Weekly IP Buzz for week ending in August 31, 2018

Weekly IP Buzz for week ending in August 31, 2018

Here's a summary of interesting developments in intellectual property, technology, social media, and Internet law for the week ending August 31, 2018.

U.S. Patent Office Under Fire

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The U.S. Patent Office came under fire recently due to having its servers down between August 15th through August 23rd. In an officially released statement, Andrei Iancu, Director of the U.S. Patent Office stated that the servers and electronic filing were down because they needed to conduct emergency maintenance on the technology infrastructure.

Notably, the electronic filing systems for trademarks were not affected. However, the patent system, because the web portals that accept electronic filing of patents and provide status updates on applications were all down, the consequences in terms of filing and maintaining patents became costly in both monetary costs as well as maintenance costs. The higher cost being due to the need for filing in paper which requires payment of higher fees for not using the electronic filing system.

As maintenance relates specifically to the U.S. Patent Office’s PALM database, which controls the Electronic Filing System, Patent Review Process System, and Patent Application Information Retrieval System, clients and attorneys alike were unable to follow the progress of patent filings as they ordinarily would. Read more about electronic filing issues.

Panda In a Monkey Selfie Copyright Situation? Zoo Sells Paintings Created By Panda Bear

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A Vienna zoo has made headlines around the world by offering for sale paintings created by their resident panda. For approximately $500 a piece, enthusiastic art aficionados may purchase abstract paintings created by panda bear Yang Yang, an eighteen year old panda at the Vienna Schoenbrunn Zoo.

Who Owns the Copyright to Paintings Created by Panda Bear?

With some likening Yang Yang’s art to Jackson Pollock pieces, the zoo’s profit off of Yang Yang’s art inevitably raises the specter of the recent copyright law/intellectual property question—who really owns the copyright to the art pieces created by panda bear Yang Yang? Yang Yang clearly could not create the art without the assistance of zookeepers whom provide the panda with the paintbrush, canvas, and easel, which often comes in the form of the zookeepers themselves. Yet, undeniably, it is still Yang Yang that actually wields the paintbrush and creates the work. As such, the ownership of the copyright becomes muddled because the U.S. Copyright Act does not provide finite guidance on whether ownership of a work may extend to animals. Read more about copyright protection.

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Darin M. Klemchuk is founder of Klemchuk LLP, a litigation, intellectual property, and transactional law firm located in Dallas, Texas. He also co-founded Project K, a charitable movement devoted to changing the world one random act of kindness at a time, and publishes Thriving Attorney, a blog dedicated to exploring the business of the practice of law, productivity and performance for attorneys, and other topics such as law firm leadership and management, law firm culture, and business development for attorneys.

Click to learn more about Darin M. Klemchuk's law practice as an intellectual property lawyer.

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