Looking back: Intellectual property highlights from 2019

As we look forward to a new year, my colleagues and I at Clarivate Analytics wanted to share our selection of the most significant intellectual property related events from 2019 involving patents, trademarks, copyrights and domain names.

In no particular order, here are our top ten IP highlights from 2019:

  1. The United States Supreme Court agrees to hear oral arguments in the case of the US Patent Trademark Office vs. Booking.com. The Supreme Court will decide if operating an online business that uses a top-level domain (.COM) in combination with a generic term creates a protectable trademark.
  2. Canada joins the Madrid System for trademark registration, creating greater efficiency and lowering costs for trademark owners seeking trademark protection in Canada and more than 100 other countries around the world.
  3. The copyright registrations for a significant number of cultural works expired this year allowing them to enter the public domain, the first to do so in more than 20 years. Works include Kahlil Gibran’s book, The Prophet, Cecil B. DeMille’s film, The Ten Commandments, and several compositions by Louis Armstrong, George Gershwin and John Philip Sousa.

    Kahlil Gibran’s book, The Prophet entered the public domain in 2019.
    Source: Scan of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, published in 1923.
  4. The China National Intellectual Property Administration formally announced newly amended patent examination guidelines. These introduce welcome flexibility to patent prosecution practice, and address many common patent applicant frustrations in China.
  5. The ICM Registry announced AdultBlock, a brand protection feature that allows trademark owners to more easily protect their brands across all four adult-themed top level domain names (.SEX, .PORN, .XXX, and .ADULT).
  6. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) introduced a new filing rule requiring foreign applicants to appoint a U.S. based qualified legal representative for all trademark applications. This rule was meant to reduce the number of high volume, low quality filings coming from applicants in China and elsewhere.
  7. Baby Yoda! The popularity of Baby Yoda featured in The Mandalorian television series took Disney by surprise. The market was soon flooded with infringing merchandise, forcing Disney to scramble to protect its copyright interests in the Star Wars character.

    The popularity of Baby Yoda led to numerous cases of copyright infringement.
    Source: Artist’s interpretation free for commercial use by _freakwave_ from Pixabay.
  8. The USPTO issued revised patent subject matter eligibility guidance aimed at improving the clarity, consistency and predictability of patent eligible subject matter (35 U.S.C. §§101 and 112) throughout the USPTO.
  9. E-commerce giant Amazon finally prevailed in its seven-year battle with South American countries that border the Amazon River to register and operate the .AMAZON top level domain name (TLD). This decision by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is viewed as good precedent by other brand owners that may wish to apply for their own .BRAND TLD in the future
  10. In an effort to lessen trade war tensions between Mainland China and the United States, China agrees to raise penalties for individuals who are found to have infringed trademarks, copyrights, patents and other forms of intellectual property.

Clarivate is a global leader in providing trusted patent, trademark and domain data and solutions across our brands Derwent™, CompuMark™, MarkMonitor™, Techstreet™ and Darts-ip™. Follow us here as we deliver important intellectual property related news, information, data and insights for IP professionals throughout 2020.

Happy New Year!