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Patenting Software in the U.S. does not reach to abstract ideas: Alice v CLS Bank

On June 19 2014 In Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank U.S. Supreme Court held that merely requiring a generic computer to implement an abstract idea fails to transform the abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.

"...the relevant question is whether the claims here do more than simply instruct the practitioner to implement the abstract idea of intermediated settlement on a generic computer. They do not."

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Other recent post-Alice cases related to patenting sofware in the US:

Read More about these cases

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Enforcing Open Source Software GPL license and patent rights

XimpleWare sued Versata in November 2013, claiming Versata’s software, Distribution Channel Management, contains portions of XimpleWare’s copyrighted and patented source code licensed under the General Public License.

XimpleWare has also made argument that Versata's customers infringed XimpleWare's patents by using the software, because GPLv2 does not grant a patent license-only a copyright license.

This is very interesting case related not only to open source software licensing and enforcement, but more generally related to software licensing, copyrights and patents.

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Isolated DNA is not patent eligible in USA

On June 13, 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled that isolated genomic DNA is not patent-eligible, but cDNA is.

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Common European Sales Law?

The buying and selling of goods in the EU is governed by national contract laws. The differences between these laws can make cross-border trade more complex and costly than domestic trade. Businesses must identify the provisions of another country's applicable law and/or negotiate this law, and accrue additional costs from translation, legal advice and adaptation of contracts to different national laws.

To remedy this, the European Commission has proposed a Common European Sales Law 11 October 2011. The proposal gives traders the choice to sell their products to citizens in another Member State on the basis of a single set of contract law rules which would stand as an alternative alongside the national contract law of each Member State. Parties to a cross-border sales contract anywhere in the EU would be able to choose, by express agreement, to apply the Common European Sales Law.

Read more and see the Commission Proposal.

The UK Government Response Published 13 November 2012:

The UK Government concludes that there are elements of CESL which do not provide sufficient clarity or legal certainty. The instrument is:

The UK Government therefore concludes that it does not feel able to support the CESL proposal.

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IPR Court to Finland

Finnish Parliament is finally processing Government proposal to have IPR Court in Finland, after years and years of preparation. This IPR court is planned to start in September 2013.

This reflects growing importance of IPRs and Finnish ambition to have more effective and internationally competent court proceedings in IPR issues. IPR court will be first instance court for all IPR disputes (patents, trademarks, copyrights...) as well as appeal court for administrative decisions of patent office in patent and trademark registrations.

See (In Finnish) Government Proposal or News / Statements by Central Chamber of Commerce of Finland, the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK)Federation of Finnish Enterprises or The Federation of the Finnish Media Industry, Finnmedia.

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License is same as copy?

In the Case C-128/11 UsedSoft GmbH v Oracle International Corp. Court of Justice of the European Union has treated a license to software as if it were a tangible copy of software.

The case related to question, if an author of software can oppose the resale of his ‘used’ licences when programs are downloaded from the internet. The Court ruled that the exclusive right of distribution of a copy of a computer program covered by a licence is exhausted on its first sale. In other words, EU allows resale of downloaded software even contrary to such license terms.

Just like a tangible copy could not be divided, the license can not be divided; if the licence relates to a greater number of users, licensee is not authorised to divide the licence and resell only part of it.

In this case the license was granted for unlimited period, which was part of the argumentation why license should be treated similarly to the sale of copy of software.

It remains to be seen how this affects European software business and how licenses will be modified to get around this new rule.

See the summary of the decision or the original decision.

See other commentaries:

Is Europe in breach of international copyright treaty?

Can a software owner prevent re-sale of its software?

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Patenting DNA, the Myriad Case

*NOTE: THIS CASE IS NO LONGER VALID, SEE "Isolated DNA is not patent eligible in USA"

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ("CAFC") issued its' decision in the Myriad case related to patenting DNA and related methods on August 16, 2012. 

The principal claims of the patents relate to isolated DNA molecules. The isolated DNA molecules are not found in nature. They are obtained in the laboratory and are man-made, the product of human ingenuity. As such, they are different from natural materials. Isolated DNA is a tangible, man-made composition of matter.

Myriad’s claimed isolated DNAs exist in the human body as native DNA. Natural DNA molecules is condensed and intertwined with various proteins to form a complex tertiary structure chromatin that makes up a larger structural complex, a chromosome. Isolated DNA, in contrast, is a free-standing portion of a larger, natural DNA molecule.  Isolated DNA has been cleaved or synthesized to consist of just a fraction of a naturally occurring DNA molecule.

The isolated DNAs of the present patents constitute a situation, where they are different from the natural products in “name, character, and use.”  In nature, the claimed isolated DNAs are covalently bonded to such other materials.  When cleaved, an isolated DNA molecule is not a purified form of a natural material, but a distinct chemical entity that is obtained by human intervention.

Myriad Composition Claims were patent-eligible.

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Does Trademark give you right for a Domain Name?

Sometimes it is not clearly understood how trademark may or may not help you to get a domain name.  ICANN Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy provides one set of rules for this:

  1. Domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark
  2. The one who registered domain name has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name
  3. Domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.


Based on above, trademark is one necessary element to claim rights to domain name registered by another, but not enough.  Now Paris Court of Appeal has given interesting decision under French law, in which claim for trademark infringment was denied, but claim for domain name transfer was granted.

Read More

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New gTLD applications revealed on June 13th, 2012:

ICANN developed the New generic Top-Level Domain Program to increase competition and choice by introducing new gTLDs into the Internet’s addressing system. gTLD is an Internet domain name extension such as the familiar .com, .net, or .org. There are 280 country level ccTLDs (like .fi, .se, .dk, .de) but only 22 “generics” in the domain name system right now, but that is all about to change. List published by ICANN displays all of the gTLD strings that were applied for during this round.

List includes e.g. applications for ACCENTURE, APP (13x), APPLE, ART (10x), AUTO (4x), BEAUTY (3x), BLOG (9x), BOOK (9x), BUY (5x), CHAT (4x), CITY (3x), CLOUD (7x), CORP (6x), CPA (6x), DATA (3x), DESIGN (8x), FASHION (4x), FREE (5x), GAME (5x), GMBH (6x), GROUP (5x), HOME (11x), HOTEL (7x), INC (11x), LAW (6x), LAWYER (2x), LEGAL (2x), LLC (9x), LTD (7x), MAIL (7x), MOVIE (8x), MUSIC (8x), NEWS (7x), NOW (6x), ONLINE (6x), SALE (5x), SHOP (8x), STORE (7x), STYLE /5x), TECH (6x), VIP (6x), WEB (7x).

See the full list.

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Copyrights of photographs, European Court of Justice case C‑145/10 Eva-Maria Painer v Standard Verlags GmbH:

  1. Case: Painer, a freelance photographer, produced portrait photos of the Austrian national Natascha K prior to her abduction in 1998. After Natascha K’s abduction, a search appeal was launched in which the photos were used. In 2006 Natascha K escaped her abductor and the defendants (newspaper publishers) published the photos without crediting Painer. Painer initiated proceedings in Austria seeking an injunction and payment of remuneration and damages.
  2. Court Proceedings against several defendents located in several member states: It might be possible to bring actions against several defendants for substantially identical copyright infringements on national legal grounds in the court of the place where any one of defendants is domiciled. In this case only one of the defendants to the action was based in Austria. The remaining four defendants were based in Germany. Two of these published newspapers in Austria and one sold newspapers in Austria. 
  3. Copyright protection of photograph: A portrait photograph can be protected by copyright if such photograph is an intellectual creation of the author reflecting his personality and expressing his free and creative choices in the production of that photograph.
  4. Public Security and publication of photographs: The media, such as newspaper publishers, may not use a work protected by copyright by invoking an objective of public security. However, a newspaper publisher might, in specific cases, contribute to the fulfilment of such an objective by publishing a photograph of a person for whom a search has been launched. It should be required that such initiative is taken, first, within the framework of a decision or action taken by the competent national authorities to ensure public security and, second, by agreement and in coordination with those authorities.

Read the full judgement