When cobwebs and tombstones start to show up in your neighborhood, probably something wicked is coming your way—except that one night of the year, on Halloween. Even though Halloween involves frightening things—haunted houses, the undead, tricks in response to no treats—it is ultimately about carefree fun. And there’s candy! But if you are in a Halloween-related business, there is a genuinely scary side to the holiday—IP issues that, if ignored, could lead to a wicked lawsuit.
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On 11 July 2016, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a unanimous en banc ruling in The Medicines Company v. Hospira Inc. that a sale of manufacturing services by a contract manufacturer to an inventor to create embodiments of a patented product for the inventor does not trigger the on-sale bar of 35 U.S.C. § 102.
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On 23 June 2016, a US federal jury concluded that Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant did not copy the opening guitar riff in “Stairway to Heaven” from the song “Taurus,” an earlier tune by US rock band Spirit. The latter song, a 2-minute 27-second instrumental, was recorded nearly four years before “Stairway,” and was released on Spirit’s self-titled debut album in 1968.

The conclusion of the “Stairway” case comes a little more than a year after a federal jury in Los Angeles, California, awarded millions to R&B-soul singer Marvin Gaye’s family. The jury decided that recording stars Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams had plagiarized Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” in creating their hit single “Blurred Lines.”
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On May 11, 2016, President Barack Obama signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (“DTSA”), which creates a new federal private cause of action for trade secret misappropriation. The DTSA amends Chapter 90 of Title 18 of the US Code regarding the protection of trade secrets, which had previously only provided for criminal penalties.

Under the DTSA, the owner of a trade secret may bring a civil action for acts of misappropriation occurring on or after the date of enactment of the DTSA if the trade secret is related to a product or service used in, or intended for use in, interstate or foreign commerce. The remedies available include damages and injunctive relief, as well as seizure of “property necessary to prevent the propagation or dissemination of the trade secret” based on an ex parte application by the trade secret owner to a court. The DTSA also provides for security and protection of the subject trade secrets while in the custody of the court.
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The Diary of a Young Girl, written by Anne Frank between 1940 and 1944 while she was in hiding, is widely considered a touchstone of both literature and history. Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis in the occupied city of Amsterdam during World War II. They were ultimately discovered, and Anne died of typhus in the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen in 1945.
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In 2011, British wildlife photographer David J. Slater spent some time in Indonesia taking pictures of crested black macaques when he temporarily left his camera unattended. Reportedly, some of the monkeys began playing with the camera and (accidentally?) took some excellent self-portraits, including a now-famous one dubbed the “Monkey Selfie“.
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Virtual currencies, especially Bitcoins, have attracted much public attention as well as scholarly interest. Many related issues have, however, not yet been fully clarified and are still being addressed in specialized literature. Particularly whether, despite the fact that they do not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction, Bitcoins could be qualified as “money”, both from a legal and an economic point of view. From a legal perspective, the question whether or not a medium fulfils economic functions of money has proven to be relevant – for example, some US court rulings have taken a functional approach when qualifying Bitcoins as money in a legal sense.
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In Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment, LLC the US Supreme Court, while acknowledging the criticism of other judges and scholars, chose to uphold the long-standing rule in Brulotte v. Thys Co., 379 U.S. 29 (1964), that renders unenforceable an agreement requiring payment of royalties for a patent after that patent expires. While Brulotte remains good law, Kimble enumerates several Supreme Court-sanctioned workarounds for parties seeking to extend royalty fee payments beyond the life of a patent.
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