News

ABC to Hold Nashville Benefit

The Arts and Business Council will host a benefit on May 24 in Nashville, with proceeds going to the Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts program. The evening will showcase music, dance, film and more from local artists, as well as a silent auction featuring items like co-writing sessions with Nashville songwriters. The event will take place at W.O. Smith Music School, 1125 8th Ave. South, from 6 – 9 p.m.
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Trump Names Federal Claims Chief Judge

The Trump administration announced the appointment of Susan G. Braden as Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims today. Braden has served on the court since 2003, when she was appointed by President George W. Bush. She has had a long career in intellectual property practice.
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Intellectual Property: CLE Bytes

A CLE on intellectual property will be held April 5 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. The morning sessions will cover trademarks and the First Amendment, the punitive use of trademark law, and recent developments in copyright law. The afternoon sessions will address aspects of IPR proceedings, patent damages and trade secrets. Registration is open all day allowing you to come and go for the topics you are interested in. Take as many or as few hours as you need and pay only for the hours you attend. Find out more and register here.

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Producer Claims Piracy Law ‘Threatens to Destroy’ Music

Tennessee music producer T Bone Burnett said that federal laws governing music piracy are insufficient and “threaten to destroy” the music industry, the Tennessean reports. Burnett is joining others in providing comments that will be sent to the U.S. Copyright Office, which is reviewing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Burnett said that there are loopholes in the law that make it difficult for artists and those in the industry to stop piracy.
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Patent Professor Finds Links Between Law, Science

Vanderbilt Law Professor Sean B. Seymore was profiled by the Vanderbilt Hustler for his research in patent law, in which he looks into how the law should progress to keep up with advances in science and technology. Seymore grew up with a passion for science and even worked as a chemistry professor before changing careers. His current work involves researching how much an inventor should have to disclose to obtain a patent.
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TBA Mashup and Mini Legal Hackathon this Friday

In conjunction with the Law Tech UnConference CLE this Friday, the TBA is also offering a variety of free events and programs for lawyers we’re calling a Mashup. One program will teach you about Legal Hackathons and see one in action. A Legal Hackathon is a collaborative effort of experts in the legal profession collaborating with a computer programmer to find a technology assisted solution to a problem in the legal industry. Join the TBA Special Committee on the Evolving Legal Market for a mini legal hackathon that will demonstrate the power of collaborative minds at work. We will have tasty beverages and snacks to help you get your collaborative juices flowing.  
 
Other programs that will be a part of the Mashup include Pro Bono In Action which will show you various pro bono programs you can participate in to help your fellow Tennesseans and Member Benefit Programs that will provide you information on  Fastcase 7, health insurance options for small firms, ABA retirement funds and professional liability insurance.
 
Please sign up now to let us know you are coming.

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SCOTUS Reviews Trademark Case Over 'Offensive' Band Name

The U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday began to review the constitutionality of a federal law that denies protection to disparaging trademarks. According to a Reuters report published by the Daily Mail, the case was brought by the Asian-American rock band The Slants, who were denied a trademark on the name after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office deemed it offensive to Asians. The band’s attorney claims the decision violates the group's First Amendment rights. The court’s ruling could set new parameters for trademark registration, and could affect other high-profile disputes, such as the case of the Washington Redskins football team's trademark, which was canceled in 2014.
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Opinion: Lawyers Need to Protect Against Ransomware

Ransomware attacks against law firms and other businesses are “the fastest growing threat that we see across industries,” Trey Forgety tells the American Bar Association Bar Leader magazine in its new issue. Ransomware is software that can encrypt the data on a computer and force the computer owner to pay a “ransom” to have the data unencrypted. “In the past we’ve worried a lot about data theft, ... Now, the biggest concern is the threat to the attorney’s business,” he says. Forgety, director of government affairs and regulatory counsel to NENA: The 9-1-1 Association, wrote the December 2016 Tennessee Bar Journal cover story, "Is Your Client Information Safe: Data Security Is Your Responsibility Even If You Don't Understand How it Works."

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Songwriters Back Gaye Family in Lawsuit

A group of Hall of Fame songwriters filed a legal brief yesterday opposing a judge’s ruling they say hurts copyright protections for songs recorded before 1978, the Tennessean reports. The family of Marvin Gaye won a multi-million dollar suit against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, who were accused of copying elements of a Gaye hit without permission for their song “Blurred Lines.” On appeal, the judge ruled that the only elements of Gaye’s song that were protected were those included on the lead sheet – a document filed with the U.S. Copyright Office. The Gaye family argues that the copyright should extend to the sound recording. The songwriters agree, arguing that if left to stand, the judge’s ruling effectively disenfranchises writers of pre-1978 songs.

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Have You Heard About the TBA Mashup?

Interested in observing a legal hackathon or getting a hands-on demonstration of the new Fastcase 7 platform? Both will be part of the first TBA Mashup, a full-day of activities and free programming set for Feb. 17 at the Tennessee Bar Center in conjunction with the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program.

In addition to the hackathon and Fastcase 7 demo, the TBA Mashup will feature sessions on: 

  • Current State of Health Insurance for the Small Firms
  • Professional Liability Insurance - What to look for in YOUR Policy
  • A Demo of Fastcase TopForm, a powerful bankruptcy filing software
  • Retirement Planning Guidance from the ABA Retirement Funds
  • Pro Bono in Action: How to help with pro bono events and how to take part in online options

At the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program, you can take as many or as few hours as you need. Registration will be open all day. Payment will be determined at checkout based on the hours you need. Topics will include: 

  • Bill & Phil Tech Show
  • Ethical Considerations for Cyber Security in Law
  • Evolution of the Legal Marketplace
  • Making e-Discovery Affordable 
  • Drone Law
  • Encryption for Lawyers

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Merck Wins Record Patent Verdict

In the biggest patent-infringement verdict in U.S. history, Gilead Sciences Inc. will pay $2.54 billion to Merck & Co. for willfully using a patented invention as the basis for its hepatitis C drugs. The Delaware jury deliberated for less than two hours and rejected Gilead’s arguments that Merck’s patent was invalid, Bloomberg News reports. Because the action was found to be willful, the judge could increase the damage award by as much as three times the amount set by the jury, Bloomberg reports.

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Stites & Harbison’s Trademarkology Named Top Blog

In addition to two blogs written by individual Tennessee attorneys, the ABA Journal has named Stites & Harbison’s Trademarkology blog as one of the 100 best blogs for a legal audience for 2016. This is the third consecutive year the blog, which focuses on trademark issues, has made the list. Read more from the firm or see other blogs by Tennessee lawyers and firms.

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TBA President Urges Unity, Consensus Building in Profession

In the new Tennessee Bar Journal, President Jason Long discusses our divided country after the recent election, urging lawyers to be “united now more than ever in our commitment to the profession and its bedrock principles.” He writes that “we can provide that opportunity in a controlled and structured environment, operating within the framework of our democratic institutions. If there is an opportunity for consensus building and unity in today’s political climate, the legal profession can and should facilitate that.” Also in this issue, learn if you are protecting your clients’ electronic information enough, in the cover article by Trey Forgety. Brian Dobbs writes to help you understand the law of construction in Tennessee. Read the December issue.

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Patent Pro Bono Program Event Coming to Memphis

The TBA will host an event in Memphis on Dec. 8 to showcase its patent pro bono program and recruit new volunteers. The happy hour will take place from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Adams and Reese LLP. Come enjoy appetizers and a beverage and learn more about Legal Assistance Volunteers for Patent Applicants (LAVPA). LAVPA has matched seven inventors with volunteer patent attorneys since its launch this past summer but additional volunteers are needed. Recruitment events have already been held in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville. For more information contact LAVPA Coordinator J. Scott “Skip” Rudsenske, 615-277-3207.

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ABA Considers Privacy Law Certification

A program administered by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) that certifies lawyers as privacy law specialists is expected to go before the ABA House of Delegates in February, the ABA Journal reports. If the ABA approves accreditation, lawyers who meet IAPP standards – including passing two exams and working in the field for at least three years – could declare themselves privacy law specialists without fear of violating state ethics rules. The accreditation would last for five years. Those supporting the move say that the rise of cyber, security and intellectual property issues have created a need for a recognized specialty.

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DOJ Files Appeal in Songwriter Licensing Case

The Department of Justice on Friday appealed a federal judge’s decision to strike down its proposal for 100 percent music licensing for songwriters and publishers represented by BMI. Under the scheme proposed by the department, music licensing organizations such as BMI would be forced to license a song even if they only represented a small percentage of the song’s copyright. Songwriters and publishers have criticized the proposal saying it would throw the profession into chaos and threaten the practice of co-writing among songwriters from different performance rights organizations. The appeal was widely expected according to industry watchers, the Tennessean reports.

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Info Session Friday for Patent Pro Bono Program

The TBA will host an information session and happy hour this Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. for those interested in learning more about Legal Assistance Volunteers for Patent Applicants (LAVPA), a program that helps under-resourced inventors and small businesses with their patent legal needs. The event is part of the TIPLA CLE and is sponsored by Patterson Intellectual Property. It will be held at Patterson’s office at 1600 Division St. # 500 in Nashville. For more information about the program, contact LAVPA Coordinator J. Scott “Skip” Rudsenske, 615-277-3207.

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Librarian of Congress Removes Copyright Head

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced Friday that she removed the head of the U.S. Copyright Office. Maria Pallante, who had served as copyright head for five years, told Congress last year that the office should be independent and no longer under the library umbrella, citing “mounting operational tensions” and a number of other concerns with the current structure. She now will become senior adviser for digital strategy. Karyn Temple Claggett, currently the associate register of copyrights, will head the office while a national search is conducted. Roll Call looks at the decision.

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Appeals Court Reinstates Award in Apple/Samsung Patent Case

A federal appeals court today reinstated a $120 million jury award for Apple against Samsung in the fierce patent war between the world's top smartphone manufacturers, Reuters reports. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., ruled that a previous panel of the same court should not have overturned the 2014 verdict in the case involving iPhone technology patents for slide-to-unlock, autocorrect and "quick link" features. The Tennessee Bar Journal provided an analysis of the original decision in the 2015 article “Design Patent Damages Awards Under 'Apple v. Samsung.’”

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SCOTUS Denies NCAA Appeal in O'Bannon Amateurism Case

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will not hear the NCAA’s appeal in the Ed O'Bannon case, keeping the lower court’s decision that found amateurism rules for college basketball and football players to be in violation of federal antitrust laws. The LA Times reports that the court also rejected another appeal, this one from former college basketball star O’Bannon, that called for a plan to pay football and basketball players. In 2014, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled in the original case that the NCAA’s use of names, images and likenesses of college athletes without compensation violated antitrust law.
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TBA’s LAVPA Happy Hour in Knoxville Wednesday

The TBA’s Legal Assistance Volunteers for Patent Applicants (LAVPA) is hosting events across the state to inform attorneys of the volunteer opportunities it provides. The first happy hour is sponsored by the IP firm Luedeka Neely and will be held in Knoxville tomorrow (Sept. 21) from 5-7 p.m. at the Downtown Grill & Brewery as part of the Innov865 conference.The program's mission is to educate and provide legal services to under-resourced inventors to reduce the filing of improper patent applications, which contributes to backlog and loss of patent protection. Information for other events can be found on the TBA website.

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TBA Patent Pro Bono Program Begins Matching Attorneys

The Legal Assistance Volunteers for Patent Applicants (LAVPA) program has begun matching attorneys with inventors to provide legal assistance, including the prosecution of patent applications.

Online applications from inventors are being received, and attorney volunteers are signing up, through the online forms found on the LAVPA page of the TBA’s website. Volunteer attorneys are in demand and vital to the success of the program. Volunteer recruiting and publicity events are also planned as follows:

  • Knoxville, Sept. 21, 5 - 7 p.m., Downtown Grill & Brewery (Part of innov865)
  • Chattanooga, Oct. 5, 5 - 7 p.m., Public House (part of Start Up Chattanooga)
  • Nashville, Nov. 4, 5 - 7 p.m., Patterson IP (after the TIPLA CLE)

To find out information or ways you or your firm can support the program, please contact LAVPA Coordinator J. Scott “Skip” Rudsenske, (615) 277-3207.

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ASCAP, BMI Join Forces to Fight Music Licensing Ruling

The leaders of ASCAP and BMI convened a private meeting Monday for Nashville’s songwriting and publishing community in a historic show of solidarity by the two competitors, the Tennessean reports. The performance rights organizations are banding together to fight a ruling by the U.S. Department of Justice regarding 100 percent licensing, which allows a copyright holder to license a song no matter how small a percentage of the copyright they own. The groups said they expect a protracted battle with the Justice Department. By contrast, the DOJ ruling has been applauded by music tech firms such as Google and Pandora, along with radio broadcasters and restaurants that license music.

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Georgia Congressman Takes on Music Licensing Fight

Georgia congressman Doug Collins is vowing a legislative response to the Department of Justice’s recent decision not to update music licensing consent decrees but instead enforce “100 percent licensing,” the Tennessean reports. Under that scheme, a songwriter and publisher may license a song no matter how small a percent ownership they have in the copyright. Many in the music industry fear the new opinion could threaten the practice of co-writing songs, curb the creative process and complicate royalty payouts. 

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AG Announces Settlement with Anti-Competitive Pharma Business

Attorney General Herbert Slatery announced today that Tennessee, 48 other states and the District of Columbia have reached an agreement with Cephalon Inc. and affiliated companies, now a part of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, following alleged anti-competitive conduct. The $125 million settlement concludes an investigation into a scheme by Cephalon to block generic competition to its sleep-disorder drug, Provigil. Cephalon prevented competition by filing patent infringement lawsuits against potential competitors, and then paid those competitors to delay the sale of their generic versions of the drug. In total, the states will receive $35 million for distribution to consumers who purchased Provigil. Tennessee and its consumers will receive an estimated $3.32 million.

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