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Coats + Bennett Hosts High-Tech Women Meeting

 High-Tech Women Meeting

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Coats + Bennett, 1400 Crescent Green, Suite 300, Cary 

Advances in personalized medicine are truly some of the most exciting in the last 30 years. The most exciting part is that women are playing a key role in this hi-tech area that is impacting each of our lives and so is Raleigh.  Coats and Bennett, PLLC will host on Wednesday, October 28 at 6:00pm Hi-Tech Women’s kick off to this year’s speaker series that begins with cutting-edge technology in personalized medicine.

 

Did you know that common diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, as well as rare diseases including hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, and sickle cell anemia, are genetic diseases? Elevated risks of genetic diseases frequently runs in families, and symptoms such as high blood pressure or cholesterol can be passed down from one generation to another. Tracing the illnesses suffered by a patient's parents, grandparents, and other blood relatives can help doctors predict elevated risk levels of disease or health issues for a patient, and take steps to reduce those risks.

 

Come hear Tejinder Rakhra-Burris, MA , Program Leader of the Duke Center for Applied Genomics & Precision Medicine (CAGPM) present an overview of personalized medicine. She will then discuss a family health history study currently being conducted at Duke and other institutions, that utilizes a web-based app to generate a personal risk assessment profile of 30 diseases and conditions generated for participants and their providers. This presentation will kick off an exciting year of informative and intriguing presentations on cutting-edge topics of interest to our High-Tech Women organization members.

 

Those interested in attending should register here: http://www.meetup.com/Hi-Tech-Women/events/225898810/

 

Scott Snyder Joins Coats + Bennett's Patent Practice

Coats and Bennett, PLLC, an intellectual property law firm located in Cary, North Carolina, is pleased to announce that Scott Snyder has joined the firm as an attorney for its patent practice.  Mr. Snyder brings to the firm over 25 years of software, engineering, intellectual property and professional services experience. 

“Mr. Snyder brings a tremendous amount of experience as an engineer and as an attorney to our firm,” states David Bennett, Managing Manager.  “His extensive background in hardware, software, electrical, and wireless technologies will ensure our clients continue to receive the highest level of service for which Coats and Bennett is committed to providing. 

Prior to his role at Coats and Bennett, Mr. Snyder held Patent Attorney positions at Olive Law Group and Withrow & Terranova, both in the Raleigh, North Carolina area.  In those roles, his work focused on patent preparation and prosecution for technologies such as electrical, wireless, telecommunications, computer and digital processing systems.  Further, he held the role of Patent Examiner for the US Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, VA. 

In addition to his legal experience, Mr. Snyder spent 17 years at Hewlett Packard in senior engineer and senior program manager positions.  He then continued his career as VP of Operations/R&D/Product Management for Alerts Inc. in Raleigh, and President of Meeks Technology Group in Cary. 

”Coats and Bennett is an extremely well respected and top-tier intellectual property law firm,” states Mr. Snyder.  “I am very pleased to work with such a tremendously qualified group of attorneys and agents who contribute to the continued success of their clients.”  

Mr. Snyder earned his Juris Doctor from Western State University in 1991 and his B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering with a second major in Biomedical and Clinical Engineering from California State University, Long Beach. 

Mr. Snyder's full bio can be viewed here.

 Coats Bennett attorney BIG 082515

 

U.S. Government, FDA Urge the Supreme Court to Decline Review in Drug-Cosmetic Unfair Competition Case

In October 2014, the Supreme Court asked the Solicitor General to provide the federal government’s view on whether the Court should review a case that raises questions about the interplay between state unfair competition law and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”).  

Athena Cosmetics, Inc. v. Allergan, Inc. involves a claim for unfair competition under California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”).  In the suit, Allergan asserts that Athena markets RevitaLash as a cosmetic when it is really an illegally marketed drug that has never been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) or the State of California.  According to Allergan, those acts violate the UCL.  Allergan won on its claim at the district court and the Federal Circuit.  Athena appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing Allergan’s suit is an impermissible attempt to enforce the FDCA which has no private cause of action, see 21 U.S.C. § 337.  (The procedural history of the case is discussed in further detail here.)  Last Tuesday the Solicitor General recommended the Court deny Athena’s petition for discretionary review.

The government rejected Athena’s position that Allergan’s claim is pre-empted by the FDCA.  The government found “[n]o conflict” between Allergan’s claim and “federal law or with any of decision of FDA.”  According to the government, Allergan’s state law action falls within the scope of the role “the FDCA preserves . . . for the States where, as here, there is no conflict with federal law.”

As part of its petition, Athena argued that suits like Allergan’s would undermine national uniformity and the FDA’s role in policing the market.  The government—FDA included—rejected this argument.  Citing the Supreme Court’s decision in Wyeth v. Levine, 555 U.S. 555 (2009), the government noted its limited “capacity to police the vast marketplace of consumers products [(like Athena’s)] that have never been submitted to FDA for pre-market review.”  The implication is that suits like Allergan’s are a useful supplement to FDA's regulatory scrutiny.  The Supreme Court raised a similar point in its decision in POM Wonderful LLC v. Coca-Cola Co., 134 S. Ct. 2228 (2014), noting how private litigation creates “synergies among multiple methods of regulation.”  Id. at 2239.  The government did not cite this passage in its brief.

The Court will likely decide the fate of Athena’s petition later this month.

Coats and Bennett Named as One of the Top 100 US Patent Firms

Coats and Bennett, PLLC, an intellectual property law firm located in Cary, North Carolina, is pleased to announce that Intellectual Property Today has released its list of top patent firms, ranking Coats and Bennett among the top 100 firms nationwide.  The rankings are based on the number of U.S. utility patents issued in 2014.  In addition to the U.S., Coats and Bennett also had patents issued in over ten countries last year.

”We are pleased to be recognized as one of the top patent law firms in the country,” states David Bennett, Managing Partner.  “We strive to provide the highest level of service to our clients.  Our experience in understanding our clients’ complex technologies and their business needs has enabled our firm to see steady growth over the years which has resulted in being honored by Intellectual Property Today.”

Coats and Bennett is a full service intellectual property law firm with extensive experience in a wide range of complex technologies including wireless communications, networking, processors and computer architecture, semiconductors, electronics, software, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, and mechanical engineering.   In addition to patent preparation and prosecution, the attorneys at Coats and Bennett provide opinions on infringement and validity of patents, and represent clients in adverse proceedings before the Patent Office and federal courts including inter partes reviews, post grant reviews, and patent litigation.  The firm also assists clients with trademarks, copyrights, licensing, trade secrets, and internet and domain name disputes.  The award-winning attorneys at Coats and Bennett are among the best in the country and have been repeatedly recognized for their exemplary service of clients locally and worldwide.  

STOPPING CYBERSQUATTERS

        A domain name is often a valuable business asset that allows customers to find your website.  Often times the business trademark is used as the domain name.  For example, coatsandbennett.com is used by persons looking for information about our law firm.  Unfortunately, nefarious third parties recognize the value to a business in obtaining the domain names corresponding to their trademarks.  These third parties are referred to as cybersquatters that register the domain names of trademarks in an attempt to profit from this action.  These cybersquatters have no intention of using the domain names for their own legitimate purpose, but rather hold the domain name hostage in attempt to be paid a ransom from the trademark owner.

        A business has two options for pursuing a cybersquatter who is using their trademark as a domain name: (1) institute an ICANN proceeding; or (2) bring a trademark infringement suit in federal court.  

        ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is responsible for the Internet’s global Domain Name System including the determination of domain name registrations.  ICANN has established a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) that decides disputes and determines whether there is an infringement or violation of one’s rights.  The UDRP proceeding is a non-judicial arbitration type system in which the challenging party submits a brief establishing why the existing domain name should be transferred and/or cancelled.  The domain name registrant then responds with their own brief stating why they are entitled to use the domain name.  A panel of one or more judges then decides the rightful domain name owner.

        In order to be successful in this type of proceeding, the challenging party is required to prove the following:

1. The challenged domain name is identical or confusingly similar to complainant’s trademark;
2. The domain name holder has no rights or legitimate interest in respect to the domain name; and
3. The domain name was registered in bad faith and is being used in bad faith.

        A fundamental requirement for a challenger is to prove that they possess the rights to the name.  This can be proven through on-going use of the mark or a federal trademark registration.

        An issue that often arises in ICANN proceedings is whether the domain name is currently being used in bad faith.  Cybersquatters will often try to include on the website basic information in an attempt to demonstrate good faith use.  ICANN has established four circumstances that demonstrate bad faith in registering and using the domain name:

1. The domain name was acquired primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring the domain name registration for an excessive amount; or
2. The domain name was registered to prevent registration by the trademark owner; or
3. The domain name was registered primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of the trademark owner; or
4. The domain name was registered to intentionally create a likelihood of confusion to attract consumers for commercial gain.

        The ultimate resolution of cybersquatting cases are highly fact dependent and need to be carefully analyzed prior to deciding to move forward with a proceeding.  The challenging party must be able to demonstrate each of the three elements necessary to prevail.  In the event that this is not possible or one or more of the elements is speculative, the party may need to pursue other actions to obtain the domain name.

        A challenger may also bring a federal trademark suit against the domain name registrant.  The Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (Lanham Act §43(d) (15 USC 1125(d))) establishes a cause of action against such a domain name holder.  The Act defines cybersquatting as receiving a domain name that is confusingly similar to a trademark with the bad faith intent to profit.  A challenger must prove the following elements:

1. The defendant registers, traffics, or uses a domain name;
2. The name is identical to or confusingly similar to a mark owned by the plaintiff;
3. The mark was distinctive at the time of the defendant’s registration of the domain name; and
4. The defendant committed acts in bad faith with the intent to profit from the plaintiff’s mark.

        The Act specifically spells out nine factors when determining bad faith (15 U.S.C. 1125(d)(1)(B)(i)).  These include factors such as the current registrant’s prior use of the domain name in offering goods or services, the intent to divert consumers from the mark owner’s online location, and the any offer to transfer the domain name to the mark owner for financial gain.  The Act further provides a safe harbor provision (15 U.S.C. 1125(d)(1)(B)(ii)) that excludes a finding of bad faith when it is determined that the current registrant believed and had reasonable grounds to believe that the use of the domain name was fair use or otherwise lawful.

        As with an ICANN proceeding, the outcome of a federal court proceeding is highly fact dependent.  Therefore, it is necessary to carefully review the facts of the case prior to instituting any action.  The analysis of the facts should establish the strengths and weaknesses of your case and provide options for regaining your domain name. 

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