large cryptocurrency transactions evaluate risk of transactions between customers and third parties.
The technology will use processors to receive a client request to perform a cryptocurrency transaction, determine the amount and type of cryptocurrency involved in the transaction, then calculate the a primary risk score. From here, it will assess the user history and other personal information from the blockchain to calculate final risk score.
The patent highlights the bank and banking industry’s growing interest in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. In October, Bank of America was granted a patent for a “hardened remote storage device” for private cryptography authentication keys. In November, the bank patented a way to store and aggregate cryptocurrency safely. In April, JPMorgan Chase announced they would be working on the development a cryptocurrency to streamline transactions.
There are legitimate concerns with the viability and stability of the technology but as its adoption by financial institutions increases, do not be surprised if cryptocurrency wallets come to a bank near you. To read more about this story, click here (via Dapplife, April 30th, 2019).
“What Is This Potato That PepsiCo Is Obsessing Over in India?”
PepsiCo announced it will sue farmers in Gujarat, India over their unauthorized cultivation of the company’s patented FL 2027 potato variety aka “FC5.” PepsiCo patented the potato for use in its potato chips under India’s Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001 (PPV&FR).
After a crop failure in 2008 hurt Lay’s production, PepsiCo rolled out the potato for commercial use in 2009. The company works with approximately 24,000 farmers throughout the country to meet demand. The potato is part of 151 plant varieties under protection by the PPV&FR Act which grants breeders the exclusive right to “produce, sell, market, distribute, import, or export” the plants. To read more about this story, click here (via Quartz, April 30th, 2019).
“NFL Files to Trademark Former Franchise the Duluth Eskimos”
The National Football League has secured the rights to the “Duluth Eskimos”trademark. The Eskimos were a football franchise based in Duluth, Minnesota during the 1926 and 1927 seasons. ProFootballTalk writer Michael David Smith indicates this is part of an NFL campaign to trademark previous franchises as part of the league’s 100th anniversary. The NFL may run into trouble given there is a Canadian football team with the name “Edmonton Eskimos.” To read more about this story, click here (via Bleacher Report, April 30th, 2019).