Justice Elena Kagan on Thursday dismissed the Emergency Petition filed by the Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. to block publication of a new collection of stories based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. Doyle’s heirs claim that “Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were not static but dynamic literary characters who changed and developed throughout the Sherlock Holmes canon”. The Doyle heirs have been successfully guarding all literary, merchandising and advertising rights of his works. Anyone wanting to use Sherlock or his friend Dr. Watson had to typically pay the estate a license fee.
But Leslie S. Klinger, a Californian Lawyer and Editor of “The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes,” successfully challenged in the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit that Doyle’s characters are in the public domain and therefore, he did not need to get the estate’s permission — or pay a fee — to publish his upcoming collection, “In the Company of Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon” (Pegasus). Klinger had previously published A Study in Sherlock and paid $5,000 (£2,923) as licensing fee for the rights, by the second time he was asked to pay, he had decided to challenge this practice.
How would you feel if you had to travel standing on your plane journey? Yes, a plane, not a bus. AirBus seems to be taking its name a tad too literally. At least that’s what their recently filed patent seems to say.
What does this mean?
Airbus filed a patent in December, 2013 for a new airplane seat design that would have travelers resting on bicycle-like seats for short-haul flights.
Why was this even proposed?
One guess would be to reduce costs. Airbus’ retractable bicycle seat design manages to add extra seats by reducing the width of passenger’s seating and leg room, minimizing the bulkiness of current airline seats. The smallest seat width on a short-haul flight is now 41.28 cms, while the smallest seat pitch or the distance from the same point on one seat to another, often referred to as legroom is 68.58 cms, according to Seat Guru.
After studying citations from patents that were invalidated by US Judges, researchers from the London School of Economics commented, “Patent invalidation has a significant impact on cumulative innovation in the fields of computers and communications, electronics and medical instruments (including biotechnology). We find no such effect in fields involving drugs, chemicals or mechanical technologies.” Let us now take a look at why this discrepancy exists.
What is patent invalidation?
The Patents Act outlines circumstances under which a granted patent can be revoked on certain grounds.
Who is affected by this and how has this come to be?
Start-ups seem especially vulnerable to bad patent policy because they may not have the legal or the economic negotiating power to deal with big business. The researchers commented that when large patentees are involved, bargaining breakdown occurs and small ﬁrms are normally less capable of resolving disputes cooperatively, without resorting to the involvement of courts.
The Tesseract that we speak of here is Yamaha’s most recent contribution to the motorcycle world, most likely deriving its name from the four-dimensional hypercube, a physical form of which is known to possess unimaginable power, according to the popular movie, The Avengers. The allusion to a four-dimensional hypercube may be an indicator of the presence of four-wheels in the motorcycle! A prototype was unveiled at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show and although the bike has four wheels, its ability to lean to the side like a regular motorcycle sets it aside from all known motorcycles and ATVs.
The Tesseract boasts of housing several innovations such as:
Hybrid Engine: Powered by a combination of liquid cooled V-twin gasoline engine and an electric motor.
Dual-Scythe Suspension: Has unique suspension that enables cornering with a lean (banking) like a motorcycle despite the presence of four wheels. The patent US 8,251,375 discloses the technology behind the Tesseract’s lean control system. 8,251,375 claims a body leaning control system comprising a support mechanism arranged to support a pair of wheels to be movable upwards and downwards in relation to the vehicle body, a resistance applying mechanism arranged to apply a resistance to the support mechanism of the pair of wheels, a lean amount acquiring device arranged to detect an amount of lean of the vehicle body and a controller. The controller, based on results received from the lean amount acquiring device, sets the resistance of the resistance applying mechanism when the lean amount of the vehicle body exceeds a required angle, inhibiting the vehicle body from leaning in excess.
The US court of Appeals of the Federal Circuit upheld a decision by the District Court that the patent held by Digitech Imaging Technologies (a division of Acacia Research, one of the most active ‘Patent Trolls’ ) is invalid.
To provide a background to the case, Digitech had filed suits against multiple companies (including Xerox, toshiba, Leica, Fujifilm, Sigma, Pentax, Ricoh, Asus and so on) claiming that they were infringing US patent 6,128,415. The first suit was filed by Digitech in the US District Court for the Central District of California. The District Court ruled that the patent was invalid under 35 U.S.C. §101, as the enforced claims (claims 1-6, 9 and 26-31) were directed towards a “collection of numerical data (a device profile) that lacks a physical component or physical manifestation”. Also, the District Court ruled that the method claims were directed towards generating a device profile by organising data through mathematical correlations. Digitech appealed the decision to the Federal Court, which upheld the decision of the District Court.