ME2 Productions, Inc. (The Mechanic Resurrection) subpoenas sent out in Colorado

ME2 Productions, Inc. is currently suing Colorado residents in Colorado Federal District Court for Bit Torrent downloads. Starring Jason Statham and Jessica Alba, the Mechanic Resurrection involves Statham taking out the bad guys after being sprung into action. Adding to the list of production companies of independent films trying to sue downloaders of its copyrighted content, ME2 Productions, Inc. follows a similar strategy of having a company research and track Bit Torrent sharing and other applications relying on Bit Torrent such as Popcorn Time and then providing that information to local counsel. Local counsel in each state then initiates a federal lawsuit for copyright infringement and gathers the personal information of targets from their internet service providers such as Comcast and Century Link. Hundreds of Colorado residents have been identified in the various ME2 Productions, Inc. lawsuit. If you have been the target of a subpoena from your internet service provider, please contact our copyright infringement defense attorneys for a free consultation today.

I.T. Productions Copyright Infringement Defense in Colorado

Did you receive a subpoena from your internet service provider (ISP) stating that they are being ordered to turn over your personal information in a federal lawsuit, specifically I.T. Productions? Numerous targets across the Colorado Front Range have received notices over the past few months over the film I.T. As the Bit Torrent infringement litigation model continues to be accepted by federal courts, film studios and other Plaintiffs will continue to file lawsuits as a revenue model and to recover damages from unsuspecting downloaders. I.T. Productions is the company prosecuting on behalf of the film I.T., a 2016 Pierce Brosnan movie. If you have received a subpoena from your ISP we can help defend against a subpoena or against the Plaintiff depending on what stage in the litigation you are in. Our infringement defense team can also help you seek a dismissal or a settlement depending on your factual circumstances. Many caught up in these kind of drag nets often have a valid defense that may result in a dismissal and they aren’t aware of their factual circumstances. Contact our copyright infringement defense attorneys today for a free consultation to discuss your options.

New Bit Torrent Plaintiffs Good Man Productions, Inc. and Poplar Oaks, Inc.

Although it has been a while since we posted a new article on our website, a lot has changed. First, there are a lot more copyright lawsuits out there in federal court as related to Bit Torrent downloads, and people are searching for answers. Over the years, our law firm has defended hundreds of individuals against these types of Bit Torrent copyright lawsuits.

Good Man Productions produced a movie in 2014 starring Steven Seagal called “A Good Man.” Interestingly, the film was owned by Voltage Pictures (maker of the Hurt Locker), and so they decided to continue their trend of suing individuals for allegedly downloading the content through Bit Torrent (very different from their original strategy of suing thousands in a single forum).

Poplar Oaks, Inc. produced a 2014 film called Puncture Wounds starring Chung Le and Dolph Lundgren. The film is an action movie about a veteran who experiences PTSD after returning home from Iraq. While we cannot comment on the quality of the film, downloads via Bit Torrent are certainly being flagged by monitoring companies.

The attorneys at Wessels & Arsenault, LLC are already helping clients currently involved. If you are being contacted by your ISP or one of these Plaintiffs about a lawsuit, please contact us for a free consultation with one of our copyright infringement defense attorneys. We have a number of strategies that we can consider to help minimize the Plaintiff’s claim and hopefully reach a dismissal.

 

 

Dallas Buyers Club, LLC (DBC) continues to sue Colorado residents for alleged use of Bit Torrent or Popcorn Time

Dallas Buyers Club
While Dallas Buyers Club was the recipient of multiple film awards, the owners have continued to seek compensation from individuals accused of downloading Dallas Buyers Club without paying the proper license. Most of these downloads are identified from Bit Torrent or the movie watching service Popcorn Time, with alleged download dates occurring during 2014-2015. While the Plaintiffs may use software that determine the IP address of the sharer, it is not always accurate. Unfortunately the subscriber to the ISP ends up being the recipient of the letter despite the activity occurring without their knowledge. John Arsenault has worked against Dallas Buyers Club and defended countless individuals in Colorado and elsewhere accused of downloading the movie since 2013. For more information see the following 9 news story and interview published in 2014 about one of his clients.

http://www.9news.com/story/news/local/2014/12/26/dallas-buyers-club-lawesuit-colorado-pirating/20923933/

The USPTO and DOJ squabble over DNA patents

Last week, the DOJ submitted a court filing that proposed to substantially limit the ability of genes to be patented at the USPTO.  The submission was made in response to the dispute between Myriad Genetics who is defending their patents on isolated DNA sequences in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.   The ACLU and others are attempting to invalidate the patents, arguing that genes should not be patentable subject matter.  The matter is now pending at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), and will likely be decided later this year or early next year.

Other major patent offices such as the EPO severely limit what can be claimed regarding genes and genetic treatments, so the USPTO is the office currently taking the contrarian approach to gene patents.  Myriad argues that the ability to patent genes in the United States contributed to the growth in biotechnology sector over the past twenty years and that growth could be hindered if gene patents are no longer permissible.  Myriad also states that gene patents are necessary because they help protect the multi-million dollar investments into their biotechnology innovations.  In spite of the recent DOJ court filing, the USPTO states that for the time being they do not have any plans at this time to change their rules on gene patents.

We’ve already talked in detail about the Myriad decision at the District Court level here.  The brief recently submitted by the DOJ coming out against Myriad’s position shines some light on the current administration’s view on the patentability of genes. You can bet that whoever loses at the CAFC level will appeal the case to the Supreme Court.  Although the submission by the DOJ is the latest salvo in the battle into whether gene sequences are patentable subject matter, there will be much more to come as the case is eventually decided by the Supreme Court.

Federal judge rules in favor of Microsoft in 2004 video game patent lawsuit

In 2004, several Michigan inventors sued Microsoft and Sony asserting U.S. Patent #5,292,125 an “apparatus and method for electrically connecting remotely located video games.”  Specifically targeted were Microsoft’s Xbox Live service and Sony’s Playstation Network.  The allegations were that the companies infringed the plaintiff’s patents seeking an injunction and royalties.

The patent discloses “a video game communication assembly for communicating command signals between a local video game and at least one remote video game.”  Unlike Microsoft who decided to challenge the substance of the argument raised by the patent holders, Sony settled out of court for an undisclosed sum in 2009.

The decision to settle was unfortunate for Sony because last week, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Borman ruled in favor of the remaining defendant Microsoft, dismissing the plaintiff’s challenges and permitting Microsoft to recover legal fees from the plaintiffs.  In the opinion, Borman questioned the interpretation of  “electrical connection” given that the Xbox didn’t use an electrical connection to communicate between players.  Although the Xbox Live network utilized electrical signals, the Judge found that the technology in question didn’t rely on an “electrical connection” as described by the patent.  Had the game systems connected via an electric connection (which most systems don’t), the decision may have easily gone the other way.

The lesson to take from the events of last week is if you are Sony not to settle when you have a good legal argument.  If you are Microsoft, the lesson is if you have a good argument, keep arguing it, it may end up more profitable than settling.  When litigating a complex patent, it is difficult to receive quality advice without a good patent attorney on your side.  The lawyers at the law firm of Wessels & Arsenault can provide such sound advice if you are facing possible or actual patent litigation.

Home Depot liable to Florida inventor for $25 million USD in patent infringement claim

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hurley this week found home improvement giant Home Depot liable to small inventor Michael Powell for $25 million dollars in damages.  The judge also awarded $3 million dollars in punitive damages, $2.8 million dollars in attorneys fees, and $1 million dollars in interest annually on the judgement.

Sadly for Home Depot, Powell offered to sell each invention for a lowly $2000 which would have cost a total of $4 million dollars. Instead, Home Depot is now liable for a lot more in damages because of Powell’s claim against them.  According to the Palm Beach Post, an executive for the company upon hearing about the possibility of Powell’s claim against Home Depot was alleged to have stated, “(expletive) Michael Powell.  Let him sue us.”

What was the invention in question you might ask.  Powell invented a novel method to prevent injuries when cutting wood using a radial/panel saw.  Powell was awarded Patent 7,044,039 by the U.S. Patent Office in 2006, a Radial arm saw safety top.  This invention would be valuable to companies because of the number of work related injuries caused by cutting wood for customers.  Home Depot had previously been paying out at least a million dollars in claims annually in saw related work injuries.  After installing the guards, the annual payout claims for Home Depot dropped to approximately $7000 a year.

Why didn’t Home Depot decide to pay up at first?  Powell was after all, a Home Depot contractor for several years and developed a way to prevent further workplace injuries after observing the inherent problems with the system used by Home Depot.  Powell even allowed Home Depot to test eight guards at its stores.  Judge Hurley found then that Home Depot duplicated the saw guards and installed them at Home Depots around the country.

Home Depot argues that they respect the intellectual property rights of others and did not infringe the rights of anyone.  It is expected that Home Depot will appeal the ruling.  Judge Hurley seemingly found otherwise given the damages and unflattering words during the ruling.

The takeaway is that small inventors can prevail in the event of infringement, and that patent protection is key to securing your rights as an inventor.  Even a guard to prevent injuries on a radial/panel saw can be protected.  Although big companies often appear to have more power, if you protect yourself in advance it is a lot easier to ensure that your rights are upheld in the event of a dispute.  If you have an idea that needs protection, then contact our law firm today!

Federal Judge invalidates Myriad’s DNA patent sequence claims

In the Southern District of New York on March 29, 2010, a District Court Judge rejected the prevailing opinion on the patentability of DNA sequences.  The Public Patent Foundation and the ACLU sued in 2009 to challenge certain claims in Myriad Genetics Inc.’s breast cancer patents (5,747,282, 5,837,492, 5,693,473, 5,709,999, 5,710,001, 5,753,441, 6,033,857).

The plaintiffs argued that the patents were invalid as patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 101, and that the USPTO’s policy of permitting DNA sequence patents violated Article I Section 8, Clause 8 and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

35 U.S.C. 101 states “Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.”

Within the patents in question, the isolated DNA sequences and the claimed comparisons of DNA sequences were challenged.  Both sets were found to be unpatentable subject matter by U.S. District Judge Robert W. Sweet.  The isolated DNA sequences were not patentable subject matter because they exist in nature.  The claims specific to the comparisons of DNA sequences were also found not to be patentable subject matter because they constituted “abstract mental processes.”

Individual DNA sequences were found not to fall within the purview of 101 because isolating and purifying DNA didn’t mean that the same physical embodiment of biological information that was isolated as a process didn’t already exist in nature.  The judge criticized the lawyer’s trick that permitted the patenting of processes to get around the idea that directly patenting DNA in human bodies does not patentable subject matter.  The court found that there were not enough “markedly different characteristics” between the isolated DNA and what occurs in nature.

The comparison method claims quickly failed the CAFC’s “machine or transformation test” because the methods were neither tied to a machine, nor did they tangibly transform anything.  Process claims that fail the “machine or transformation” test are considered to be “abstract mental processes.”  As a result the claims comparing DNA sequences as processes were found to be unpatentable subject matter.

Judge Sweet’s decision didn’t address the constitutionality question raised by the plaintiffs citing “constitutional avoidance.”

The result of Judge Sweet’s decision means that the decision will likely now go to the CAFC, who will likely reverse or narrow the District Court decision.  The next step after that is up to the Supreme Court, where the hot-button issue will likely be heard in the next few terms.  It is uncertain as to how the Court will decide this issue, but the decision will have far-reaching implications for DNA patents.  Upholding the decision may increase access to DNA treatments by removing royalty or licensing costs.  On the other hand, investment in complex DNA treatment research may become less likely because of the difficulty securing patent protection.  Whatever the future holds, yesterday’s decision is certainly a marked departure from the current approach to DNA sequence patents.

Apple Inc. assigned iPad trademark rights by Fujitsu

Unlike the 2007 trademark dispute with Cisco over the iPhone mark that required a bit of negotiation and time, today it was announced that Apple resolved their trademark dispute with Fujitsu Ltd. over the iPad mark.  Before we can comment on the events of today, a brief history of the iPad mark as applied to the class of handheld computing devices is warranted.

In 2003, Fujitsu filed for the iPad mark on a handheld Windows CE machine that was a $2000 wireless point-of-sale device for retailers. [1]  Despite the 2003 U.S. trademark application by Fujitsu for the iPad mark, the company Mag-Tech Inc. was already using the iPad brand in commerce for a handheld encryption device. [2]  Thus, even at the time the application was made by Fujitsu, ownership of the mark for the class of handheld devices was questionable.  In response to a notice of abandonment sent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (U.S.P.T.O.) in early 2009, Fujitsu applied to renew the iPad mark.

Before Apple announced the iPad to the public in January of 2010, Apple submitted several briefs to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) opposing the 2009 Fujitsu filing at the USPTO. [3]  Sleuthing internet detectives first reported the opposition on several technology enthusiast websites.  On January 16, 2010, Apple through the shell company IP Application Development LLC filed for the iPad mark at the U.S.P.T.O. on the basis of an “intention to use” under 15 U.S.C. 1051(b)1(b) and a “claim of priority based on an earlier-filed foreign application” under 15 U.S.C. 1126(d). [4]  The U.S.P.T.O. gave Apple until February 28, 2010 to decide whether it wanted to proceed with opposition to the renewal application by Fujitsu.

Fast forward to March, and Business Week announced today that Fujitsu and Apple came to an agreement that would let Apple use the iPad mark for its handheld device. [5]  Although the terms of the agreement are confidential, it is safe to surmise that Apple probably gave Fujitsu a lot of money to use the mark.  Public records recently unsurfaced indicate that Fujitsu assigned the rights to Apple for the iPad mark which will avoid a drawn out expensive court battle over the iPad name with Fujitsu.  [6]  Whether Mag-Tech intends to oppose the mark is still unclear, but after Fujitsu’s relinquished its claim to the mark, Apple no longer has to worry about the party with the most resources coming after it when it starts selling iPads next month.

[1] Fujitsu U.S.A., IPAD Marketing Brochure, 2010, available at http://solutions.us.fujitsu.com/downloads/retail/DS_IPAD.pdf (last visited Mar. 26, 2010).

[2] Hiroko Tabuchi, IPad?  That’s So 2002, Fujitsu Says, New York Times, Jan. 28, 2010, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/technology/companies/29name.html (last visited Mar. 26, 2010).

[3] U.S.P.T.O., Submitted Requests by Apple Inc. for an Extension of time to Oppose the Fujitsu Ltd. Trademark Renewal for the iPad Mark, 2009, available at http://ttabvue.uspto.gov/ttabvue/v?pno=76497338&pty=EXT (last visited Mar. 26, 2010).

[4] U.S. Trademark Application Serial No. 77913563 (IP Application Development L.L.C., Applicant).

[5] Susan Decker & Connie Guiglielmo, Apple Gets IPad Trademark from Fujitsu, Records Show, Business Week, Mar. 26, 2010, available at http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-03-26/apple-gets-ipad-trademark-from-fujitsu-records-show-update1-.html (last visited Mar. 26, 2010).

[6] Trademark Assignment Abstract of Title from Fujitsu to Apple Inc., Mar. 17, 2010, available at http://assignments.uspto.gov/assignments/q?db=tm&sno=76497338 (last visited Mar. 26, 2010).