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MBHB snippets Alert - May 22, 2017

Today in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Food Brands Grp. LLC, 581 U.S. ___ (2017), the Supreme Court reversed a long-standing practice permitting venue over domestic corporations to be had wherever the court had personal jurisdiction over the defendant. Now, however, “[a]s applied to domestic corporations, ‘reside[nce]’ in § 1400(b) refers only to the State of incorporation.” Id., p. 10.
As was widely expected from the Justices’ positions at oral arguments, a nearly unanimous Supreme Court today struck down the patent laches doctrine in SCA Hygiene Prods. Aktiebolag, v. First Quality Baby Prods., LLC, 580 U.S. __ (March 21, 2017). In the opinion by Justice Alito, the Supreme Court applied the rationale of its own prior decision in Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 1962 (2014), finding that the existence of a six-year statute of limitations in the Patent Act, 35 U.S.C. §286, precluded the application of laches. As such, “laches cannot be interposed as a defense against damages where the infringement occurred within the period prescribed by §286.”
Seeking to end years of little clarity on two key ethical issues for practitioners, the Patent Office has proposed two new rules of practice. The first rule would allow parties to invoke privilege in inter partes proceedings to prevent the disclosure of communications between clients and non-attorney patent agents. The second rule would change the duty of disclosure to comport with the standard set forth in the Therasense case. Based on the comments from the public, it appears likely that the Office will adopt the patent-agent privilege rule but go back for another round of changes to the duty of disclosure rule.
Owners of U.S. trademark registrations need to know about a few recent rule changes and be mindful of the changes and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office requirements whenever a declaration of use is due.
In 2011, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“AIA”) established new post-issuance procedures for challenging the validity of a granted patent before the Patent Trials and Appeal Board (“PTAB” or “Board”). Inter partes reviews (“IPRs”) and Covered Business Method patent reviews (“CBMs”) have been available since September 16, 2012, and their utilization since that time has exceeded expectations. A third mechanism, post-grant review (“PGR”), was also made available on that date, but because a PGR petition can only be filed for patents that were examined pursuant to the new First-Inventor-to-File scheme established by the AIA, it has not yet been significantly utilized. Here, we describe the IPR and PGR estoppel provisions of 35 U.S.C. §§ 315(e) and 325(e) and courts’ interpretations of those provisions thus far.
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