Weekly IP Buzz for the week ending April 5, 2019

Weekly IP Buzz for the week ending April 5, 2019

Here's a summary of interesting developments in intellectual property, technology, social media, and Internet law for the week ending April 5, 2019.

Anheuser-Busch Utilizes SLAPP Lawsuit to Protect Trade Secrets

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A recent case pending in the Ninth Circuit has drawn attention again to how courts will analyze the divulgence of trade secrets in relation to California’s Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (“SLAPP”) statute.  SLAPP lawsuits are generally civil complaints or counterclaims, against either individuals or companies, that argue that the injury came as a result of exercising free speech under the First Amendment.  

SLAPP Lawsuits Aim to Chill Public Debate

Usually SLAPP claims are brought by against individuals or organizations over public issues and are often based on civil torts.  Many experts in the field argue that the principal purpose of a SLAPP suit is to chill public debate over the specific topic at hand because defending against a SLAPP requires significant amounts of time, money, and legal resources.  As such, defendants are often dissuaded from pursuing the legal action.  

In the case at hand, Anheuser-Busch had filed a SLAPP lawsuit against former employee James A. Clark (“Clark”) for allegedly releasing trade secret information that was eventually used against Anheuser-Busch in a class action lawsuit.  Specifically, the case at hand focuses on Anheuser-Busch’s brewing processes, which they have classified as trade secret and were detailed in a document referred to internally as “Page 13.”  Anheuser-Busch argues that Clark’s reveal of the processes eventually led to the class action against Anheuser-Busch over allegations that the alcoholic content of Anheuser-Busch’s products is overstated. 

Read the full article here.

Cybersquatting Causes Record High for WIPO Cases Filed

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2018 was a record-setting year for the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) as the number of Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (“UDRP”) filings hit a new high.  WIPO expects the trend of growing WIPO cases filed to continue as brands attempt to comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”). 

According to the WIPO, a new record high of 3,447 complaints were filed with the WIPO in 2018, marking a 12% increase from 2017.  Interestingly, the number of contested domain names, however, was down 11% from 2017.

Factors Affecting WIPO Cases Filed

WIPO believes there are several factors responsible for the jump in number of domain/WIPO cases filed for arbitration.  WIPO believes that the chief reason to be the dismantling of WHOIS.  WHOIS was a free service provided by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) that allowed the public to search Internet registrar directories to find out the contact, ownership, and technical information connected to a registered domain. 

Despite many objections to the removal of WHOIS, the rollout of the European Union’s GDPR in May of 2018 basically brought down WHOIS because of its more stringent privacy requirements.  Even though WIPO had asked for a year to figure out how to reconfigure WHOIS in a way that could meet the conditions of the GDPR, the European Union declined to give WIPO such time and, as a result, ICANN’s WHOIS went dark. 

Find the full article here.

Click to read the previous Weekly IP Buzz.

For more posts, see our Intellectual Property Law Blog.

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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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