July 2022

The Future of Drug Pricing in the U.S.

Takeaway: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) may work together in the future to determine drug pricing.

Leaders of both agencies said that they were trying to strengthen the patent system to curb drug pricing abuse. In a joint post, USPTO Director Kathi Vidal and FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf said that the agencies are working on initiatives to review whether certain patents are actually valid and weed out cases where drugmakers are gaming the system to stave off generic competition.

The post stated that, “The USPTO will work to ensure that patent examiners have the time and resources they need to conduct a thorough review of patent applications for pharmaceutical inventions. The FDA will assist the USPTO in providing patent examiners with state of the art training in the pharmaceutical and biologics fields, and the USPTO will provide new tools for patent examiners to search the enormous and growing global databases of technical information … to determine whether similar innovations already exist.”

Disney May Soon Lose Rights to Mickey Mouse Image

Takeaway: After being created in 1928, Mickey Mouse will enter the public domain in 2024.

Due to federal copyright law, Mickey Mouse will enter the public domain in the year 2024, almost 95 years after its creation. 95 years is the length of time that a copyright on an anonymous or pseudo-anonymous body of artistic work is valid. However, the expiration of a copyright does not mean the image is without other intellectual property protection. People must still be weary to use Mickey Mouse in ways that would violate Disney trademarks.


Instagram Embedding: An Issue for Artists

Takeaway: Photographers challenge the “server test” outlined by the Ninth Circuit stating that the test should not be used to protect those who use an embedding tool to aid infringement by third-party websites.

Photography groups, including National Press Photographers Association and Getty Images, filed an amicus brief in support of photographers Alexis Hunley and Matthew Scott Brauer’s recently dismissed class action suit challenging how easy it is to embed an Instagram photo on websites.

The amicus brief challenged the “server test” outlined by the Ninth Circuit holding that websites do not legally “display” a copyrighted image if it is stored on its original website and is merely embedded in search results. Hunley and Brauer argued to the appeals court that now is the time to revisit precedent because with the evolution of technology and platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube. The server test has become “outmoded and impractical.”

The USPTO Suggests Changing Patent Term Adjustments

Takeaway: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently proposed mandating patent applicants to use a standard form when submitting some statements that have implications for patent term adjustment.

According to the USPTO, using a standard form will make the parent process not only more streamlined but also more accurate. The USPTO had also said that under current rules, where the use of a form from the office is optional but not required, it has found that some statements are deficient and need to be reviewed by the agency when calculating a patent’s term. “Use of the office form will streamline certain aspects of prosecution by more accurately capturing and accounting for the patent term adjustment without unnecessary back-and-forth between the USPTO and applicant,” the office said. “It will also eliminate the need for a manual review of the patent term adjustment statement.”


ADA-Compliant Websites Are Rewarded

Takeaway: The government is offering a $5,000 tax incentive to businesses that are compliant with the American Disability Act (ADA).

There is an IRS tax credit that business owners can benefit from by ensuring their business website is ADA compliant. ADA compliance is more than making your business physically accessible (e.g. wheelchair accessibility). Under federal law, a business must also ensure its website is accessible. An example of website accessibility includes images with alternative texts and audio alternatives, among other things. Your website must be ADA compliant or it may become the target of a lawsuit. Small businesses that incurred expenses for ADA compliance may qualify for the tax credit.


Dunder Mifflin and NBC Universal Trademark-Infringement Lawsuit

Takeaway: NBC Universal filed a lawsuit related to its show “The Office.”

NBC Universal is suing a company it calls a “trademark squatter” for the alleged fraudulent trademark registration of “Dunder Mifflin,” the name of the fictional paper company featured in its distinguished show, “The Office.”

According to the lawsuit, the defendants registered the “Dunder Mifflin” name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in an effort to sell hoodies, shirts, jackets and other apparel. NBC Universal says it tried to register the faux company’s name in 2020, but its application was rejected.

Image Credit: https:// en.wikipedia .org/wiki/Dunder_Mifflin

Cislo & Thomas LLP Spotlight

Cislo & Thomas Celebrates Its Staff

This month, we celebrated our former legal assistant Taylor Zhao on her 3 successful years at Cislo & Thomas and her departure to attend UC Hastings College of Law. We are very proud of her, and we wish her the best of luck in her future legal career.


Meet the Staff of Cislo & Thomas LLP

In continuing to celebrate our staff, we also launched a new “IP Support” page on our website, featuring the faces and stories of the behind-the-scene members of our firm.

Learn more about each staff member HERE.