Overall, 2013 is shaping up to be a big year in intellectual property law. There are several key cases to watch in the areas of trademark, copyright, and patent law.
Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc.: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to delve back into the scope of patentable subject matter, as it applies to medical genetics. The primary question before the Supreme Court is whether isolated genes are “products of nature” that are ineligible for patent protection or products of human intervention and ingenuity.
Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons: This copyright infringement case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012, and a decision will issued this year. The lawsuit addresses the tension between the first-sale doctrine and the Copyright Act’s ban against importing a work without the authority of the copyright owner. While the case involves foreign textbooks made and legally acquired abroad and then imported into the United States, the Supreme Court’s decision is expected to impact the larger, million-dollar “gray market” for goods, upon which companies like Costco and eBay rely.
American Broadcasting Cos. v. Aereo: New technology will continue to test the limits of the Copyright Act in 2013. The Second Circuit is poised to decide whether start-up company, Aereo, has infringed the copyrights of networks, including ABC and Fox Television, by taking broadcast television signals and retransmitting them over the Internet to its subscribers. Because the decision could shake up how consumers get their television, the media and technology industries are closely watching the case.
Apple v. Samsung: The ongoing litigation between Apple and Samsung is just one example of the so-called “software patent wars” that dominated 2012. With lawsuits still pending in California and across the globe, the two tech giants will likely continue to dominate legal headlines.
In addition to these cases, there are a number of regulatory changes in the works, most notably the official conversion to a first-to-file patent system under the America Invents Act.