Intellectual Property Roundup

Enforcement News

Web Domain Name Revolution Could hit Trademark Defense (Yahoo)
The UN’s intellectual property body warned that the mass expansion of Internet domain names could cause havoc for the defense of trademarks in cyberspace.

U.S. Plains to Give Up Oversight of Web Domain Manager (The Wall Street Journal)
The U.S. Commerce Department said it plans to relinquish its oversight of ICANN, a move that could bring more international cooperation over management of the Web, but will make some U.S. businesses nervous.

Viacom and Google Settle YouTube Lawsuit (Financial Times)
Viacom and Google have settled a $1 billion copyright infringement suit tied to Google’s YouTube digital video service, ending a seven-year battle between the two companies.

‘Netflix for Piracy’ Popcorn Time Saved By Fans (BBC)
Popcorn Time, a service that offers a Netflix-like interface for accessing pirated films, has already resurfaced just days after being closed down.

Policy News

Senate Takes Next Steps on Patents (The Hill)
The Senate is moving forward with its patent reform efforts and will begin considering Sen. Leahy’s bill at an executive session on March 27.

The GOP Freak Out Over the U.S. ‘Losing the Internet’ Has Begun (The Wire)
Republicans see the Obama administration’s decision to relinquish control of the Internet to the international community as a big, and even dangerous, mistake.

Congress Looms Large in Piracy Battle (The Hill)
While the content and tech industries are coming together to try and solve the problem of online piracy, Congress looms large in the background, threatening to step in if the stakeholders can’t come to an agreement.

SIIA Announces New Intellectual Property Protection Division

SIIA is significantly expanding its enforcement efforts, and will now target a broad range of intellectual property violations, on behalf of both software and content publishers. The new program, now called the Intellectual Property Protection Division or IPP Division, will continue its anti-piracy efforts but will now investigate and resolve many more types of nefarious activities that can adversely affect a participating company’s brand, intellectual property or reputation, such as: counterfeiting, fraud, unauthorized access, fraudulent use of domain names, and more.

SIIA will also assist participating publishers with the protection of their intellectual property. These protection services will include such things as assisting publishers with registering their valuable IP with the U.S. Copyright Office and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, registering their brands with the new domain name Trademark Clearinghouse, and more. The IPP Division will also place a renewed emphasis on content piracy and offer a range of specialized services that address the varying needs of participating content publishers.

More information about the new SIIA IPP Division is available here.

Important Message About Protecting Your Brands

Late last year, ICANN began approving the first new gTLDs. Like all new domain names that are or will be approved by ICANN, these new gTLDs will not go live until after brand owners are given a brief window to register addresses using their own brands before anyone else can. For more information about this process see this SIIA alert and FAQs. SIIA has created a new domain name alert system for those companies that are interested in knowing what new domain names are approved, when they will go live and how to protect themselves. Those who sign up for the alert will receive a weekly email from SIIA notifying them what new gTLDs have been approved by ICANN, and other relevant information. If you are interested in receiving these alerts, please email me at so that we can add your name to the list of alert recipients.

Keith Kupferschmid is General Counsel and SVP, Intellectual Property Policy & Enforcement at SIIA. Follow Keith on Twitter at @keithkup and sign up for the Intellectual Property Roundup weekly newsletter here.

SIIA Applauds the Obama Administration’s Focus on Improving the Patent System; Calls for Action in Congress on Litigation Abuse

SIIA welcomes today’s announcement by the Obama Administration that it will make improvements to the patent system to strengthen the quality of the patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and foster innovation and to combat litigation abuse by patent trolls.  SIIA is especially pleased that the Administration has issued a renewed call for Congress to enact meaningful patent litigation abuse legislation.

Today’s announcement demonstrates that the Administration is committed to protecting American jobs and driving innovation by making necessary improvements to the patent system.  Patent litigation abuse stifles innovation and damages our economy, and it is straining the patent system. The Administration today recognized that the Patent and Trademark Office needs more and better tools to improve the quality of the patents it issues and to protect consumers, retailers and other businesses from the underhanded tactics of patent trolls.

Most significantly, SIIA supports the Administration’s renewed call for Congress to pass meaningful legislation this year. SIIA urges the Administration to encourage Chairman Leahy to work with Senators Cornyn and Grassley and other stakeholders to develop comprehensive and effective legislation that mirrors the Innovation Act passed by the House in December.

Mark MacCarthy, Vice President, Public Policy at SIIA, directs SIIA’s public policy initiatives in the areas of intellectual property enforcement, information privacy, cybersecurity, cloud computing and the promotion of educational technology. Follow Mark on Twitter at @Mark_MacCarthy

Digital Policy Roundup

White House Holds Patent Event
With Congress in recess this week, the Administration will pick up the torch on patent reform, holding a White House event on Thursday to highlight the progress on the Administration’s patent policy agenda. The event marks the one-year anniversary of the President’s call to action to combat the problem of “patent trolls” and abusive patent litigation, and will feature keynote addresses by senior administration officials, including PTO Deputy Director Michelle Lee, on the status of the reform agenda announced on June 4, 2013 and other efforts underway.

FTC Mobile Tracking Conference this Week
On Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will hold a conference on Mobile Device Tracking to explore the ways that “businesses have begun tracking consumers’ movements throughout and around retail stores and other attractions using technologies that identify signals emitted by their mobile devices.” The event will explore a key area of concern for the FTC: company use of technologies to reveal information about consumers, particularly where this tracking is invisible to consumers and occurs with no consumer interaction.

Administration Publishes Cyber Framework
Last week was the one year mark for the President Obama’s executive order (EO) on Cybersecurity, and as directed by the EO, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) officially unveiled the Cybersecurity Framework. SIIA and many of our members provided input into the development of the Framework, and we commended NIST for working expeditiously to produce a Cybersecurity Framework that leverages industry-led standards, and creates effective and flexible best practices for companies. It is a critical cybersecurity priority for SIIA is to preserve IT innovation and technology neutrality, and we are confident that this Framework will help achieve those goals. We look forward to continue collaborating with NIST as they identify gaps and evolve the framework, and with the Department of Homeland Security as they work to implement this.

Privacy-Facial Rec. Discussions Begin
Also last week, the Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) held the first meeting of their privacy multistakeholder discussions on the Commercial Use of Facial Recognition Technology. Similar to the first NTIA initiative on Mobile Transparency, the goal of these talks is to produce a voluntary but enforceable code of conduct to guide businesses in their use of the technology. SIIA was a leading stakeholder in the effort to develop the mobile code of conduct, and we are looking forward to engage in these important discussions. The next meeting will take place on Feb. 25th, and SIIA will provide an update for members after that meeting to report on the progress and next steps for these important discussions.

David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPubPolicy.

Intellectual Property Roundup

President Calls for Patent Reform in SOTU (The Hill)
President Obama repeated his calls for patent reform during his State of the Union address, calling on Congress to “pass a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly and needless litigation.”

Court: Google Infringed Patents, Must Pay 1.36% of Adwords Revenue (Ars Technica)
Vringo, a tiny company that purchased some patents from Lycos in 2011 and then used those patents to sue Google, has been awarded a 1.36% running royalty on US-based revenue from Google’s Adwords.

U.S. Justice Department Files Lawsuits Over Counterfeit Apps (PCWorld)
The U.S. Department of Justice has filed its first lawsuits over counterfeit smartphone apps, charging four men who now face up to five years each in prison. The defendants are accused of conspiring to copy Android apps and distributing more than a million copies through their online markets.

India Undermining IPR: US Chamber of Commerce (Business Standard)
Unveiling the 2014 global IP index by its Global Intellectual Property Center, the US Chamber of Commerce accused India of allowing the deterioration of the intellectual property climate in the country, and asked the Obama administration to enforce IP rights.

New App Rewards Consumers For Reporting Counterfeits (ABC)
A new app called “uFaker” allows consumers to report counterfeit products and earn rewards like online discounts.

Dutch Court Finds Pirate Bay Block Ineffective, Ends It (Computerworld)
The Court of Appeals in The Hague lifted a block on The Pirate Bay in the Netherlands because the measure was ineffective and disproportionate for two ISPs.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Set Up Companies to Protect ‘Intellectual Property Rights’ (Metro)
Prince William established the firm APL Anglesey, and Kate set up CE Strathearn, in order to protect their intellectual property rights.

Three-Strikes Laws Don’t Stop Piracy, Researchers Say (Torrent Freak)
New findings published by U.S. and French researchers show that the “strikes” systems designed to warn and punish P2P file-sharers do not stop or even reduce piracy.

Judge Issues Devastating Ruling Against Online Copyright Crusaders (Business Insider)
Washington District Judge Robert Lasnik ruled that IP addresses are not individuals, and that a suspected Internet pirate should not be prosecuted solely because his computer’s IP address was identified.

Teens’ Photo Feed is a Viral Hit- and a Copyright Conundrum (GigaOM)
A popular Twitter account run by two teenagers publishes historical photos and is delighting its nearly million followers, but also raising questions of how to define artistic ownership and attribution in an age of ubiquitous images.

Keith Kupferschmid is General Counsel and SVP, Intellectual Property Policy & Enforcement at SIIA. Follow Keith on Twitter at @keithkup and sign up for the Intellectual Property Roundup weekly newsletter here.

Tackling Patent Trolls and Promoting Innovation- President Obama’s SOTU Address

President Obama’s Tuesday evening State of the Union address, featured a reiteration of his administration’s commitment and willingness to work with Congress on patent reform. Highlighting the importance of innovation to the economic standing of the US, Obama stated:

“China and Europe aren’t standing on the sidelines; and neither should we. We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow. This is an edge America cannot surrender.”

However, the potential prosperity of innovation cannot be realized if patent legislation does not accurately balance patent protections that spur innovation with the halt of patent litigation abuse.  The close of last year marked House passage of the Innovation Act, a great bipartisan stride in the effort to stop abusive patent litigation.

The White House fact sheet on Obama’s SOTU address has this to say:

“Our patent system is enshrined in our Constitution to encourage invention and to reward Americans for their hard work and risk-taking; but in recent years, that system has also seen an explosion of abusive patent litigation designed not to reward innovation but to threaten companies based on questionable claims. There are a growing number of companies, commonly called ‘patent trolls,’ who employ these litigation tactics as a business model – abusing the system’s strong protections, costing the economy billions of dollars, and undermining American innovation.”

The message is clear: PAE’s or “patent trolls’” abuse of patent protections halts the progress of American innovation. Obama stated to much applause,

“Let’s pass a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly and needless litigation.”

The bipartisan support for the Innovation Act is a good indicator that the President’s call for Congressional passage of patent reform legislation will not go ignored.

Sabrina Eyob is the Communications and Public Policy Intern at SIIA. She is a recent graduate of Michigan State University, where she studied Comparative Cultures and Politics, and International Relations.

SIIA Hails House Passage of Innovation Act, Urges Senate to Act

SIIA commends the House passage, with a vote of 325-91, of the Innovation Act (H.R. 3309). Today Congress took an tremendously important and bipartisan step towards ending patent litigation abuse without harming the patent protections that spur innovation.  After several years of debate, discussion and negotiation, the legislation passed today offers a very good solution that will help protect American jobs and drive innovation.

We are pleased that the Innovation Act includes important provisions relating to real-party-in-interest transparency, heightened pleading standards, fee shifting, and core document discovery limitation.  These are essential components of any effective patent litigation reform, and we want to make certain they remain as the legislation moves forward.

The strong, bipartisan vote on this bill demonstrates that there is significant momentum to put effective patent abuse reforms into law.  SIIA applauds Chairman Goodlatte for his leadership, and we will continue to work closely with him, Senator Leahy and other leaders in Congress to accomplish the vital goal of restoring confidence to our patent system. We urge the Senate to move promptly on this crucial legislation.

Ken WaschKen Wasch is President of SIIA. Follow the SIIA Policy team on twitter at @SIIAPolicy.

SIIA Digital Policy Roundup: FTC looks at Native Advertising, Patent Reform to the House Floor, DOC Launches Privacy discussions around facial recognition and SIIA opposes postal rate increases

FTC Takes Close Look at “Native Advertising”
The Federal Trade Commission will host a workshop on Wednesday to examine the blending of advertisements with news, entertainment, and other editorial content in digital media, referred to as “native advertising” or “sponsored content.” The workshop will bring together publishing and advertising industry representatives, consumer advocates, academics, and self-regulatory organizations to explore: the ways in which sponsored content is presented to consumers online and in mobile apps; consumers’ recognition and understanding of it; the contexts in which it should be identifiable as advertising; and effective ways of differentiating it from editorial content. The workshop builds on previous Commission initiatives to help ensure that consumers can identify advertisements as advertising wherever they appear. This includes recent updates to the Search Engine Advertising guidance, the Dot Com Disclosures guidance, and the Endorsements and Testimonials Guides, as well as decades of law enforcement actions against infomercial producers and operators of fake news websites marketing products. Following the event, SIIA will provide a summary of the discussion for members to highlight what to expect in guidance from the FTC in 2014.

DOC Launches Talks on Facial Recognition Privacy
Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) announced a new privacy multistakeholder process on commercial use of facial recognition technology. The privacy multistakeholder process is an NTIA-led effort to implement part of the Obama Administration’s blueprint for improving consumers’ privacy protections in the information age and promoting the continued growth of the digital economy. SIIA issued a statement applauding the NTIA and offered strong agreement that the appropriate approach for data privacy protection is voluntary, enforceable codes of conduct that provide more flexibility for rapidly evolving technology than legislation or regulation can achieve. Read more on SIIA’s Digital Discourse Blog.

SIIA Opposes Postal Rate Increases
In comments filed last week, SIIA urged the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to reject the US Postal Service’s exigent rate increase request and explained why the postal rate increase is not justified. SIIA’s comments demonstrated the detrimental effect postal rate increases will have on companies, the mailing industry, and the American economy at large. To offset financial shortcoming of the USPS in part because of the recent great recession, the Commission is currently considering the proposed exigent rate increase of 4.3 percent and is expected to make a decision in late December. While it is not known what decision the PRC will reach, we remain hopeful that the Commission will recognize our points and act to either reject the exigent rate increase altogether or reduce it significantly, in turn reducing the burden on companies that rely on the mail to deliver magazines and other periodicals.

House to Take up Patent Reform
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Reps. is expected to take up patent litigation reform legislation, the Innovation Act (H.R. 3309). The vote will follow a meeting of the House Rules Cmte. to decide on the terms of the debate and amendments to be considered. In total, 26 amendments were submitted for consideration, including a Manager’s Amendment by Chairman Goodlatte. SIIA supports the legislation and has urged its immediate passage.

David LeDuc is Senior Director, Public Policy at SIIA. He focuses on e-commerce, privacy, cyber security, cloud computing, open standards, e-government and information policy. Follow the SIIA public policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPubPolicy.