New Life for Old Seed Traits, Names that Suck, and Other Legal News
Popular GM Traits Get Edited for New Life
Seed biotechnology company, Inari, was recently granted patents on gene-edited versions of transgenic soybeans and corn which include popular herbicide and insect resistance traits. Using proprietary CRISPR gene-editing technology, Inari has developed edited versions of soybeans containing the off-patent glyphosate tolerance trait, as well as edited versions of corn containing off-patent Bt insecticidal protein traits. Gene editing allows the transgenes to be more specifically positioned to improve expression, while also reducing the undesirable rearrangement or deletion of other DNA elements. Inari’s new patents are the first to cover edited GM traits. These older seed traits will hopefully see a new life as the are incorporated into improved germplasm and ultimately providing a larger array of tools for growers.
Some Names just Suck as a Trademark
The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed a decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) rejecting an application to register the .SUCKS domain name as a service mark of Vox Populi Registry, a domain registry operator (Vox). In case you were wondering, the .SUCKS domain can be used by disgruntled consumers to create a web site for airing gripes about whatever might be bothering them, especially big company brand owners (e.g., www.BigCompany.sucks).
The main job of a trademark is to serve as a source identifier for the goods or services that are marketed under the trademark. In other words, when you see the mark, you know where the goods (or services) are coming from.
Vox applied to register .SUCKS as a standard character mark as well as a stylized version:
The USPTO rejected the applications and Vox appealed to the Federal Circuit for the stylized version of .SUCKS. The Court upheld the rejection, ruling that consumers would not view .SUCKS as a source identifier, but instead as just part of a domain name. And while design and stylization might make a generic term (such as .SUCKS) a registerable trademark, the stylized elements must create a separate commercial impression in the minds of consumers. Thus, the Court found that Vox’s stylized mark failed to do that. In other words, consumers would not associate .SUCKS with Vox’s services, but instead as merely part of the name of a web site.
For the ag input providers out there, this case reminds us that a brand (i.e., trademark) should function to identify you as the source of the goods or services you are selling. Using “Glyphosate Tolerant Corn” as a brand name is generic and does not identify you as the source, but “Mighty Mike’s Glypho-Shield Mega Hybrids” would probably do the trick.
Cape Law Firm’s Frequently (or Randomly) Asked Questions
Does the Speaker of the House have to be a member of the House or anyone who gets the votes from the House?
The answer appears to be “no.” While the Constitution requires the House to select a Speaker, it does not specify the requirements for the position. Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution only provides this on the subject: “The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers;” While most folks assume that the Speaker would be a member of the House, the notion of electing an outsider has been floated a few times in recent years.