#NCBA In Japan: Attorneys Exchange Ideas, Soak In Culture


As the NCBA’s Attorney Exchange Program delegation wraps up its trip to Japan this week, we’re sharing the group’s impressions of the Land of the Rising Sun. Throughout the trip, members of the delegation have been offering their favorite moments via our social media channels. To see photos, go to the NCBA Facebook page  or follow the group on Twitter at #NCBAinJapan.

Also, we talked via Skype with David Robinson, International Law & Practice Section member and Honorary Consul of Japan in North Carolina. Well-versed in Japanese culture, Robinson helped organize the trip and the group’s meetings with law firms, government officials, businesses and bar organizations. Here’s a 90-second video with photos and excerpts of the interview.

Pro Se Responsive Pleading By Corporation/LLC Insufficient To Avoid Default

By Matthew D. Lincoln

North Carolina statute N.C.G.S. Section 84-5 prohibits corporations and limited liability companies from practicing law in this state. This prohibition occasionally arises in the litigation context when an entity—usually domiciled in another state—serves a pro se answer (or other response) to a complaint filed in a North Carolina court. Given that a plaintiff’s goal usually is to obtain a judgment as quickly and efficiently as possible, what should the plaintiff do in this situation?

In short, the plaintiff should file a motion asking the court (i) to strike the defendant’s responsive pleading, and (ii) for entry of default and default judgment. Seeking all such relief in one motion may seem aggressive in light of the court’s inclination to have disputes decided on the merits. Fortunately, however, for plaintiffs finding themselves in this scenario, there is authority supporting the award of such relief in a single hearing.

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Follow the NCBA Attorney Exchange Program In Japan On Social Media


Check out the NCBA social media channels for updates from the ongoing attorney exchange to Japan led by the International Law & Practice Section. The delegation landed in Tokyo earlier this week and has a packed schedule of meetings with law firms, government officials, businesses and bar organizations. In between, they’re taking in all the Japanese culture, food and landmarks they can get.

Plus, delegates will be writing and sharing daily haikus with us. To see photos of the trip so far click here. Follow them on Twitter at #NCBAinJapan.

Seeking Articles For This Blog

Dear IP Section Members:

We are seeking additional volunteers to draft posts for the NCBA Intellectual Property Law Blog.  Please electronically forward any submissions to us at MMorlock@kilpatricktownsend.com and LaAnderson@wcsr.com.

Posts can be short and can address any topic related to recent developments in IP Law.  Some suggestions include:

  • Analysis of recent Federal Circuit Decisions
  • Analysis of recent Oral Arguments at the Supreme Court that impact IP Law, e.g., TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC
  • Analysis of any of the post-grant decisions that the PTAB has identified as precedential
  • How Examiners are treating Federal Circuit decisions on 35 U.S.C. 101

These are just suggestions, and you are not limited to these topics.  Please let us know if you have an idea for a topic, or have a completed post you would like to submit for publication.


Michael Morlock, newsletter co-editor

Lauren Anderson, newsletter co-editor

How Does the PTAB Evaluate Follow-On IPR Petitions?

By Courtney Dabbiere and Allison Dobson

Under 35 U.S.C. § 325(d), the Patent Trial and Appeal Board has the discretion to deny a follow-on inter partes review petition where multiple petitions are filed against the same patent.  In exercising its discretion, the board may consider whether “the same or substantially the same prior art or arguments previously were presented to the Office.”  35 U.S.C. § 325(d).  Additionally, the board may consider several factors “including the facts of each case, the burden on the parties and the Board, and the public interest.”  See Polygroup Ltd. v. Willis Elec. Co., Ltd., No. IPR2016-00801, Paper No. 8, at 14 (P.T.A.B. Oct. 17, 2016). While the board’s decisions granting and denying follow-on petitions depend on the circumstances of the case, there are several factors petitioners and patent owners can use to assess the likelihood of the board exercising its discretion. We studied the reasoning for grant or denial of 120 follow-on petitions and report our findings here.

The board will typically decline to exercise its discretion when (1) a petition presents new prior art and/or arguments that are substantially different from the previously relied on art and/or arguments; (2) a different petitioner is challenging the previously challenged claims; (3) a petition challenges claims not previously challenged; or (4) the prior petition was denied without substantive evaluation of the prior art or its applicability to the challenged claims, such as when a proceeding is terminated prior to receiving an institution decision or a final written decision, or when the board denied the previous petition without addressing the merits of petitioner’s arguments. The board may also decline to exercise its discretion when the board has instituted proceedings between the same parties on the same or substantially the same grounds because there will be little additional burden to the parties and the board.

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Ctrl Alt Career: Reset Goals to Find Personal Success

By Joyce Brafford

The thought of chasing your dream can feel like an impossibility. With financial, professional and personal goals so closely tied to success as an attorney, there seems to be little opportunity to leave a traditional job in favor of something more fulfilling. But it can be done. In this article, three lawyers will reflect on how choosing a non-traditional path impacted their relationship to the profession, and their feelings about that decision.

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The ‘Nonvisual Play-Doh Scent Mark’: Can It Really Be a Source Identifier?

By Katherine Escalante

Can you put a value to a certain smell? Play-Doh thinks so. In February, Hasbro, Inc. filed its application for the scent of Play-Doh. Scent has a powerful way of evoking particular emotions in consumers. We all have a scent that brings us back to a cherished memory — something unique to our experiences growing up. While I can admit that Play-Doh has a distinct scent, I could never quite tell you what it smelled like. To me Play-Doh smelled like… well… Play-Doh.

The fragrance itself is described as a “unique scent formed through the combination of a sweet, slightly musky, vanilla-like fragrance, with slight overtones of cherry, and the natural smell of a salted, wheat-based dough.” While it is rare for a scent to be trademarked in the United States, it is not unheard of. The first scent to be trademarked was a floral fragrance “reminiscent of Plumeria blossoms” used on yarn in 1990. Consumers tend to view unusual features of a product as a way to make it stand out from the others, not to designate who made it, placing a heavy burden on those that want to trademark scents.

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Texas, Delaware or Good Ole North Carolina?

By Tara Muller

In a much-anticipated ruling on May 22, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods narrowed the definition of venue for patent infringement cases. Until last week, a patent holder could sue an alleged infringer in any venue where the defendant was doing business, causing forum shopping and a very high concentration of patent cases in plaintiff-friendly venues like Eastern District of Texas. Roughly 40 percent of infringement suits, many filed by non-practicing entities, have been filed in ED TX in the last two years. Now, however, patent enforcers must file suit in the judicial district in which the corporate defendant “resides” (meaning state of incorporation) or where it has committed alleged acts of infringement AND has a regular and established place of business. Experts predict TC Heartland will increase the cost of litigation and drastically end forum shopping. They forecast a flood of litigation into other states, including Delaware, where so many companies incorporate, or tech-sector states like California and New Jersey.

Possible?  Sure, but litigators are a clever bunch when they put on their thinking caps. If they found work-arounds to the America Invents Act, they may just find creative ways to stay in their favorite jurisdiction, perhaps by shifting their focus from producers to sellers and retailers.

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MacCord’s List: IP News & Notices From Art MacCord

By Art MacCord

Art MacCord is a patent attorney with 38 years of experience. He keeps an eye on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. Copyright Office for new rules and practice tips of interest to intellectual property attorneys. Please click on the links below for the most recent updates.

Roundtable discussion at USPTO in Alexandria, Virginia, on October 18, 2017, on intellectual property infringements at trade shows.


Asheville Area Members: Join Us For a Mixer At the Grove Park Oct. 18

As a reminder, on Wednesday, Oct. 18 starting at 6 p.m., the NCBA Health Law Section will host a “Mix, Mingle and Network” event at the Presidents Lounge, Omni Grove Park Inn, Asheville.  We are excited for an opportunity for our members and friends of the section to have a way to mingle in person and learn more about our section. The Health Law Section is an active chapter, and there are many ways that you can get involved, from CLE planning to pro bono.

Free parking for this event is available in the Sammons Wing Parking Deck. This a great opportunity for Health Law Section members in the Asheville area. For any questions and to RSVP, please contact: jheath@williamsmullen.com.  See everyone Wednesday, Oct. 18!

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