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A LICENSE TO KILL: WHY HITKANSUT LLC V. UNITED STATES SPELLS THE END OF PATENT RIGHTS

By: Ian Kecskes

Patent holders have the right to exclude others from their patented technology, including the U.S. government. Patent holders are given a cause of action against infringers; 28 U.S.C. § 1498 gives patent holders a cause of action against the government. § 1498 entitles the patent holder to the costs of the infringement and, if the government is not substantially justified, the costs of litigation. Recently, in Hitkansut LLC v. United States, the United States Federal Claims Court held that, when evaluating whether the government was substantially justified, the court can evaluate the prelitigation conduct, including the nature of the infringement itself. This blog will examine the underlying yet significant ramifications of this decision. Because of the incredibly high costs of patent litigation, the government can easily abuse this system. Patent holders will be more reluctant to bring a claim and risk spending significantly more on litigation costs than what the patent is worth. Ultimately though, since there has not been a significant change in government infringement since § 1498 was expanded, it is unclear how significant of an impact Hitkansut will have.

ROMAG FASTENERS, INC. V. FOSSIL, INC.’S POTENTIAL EFFECTS ON THE FUTURE OF THE NOMINATIVE FAIR USE DOCTRINE IN TRADEMARK LAW

By: Lillian Fant

In Romag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil, Inc., the Supreme Court held that there is no requirement of showing willful infringement for a plaintiff to be awarded with profits as damages for a violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1117 (a) or (b). The Court reasoned that because Congress specifically stated that there is a willfulness requirement for a violation of section 1117(c), this meant that the willfulness was intentionally left off of the other provisions. In light of the Romag decision, the four-way circuit split on nominative fair use should be reconciled with this reasoning. Thus, this blog post argues that the proper approach to nominative fair use is that of the Second Circuit in International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc. v. Security University, LLC.

First Amendment, Four Letters

This summer the Supreme Court found itself at the intersection of trademark law and the First Amendment, holding that a trademark cannot be denied for being “scandalous” without violating the U.S. Constitution. 3L Shivani Patel provides an analysis of the case and its implications on IP Law.