The Supreme Court Continues to Take On IP Issues; Is Congress Picking Up the Patent Reform Torch Again Too?

The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear two patent-related cases, as well as a copyright case. The copyright case, Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., involves the doctrine of laches, and in particular whether a copyright holder can sue for a new act of infringement, such as distributing another copy of a movie, when the copyright holder failed to assert infringement claims during previous distributions. The two patent-related cases, Octane Fitness, LLC v. ICON Health & Fitness, Inc. and Highmark Inc. v. Allcare Health Management Systems, involve challenges to the Federal Circuit’s high standard for awarding attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party in patent infringement cases. It is anticipated that the two patent cases may impact litigation by non-practicing entities (NPEs), sometimes referred to as “patent trolls,” because a decision that makes it easier to shift attorneys’ fees to the non-prevailing party may serve as a deterrent to NPEs suing established companies. Congress is also considering action that may negatively impact NPEs. Virginia Representative Bob Goodlatte has introduced a bipartisan bill, dubbed the Innovation Act, which aims to encourage innovation by creating a number of procedural safeguards against frivolous patent infringement lawsuits, including heightening the pleading requirement, limiting discovery, and shifting fees to the prevailing party. Of course, given that patent reform took center stage just two years ago in the form of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), it seems more likely that Congress will take-up other issues before it opens debate on the Innovation Act, if it does so at all. Stay tuned to the IP Bulletin for further developments on the Supreme Court cases and for pertinent legislative updates.

Maximizing the protection and value of intellectual property assets is often the cornerstone of a business's success and even survival. In this blog, Nutter's Intellectual Property attorneys provide news updates and practical tips in patent portfolio development, IP litigation, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and licensing.

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