Property

USPTO Grants Blockchain Patent to Tennessee Based Company

On June 5, the United States Patent Office issued U.S. Patent 9,990,418 to a Tennessee-based company, 2020 IP, LLC. The ‘418 patent covers Blockchain technology in the market research space and was prosecuted by past TBA Intellectual Property Chair A.J. Bahou. This patented method covers novel technology that puts the user in control of his/her data and allows the user to set the value for the user’s data. Although a variety of companies use Blockchain technology to collect data and record secure information, the ‘418 patented technology uses Blockchain to create a revolutionary consumer-led exchange for market research.
 
In the growing field of Blockchain technology, many companies are seeking patent protection on a variety of different applications, including cryptocurrency, supply-chain management, messaging applications, and payment networks. In general, Blockchain technology records data on a decentralized database that is similar to a ledger entry. Once the data is validated, the information is written in a block of data and chained together in a secure way so that it is very difficult to modify any validated information. In addition, since the data is duplicated in various places throughout the decentralized database network, an improper change to any one copy does not impact the other valid copies of the information. You can view the patent here.
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Senate Approves Motion in Attempt to Limit President's Authority on Tariffs

In an 88-11 vote last Wednesday, the U.S. Senate approved a motion requiring tariffs based on national security to obtain congressional approval prior to enactment, Time Magazine reports. President Donald Trump has recently imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and is contemplating more on automobiles, causing stocks and commodities to drop worldwide. The measure, sponsored by Senator Bob Corker, R–Tenn., comes after the administration said it would impose a new round of tariffs on Chinese goods due to purported theft of U.S. intellectual property. Legislation limiting Trump’s power will likely face an uphill battle in the U.S. House.

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Knoxville-based Company Earns Canadian Patent for Electronic Visit Verification

Knoxville based healthcare technology company HealthStar has earned an additional patent for the company's electronic visit verification (EVV), according to a June 25 press release. The Canadian Intellectual Property Office granted the patent for the underlying technology used in HealthStar Visit, the company's signature EVV software. It uses GPS-based technology to help reduce fraud, waste and abuse in Medicaid reimbursement for services delivered in a home-based setting.

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Intellectual Property Chair A.J. Bahou Joins Waller

Tennessee Bar Association Intellectual Property Section Chair A.J. Bahou has joined the Nashville office of Waller, according to a press release on its website. In addition to leading the IP Section, Bahou was recently appointed to the TBA's Special Committee on the Evolving Legal Market, which focuses on the changing nature of the practice of law. We congratulate A.J. on his new transition.

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Knoxville Based Boat Company Accused of Violating Patent Injunction

Cobalt Boats LLC filed a motion in federal court on May 11 accusing Brunswick Corporation's Knoxville based Sea Ray brand of violating an injunction order by continuing to infringe on Cobalt's patented flip-down "retractable swim step," according to a press release issued on Wednesday. Cobalt contends that the swim steps currently sold on Sea Ray boats are not significantly different from the Sea Ray swim steps found to be an infringement in a previous trial, in which Cobalt was awarded upward to $5.4 million.

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Rap Icon Loses Trademark Battle to Gynecologist

Rap pioneer Andre “Dr. Dre” Young lost a trademark dispute against Pennsylvania gynecologist Draion M. Burch on May 3, ending a years-long legal battle between the rapper and the practicing doctor, The Washington Post reports. Dr. Dre filed a lawsuit in 2015, arguing Burch’s use of the moniker “Dr. Drai” would cause “confusion” among consumers. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office shot down the claim, maintaining the rapper failed to show people would be misled by Burch’s Dr. Drai branding and purchase his products thinking they were Dr. Dre’s.
 
Dr. Drai hosts sex education classes for adults and teens, and is featured on webinars titled, “What Your Mama Didn’t Tell You About Making Babies” and has authored several books, including “20 Things You May Not Know About the Vagina.”
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Trademark & Copyright Law Developments

At the annual Intellectual Property Forum in the Tennessee Bar Center, IP Section Executive Council Eastern Delegate Mark Graham provided a presentation on Trademark & Copyright Law Developments for 2017-18. This informative presentation was well received, featuring timely updates on important cases affecting the practice area. You can view a summary of Graham’s presentation here.

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Intellectual Property Section Wraps Up Successful Forum

The TBA Intellectual Property Section recently presented its annual forum at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. Attendees were treated to top-notch programming from seasoned veterans in the practice and law enforcement officials with a focus on cybersecurity. Through the dedication of the section and strong leadership, this event has become a staple for lawyers throughout the state. Thanks to the TBA Intellectual Property Section Executive Council for their time and assistance with another remarkable forum.
 
OFFICERS
A.J. Bahou, Chair, Bahou Miller
Hemant Gupta, Vice-Chair, Butler Snow
John Winemiller, Immediate Past Chair, Merchant & Gould
 
WEST TENNESSEE DELEGATES
Shawn Sentilles, Adams & Reese
 
EAST TENNESSEE DELEGATES
Doug Johnson, Miller & Martin
Autumn Boyd, Law Office of Autumn Witt Boyd
Judy Goans, Judy Winegar Goans, Attorney at Law
 
MIDDLE TENNESSEE DELEGATES
Ed Lanquist, Patterson PC
Kevin Christopher, Ridgeline Venture Law
Ryan Levy, Patterson Intellectual Property Law
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Ambassador Lighthizer Urged to Include Intellectual Property Protections in New NAFTA

The United States Senate Finance Committee has urged U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to include strong copyright protections in U.S. trade agreements, including the new North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), JD Supra reports. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Senate Finance Committee Member Bill Nelson, D-Florida, sent a letter to Lighthizer on Friday expressing concerns over adequate copyright enforcement for intellectual property in global markets.
 
Areas of concern related to NAFTA are a lack of protection for geographical indicators in trademark, the Minister of Health’s broad discretion in the disclosure of confidential information, and a lack of clarity on patent requirements in Canadian courts and Mexico’s decline in seizures of goods that violate intellectual property rights, widespread availability of pirated and counterfeit goods, and a copyright regime that is not equipped to adequately handle digital trade. You can read the full letter here.
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China Warns of Retribution on Possible Tariffs Involving Intellectual Property Violations

China’s ambassador to the U.S Cui Tiankai has warned his government is ready to hit back just as hard on trade when President Donald Trump announces the details of further action on intellectual property violations, reports Newsweek. Tiankai said if another round of tariffs or similar action is taken by Trump on intellectual property, then China “will certainly take countermeasures of the same proportion and the same scale, same intensity." “For the protection of intellectual property rights, China has been strengthening its efforts, strengthening our legal system, on this particular issue,” Tiankai told Chinese state-run television channel CGTN. “And we are making good progress. We are ready to look at the specific cases if there is any violation of the intellectual property rights ... by whoever. We are ready to deal with these issues in accordance with our own laws. And we are ready for international co-operation in this area.”
 
The comments come after China responded to the first set of tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum with its own levies on American food imports. More trade measures against China are likely, as the U.S. responds to an investigation into the impact of intellectual property violations involving the nation. The emerging trade war between the U.S. and China has destabilized stock markets, with investors fearing a battle that harms both economies – the two largest in the world. Trump has used his national security powers to push through tariffs without the need for new legislation.
 
Consumer technology goods from China are some of the products in the cross-hairs of a $60 billion package of tariffs approved by Trump on March 22. A list of all affected products is due in the coming days. 
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