Category Archives: Intellectual Property

Full Text of the TPP Now Available

One month after concluding more than seven years of negotiations on the most significant trade agreement in a quarter century, the United States and the 11 other nations that comprise the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have released the full text of the agreement to the public.  The TPP, whose members account for approximately 40 percent of world economic output, will lower barriers to trade on a wide array products ranging from to textiles to automobiles to financial services.  Under the “fast-track” trade promotion authority legislation enacted last summer, the release of the full text triggers a 90-day review period that must be completed before President Obama can sign the agreement.  Once he does so, both houses of Congress will have an opportunity to hold an up or down vote on the deal without offering any amendments or subjecting it to a filibuster.

Kerry at TTP Meeting in Bali

TPP negotiators in Bali, Indonesia.  State Dept. photo by William Ng via Wikimedia Commons

The Obama administration insists that the TPP is the most progressive trade deal ever negotiated by the United States, with unprecedented mechanisms to enforce labor standards and environmental regulations.  Critics, including the AFL-CIO and the Sierra Club, contend that these protections do not go far enough.  Others have raised concerns about the TPP’s intellectual property provisions, especially its highly restrictive approach to copyright law, as well as its potential impact on the cost of prescription medications in developing nations.  Still others have questioned the constitutionality of the investor-state dispute settlement provision that would allow foreign investors to bypass the U.S. court system and have claims against the U.S. government resolved through arbitration.

Due to the closed-door nature of the negotiations, these widely aired criticisms are based largely on informed speculation stemming from leaked drafts of the agreement.  Now that the final text has been made public, both supporters and critics of the TPP will spend the next few months scrutinizing its more than 6,000 pages to determine whether the agreement meets or falls short of their expectations.

To keep the GULC community abreast of the latest news and developments concerning the TPP and other trade-related topics, the Law Library subscribes to several specialized databases, including BNA’s International Trade Reporter and International Trade Daily, as well as World Trade Online.  For more information about trade agreements and foreign trade regulation, consult the library’s online Research Guide to International Trade Law.

New Tool for Copyright Research: Fair Use Index

The U.S. Copyright Office recently launched a new tool for copyright researchers: the Fair Use Index.   This resource provides summaries of major fair use judicial decisions, which are searchable by court and subject matter, including category and type of use.  As stated on the landing page:

The goal of the Index is to make the principles and application of fair use more accessible and understandable to the public […].  The Fair Use Index tracks a variety of judicial decisions to help both lawyers and non-lawyers better understand the types of uses courts have previously determined to be fair—or not fair.

Fair Use IndexThis resource is pretty user-friendly.  On the search page, simply select or deselect the federal circuits for the jurisdiction of interest to you, as well as the categories of fair use cases you’d like to see.  The list of results is displayed right there on the same page, and automatically re-populates as you select and deselect options.  For each case in the results list, the citation, year, court, jurisdiction, related categories, and even the outcome (e.g. “fair use found”, “fair use not found,” etc.) are all displayed right on this page, no additional clicks required.  This allows you to quickly and easily scan your results, narrow or broaden your search, and choose the cases that you think will be the most relevant to your research question.

Note that the Fair Use Index doesn’t include all fair use decisions, and it doesn’t provide the full text of the opinions themselves.  As an index, it’s primarily a finding tool to help direct you to the cases that might be most relevant to your research.  It does, however, provide a handy PDF summary of each case, which is broken down to include information such as Key Facts, Issue, Holding, and Outcome.   If you need help using a case’s citation to find the full text of a case, check out our Case Law Research Guide.  For more in-depth research guidance on this or another topic of copyright law, we also have a Copyright Law Research Guide.  Finally, if you have questions along the way, don’t forget that you can always ask one of our reference librarians for help!

The Charlie Hebdo Attacks In France Last Week

Paris and two of its suburbs were the latest locations of attacks perpetuated by Islamic extremists. Sunday, over a million people of various faiths gathered in Paris to show solidarity in wake of the turmoil caused by the violent events. Notably absent among all the world leaders who showed up for yesterday’s march was someone high-ranking from the United States, which led to President Obama acknowledging that the White House should have sent someone to participate.

While there is much that is being said about the events and the motivations behind them, as well as the troublesome nature of the publication itself, there is less being said about the relationship between France and satire. Charlie Hebdo certainly did not rise up from nothing – it was the product of a centuries-long tradition in France. Even as we think of freedom of speech as something that all Western, democratic cultures enjoy, we also know that it differs greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. To learn more about the various discrepancies between countries’ speech policies, you can do a search in our catalog which will lead you to books like this one. To learn more about free speech in France specifically, we’d recommend books like this. One resource that can be immensely useful to you in comparing and contrasting the laws of various countries is the Foreign Law Guide, which is available to you through the library. Another source that could prove useful to you is our database, The International Encyclopaedia of Laws for Intellectual Property Law, provided by Kluwer. This resource discusses elements of artistic expression and speech in France, the UK, the US, and many other jurisdictions.

In the face of awful events, one of the courses of action we can take is to educate ourselves so that we can move forward. Our thoughts are with France in this difficult time.

USPTO invalidates trademark of Washington Redskins

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the US Patent and Trademark Office today invalidated the trademark registration of the Washington Redskins on the grounds that the team name is “disparaging to Native Americans.”

The case is Blackhorse v. Pro-Football, Inc. (proceeding no. 92046185), and the ruling is available here.

For more information on how to research Intellectual Property issues and hearings, be sure to check our Trademark Law research guide, Patent Law research guide, and Copyright Law research guide. And be sure to read our Sports Law guide for all your football-related legal research.

Supreme Court Decision in Kirtsaeng

The Supreme Court today announced its decision in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Kirtsaeng was an enterprising Cornell student, who asked his relatives in Thailand to ship him cheaply-published textbooks, which he resold in the United States, undercutting the exclusive U.S. publisher’s editions sold at the university bookstore. The Court, in a 6-3 decision, held that the First Sale doctrine of copyright law applies to permit the resale of these “gray market” imported textbooks. 

Justice Breyer wrote the majority opinion (joined by Justices Roberts, Thomas, Sotomayor, Alito, and Kagan). Justice Kagan filed a concurrance (joined by Justice Alito). Justice Ginsburg filed the dissent, which was joined by Justices Scalia and Kennedy.

Will the opening of a “global marketplace” for textbooks ultimately lower prices for students?

PTO’s guide to the America Invents Act

In September, 2011, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, Pub. L. 112-29, was signed into law. The U.S. Patent and Trademark office has prepared an indepth resource guide on the implementation of this act which is available on their website. The guide includes a complete legislative history of the act, including bills, Senate & House debates and hearings. Over the next couple of months, the USPTO will be traveling throughout the country to discuss proposed rules for implementation of the act and their scheduled presentations are highlighted here as well.

For secondary sources on conducting patent law research, take a look at the library's Patent Law Research Guide,

USPTO Issues the Sixth Edition of the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure

On October 12, 2009 the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued the sixth edition of the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure (TMEP). The TMEP, provides USPTO trademark examining attorneys, trademark applicants, and trademark attorneys with detailed information about the practices and procedures for prosecution of applications to register marks in the USPTO.

The sixth edition incorporates USPTO trademark practice and relevant case law reported prior to September 1, 2009. The policies states that this revision supersede any previous policies stated in prior editions, examination guides, or any other statement of USPTO policy, to the extent that there is any conflict.

The TMEP may be viewed or downloaded free of charge from the USPTO Web site at: http://tess2.uspto.gov/tmdb/tmep/.

California Lawyers challenge Westlaw’s and Lexis’s posting of their briefs

A group of lawyers in California are challenging the California Supreme Court’s practice of giving briefs to Westlaw and Lexis for uploading. Lexis and Westlaw charge fees for their users to search and use the briefs, and the lawyers who write them receive no payment. This is a copyright violation, according to the California lawyers. For more information, see Legal Research Plus Blog.

MIT adopts a campus-wide open access policy

On Friday, MIT announced that its faculty has unanimously voted to make their scholarship available for free to the public. Authors will give MIT nonexclusive permission to make their articles available through DSpace@MIT, an open access platform developed by MIT Libraries and HP.  Under the policy, MIT and its faculty authors may use their articles in any way other than to make a profit.  They may also authorize others to use the works under the same terms.  Authors may opt out of the policy on a paper-by-paper basis.

Read more about the policy:

MIT Press Release.

Blog entry from Open Access News, reprinting the resolution.

Beyond Competition: Preparing for a Google Book Search Monopoly…

…is the title of a posting yesterday (2/4/09) by Frank Pasquale at the Balkanization blog. It reviews the excellent piece by Harvard’s Robert Darnton in the Feb. 12, 2009 New York Review of Books, “Google & the Future of Books” (accessible as e-journal for us Georgetown affiliates). Darnton’s essay echoes much of what John Palfrey had to say about the settlement at the AALS in San Diego when he spoke at the Law Library section lunch. Pasquale addresses briefly some of the possible challenges to the settlement, but all three professors- Darnton, Palfrey, and Pasquale- are worried about the possiblity of changing times or the end of good will on the part of Google, and in principle, the privatization of a project that cries out to be for the public good, with equality of access to the information in perpetuity.