Top Patent, Trademark, and IP Stories from Last Week (6/17-6/23/19)
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!
“IPwe Tracks Five Thousand Patents Using IBM Blockchain Platform for Multicloud”
We have covered blockchain extensively in the past as blockchain and cryptocurrency patent filings continue to surge. The revolutionary technology allows for a decentralized, public record of transaction information including the time, date, etc. It is gaining momentum in the healthcare and banking industries and now, even the patent world with IPwe.
Dubbing itself “the world’s first patent blockchain network,” IPwe uses blockchain technology to create a continuous, verifiable record of patent transactions and events. Additionally, the platform makes patents more liquid, allowing interested buyers to connect with patent holders much like other tradable assets such as stocks. It is estimated that only 2% of patents are exchanged. If blockchain is able to make patent transactions simple and verifiable, a lot more patents could be exchanged just like any other asset.
With 20 million active patents across 200 patent offices, the lack of a central registry and the continuously chaning record of ownership makes the patent research process difficult to track. By having a record of patent transactions, events, and value, the company allows prospective patent buyers acquire a patent in an easy transaction.
The platform has three different features. One, as a global patent registry where patent researchers can look up the details of a patent such as who owns it or if a patent exists. Two, as an analytics service to determine the value of a patent, whether it is valid, or what it is about. Three, as an annuity tracking and financing solution. Whether the platform gets adapted is yet to be seen given the complexity of the problem it is trying to provide a solution for. To read more about this story, click here (via Forbes, June 20th, 2019).
“Amazon Patents ‘Surveillance as a Service’ Tech for Its Delivery Drones”
Last week we touched on the ongoing drone patent race between Walmart and Amazon. Both companies are competing to roll out drones for the quickest delivery possible. That said, a new Amazon patent may indicate other possible uses for these drones, perhaps even home surveillance. The patent indicates the aerial surveillance drones would be less vulnerable to damage than ground-based cameras which can be disabled or manipulated by an intruder.
Such a drone would be able to surveil the property of a customer in order to identify whether a garage is left open, window is broken, a fire is occurring, graffiti is sprayed on a wall, etc. The drone will then send an alert to the homeowner or authorities if necessary. The drone could check on homes every hour or day and would be equipped with night vision cameras and microphones to get a better read of a potential problem.
In order to prevent unintentional surveilling of private citizens, Amazon states it will implement a geo-fence outside the authorized location. This would prevent the drone from being able to watch private citizens and their property by creating a virtual boundary of sorts around the home it is surveilling. To read more about this story, click here (via The Verge, June 21st, 2019)
“Caterpillar Now Going After All the Cats for Trademark Cancellations”
Earlier this month, the world’s largest construction equipment manufacturer, Caterpillar, filed a trademark suit against California cafe “Cat & Cloud Coffee.” In 2016, Caterpillar filed a petition with the USPTO to revoke Cat & Cloud’s Class 25 trademark which protects their trademark on clothing. Cat & Cloud has used the word “cat” on clothing they sell. Caterpillar has successfully sold shirts and hats with their shorthand “CAT” logo for quite a while, gaining notoriety in popular culture.
The bizarre saga does not end there. Caterpillar has started new beefs, filing 125 cancellation petitions to the USPTO against other various “cat” clothing trademarks. Given the legal resources Caterpillar has at their disposal, their ability to take aim at a broad stretch of unrelated small businesses is concerning to say the least. To read more about this story, click here (via Techdirt, June 20th, 2019).
“Adidas Loses Three-Stripe Trademark Battle in European Court”
In 1949, Adidas founder Adolf Dassler registered the company’s iconic “three stripes” logo. Since then, the logo has been featured in the Olympics, World Cups, and Run-DMC videos. Last week, the General Court of the European Union found the logo not “distinctive” enough to warrant broader trademark protection. Adidas said the decision will hurt marketing efforts in the EU.
The decision comes after a long battle with rival Belgian shoe company Shoe Branding Europe who has a two-stripe logo. In 2014, the company protested a ruling that gave Adidas trademark rights for the use of “three parallel equidistant stripes of identical width, applied on the product in any direction” on clothing. Shoe Branding Europe felt the trademark indirectly affected their ability to sell shoes. How the decision will play out is yet to be seen, Adidas will have a harder time taking rivals to court for trademark infringement. To read more about this story, click here (via The Guardian, June 19th, 2019).