Welcome to the 2019-2020 IP Law Section!

By Sarah Nagae

I am excited to start my role as Chair and to be working with a great group of attorneys on the Board, Council, and those serving as Committee Chairs (list here).

Three important notes:

  • Our Annual Meeting will be held on Friday, April 3, 2020 in Wrightsville Beach. Please mark your calendar now and let us know if you have an idea for a topic, would like to be a speaker, or have a speaker recommendation. Our CLE committee co-chairs are Dan Becker (danbeckr@gmail.com), Erica Rogers (ebrogers@wardandsmith.com) and Andy Prokepetz (aprokopetz@cottoninc.com).
  • If you are interested in joining a committee, we would love to have you. View our list of committees and sign up here.
  • You will soon receive a short survey about the types of programming you would like to see this year. Everyone who responds will be entered into a drawing to win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards. We hope that this survey will enable us to understand your interests and preferences so we can plan our programs accordingly.

If you have any questions about the Section or would like to get involved but are not sure where to start, please contact me at sarah.at.ncba@gmail.com or (919) 360-1210.

First Amendment Is a Friend U Can Trust to Register Offensive Trademarks

By Amy Pruett and Jackie Knapp

At the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that allows the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) to reject words and symbols that are considered immoral or scandalous, on grounds that it violates the First Amendment. This is another chapter in a battle against the second part of the same provision that prevents registration of allegedly racist or disparaging terms, like (the band) “Slants” and (the football team) “Redskins.”

In 2011, the PTO denied Erik Brunetti’s attempts to register the mark “FUCT” for his streetwear clothing line, claiming it was a profane and “scandalous” term. According to Brunetti, in addition to a clever play on a vulgar word, FUCT is actually an acronym for Friends U Can’t Trust.

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Mixtape Magic

By Angela Doughty

I would like to think my time as IPL Chair could be described as a compilation of assorted melodies creating the perfect intellectual property mixtape. As we look back, let’s lend an “ear” to the top tracks from the past year.

Track 1:  Is My Subject Matter Eligible?

Our Patent Committee hosted a Lunch & Learn with Carolyn Kosowski of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office covering practical guidance on the USPTO’s examination procedure for subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

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Pro Bono Outstanding Achievement Award

https://www.coatsandbennett.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/152/2019/03/will-pagan.jpgCongratulations to William G. Pagán of Coats & Bennett PLLC, the recipient of the 2018 Pro Bono Outstanding Achievement Award, which was announced at last week’s NCBA IP Law Section’s Annual Meeting held in Charlotte.

Every lawyer has a professional responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay.  Pursuant to Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, a lawyer should aspire to render at least 50 hours of pro bono publico legal services per year.  In fulfilling this professional responsibility, Pagán serves as a pro bono Legal Officer for the NC Wing of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), United States Air Force Auxiliary.  CAP is a volunteer force that is the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force.  As an NC Wing Legal Officer, Pagán serves as a member of the NC Wing Commander’s staff and supervises a team of Assistant Legal Officers in handling the legal affairs of approximately 30 local squadrons statewide for approximately 2,000 members.

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USPTO China Road Show Coming To Durham

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s China Intellectual Property (IP) Road Show
Find details and a registration link here.
9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Thursday, April 25
Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s China Intellectual Property (IP) Road Show is a free, one-day program that brings together experts from the U.S. government, academics, IP attorneys, and local business people to share their insights on China and IP issues that will benefit U.S. IP rights holders.  The next China IP Road Show will be held at the Duke University Sanford School for Public Policy in Durham, North Carolina, on Thursday, April 25, 2019.  Registration is now open here.

The Road Show includes key participation from the USPTO’s China Team, a group of China IP experts who work nationwide to help U.S. businesses and inventors understand how to obtain and enforce IP rights in China.  Speakers at the road shows also include IP attorneys with decades experience in helping US companies protect and enforce their IP rights in China. This road show is one of a series that the USPTO is conducting across the country.  Join us to hear from experts about protecting and enforcing IP rights in China and the United States.


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

Art MacCord is a patent attorney with 40 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. Find his latest updates here.

Aug. 6, 2019

Changes to the Trademark Rules of Practice To Mandate Electronic Filing: Final Rule


Setting and Adjusting Patent Fees During Fiscal Year 2020: Proposed Rulemaking  (includes new fees on patent practitioners and CLE requirement)

June 26, 2019

U.S. Copyright Office Revises Proposed Rulemaking On Recordation and Group Registration Fees

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Join Us For the 2019 IP Law Section Annual Meeting and CLE

Intellectual Property: Ready for the New Decade

2019 Intellectual Property Law Section and Sports & Entertainment Section Annual Meeting

Friday, April 5, 2019 at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel, Charlotte

6.75 hours of CLE credit, includes 1.0 hour ethics/professional responsibility

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Don’t Brew Up Trouble In Beer Name Selection

By Rebecca E. Crandall

Most attorneys advising new breweries remember to ensure no other brewery exists with the same name the client has selected.  The work relating to that brewery’s trademarks does not, however, end upon successful naming of the brewery itself.  Unless a brewery sticks to generic names for its beers (e.g., IPA, pale ale), it may run into trouble in days or years from opening unless the same analysis is conducted for each individual beer name.

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Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let Your IP Mind Grow!

By Angela Doughty

Planning ahead for events can be frightful, but our section has 2019 plans that are delightful! As long as you love IP so, join us for our events that are a go!

February 7 at 11 a.m. for our Tri-City Meeting and Lunch Event in Raleigh, Winston-Salem, and Charlotte.  The specific meeting and lunch locations will be announced early next year.

March 7 for an event featuring the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Commissioner of Trademarks, Ms. Mary Denison.  The event will be held in the afternoon at the Bar Center and will be followed by a social event.

April 5 in Charlotte for our Annual CLE Meeting. We will be partnering with the Sports & Entertainment Law Section to provide diverse CLE program options.  As always, we will have a section networking event the evening before and invite everyone to join us.

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A Technical Approach to Mitigating Supply Chain IP Theft

By Steve Snyder

When most people think about cybersecurity, they think of breaches of consumer personal information.  And who can blame anyone for that, just look at the headlines for the latest breach of a major hotel chain and FIVE HUNDRED MILLION customer accounts.  But one aspect of cybersecurity that is arguably more important than breaches of consumer information is theft of trade secrets.  You may have heard the statement from then FBI Director Robert Mueller that there are only two types of companies, “those that have been hacked and those that will be.”  What you may not realize is that his oft-quoted statement was made in the context of imploring businesses to report security breaches that involved trade secrets.  Director Mueller had to make that plea because there were no requirements for businesses to report security breaches if they did not implicate certain information, such as consumer financial information or protected health information. This kept theft of trade secrets out of the public eye and in many cases unknown to anyone but the victim.

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