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Amazon makes good use of patent law

Texas readers may have heard that mega-retailer Amazon has some interesting ideas about the future of shipping their goods. Recently, the company has applied for patents for methods that include drones and flying ships. The innovative retailer has always used patent law to protect its technological developments, and now the company has applied for patents for underwater warehouses that would be built across the nation.

According to the patent filing, the underwater warehouses would be designed to make shipping easier for the retailer. They may be necessary, Amazon says, because of the difficulty in stocking items under its current system. The idea is that items would be stored in water-tight containers. When a customer orders an item, sound vibrations would cause the item to float to the water surface.

Amazon uses patent law to prevent price comparisons in stores

It may seem counterintuitive to Texas consumers that online retailing giant Amazon would want to keep customers from comparing prices while they stop at brick and mortar stores. However, the company is moving parts of its business into traditional retail stores. Could this be why Amazon decided to use patent law to keep consumers from finding a better price online?

Amazon has undoubtedly benefited from customers being able to check prices on its website while standing in a physical store owned by another retailer. Despite this, the company recently received a patent for the technology needed to accomplish this goal. The CEO of Amazon looked into obtaining this technology several years ago before the online retailer decided to move into brick and mortar locations.

Small businesses get big win from USSC in patent law case

Anyone in Texas who buys toner for printers knows how expensive new cartridges can be. In recent years, a market has grown that remanufactures those cartridges and sells them at a lower cost than a new one. One large printer cartridge retailer, Lexmark International, was unhappy with this loss of business and filed a lawsuit against several smaller companies that remanufacture and sell those printer cartridges. The printer giant believed that patent law was on its side, but the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled otherwise.

Most of the companies involved in the lawsuit decided that it would be more advantageous to settle with Lexmark, but one company, Impression Products, decided to see the case through to the end. The smaller company argued that Lexmark made its profit from its patented products with the first sale. What customers did with the cartridges thereafter was not Lexmark's problem or prerogative.

What does patent law say about international patents?

The internet and other modern technologies have made the world a smaller place. Now more than ever before, Texas inventors can share their products with people from every corner of the globe. As you determine the market for your product, you might discover that you need to add an international patent to your arsenal. This may make you wonder what patent law says about applying for international patents.

Fortunately, you have options. You could file a separate application with individual countries, or you could utilize the Patent Convention Treaty to file one application that covers several countries. The use of the PCT to apply for patent protection is increasing.

Will patent law support Walmart's application for new system

Most Americans, Texas residents included, do at least some online shopping. This means that traditional brick and mortar businesses like Walmart need to find a way to stay relevant and up-to-date in order to compete with other online retail giants like Amazon. In fact, Walmart is now hoping that patent law will support its application for a new online system that is already being touted as similar to the "Dash" buttons that Amazon uses.

The patent describes an "automated home subscription system" that appears to be based on Amazon's easy reorder system. Walmart's application says its system goes beyond Amazon's. Walmart's new system would not require customers to push a button in order to reorder a frequently used and ordered item. Instead, it uses the Internet of Things to track the usage and expiration of products.

What does patent law say about utility patents?

Once a Texas inventor creates something, he or she needs to take the next step to secure the legal rights to it. Patent law provides for three general patents, one of which is a utility patent. This type of patent covers the inventions functionality and structure. A design patent covers the way an invention looks, and a plant patent covers new variations of plants that are asexually reproducible.

Most people here in Texas and elsewhere apply for utility patents. Through this type of patent, an inventor secures the associated property rights. It bars anyone else from using, manufacturing or distributing a product covered by the patent. The owner reserves the right to allow someone else to use it in exchange for payment. If a party uses it without permission, the patent provides an avenue for legal action.

Patent law issues: Responses to an application

Texas inventors know that securing their intellectual property rights is essential. They carefully fill out their patent applications and send them to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to await a decision. At this point, they know that under patent law, they must wait for a response from an examiner.

Understanding the types of responses that a Texas inventor could receive might help alleviate some of the trepidation that often accompanies waiting for a response. There are three different types of responses a patent examiner can send in reference to an application. They are an office action, a notice of allowability and a notice.

Two More Patent Casualties to Alice Ruling

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh ruled that two patents held by Twilio Inc. were invalid under Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank because the patents fell under the category of abstract ideas implemented by a computer. This blog has highlighted several patents over the past few months that included an Alice analysis, and this case follows the same line of thinking.

Louis Vuitton Loses Trademark Claim, May Need a Larger Purse for Damages

On Monday, April 10, Law360 reported that a small company who successfully defended itself against trademark infringement and dilution claims in January is now seeking nearly $1 million in attorney fees. My Other Bag, Inc. is a small company who sells parody versions of designer handbags and purses, which feature cartoon drawings of designer logos. These bags generally sell for between $35 and $55, significantly less than a genuine Louis Vuitton handbag. After the original suit was filed in 2014, the case was dismissed on appeal in January, with Judge Jesse M. Furman telling Louis Vuitton that it can be "better to accept the implied compliment in a parody and to smile or laugh" rather than sue. 

Sen. Orrin Hatch weighs in on patent law case before the USSC

When filing a lawsuit against a company, it needs to be filed in the place where the company was formed or where it has substantial business ties. This location represents the "venue" where the case is heard, which for some companies could include a variety of locations. When it comes to patent law cases, lawsuits are often filed in locations where goods that supposedly infringe on another's patent are sold. It might surprise many people to know that in 2015, a favorite venue for these cases was right here in Texas, according to Sen. Orrin Hatch.

During that year, as many as 45 percent of all patent infringement cases in the United States were filed in the Eastern District of Texas. In fact, as many as 33 percent of the cases filed in that court were before one judge. This is because that federal court is known to be "plaintiff-friendly." Defendants could spend thousands of dollars from the start of the cases, and a large percentage of the cases actually go all the way to trial, even as proceedings continue in the Patent and Trademark Office.

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