The Great Ear Debate: Disney Sues Deadmau5

September 5th, 2014

One mouse is set to take on another.

Earlier this week,  Disney filed a 171-page suit attempting to block musician and DJ deadmau5 from registering a trademark for his logo, called the “mau5head,” in the U.S.  According to deadmau5’s lawyer, Dina LaPolt, the Canadian house music maker has been using his logo without issue for over 10 years, and deadmau5 has registered the mark without issue in 30 countries.

Disney argues that their three-circle, black-silhouette mouse head has been registered since 1928 and issuing a mark for deadmau5 will cause brand confusion.

Laura GazeLaura Gaze, Director, IP Solutions: Even though deadmau5 has been using this logo for years, Disney is well within their rights to try to block it here in the United States – and potentially elsewhere too. The Walt Disney Company has decades of equity tied up in the Mickey-inspired logo, and any chance of confusion in the marketplace is a risk Disney is simply not willing to take. How close are the logos? Check them out below and judge for yourself:

disney deadmau5

johnroderick Trademarks , , , , ,

The Next Space Race: Reusable Rockets

September 4th, 2014

Man has already reached the new frontier, but can it now be done on a budget? The lynchpin to making space travel efficient is the ability to produce reusable rockets.

As a result, the race is on to build the new technology that would “chop tens of millions of dollars off the cost of launch,” and it has two major players. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is the leader in building this type of technology, getting as far as the testing phases, however they’re being held up in their pursuit, according to Quartz.

“[…]Someone else has the patent on this kind of technology: Blue Origin, the space exploration company founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. While the company hasn’t developed its technology as far as SpaceX, which already is launching satellites for commercial and government clients, it has been proceeding with a contract from NASA to develop a rocket-and-spacecraft combination. But before it launched a single rocket, it obtained a business method patent for a reusable launch vehicle […]”

Laura GazeLaura Gaze, Director, IP Solutions: It’s easy to understand Elon Musk’s frustration, but Bezos and his Blue Origin company were wise to file a patent on the technology. Their contract with NASA has given the Amazon chief and his company fantastic positioning, and it’s because they were first to file. Even though SpaceX is closer, Blue Origin’s protection may put them in the driver’s seat in this race to space.

Laura Gaze, Senior Marketing Manager, IP Solutions Patents , , , , ,

Facebook Buys 100 Patents To Spur Virtual Reality, Video, Speech

September 2nd, 2014

Facebook has evolved by leaps and bounds over its ten years of existence.  From humble beginnings of late-night coding binges, the college student addiction of choice has become a mainstay on every laptop, smartphone, and tablet in the world.

So what’s next? According to Forbes, the sky is the limit:

A recent analysis found that new possibilities for Facebook could range from ‘digital printing services to interactive wearable devices.’”

Laura GazeLaura Gaze, Director, IP Solutions: Peaking into a company’s patent portfolio is always a valuable tool when predicting their future. We know that Facebook has lofty goals, and it seems as though they’re ready to diversify in order to stay relevant. It’s just another great example of a company using innovation to cement their place at the top. It will be interesting to see which of these patents materialize and which direction Facebook chooses to move towards.

Laura Gaze, Senior Marketing Manager, IP Solutions Patents , , , ,

The Most Magical Drones on Earth? Disney Files Patents for Theme Park Drones

August 28th, 2014

Theme park innovation, anti-terrorism measure, or all of the above? That’s the question on the mind of Disney enthusiasts upon hearing of the news that drones could soon be flying above the Magic Kingdom.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney has filed three patents for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for entertainment purposes. The report says that Disney’s “Imagineers” have dreamed up new ways to bring The Disney Company’s properties to life with these aircraft usually reserved for military purposes.

“One of the applications is for a multi-drone system that would hold aloft a projection screen for a nighttime display. Such a display would utilize what Disney calls ‘flixels,’ which is an Imagineer word creation for ‘floating pixels,’ according to the background information Disney submitted.

In the second patent application, Disney said ‘the UAVs execute the flight plans to move and to position the flexible projection screens within the display air space,’ according to the patent application abstract. ‘These multiple flexible projection screens, Disney says, would have little wind resistance and offer a surface for reflecting light.’

Laura GazeLaura Gaze, Director, IP Solutions: This is an interesting development in the House of the Mouse. Earlier this year, Walt Disney World rolled out a program called MyMagic+ that takes advantage of RFID technology for everything from their Fast Pass system to room keys to credit card purchases. Now, the use of drones sounds like it will initially be focused on in-park product, but one cannot wonder what other applications they could eventually have, from security monitoring to data collection on guests utilizing the RFID technology. There are endless possibilities to Disney’s use of these UAVs, and it will be interesting to see what manifests out of the pixie dust.

Laura Gaze, Senior Marketing Manager, IP Solutions Patents , , , ,

Confirmed: Patent Trolls Inhibit Innovation

August 27th, 2014

Non-practicing entities (NPEs), or “patent trolls,” have always been accused of stifling innovation, but a no one has been able to put a monetary amount on this claim. Until now.

According to Vox: “A new study by researchers at Harvard and the University of Texas provides some insight on this question. Drawing from data on litigation, R&D spending, and patent citations, the researchers find that firms that are forced to pay NPEs (either because they lost a lawsuit or settled out of court) dramatically reduce R&D spending: losing firms spent $211 million less on R&D, on average, than firms that won a lawsuit against a troll.”

Laura GazeLaura Gaze, Director, IP Solutions: This study comes on the heels of a big settlement between Adam Carolla and a non-practicing entity, a case that nearly turned the entire broadcasting industry on its head. Now, with some concrete stats behind the claim that NPEs have an adverse impact on R&D and innovation, those leading the fight for U.S. patent reform have more ammunition to make their case against NPEs.  This is an issue we’ve seen debated for years.  As far back as 2010, we hosted a panel session entitled “Non-Practicing Entities: Patent Pirates or Stewards of Innovation,” in which a group of NPEs debated their role in the patent landscape with a group of major manufacturers.  The conversation then was very similar to the conversation we’re hearing today: some NPEs are perfectly legitimate operations that operate similar to private equity firms or venture capitalists using patents as collateral to harness the growth of new technologies.  Others are more predatory in their practices.  As this debate continues to generate global media attention, we expect to see more proposed legislation and no shortage of hand-wringing over individual cases.

Laura Gaze, Senior Marketing Manager, IP Solutions Patents , , , ,

Apple and Samsung Call an International Patent Truce

August 26th, 2014

Are Samsung and Apple ready to call a ceasefire in the smartphone patent wars? According to the Wall Street Journal, the two technology giants are ready to put their legal swords down on patent matters outside of the United States.

“Apple and Samsung have agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside the United States,” the companies said in a joint statement. “This agreement does not involve any licensing arrangements, and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in U.S. courts.”

Apple first sued Samsung in the U.S. for copying features of the iPhone in 2011. Samsung then sued Apple for patent infringement in South Korea, Japan, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy and the U.K. Apple filed countersuits in five of those countries. Apple and Samsung will dismiss all those claims, except those in the U.S.

Laura GazeLaura Gaze, Director, IP Solutions: It’s been a long and winding road for these two, a path marked by with landmark decisions and major industry implications.  But just because the fight is on hold outside the United States doesn’t mean the litigation is set to die down. Experts agree that the U.S. litigation is the most important, so what seems like a truce could simply be the two companies harnessing their efforts towards the biggest battle. Whoever wins stateside will undoubtedly have a sturdier foot to stand on internationally, so don’t bank on world peace between these two competitors just yet.

Laura Gaze, Senior Marketing Manager, IP Solutions Uncategorized , , , ,

Thomson Reuters Analysis Finds High Market Potential in Stage II Antidepressants

July 9th, 2014

It’s been 25 years since the launch of Prozac exploded the anti-depressant drug market, but a new three-part analysis of the drug development pipeline, patent filing and sales forecast data that we’ve released today found that, despite a steady downward trend antidepressant sales, global pharmaceutical companies are aggressively setting up partnership arrangements and rallying behind new Stage II pipeline drugs to target depression.

Their goal: Reaching the 350 million people worldwide who have depression, 50 percent of whom go untreated.

Our analysis dives into the behind-the-scenes industry activity (pipeline development, partnership activity, new patents, scientific literature publications) in the antidepressant space to spotlight some of the following key trends:

  • Alkermes & Roche Claim the 3 Most Notable Antidepressants in Development: There are three notable drugs currently in Phase II clinical trials, all with mechanisms of action that differ significantly from traditional SSRI and SNRI type antidepressants on the market: Alkermes’ ALKS-5461 and Roche’s RG-7090 and RG-1578.  Each of these is forecast by Thomson Reuters to surpass $100 million in sales by 2019.
  • Development and Distribution Deals Heat Up: Licensing deals between pharmaceutical developers indicate a sustained interest in cracking the antidepressant market.  The three largest antidepressant related deals currently on the table are between Otsuka/H.Lundbeck for Abilify and Brexpiprazole; Dainippon Sumitomo/Takeda for Latuda; an Otsuka/Bristol-Myers Squibb for Abilify.

  • China Takes the Lead in Antidepressant Patent Activity: Since 2003, U.S. antidepressant patents have dropped 50%, while China’s has spiked 124%. The most active single company in this space is H. Lundbeck A/S, a Danish firm, and GlaxoSmithKline, a British multinational.
  • Worldwide Sales Forecasts Declining: Antidepressant drug sales dropped 5.5 billion (from 15 billion in 2003 to 9.5 billion in 2012) and are projected to drop another 2.5 billion by 2019.  The decline is being driven by the rapid rise of generics and a movement away from using drugs as a first line of treatment for depression.

To view infographic illustrating the analysis, click here.

To read a report on the challenges and opportunities in the depression drug market, click here, or here to learn more about the dominant scientific research surrounding the condition.

Laura Gaze, Senior Marketing Manager, IP Solutions Life Sciences , , ,

USPTO Cancels Washington Redskins’ Trademark Registration

June 19th, 2014

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the Washington Redskins trademark registration, calling the football team’s name “disparaging to Native Americans.”

A 1992 suit over the trademark was thrown out on a technicality, since some of the plaintiffs had waited too long after turning 18 to file. Since then, at least a dozen new trademark applications involving the word “Redskins” have been denied, the most recent a filing for hog rinds that the board declared “derogatory” and “offensive.” But this case, officially known as Blackhorse v. Pro-Football Inc., which was first filed in 2006, put the already-existing registrations on the line.

Federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that “may disparage” individuals or groups or “bring them into contempt or disrepute.” The ruling pertains to six different trademarks associated with the team, each containing the word “Redskin.”

Laura GazeLaura Gaze, Director, IP Solutions: While the ruling does not mean that the Redskins have to change the name of the team, it does affect whether the team and the NFL can make money from merchandising. The team can still use its name, but this decision means they lose “presumed” ownership of it. Therefore, in subsequent court fights, the franchise has to prove through use they own the mark. That will ultimately limit the team’s legal options when others use the logos and the name on T shirts, sweatshirts, beer glasses and license plate holders, so it’s a major headache, and could result in a name change. There will be appeals here, but this is certainly a landmark decision.

Laura Gaze, Senior Marketing Manager, IP Solutions Trademarks , , , , ,

Global Innovation Spikes to Pre-Recession Levels

May 15th, 2014

We’ve released our latest State of Innovation report today that analyzes global patent filing data over the last 5 years. The 2014 edition of the study, which tracks global patent volumes of 12 bellwether industries, charts hottest growth areas, the impact of emerging markets and nascent hotbeds of new economic growth, finds that the overall rate of innovation growth is now at its highest level since the Great Recession.

Following are some of the report’s key findings:

  • Biggest Innovation Gains Since End of Recession: Total, worldwide patent volume increased 26% over the last year, with 11 of the 12 technology areas studied showing increases. All but one of the 11 gainers had double-digit growth.
  • Automotive Safety, Energy Exploration and Smart Kitchen Appliances Drive Largest Gains: The Automotive, Petroleum, and Domestic Appliances technology areas had the greatest year-over-year increases, with each logging a 35% jump in worldwide patent volume over the prior period. Domestic Appliances ranked among the top three leaders for the second consecutive year. Safety-related innovation saw the greatest gains in the Automotive sector; while the Petroleum sector was driven by petroleum and gas exploration, drilling and processing.
  • Emerging Markets & Academic Contributions on Upswing: Increased activity from China and Russia emphasizes the focus on innovation in these regions, as do increased activity on the part of universities and research institutions. More of such entities made it into the Top 10 regional lists than any year in the past.
  • Computing & Peripherals Continue to Lead the Global Pack: The technology area with the largest overall global patent volume continues to be Computing & Peripherals, for the fifth consecutive year, with over 300,000 inventions over the past year. That’s more than double the innovation activity of the next nearest technology area: Telecommunications. All subsectors within Computing & Peripherals showed positive gains, a first since this report’s inception.

To read the full report,

Laura Gaze, Senior Marketing Manager, IP Solutions Innovation , ,

Can the Patent Box Make or Break Pfizer’s AstraZeneca Takeover?

May 1st, 2014

The British government’s incentive program designed to convince companies to locate research-and-development teams in the U.K. may be at the center of Pfizer’s planned takeover of AstraZeneca.

“The United Kingdom has created attractive incentives for companies to manufacture products and maintain and protect intellectual property, and we have seen that capital and jobs have followed these types of incentives,” Pfizer CEO Ian Read said in a Monday-morning statement designed to woo Astra shareholders (via the WSJ).

According to the Journal:

“When the patent box has been fully phased in by 2017, it will mean qualifying companies pay 10% tax on their profits derived from U.K.-held patents, compared with the current rate of 21% (the rate will fall to 20% in April 2015) […] A combined Pfizer and AstraZeneca would be incorporated in the U.K. (but listed in New York), Mr. Read said Monday, and would therefore be better placed to take advantage of the patent-box tax break on any new drugs developed in the U.K.”

Laura GazeLaura Gaze, Director, Thomson Reuters: The incentives under this new tax regime, which companies have been navigating through for the better part of two years, seem as though they are doing exactly as they were intended. But will this new structure derail Pfizer’s plan? This is an extremely complicated deal with many moving parts, so we may not have answers to these questions for a while, but it’s clear the patent box is set to be a very significant item that may decide many corporate agendas in the years to come.

Laura Gaze, Senior Marketing Manager, IP Solutions Innovation, Patents , , , , ,