Letter from AmeriKat: Happy Halloween!

The AmeriKat adores the fall holidays. For those who know her Thanksgiving is by far the AmeriKat's favorite holiday, but running a close second is Halloween. Although she has begun noticing a growth in Halloween parties and events in the UK, no one does Halloween like the US. Costumes are plastered on our infants from the womb and grocery store aisles are devoted to crates of candy and ghoulish masks. Unlike the UK where one generally has to dress up 'scary' for the event, our costumes span the gambit of fancy dress; a mermaid, a flight attendant, a pumpkin are all acceptable attire. This Halloween, the AmeriKat had planned to go as a Savannah flapper vampire (complete with accent and all) to one of her friend's Halloween parties and so she laid her head down to take a 15 minute power nap before the preparation would begin. However, when she later awoke it was 1 AM and her Halloween fun had sadly vanquished - a lesson that there is no such thing as a Kat nap. (picture, top left - look closely and you will see the AmeriKat asleep in her jack o'lantern)

Happy Halloween from the AmeriKat!

Court squeezes all the juice from the LimeWire: Something else that has been vanquished this week is LimeWire, the music file-sharing service that is a favorite of old and young alike. Last Tuesday Manhattan federal judge Kimba Wood ordered that LimeWire be permanently shut down by disabling the "searching, downloading, uploading, file trading and/or file distribution functionality" of their file-sharing software. This injunction follows a ruling six months ago that found the company and its founder, Mark Gorton, liable for copyright infringement on a "massive scale". LimeWire is still in the process of negotiating licence deals with major record labels to legally provide music for sale with a subscription service. Following the ruling Gorton issued a statement declaring that:
"While this is not our ideal path, we hope to work with the music industry in moving forward. We look forward to embracing necessary changes and collaborating with the entire music industry in the future."
Meanwhile the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) who handled the lawsuit issued the following following statement:
"For the better part of the last decade, LimeWire and Gorton have violated the law. The court has now signed an injunction that will start to unwind the massive piracy machine that LimeWire and Gorton used to enrich themselves immensely"
Now with the issues of liability and the injunction determined, the court will now be tasked with the quantification of damages early next year that the company and Gorton will have to pay. The LimeWire injunction came shortly after the former head of Warners Music in the UK, Rob Dickins, suggested that albums should go for as little as £1, which would enable the purchase to be an impulse purchase. Others, such as Paul Quirk the head of Entertainment Retailers Association, suggested that Dickins had already benefited from the heyday of $14 albums and was too casual with his statement (see this report in Ars Technica). From courtrooms to industry meetings, everyone is struggling to put a price on music. But is a music track worth a bottle of water, or a hardback novel? Regardless of the correct answer, the court's assessment of damages in the LimeWire case next year will be far greater than either of those values.

Hell's Angels take on Alexander McQueen: What does couture house Alexander McQueen and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club have in common? Nothing, unless you count the recent lawsuit brought by the Hells Angels in California federal court Monday against Alexander McQueen Trading Company, owned by PPR, for use of their trade mark name and mascot winged death head symbol (picture, left). The famous motorcycle group has reportedly used their name and symbol since at least 1948 and are also proprietors of a USPTO registered trade marks in classes for jewellery and clothing. For those who are unfamiliar with the Hells Angels, the gang is comprised of motorcycle enthusiasts that are admitted once strict requirements are met. The FBI classifies the Hells Angels as one of the big four motorcycle gangs with links to violence and organized crime(although the group denies this). Not exactly a group of people that you would want to rip-off....

The complaint lists a $495 four finger duster ring called the "Hell's Knuckle Duster" which includes the protected winged death head design, a $2,329 clutch (picture, right) with a similar symbol, as well as a $1,595 dress and $560 silk scarf. These garments and accessories which include similar marks of the Hells Angels would, when worn, represent membership insignia and, according to the Hells Angels' attorney, Fritz Clapp ,"anyone wearing them would be considered an imposter by club members”. Eeeek! This invokes a somewhat funny image of a woman with an incredibly expensive designer handbag being chased by the Hells Angels for trade mark infringement.

This complaint against Alexander McQueen comes at the same time costume designer Jany Temime was accused of knocking off a McQueen dress in the upcoming Harry Potter film. Temime designed a wedding dress for the marriage of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour which incorporated a phoenix bird and feather motif, which is reminiscent of McQueen's peacock dress of A/W (Autumn/Winter) 2008. The dresses both include the heads of two birds at the bodice line with their body and feathers cascading down through the skirt. It seems incredible to the AmeriKat that a cosutme designer for a prominent film would skate so close to the edge of design protection. Some investigation by the AmeriKat has come up with a question that the dress was actually authorized by Alexander McQueen, but the official story has yet to be forthcoming.

USPTO and EPO unite to develop join patent classification system: Last Monday the USPTO announced that it will be working with the EPO to establish the formulation of a joint patent classification system. Because the USPTO pre-deates the International Patent Classification (IPC) system, the US system is not alligned with many other countries. The joint classification system will be more detailed than the current IPC system to improve patent searches, which will also aim to eliminate the duplication of work between the USPTO and EPO. David Kappos, Director of the USPTO, and Benoît Battistelli, head of the EPO, issued a joint statement stating that:
"In view of the significant benefit to stakeholders of developing a transparent and harmonized approach to global classification system for patent documents; in order to make the search process more effective; and in the belief that cooperation between the two offices will facilitate progress in undertaking classification harmonization projects under the IP5 Common Hybrid Classification initiative, the USPTO and the EPO have agreed together to work toward the formation of a partnership to explore the development of a joint classification system based on the European Classification system (ECLA) that will incorporate the best classification practices of the two offices. This system would be aligned with the WIPO classification on standards and IPC structure. Accordingly, they have initiated discussions on governance and operational aspects of such a partnership"
Earlier this month the USPTO launched its second pilot of their Peer to Patent system which commenced on 24 October 2010. With the stated goal of "
enhancing government effectiveness through openness and collaboration", Peer to Patent is a system whereby the patent examination process is open to the public who can submit information, such as evidence of prior art to assist USPTO patent examiners during their examination. In the first Peer to Patent pilot over 600 items of prior art were submitted for 189 applications. The AmeriKat wonders if this could be a nice and easy way for current patent holders to 'pre-litigate' and knock patents of potential competitors out of the system. If so, is that a good or bad thing?
Letter from AmeriKat: Happy Halloween! Letter from AmeriKat:  Happy Halloween! Reviewed by Annsley Merelle Ward on Sunday, October 31, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. I don't think Peer to Patent would be a good way to "prelitigate".

    It is, however, a good way to get attention for an invention.

    We posted a patent application related to reducing drunk driving on the first round of Peer to Patent and got good media coverage. It was also the most actively reviewed application that year.

  2. I don't think the kitty was asleep in the pumpkin...I think it's trying to claw its way out :0(

    Whilst it may seem cute when captured as a still, I don't think that animal cruelty should be promoted - and yes, putting cats in bags, boxes, pumpkins, etc. would seem to count as cruelty.


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