Here is a report on recent news and commentary related to the Federal Circuit and its cases. Today’s report highlights recent calls for the Federal Circuit to hear more cases en banc, a comment on the difficulty of obtaining trademark protection on descriptive marks, and a Federal Circuit decision upholding an import ban on Comcast cable boxes.
Perry Cooper highlighted for Bloomberg Law that “[t]he Federal Circuit is facing new calls to hear cases as a full court to clarify the law on hot patent issues.” According to Cooper, “[a]ppeals court rulings that differ depending on the particular three-judge panel spell uncertainty for patent practitioners, litigants, and industry players,” but “[t]he court usually only takes one or two patent cases en banc each year, and took none last year.” Cooper also notes that one attorney stated that “there are more recently examples of highly fractured en banc decisions than clarifying ones in controversial patent cases raising issues that most need clarity.”
At IPWatchdog, Gene Quinn and Nancy Braman commented on the Federal Circuit’s decision in In re JC Hospitality LLC, in which the court “affirmed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s (TTAB) decision to refuse registration of two trademark applications belonging to JC Hospitality” because “the marks were merely descriptive of JC’s services, and lacked any showing that the marks acquired distinctiveness as source identifiers.” According to Quinn and Braman, the case “provides a cautionary tale for business owners who quite frequently will prefer a name or mark that is merely descriptive of the goods or services.” From a legal perspective, “obtaining protection for such names and marks ranges from impossible to virtually impossible to extremely difficult.”
Sarah Morgan reported for World Intellectual Property Review that in Comcast Corp. v. International Trade Commission, “[i]n a victory for technology company TiVo, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has affirmed the US International Trade Commission’s (ITC) import ban on Comcast’s cable boxes.” Morgan notes that “the Federal Circuit backed the ban, which the ITC had put in place after finding that Comcast’s X1 set-top boxes infringed two patents owned by TiVo’s subsidiary,” and “[a] final decision in another ITC investigation into Comcast’s infringement of additional Rovi patents is expected to be published in the fourth quarter of this year.”