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New Patent Rules Blocked by an 11th Hour Injunction

By Vincent J. Allen On the day before the new continuation rules discussed in our previous newsletter were to go into effect, a federal judge in Virginia issued an injunction against the Patent Office that prevented the Patent Office from changing the rules on November 1, 2007 as scheduled.  GlaxoSmithKline filed suit in Virginia claiming that the new regulations are vague, arbitrary, and capricious.

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Can I Patent My Teddy Bear?

By Colin P. Cahoon Years ago a non-patent lawyer colleague of mine told me that he had been asked by one of his clients if it was possible to obtain patent protection on the client’s new stuffed animal design.  “There was nothing special about what the stuffed animal did or how it was made.  It just looked like, you know, a variation on a teddy bear.  The client wanted to know if we could get a patent on the look of this fluffy creation, and I said ‘No.’”  I informed my colleague that he needed to call the client back and revise his answer, because he had just given bad advice.

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Copyright Overview: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Statutory Damages

By Zach W. Hilton Both attorneys and laypersons who are not sufficiently familiar with current U.S. copyright law are often guilty of relying upon, and spreading, popular myths and misconceptions concerning basic copyright related issues.  In most instances, reliance on copyright myths and misconceptions will not result in any harm.  However, for the minority of copyright owners who must one day attempt to protect their copyrighted works, such reliance can have potentially disastrous consequences that can effectively preclude enforcement of the copyright.  In hopes of preventing such an unfortunate outcome, a brief primer on the basics of copyright law is provided below.

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Purchase a Declaratory Judgment Lawsuit for the Price of a Stamp

By Bobby W. Braxton The recent Supreme Court decision in MedImmune Inc. v Genentech Inc., (January 9, 2007) lowered the hurdle a party must clear before filing a declaratory judgment lawsuit.  A declaratory judgment lawsuit allows a party to seek a determination of the rights among the parties without waiting for the opposing party to file a claim.  Additionally, a potential defendant can race an adversary to the courthouse by filing a declaratory judgment lawsuit in the erstwhile defendant’s choice of forum.

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The Battle Continues: Supreme Court v. Federal Circuit

By Vincent J. Allen The U.S. Supreme Court has reversed all nine patent cases decided on appeal from the Federal Circuit since 2002.  In two cases handed down in April, the Court continues its trend of reversing the Federal Circuit.  In a much anticipated decision, the Court in KSR v. Teleflex unanimously rejected the Federal Circuit’s rigid approach to determining whether a patent is non-obvious in view of the prior art.  Although not as far reaching as KSR, a second case, Microsoft v. AT&T, may hamper owners of software patents in their ability to prevent copying of software outside the United States.

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Dallas Leads the Charge with New Patent Rules

By Vincent J. Allen In an order issued April 2, Chief U.S. District Judge of the Northern District of Texas, A. Joe Fish, established case management rules on a trial basis for patent cases filed in the Dallas Division.  The patent rules apply to all civil actions containing an allegation of utility patent infringement and to any action seeking a declaration that a utility patent is not infringed, is invalid, or is unenforceable.  The patent rules take effect on May 1, 2007 and apply to any Dallas Division patent case filed on or after that date and to certain cases filed prior to the effective date.  Although other districts such as the Eastern District of Texas and the Northern District of California have had patent rules for some time, many other districts are now considering creating patent rules as well.  Dallas is the first in a new wave of districts…

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The PTO’s New Accelerated Examination Program—Heaven Sent or Pandora’s Box?

By Zach W. Hilton In March, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) celebrated the issuance of the first patent under its new accelerated examination program.  This patent issued from an application filed on September 29, 2006.  Implemented in August 2006, the accelerated examination program allows an applicant to dramatically shorten the time an application spends in the examination process.

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