IP News June 2019

Welcome to IP News This Month, your monthly round-up of intellectual property developments, culled from news reports around the globe. Please send any comments toJeff—and tell your friends to subscribe here

Top 3 Stories

Who owns the law? SCOTUS to settle long-simmering fight between legal non-profits and states claiming copyright  over codes, safety manuals and other regulations that have been outsourced to private companies

SCOTUS rules trademark appellant can get ‘Fuct,’ strikes down statute that bars “scandalous” or “immoral” marks as unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination 

Fair use in the age of Instagram: model Gigi Hadid rebuffs copyright claim from paparazzi after posting pic of herself to social media, says she contributed to the work


The Liberal majority on the House industry committee called for a 5% droit-de-suite on visual works; the minority disagreed and called instead for the abolition of Crown copyright

Recent changes to the Trademark Act have led trademark trolls, including one named Brandster, to register hundreds of questionable marks: IP lawyers are not impressed

Google and Toronto are still wrangling over future IP royalties related to a city-of-the-future the company is building; Canadian lawyers say a proposed 10% cut is too low

United States

SCOTUS agreed to hear a piracy case about a pirate ship; it involves a photographer who claims North Carolina may not invoke sovereign immunity to rebuff a copyright complaint

The litigation over ‘Stairway to Heaven’ will drag on as the 9th Circuit agreed to en banc appeal over esoteric copyright questions about sound recordings

SCOTUS held that a government agency is not a “person” under the Patent Act, and therefore the U.S. Post office could not avail itself of a statute allowing patent challenges at the USPTO 

Democratic lawmakers are investigating a possible patent-related quid pro quo between President Trump and drug maker Gilead over the company’s decision to furnish free anti-HIV medication

Pepe the Frog’s creator took another step to reclaim his “peaceful frog dude” from the alt-right, winning a settlement that forces conspiracy theory site InfoWars to stop using the character on merchandise

Singer Kylie Minogue has been battling Kylie Jenner over trademarks for the term “Kylie”; Minogue says her counterpart is a “secondary reality television personality” who dilutes the Kylie brand


Europol and its IP office warned that organized crime is expanding counterfeit operations beyond fashion and jewelry to pharmaceuticals, food, pesticides and car parts

In a setback for Adidas, the EU general court held it could not trademark “3 parallel equidistant stripes of identical width applied on the product in any direction”


Huawei warns a plan to cut off its access to U.S. patent courts could prove devastating to world IP norms; the plan came after Huawei threatened to deploy its patent portfolio in response to trade sanctions

The Huawei portfolio in question numbers over 56,000 patents, which the firm is asserting against Verizon, Qualcomm and U.S. defense contractors

The Australian government said it will not purchase the copyright to a flag designed by an Aboriginal artist that has been at the center of commercial controversies

Kim Dotcom, who ran a massive piracy site, has exhausted nearly all legal appeals, and could soon be deported from New Zealand to face U.S. accusations he cost the entertainment industry $500 million 

This content has been updated on July 22, 2019 at 17:24.