This Week in Intellectual Property, February 18th

This Week in Intellectual Property, February 18th

News and Commentary

Here’s an interesting question: can a retweet be copyright infringement? After sports psychologist employed by the Chicago Cubs Joshua Lifrak posted a quote from Keith F. Bell’s book Winning Isn’t Normal, which was retweeted by the Chicago Cubs, Bell sued both Lifrak (for copyright infringement) and the Cubs (for contributory and vicarious infringement). While the claim of contributory infringement against the Cubs was dismissed, the vicarious infringement claim will proceed.

IP Watchdog spoke with Acting Register of Copyrights Maria Strong about her current role and priorities during her tenure. She has a specific focus on modernizing the Copyright Office, especially the Office’s IT system to speed up the registration process, and the use of new technologies like Blockchain and AI.

IP Watchdog has a writeup about the Inventor Rights Act of 2019, which would allow independent inventors to opt out of the inter partes review process, create a presumption in favor of injunctive relief (in part overturning eBay v. MercExchange), allowing greater choice of venue (in part overturning TC Heartland v. Kraft), and increases in damages and attorneys fees to the inventor for a finding of infringement.

Despite fear mongering by academic publishers’ associations, Florida State University found that ending its subscriptions with Elsevier has cost only $20,000 in pay-per-view reads, not the $1,000,000 claimed by the company. More defections from the current academic publishing model are increasing pressure on Elsevier to be more reasonable.

Copyright law is designed to prevent unauthorized copying of protected content, but a recent series of cases against cheat developers for video games has led to a novel application of the law. Since most video games are technically licensed, Bilzzard, Epic Games, and most recently Rockstar games have sued the developers of cheat software by claiming that since the development of the codes violated the end user license agreement (true) they have committed copyright infringement (deeply suspect.)

Two dueling op-eds in The Wall Street Journal in the past moth have clearly divided the two camps on the patent reform debate. On one side, as represented in this piece by Paul R. Michel and Matthew J. Dowd, they argue that due to recent Supreme Court decisions, eligibility for patenting has become far more uncertain harming innovation. In response is this letter arguing that the Supreme Court’s precedent has led to the invalidation of mostly bad patents based on ideas that are too abstract and do not represent particularly grand inventions or innovations.

Last week the Federal Circuit granted a writ of mandamus in Super Interconnect Technologies v. Google, finding that merely because Google had a server in the Eastern District of Texas, it did not constitute a “regular and established place of business.”

Be sure to look at I-MAK’s series of reports called “overpatented” about the excessive number of patents associated to the same or virtually identical pharmaceuticals. They also helpfully include the data set on which they base the report.

For the first time ever, YouTube released the total ad revenue generated in 2019. Advertising brought in about $15 billion, with an additional $3 billion from ad-free YouTube, YouTube Music, and YouTube TV. Google keeps 45% of the revenue, and the company’s stock took a 5% decline after the numbers released were less than Wall Street expected. Despite these figures, however, Artists Rights Watch criticized YouTube for paying the lowest royalty rates among the major streaming services.

The Ocean County Breeze received a DMCA takedown notice in addition to a demand for retroactive licensing, and used the opportunity to talk about the risks posed by copyright trolls and how CASE Act would exacerbate them.


New Research

Jeremiah Dittmar has a paper about the benefits of the diffusion of the printing press during the 16th century. He finds that cities with printing presses established in the previous century grew 60% faster than those without them. You can read a writeup on VoxEU here.

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By |2020-02-19T14:03:48-08:00February 19th, 2020|Blog, Intellectual Property|