April 2023

American Bar Association Hit With Class Action Lawsuit Over March Data Breach

Takeaway: The American Bar Association is being sued for a data breach. This occurrence is a reminder that all companies need to ensure they are maintaining cybersecurity compliance.

The American Bar Association (ABA) is facing a proposed class-action lawsuit over a data breach which exposed the personal information of almost 1.5 million members. This data breach occurred after an unauthorized third party gained access to the association’s network on March 6th.

The lawsuit states that the ABA’s “inadequate security” allowed hackers to steal the information, exposing members’ personal and financial data. The complaint also states that the ABA failed to comply with reasonable security standards to protect members’ data, as well as provide adequate notice to its members about the incident.

According to the ABA, the hackers acquired only usernames and “hashed and salted” password. No sensitive personally identifiable information was accessed. The lawsuit is seeking damages, including three years of credit monitoring services.


Baseball Challenges Pickleball to a Trademark Match

Takeaway: Major League Baseball goes against Major League Pickleball for the trademarks “MLPlay” and “MLPro,” claiming the marks and descriptions are too similar.

Major League Baseball (MLB) Properties Inc. and MLB Professional Development Leagues LLC are seeking to block Major League Pickleball’s attempts to register the trademarks “MLPlay” and “MLPro.” The trademark applications were filed in January 2022 and cover a range of similar services “in the field of a court-type sports game with a net, paddles and balls,” including organizing and conducting events and competitions, encouraging participation, providing game and event-related information, various entertainment services and more.

The MLB argues that the descriptions of the services in question are similar to its own trademark registrations, including “Major League Baseball,” “MLB,” and “MLB Network,” among others. The MLB claims it has been using the phrase “MLB Play” for baseball games and other goods and services long before the pickleball firm filed its applications. The MLB entities have said that the marks are so similar that there is a likelihood of confusion among the public, who may believe the marks are connected or that MLB endorses the services in question. We will see who wins the match!


New Copyright Board Takes a Slow But Steady Approach

Takeaway: While some cases are currently being passed through the new Copyright Claims Board, many are still unsure if its existence is as helpful as originally intended.

In 2020, Congress passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act, which then directed the Copyright Office to establish The Copyright Claims Board (CCB). The CCB was established as a voluntary, alternative tribunal to district court for resolving disputes valued under $30,000. This board has received about 395 claims since June 2022, with 215 cases being dismissed.

Of the 215 dismissed cases, 25 were closed due to the respondent opting out of the proceedings. The low number of opt-outs so far alleviates initial concerns that the option would make it harder for copyright owners to make use of the board. However, issues such as filing deficiencies have slowed the CCB’s ability to reach the merits of many disputes, raising questions of whether there are enough meritorious claims to justify the board’s existence.

That being said, it could also be premature to draw any conclusions, as the CCB is still in its first year of operation.


USPTO Launches ‘Trademarks For Humanity’ Awards Program

Takeaway: The USPTO is launching an awards program, recognizing trademark owners who help solve humanitarian problems.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Monday announced that it is launching a new awards program recognizing trademark owners who are helping to solve humanitarian challenges through their products and services.

The inaugural “Trademarks for Humanity” awards program will focus on the environment, and those who own an active U.S. trademark registration — on trademarks, service marks, certification marks, collective marks or collective membership marks — are eligible to apply.

Applications will be accepted from April 11 through July 14 or until 200 applications are received, whichever occurs first. Winners will be recognized at a public awards ceremony and be featured on the agency’s website.

In a statement Monday, USPTO Director Kathi Vidal encouraged brand owners from all “organizational structures, business sectors, geographic areas and demographic backgrounds” to apply.


New Rules to Reform the Patent Trial and Appeal Board

Takeaway: The USPTO has proposed new rules to the PTAB, intended to help smaller businesses and startups and curb petitioner abuse.

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has proposed new rules to reform the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). The PTAB was created in 2012 with the America Invents Act, and its role is to conduct trials and to hear appeals from adverse examiner decisions in patent applications and reexamination proceeding.

Some of the USPTO’s key proposals include “discretionary denials,” such as petitions challenging under-resourced patent owners, and limits to when parties can file PTAB petitions. The goal of these proposals is to curb abuse of the system by for-profit entities that are not competing in the market.

Many lawyers have questioned whether these requirements would be legal, as these requirements were not established in the original America Invents Act. While none of these proposed rules are set in place yet, it seems the intent to reform the PTAB is controversial. We will see if any of these rules are adopted.


Cislo & Thomas LLP Spotlight

Cislo & Thomas Client Wins Spirit Of Life Philanthropy Award

Cislo & Thomas client Martin Ploy of AICO is receiving the Spirit of Life Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Home Furnishings Chapter of City of Hope. This honor is only given periodically to special individuals for their longtime commitment to helping City of Hope.

Congratulations Martin for your dedicated fight against cancer and diabetes!


Dr. Wook Pak Featured on Entrepreneurship Podcast

Cislo & Thomas Partner Dr. Wook Pak, Esq. was featured on The Enlightened Entrepreneur Podcast this month, sharing important IP knowledge to protect your business! You can rewatch his interview on Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation’s YouTube Page HERE.