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Three Key IP Cases to Watch This Year

In an article that published in Today’s General Counsel online and in the February/March print issue, Michael Cicero discusses three intellectual property (IP) cases that are likely to alter the IP landscape this year, Google v. OracleU.S. v. Arthrex, Inc. and American Axle & Mfg., Inc. v. Neapco Holdings LLC

Google v. Oracle arose after negotiations fell through between Google and Sun Microsystems for Google to take a license for developing a software program for mobile devices using the Java platform that Sun developed. After negotiation halted, Google copied 37 Java API packages, amounting to 11,500 lines of copyrighted code. Google also copied the structure, sequence and organization of those packages, but wrote its own implementing code for the functions the packages performed. 

Google v. Oracle should produce a landmark decision on the doctrine of fair use, and possibly on both fair use and the copyright eligibility of computer programs,” Cicero said about the potential impact of this case. 

In this article, Cicero also explained why U.S. v. Arthrex, Inc. threatens the very existence of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and how American Axle & Mfg., Inc. v. Neapco Holdings LLC expanded the defense of patent ineligibility to mechanical inventions. 

“Failing Supreme Court review, expect louder calls for a legislative solution to the investment-impairing uncertainty spawned by current patent ineligibility case law,” Cicero concluded, referencing American Axle

A copyright case before the Supreme Court, Google v. Oracle, looms large on the list of cases likely to alter the intellectual property landscape. A decision is expected in June. The Arthrex patent case, with a high court decision expected in June as well, threatens the very existence of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). In a third patent case, a patentee seeks Supreme Court review of controversial appellate court decisions. These are the key cases to watch in 2021.


articles, ip patent, cicero_michael