The Wall Street Journal: According to a recent piece by Nathan Koppel, a venerable New York-based intellectual property law office is closing its door for good. From Koppel’s Darby & Darby, New York IP Firm, Is Shutting Down, come more details of another victim of the current economic downturn. He writes:

Darby & Darby has been stung of late by partner defections to BigLaw, according to a source with knowledge of the firm. It has been hard for Darby to compete with the sort of monster pay packages that AmLaw 200 firms these days are willing to lavish on IP talent. Gone, it seems, are the glory days of the IP boutique. While some still exist — Finnegan Henderson and Kenyon & Kenyon are two notable examples — others have either disbanded or been subsumed into larger firms.

After 100 years of providing top quality IP legal services, Darby & Darby says “many of the factors frequently cited in demise of other firms’ have made a similar impact on us” are the fundamental reasons for their closing up shop.

AfterDawn: Looks like Apple and HTC are locked in a death spiral of lawsuits but will have to wait a *long* time for their day in court. James “Dela” Delahunty  explains:

According to details in a court filing, Nokia Corp. and Apple Inc. will seek a U.S. court hearing in a patent infringement case in mid-2012. The detail shows that both sides expect the mobile patent feud between them to continue for quite some time. Nokia has already moved to have a case brought against it by Apple dismissed in the meantime.

Just wait until Google joins in the IP smartphone foofarah: there will surely be plenty of blood and carnage unless some kind of sanity prevails and the major players get together to create a kind of smartphone patent pool that they can all pay to use.

The TTABlog: A string of legal faux pas has injured the chances of a company’s bid to keep a similarly-named business from using their good will and trademarked brand. John L. Welch’s recent piece Glitch-Filled Battle Over “COMPUTER GEEKS” Mark Lurches to Split TTAB Decision explains how too much confidentiality and too little likelihood of confusion made the judges give Computer Geeks’ claim the thumbs down.

You might expect a TTAB battle over the mark COMPUTER GEEKS to include a few glitches, right? Sure enough, the parties to this consolidated opposition/cancellation proceeding staggered to a split decision regarding rights in that mark for various computer-related goods and services. Computer Geeks, Inc. v. Compgeeks.com, Oppositions Nos. 91167886 and 91170726 and Cancellation No. 92046567 (March 4, 2010) [not precedential].

In the end, the decision left much to be desired for the plaintiff, who certainly would have been greatly pleased had things gone their way. Next time, the preparations will more likely be in fine order as opposed to this freshman, and unsatisfactory, effort.

MarketWatch: Those particularly particular chaps at the US Patent and Trademark Office have deemed it acceptable to grant a pair of patents to Ecosphere Technologies, Inc. for their water treatment methods. And it didn’t even take very long for the company to receive their fancy documents, suitable for framing!

In December 2009, the company filed two patent pending applications under the new USPTO’s Green Tech Fast Track program. The goal of the USPTO’s new patent program was to shave as much as one year off the process, which now takes an average of 30 months for an initial action from the USPTO and 40 months for a final decision. Ecosphere Technologies is one of the early Clean Tech companies to benefit from this program as well as to have patents approved under this program to aid the energy exploration companies to eliminate chemicals from their fracturing and stimulation process.

It seems that the Green Tech Fast Track program has given birth to at least two patents that should make the proud parent company, Ecosphere Technologies, very happy. Pass out the cigars, boys!

Caribbean Net News: Lawyer and IP subject matter expert Abiola Inniss takes the gentle reader on a journey to warmer climates and complicated intellectual property rights in her topical piece, Caribbean Intellectual Property; The concept of Fair Usage. Inniss tells how the concept of fair use is one that is much more fluid in the tropical island nations of the Caribbean and why there need to be special considerations given to the region when crafting relavent IP policies.

At almost any time that the issue of Intellectual Property is discussed the concept of fair usage must be adumbrated and placed within the context of the WIPO outlines on Intellectual Property. While such a topic would undoubtedly require at least a chapter or more for proper discussion, a useful outline can be provided here. The term fair use or fair dealing, where it exists in Intellectual Property Law is used to describe the defences under English law (Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988) to alleged infringement of copyright or, if preferred, it describes permitted acts.

Dealing in this sense means that someone has made use of the work and not an implication of any arrangement between the parties. In fair dealing under the Act the following are permitted:
1. Fair dealing for the purpose of research or private study
2. Fair dealing for the purpose of research or criticism
3. Fair dealing for the purpose of reporting current events.

Because many of the Caribbean islands don’t have formalized protections for local intellectual property and their fair use, Inniss suggests a more vernacular style when attempting to codify related rules. She writes: “A regional approach that promotes the idea of fair usage and explains the law will go a long way to creating the cordial nexus between the end users and holders of copyright.” A good start, certainly, and any law that is to remain meaningful and useful must take the local culture into consideration, nu?