August 20, 2017

Be an IP Superhero at the 15th Annual Rocky Mountain Intellectual Property & Technology Law Institute

Be an IP Superhero like Nate and Molly!

Evil trolls are coming to destroy our patents —

Ransomware and robots are taking over our computers —

Unfair competition is just, well, UNFAIR! —

Virtual reality has gone rogue —

 

But who can we call?

The IP Superheroes!

You can be an IP Superhero, too. Find out how by registering today for the 15th Annual Rocky Mountain Intellectual Property and Technology Law Institute. This year’s Institute features three plenary sessions:

  1. Mile High Sports Law with major team general counsels,
  2. Trends in IP law and litigation, presented by a panel of national federal court judges, and
  3. Ethics of Artificial Intelligence and Ethics and Disclosure Exposure.

Plus much more! The chief judges of the PTAB and TTAB will discuss new developments, and attorneys will present the Year in Review for the PTAB and TTAB. There will be sessions on Six Things You Can Do to Protect your Company and Clients • Cannabis and Marijuana Update • Hot Topics in Bio-Pharma Prosecution • Big Data, Data Breaches, Open Source, and More • Trademarking Pop Culture • Ransomware, Robots, and Raging Machines • Getting Indemnity Agreements Right • and Many More!

The 15th Annual Rocky Mountain Intellectual Property and Technology Law Update will take place on June 1-2 at the Westin Westminster, 10600 Westminster Blvd., Westminster, CO 80020. Click here to register today!

Tenth Circuit: District Court has Wide Discretion to Impose Special Conditions of Supervised Release

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Bowers on Friday, February 10, 2017.

Donald Bowers was charged and convicted on two counts of civil contempt in violation of 18 U.S.C § 401(3) for willfully and repeatedly violating a permanent injunction against him stemming from a civil trade secret misappropriation suit. Bowers was sentenced to fifteen months’ incarceration and, following his release, a thirty-six month period of supervised release, during which he would make monthly payments of the remaining amount he owed to the plaintiff in the underlying civil suit. Bowers appealed, claiming that the court erred by imposing payments to the plaintiff in the civil case as part of his supervised release, denying his motion for disclosure of the criminal referral, and sentencing him for a period that exceeded six months.

The underlying civil case did not actually include Bowers himself, but his son Lonny Bowers (Lonny) and the officers of WideBand, who were sued by ClearOne Communications, Inc. for misappropriation of trade secrets. Bowers became involved when he entered into an agreement with the defendants in the case to purchase WideBand’s assets in exchange for money to pay their legal fees. The court issued a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the transfer of assets to Bowers.

In the civil case against WideBand, the jury returned a verdict against the defendants that included compensatory damages against all the defendants, and punitive damages against two of the WideBand officers (not including Lonny). The day after the verdict in the WideBand case, Bowers filed a statement to perfect a security interest in all of WideBand’s assets. When the court ordered Bowers to appear to show why he was not in contempt for violating the existing temporary restraining order, he failed to appear, and the court determined that he was also subject to the existing restraining order as he acted in concert with the defendants in the WideBand case.

After Bowers failed to appear in multiple contempt hearings and again violated the permanent injunction by setting up and operating DialHD, Inc., a company that used the assets of WideBand, the court issued a memorandum decision and civil contempt order against Bowers for violating the permanent injunction, and directed Bowers to self-surrender for incarceration and pay ClearOne’s reasonable attorney fees and costs. Bowers failed to purge himself of the contempt charge, and the court issued a bench warrant for his arrest. The court rejected both of Bowers’ appeals from the civil cases.

The district court entered a civil judgment against Bowers in an amount of $57,188.61 in attorney fees for violating the permanent injunction, an amount of $22,743.88 to pay ClearOne’s costs and fees from the original ClearOne civil case, and $8,648 in appellate attorney fees in connection with his first appeal in the civil case. In relation to the contempt cases against Bowers, the district court judge who presided over the civil case sent a memo regarding the referral of criminal contempt charges for Bowers to the United States Attorney for the District of Utah, outlining the details of the civil case. A federal grand jury returned an indictment against Bowers for willfully disobeying the permanent injunction and civil contempt order, both in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 401(3). A jury found Bowers guilty on both counts.

Bowers was sentenced to fifteen months’ imprisonment, followed by a term of three years supervised release, during which he would make monthly payments to ClearOne. On appeal, Bowers argued that the district court abused its discretion by ordering him to make monthly payments to ClearOne, denying his motion to compel the government to disclose the criminal referral, and argued that his sentence is illegal because 18 U.S.C. § 402 limits sentences like those Bowers committed to no more than six months.

As to his first contention regarding the imposition of payments as a condition of his supervised release, the court stated that district court has broad discretion to impose special conditions of supervised release, stating that the conditions must only (1) be reasonably related to the nature and history of the defendant’s offense, the deterrence of criminal conduct, the protection of the public from the defendant’s crimes, or the defendant’s educational and other correctional needs; (2) involve no deprivation of liberty than is reasonably necessary; and (3) be consistent with pertinent policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission. The court rejected Bowers’ argument, stating that the special condition in this case satisfies all of the requisite elements.

Bowers’ second argument on appeal, that the district court erred in denying his motion to discover the criminal referral, was also rejected by the court, as the information in the referral did not contain oral or written statements or other evidence that would render it discoverable under Fed. R. Civ. P. 16. Finally, the court also rejected Bowers’ argument that a sentence of fifteen months for his crimes was illegal under § 402, as he did not raise it at the district court level and therefore waived his right to assert the argument at the appellate level. The court added, however, that even if Bowers had not waived the argument, he still would not be entitled to relief because he was not charged under §402, but under § 401, which does not impose a maximum punishment.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Essential Element of Abuse of Process Claim is Improper Use of Courts

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Active Release Techniques, LLC v. Xtomic, LLC on Thursday, February 9, 2017.

Active Release Techniques (ART) is a provider of training, seminars, and business support software for chiropractors and other health care providers. ART contracted with Xtomic to manage ART’s IT services and provide support. When one of ART’s employees started a new business, Select Seminar Services, LLC (S3), with a co-owner of Xtomic, ART petitioned for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. It also initiated the current litigation, asserting claims for misappropriation of trade secrets. Xtomic responded by asserting numerous counterclaims, including a claim for abuse of process. A jury ultimately decided all claims in Xtomic’s favor.

ART appealed, arguing the trial court erred by denying its motion for a directed verdict on Xtomic’s abuse of process claim. The court of appeals noted that “a valid abuse of process claim must allege ‘(1) an ulterior purpose for the use of a judicial proceeding; (2) willful action in the use of that process which is not proper in the regular course of the proceedings, i.e., use of a legal proceeding in an improper manner; and (3) resulting damage.'” In this case, ART moved for a directed verdict on the abuse of process claim at the close of evidence on the counterclaims. Xtomic argued that ART knew from the outset that it had no legitimate claims against Xtomic and the overly aggressive manner in which it pursued its claims against Xtomic was evidence of ART’s ulterior motive to use the lawsuit as a means to harass Xtomic and run it out of business. In denying ART’s motion for directed verdict, the court relied on ART’s pretrial settlement with Xtomic, ART’s reputation for filing lawsuits to control the behavior of former 5 associates and business partners, and the nature and number of preservation letters that ART sent to numerous individuals.

The court of appeals disagreed with the trial court that the settlement could be evidence of ART’s willful misuse of judicial process, because settlement does not imply that the originally filed suit was improper. The court also disregarded the evidence of ART’s other lawsuits, finding that it was only proper to focus on the instant case. Finally, the court found that the preservation letters were not directly related to any litigation but rather were issued in response to ART’s concern that Xtomic was destroying emails.

The court of appeals denied Xtomic’s motion for appellate attorney fees, since it was not the prevailing party. The court reversed the trial court’s denial of ART’s motion for directed verdict and remanded.

Colorado Supreme Court: Insurer Failed to Show Documents in Question Contained Trade Secrets

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In re Rumnock v. Anschutz on Monday, December 5, 2016.

Pretrial Procedure—Protective Orders—Trade Secrets—Commercial Information.

The Colorado Supreme Court discharged its rule to show cause and affirmed the trial court’s partial denial of defendant American Family Mutual Insurance Company’s request for a protective order to restrict plaintiff’s use of alleged trade secrets. The court held that American Family failed to meet its burden to show that the documents were in fact trade secrets or other confidential commercial information.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Design of Manufacturing Part Was Not a Secret, Therefore No Misappropriation Occurred

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Hawg Tools, LLC v. Newsco International Energy Services, Inc. on Thursday, December 1, 2016.

Design—Trade Secret—Conversion—Defense—Waiver—Standing—Breach of Contract.

Hawg Tools, LLC (Hawg) rents mud motors to oil and gas drilling companies. Newsco International Energy Services, Inc. (Newsco) uses mud motors to provide drilling services. Gallagher owned Hawg. Before he formed this company, he operated a similar business called New Venture. In 2008 Gallagher asked a machinist to manufacture sealed bearing packs for use in New Venture’s mud motors. The machinist arranged for a designer, defendant Ficken, to design the sealed bearing packs for the machinist as a favor. The designer assigned his rights in the design to the machinist, who assigned them to Gallagher for compensation. Gallagher later assigned the rights to Hawg. The designer later designed a sealing bearing pack for Newsco. After determining that the Newsco design was similar to the Hawg design, Gallagher filed this lawsuit alleging (1) misappropriation of a trade secret concerning the design of a sealed bearing pack, (2) conversion of a trade secret, and (3) breach of contract. The trial court entered judgment in favor of plaintiff. The trial court denied defendants motions for directed verdict and judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

On appeal, defendants contended that the trial court erred when it denied their motions for directed verdict and judgment notwithstanding the verdict on Hawg’s claim for misappropriation of a trade secret. C.R.S. § 7-74-102(4) defines a trade secret as “the whole or any portion . . . of any . . . design . . . which is secret and of value.” To determine whether a trade secret exists, the fact finder considers (among other thing) the extent to which the information is known outside the business. Here, Hawg did not establish that its design, in whole or in part, was substantially different from designs that were publicly available at the time of its creation. The court of appeals concluded that (1) the record does not support a conclusion that the Hawg design was secret and (2) the record does not contain sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s decision to deny defendants’ motions for a directed verdict and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

Defendants also contended that the trial court erred when it denied their motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict on Hawg’s conversion claim, asserting that the Uniform Trade Secrets Act preempts claims for conversion of trade secrets. This was a preemption defense based on choice of law, which defendants waived because they raised it for the first time in their motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

Ficken appealed the judgment against him on Hawg’s breach of contract claim, contending that the trial court erred when it rejected his assertion that Hawg lacks standing to bring suit against him for breach of contract based on his violation of a confidentiality agreement. Here, the designer and the machinist entered into an assignment agreement with Gallagher. Later, Gallagher fully assigned his rights under this agreement to Hawg. Therefore, Hawg had standing to bring suit for breach of that agreement.

The judgment on Hawg’s claim for misappropriation of a trade secret was reversed and the case was remanded for the trial court to enter judgment in favor of defendants on that claim and to vacate the award of damages on that claim. The judgment on Hawg’s claims for conversion and breach of contract were affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

District of Colorado Local Rules Amended, Effective December 1, 2016

The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado has adopted changes to its local rules, effective December 1, 2016. The changes include a new Rule 2.1, “Forms of Action,” and an entire section on Local Patent Rules.

New Rule 2.1 clarifies that a proceeding not defined as a civil action under F.R.C.P. 2 should be filed as a civil miscellaneous (“mc”) or registered judgment (“rj”) action only if included in the List of Miscellaneous Cases. Rule 5.3 was amended by the addition of a subparagraph (c) dealing with written discovery requests or responses. The subparagraph specifies that other than in prisoner cases or as otherwise ordered, discovery requests shall be submitted by email or in other non-paper form. There were several other minor changes to various rules.

Section III on the Local Patent Rules is a comprehensive section dealing with the handling of patent claims in the U.S. District Court. The local rules are to be cited as D.C.Colo.LPtR _. The rules are to be known as the Local Rules of Practice of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado – Patent Rules. The rules specify that the civil local rules apply except as inconsistent with the patent rules. Topics addressed in the local patent rules include scheduling conferences and orders, discovery and confidentiality, infringement, invalidity, declaratory judgment, reliance on counsel’s opinion, claim construction, final infringement and invalidity contentions, and word limits. The remaining sections were renumbered accordingly.

Comments about the local rules may be submitted to the Advisory Committee on the Local Rules via email. For more information about the local rule changes, click here. For a redline of the changes, click here.

Comment Period Open for Proposed Changes to District of Colorado Local Rules

On Monday, September 26, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado proposed changes to its local rules. The proposed changes will take effect December 1, 2016.

The district court invites public comment on the proposed changes; comments may be submitted via email to LocalRule_Comments@cod.uscourts.gov or via U.S. Mail to Clerk of the Court, United States District Court, Attn: Edward Butler, Legal Officer, Alfred A. Arraj U.S. Courthouse, Room A-105, 901 19th Street, Denver, Colorado 80294. Comments should specify to which local rule they relate. All comments must be received by October 26, 2016, to be considered.

The comments include a new Section III, “Local Patent Rules,” which comprehensively addresses patent filings in the district court. There are many other changes to the existing rules, including updates to rules about written discovery requests, changes to reflect filings by unrepresented prisoners, disposition of conventionally submitted materials after the time for filing appeals has passed, and more. A redline of the changes is available here.

For more information regarding the updates to the District of Colorado Local Rules, click here.

The Internet of Things: A Disrupter? Precarious? The Jetsons?

IP_2016By John Ritsick, Esq.

Predictions about how much and how quickly technology will change the world can vary – we all can ask “where’s my flying car” now that the 2015 of “Back to the Future has come and gone and we still don’t have those flying cars. But the impact of The Internet of Things (IoT) will be significant, and the scope and scale can be mind-boggling. The IoT is the network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, buildings, and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data. I work in the manufacturing industry and see the changes coming before they are close to the market, and I am constantly blown away by what we know is coming.

Nearly every industry and every type of tangible item is a potential participant in the IoT. The industries affected include automotive, transportation, city infrastructure, homes and household goods, retail stores—virtually all industries can potentially be incorporated into the IoT. Self-driving cars necessarily mean the car is connected to the Internet and is “smart” technology, but a self-driving car also means that other cars and vehicles are connected, that the roads the cars drive on and traffic systems are part of a larger environment, and that our emergency response services are connected as well.

I’ll be moderating a talk on the IoT at the 2016 Rocky Mountain IP & Technology conference in Denver in June. My colleague at Flex, Kenji Takeuchi, leads Products and Technology Management for the Flex’s Connected Living and IoT Software business. He’ll be talking about this subject and other thoughts on where technology is headed—it will be an insightful look into the future!

John Ritsick, Esq., is in-house counsel at Flex, a global leader In the categories of design, manufacturing, distribution, and aftermarket services. Find out more about the 2016 IP & Technology Institute at the links below.

 

CLE Program — 14th Annual Rocky Mountain Intellectual Property & Technology Institute

This CLE presentation will occur on June 2-3, 2016, at the Westin Westminster Hotel. Register online or call (303) 860-0608.

Can’t make the live program? Order the homestudy here: CDMP3

Top Ten Reasons to Attend the Rocky Mountain Intellectual Property Institute

Each year, Colorado Bar Association CLE hosts the Rocky Mountain Intellectual Property & Technology Institute, the “place to be for the best IP.” In case you haven’t yet registered for this year’s event, here are the Top Ten Reasons to Attend:

Top Ten Reasons to Attend the 2016 Intellectual Property & Technology Institute

10. Anyone who’s anyone will be there! And if you’re not there, anyone who’s anyone will know.
9. Patents … Trademarks …Copyrights … Licensing …Technology & Transactions!
8. Learn best practices and practical tips that you can apply immediately.
7. Special panels of USPTO patent judges and SPEs discussing developments at the USPTO.
6. Over 40 sessions presented by an all-star faculty of leading IP practitioners.
5. Grow your professional contacts through networking opportunities with IP attorneys from … well … from all over!
4. Receive the digital course materials AND the MP3 audio download for the ENTIRE Institute!
3. Some of the best from across the nation come together to share their knowledge & insights with you!
2. Annual case law updates of all branches of IP law.
1. This Institute has quickly become “the place to be for the best IP” in the western United States!

If that wasn’t enough to convince you, watch this video of Rocky Mountain Regional U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Director Molly Kocialski and Program Chair Nate Trelease explaining what you’ll learn at the Institute:

Don’t miss the 14th Annual Rocky Mountain Intellectual Property & Technology Institute! Register today.

CLE Program — 14th Annual Rocky Mountain Intellectual Property & Technology Institute

This CLE presentation will occur on June 2-3, 2016, at the Westin Westminster Hotel. Register online or call (303) 860-0608. Can’t make the live program? Order the homestudy here: CDMP3

World IP Day Celebration – Cultural Expression through Digital Creativity

World IP Day Celebration – Cultural Expression through Digital Creativity

Event to be held at the following time, date, and location:
Monday, April 25, 2016 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM (MDT)
The Commons on Champa
1245 Champa Street
Denver, CO 80204

Attend Event

Hosted by The Commons on Champa, come celebrate World Intellectual Property Day with the Rocky Mountain United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the Colorado Bar Association IP Section and the American Intellectual Property Law Association.
The program will focus on exploring the role of digital creativity in the evolution of cultural expression.  Guest speakers will include, among others, Melody McCoy from the Native American Rights Fund and Troy Eid from Greenberg Traurig.

  • 3:00 – 3:30 PM: Pre-event Networking Reception
  • 3:30 – 4:30 PM: World IP Day Program & Fireside Chat (moderated by USPTO Regional Director Molly Kocialski)
  • 4:30 – 5:00 PM: Post-event Networking Reception & World IP Day Celebration

Share this event on Facebook and Twitter and please feel free to pass this invitation along to other friends and colleagues who you think would be interested in joining for this special World Intellectual Property Day celebration.
We hope you can make it!

Cheers,
American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) Colorado Bar Association Intellectual Property Section

Five Cybersecurity Tech Tips: Worries to Give You the Willies

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Attorney at Work on January 29, 2016. Reprinted with permission. See below for information about ordering Colorado CLE’s homestudy for our program, “Data Privacy & Information Security: Meeting the Challenges of this Complex and Evolving Area of the Law.”

By Sharon Nelson and John Simek

A keyboard with a red button - Privacy

A keyboard with a red button – Privacy

There are lots of cybersecurity worries to give you the willies in the wee hours of the morning, but we were asked to pick five. So here are some of the most common threats for lawyers to keep in mind.

1. Ransomware. We continue to see law firms struck by ransomware, which is a type of malware that encrypts your data (restricting your access to it) and then demands a ransom payment — usually in bitcoins — to get your data back. Training your employees not to click on suspicious attachments or links in email will help. They should stay away from suspicious sites as well since ransomware can be installed by just “driving by” an infected website.

Overwhelmingly, from a technological standpoint, you can defeat ransomware by having a backup that is immune to it. This can mean, particularly for solo lawyers, that you back up and then disconnect the backup from the network. For others, it means running an agent-based backup system rather than one that uses drive letters. Make sure your IT consultant has your backup engineered so that backups are protected — that way, even if you are attacked with ransomware, you can thumb your nose at the thief’s demands for money because you can restore your system from your backup. Of course, this means backups need to be made frequently to avoid any significant data loss.

2. Employees. Employees are by nature rogues. Every study made shows employees will ignore policies (assuming they exist) to do what they want to do. This often means people bring their own devices (BYOD) which may be infected when they connect to your network. They may also bring their own network (BYON) or bring their own cloud (BYOC). Certainly, your policies should disallow these practices (in our judgment) or, at least, manage the risks by controlling what it is done by implementing a combination of policies and technology.

Oh, and employees steal your data or leave it on flash drives or their home devices, too. This means you have “dark data” — data you don’t know about and over which you have no control. This means you may miss data required in discovery because you don’t know it exists. Your data may not be protected in compliance with federal or state laws and regulations. And you have no way to manage the data because you don’t know it is there. Once again, a combination of policies and technology should be in place to prevent these issues.

3. Targeted phishing. This is perhaps the greatest and most successful threat to law firm data. Someone has you in their sights — often they have done research on your law firm. They may know the cases you are involved in — and who your opponents are. They may know the managing partner’s nickname. Everything they know about you, they may use to get you to click on something (say, an email from an opponent referencing a specific case and saying “The next hearing in ___ case has been rescheduled as per the attachment). Many a lawyer has clicked on such attachments — or a link within an email.

The best solution to protect yourself from targeted phishing is training and more training — endlessly. One California firm was targeted by multiple phishing attacks but survived them because the lawyers and staff who received such emails questioned their authenticity.

Forget the loss of billable time. The loss of money, time and even clients due to a data breach can be far worse.

4. Interception of confidential information. Start with the proposition that everyone wants your data, including cybercriminals, hackers and nation states (including our own). Frankly, if they want your data and they have sophisticated tools, they will get it. So shame on you if you are not employing encryption (which is now cheap and easy) to protect confidential data transmitted and received via voice, text, and email. Encryption today is a law firm’s best friend. You may choose to use it always or in cases where it is warranted — but you surely should have the capability of encrypting.

5. Failure to use technology to enforce passwords policies. First, let us say that you should use multi-factor authentication where available and use it to protect sensitive data. But failing that, we recognize that passwords are still king in solo practices and small to midsize firms. Therefore, have your IT consultant assist you in setting up policies that can be enforced by technology, requiring that network passwords be changed every 30 days, not reused for an extended period of time — and mandating strong passwords (14 or more characters in length, utilizing upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols). Passphrases are best. Iloveattorneyatwork2016! would do nicely.

There are many other “willies” out there, but address them one digestible chunk at a time!

Sharon D. Nelson (@SharonNelsonEsq) and John W. Simek (@SenseiEnt) are the President and Vice President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., a digital forensics, legal technology and information security firm based in Fairfax, VA. Popular speakers and authors, they have written several books, including “The 2008-2015 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guides” and “Encryption Made Simple for Lawyers.” Sharon blogs at Ride the Lightning and together they co-host of the Digital Detectives podcast.

 

CLE Homestudy: Data Privacy & Information Security — Meeting the Challenges of this Complex and Evolving Area of the Law

This CLE presentation took place Friday, January 22, 2016. Order the homestudy here: CDMP3 audioVideo OnDemand.

Molly Kocialski Named Director of Rocky Mountain Region U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

KocialskiOn Thursday, January 14, 2016, the United States Patent and Trademark Office named Molly Kocialski director of its Rocky Mountain Regional Office in Denver, effective immediately. Kocialski has contributed extensively to the intellectual property community in Colorado, and has been a speaker at CLE’s Rocky Mountain Intellectual Property & Technology Institute each year since 2007. Kocialski is a past chair of the CBA’s Intellectual Property Section. Prior to becoming Director of the USPTO, Kocialski was Senior Patent Counsel for Oracle, Inc., where she was responsible for managing an active patent prosecution docket and for patent investigations for Oracle and its subsidiaries, as well as providing IP support for mergers and acquisitions. She received her law degree from State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law and her undergraduate degree from the University of New Mexico.