Our weekly SoCal IP Institute meeting on Monday, August 26, 2013 will be a discussion of a recent Central District of California decision regarding common law rights of publicity and a precedential case involving the patentability of “machine readable storage medium.” Brief synopses of the cases appear below.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem v. General Motors, Case No. 10-CV-03790 AHM (JCx) (C.D. Cal. Oct. 15, 2012) (available here).  Plaintiff Hebrew University of Jerusalem brought suit for the unauthorized use of Albert Einstein’s image in a General Motors advertisement.

General Motors argued that Mr. Einstein’s image was not protected by California law, but New Jersey law and that any right of publicity, to the extent one existed and to the extent that HUJ was entitled to the right, had ended.  Judge Matz of the Central District, applying New Jersey law, without any clear New Jersey precedent, determined that a 50-year post-mortum right of publicity is more than adequate to accomplish the policy goals of the law.  Accordingly, because Mr. Einstein died almost 60 years before HUJ brought suit, the case was dismissed.

Ex Parte Mewherter et al., Appeal No. 2012-007692 (P.T.A.B. May 8, 2013) (available here). The primary issue on appeal in this patent related to a computer-based system for converting a series of slide show images into raster images was whether “machine readable storage medium” was statutory subject matter.  Specifically, does the term “machine readable storage medium” encompass waveforms, signals and other so-called “transitory” media.  The Board, here, agreed that it does and endorsed the addition of the “non-transitory” language often requested by examiners as resolving the issue.  The Board also affirmed a written description rejection of claims 1-5 for the failure of the specification to support the claimed limitations.

All are invited to join us in our discussion during the SoCal IP Institute meeting on Monday, August 26, 2013 at Noon in our Westlake Village office. This activity is approved for 1 hour of MCLE credit. If you will be joining us, please RSVP to Noelle Smith by 9 am Monday morning.