Bloomberg – The maker of a very popular line of foam footwear has won its case against foreign imitations according to a recent piece by Susan Decker and Tian Huang. Details of this patent victory can be found in Crocs Wins Appeal in Patent Claims Over Copycat Shoes (Update3):

Crocs Inc., the maker of colorful plastic clogs with holes, won an appeals court ruling that revived patent-infringement claims over what it considers copycat footwear.

A U.S. appeals court sent the case back to the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington for further proceedings. Crocs, based in Niwot, Colorado, can seek an order to prevent imports of rival Holeys, Dawgs and Waldies shoes made in Asia and brought to the U.S.

Although one of Croc’s patents was found invalid by the ITC, the US Federal Court begged to differ. “The Federal Circuit overturned the finding of invalidity of the second patent, and said the ITC must instead determine whether it was infringed as well as ‘any appropriate remedies.'” The parties involved all say they are going to review the decision and then decide best how to pursue their next move. The initial court case sure has a snappy title, by the way: In the Matter of Foam Footwear, 337-567, U.S. International Trade Commission.

The Huffington Post: In a separate patent infringement battle, major banks in the United States have willfully infringed for years on a number of patents related to electronic scanning of checks but the holder of the patents in question is finally getting its day in court, no thanks to intellectual property enforcement efforts by Uncle Sam. Pat Choate offers up some thoughts on this situation in his recent Op-Ed piece, Stealing Ideas From Inventors. He writes on the pervasive (and illegal) use of DataTreasury Corporation’s scanning technology by a number of big banks:

DataTreasury’s founder invented the system in the mid ’90s, received patents for it a few years later, and then met with high-level players from JPMorgan Chase and other banks in an effort to set up a joint venture.

What did the bankers do? As you can probably guess, they didn’t partner with DataTreasury — they are accused of stealing the little company’s idea instead. Now, DataTreasury says, a wide swath of the banking industry is using it free of charge.

And, wouldn’t you know it, one of the standout banks that continue to use DataTreasury’s method with no remuneration has gone to great lengths to continue to infringe on patents with impunity. Choate details this criminal tale of blatant IP theft:

First, the holdout banks argued that DataTreasury’s check-processing patents were invalid — that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office should not have granted them in the first place. Two federal judges considered this argument, and both disagreed with the banks.

Then the banks made the same case to the Patent Office itself, demanding that it take a second look at DataTreasury’s patents. After a two-year reexamination, the Patent Office ruled that the patents were solid.

Finally, the banking industry brought out its big guns: its lobbyists on Capitol Hill.

In 2007, these lobbyists had an amendment inserted into a patent-reform bill that would have made it legal, unbelievably, for any American bank to infringe patents related to electronic check imaging. (If that isn’t an admission of guilt, I don’t know what is.) Fortunately, Senators declined to vote on the amendment, and it died on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

This is how big business does “business”? Shame on you, big banks. Wielding deep reserves of cash to try to drain a small business dry during a decade of legal wrangling doesn’t sound like fair cricket to this writer. Let’s hope DataTreasury’s case falls on sympathetic ears next month when it finally makes it to court. The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is offering up a new online magazine for the inventor community and Stephen Albainy-Jenei has the inside scoop for the constant reader in his related post, Inventors Eye: The Patent Office’s New Publication for Inventors. Here’s the low down:

According to the USPTO, Inventors Eye is for and about America’s independent and small entity inventor community. It is a community that has always been a vital and vibrant part of America’s invention heritage.

Inventors Eye will appear every other month. Each issue will feature information you can use, tips on working with the USPTO; events, organizations and meetings of interest to the community; issues that impact independent and small entity inventors; and stories about people like you who have become successful inventors.

The first issue is already available and covers invention promotional scams and how to avoid them, including a list of 5 points any invention promoter has to reveal to potential clients, by law, in advance of any contractual obligations. Check out the Feb2010 Inventors Eye for yourself. Mike Masnick continues to offer excellent analysis and commentary on the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) Special 301 report process and his article, IIPA’s Section 301 Filing Shows It’s Really Not At All Interested In Reducing Copyright Infringement, is no exception. This time around, Masnick exposes one group’s comment that seeks to villify open source software that shouldn’t really come as any great surprise to the well-informed reader.

Even though the USTR 301 report is supposed to be about figuring out ways to reduce infringement in countries around the world, the IIPA is trying to shoehorn open source software into the mix, claiming that it’s somehow worse than infringing. While many of the IIPA’s complaints have to do with mandates for open source software, it even goes after Indonesia, which is just recommending gov’t agencies consider open source software — and here, the IIPA basically exposes its agenda even further:

It encourages a mindset that does not give due consideration to the value to intellectual creations. As such, it fails to build respect for intellectual property rights…
Yes, you read that right. The IIPA is claiming that telling people to consider open source technologies — which are not at all “anti-intellectual property rights” — “fails to build respect for intellectual property rights” and doesn’t properly value intellectual creations. In other words, in the eyes of the IIPA, properly licensed software that happens to be under an open source license is worse than infringing because of its price.

Open source bashing is nothing new, mind you, but in this case there is plenty of money riding on the outcome of the USTR’s “Who’s been naughty or nice” list for the coming year.

Bonus IP piece o’ the day: Microsoft-Amazon IP deal dusts up old ‘target Linux’ story by Jay Layman at the 451 Group.