Sunday, November 28, 2010

Copyright Cleanup Bill Clears Congress for Signature by Pres. Obama

The Copyright Cleanup, Clarification, and Corrections Act of 2010 (S. 3689), proposed by Sen. Leahy to make certain technical amendments to both copyright and trademark law, cleared both chambers of Congress and was sent to the White House on November 19, 2010 for review and signature. The final bill, as enrolled, can be found here.

Easily missed in this Bill is a provision modifying the Trademark Technical Amendments Act ("TTAA," now Pub. L. No. 111-146), and in particular, the study that the Department of Commerce is obligated to perform relating to trademark misuse. The TTAA currently requires the Department to study:

1."the extent to which small businesses may be harmed by litigation tactics by corporations attempting to enforce trademark rights beyond a reasonable interpretation of the scope of the rights granted to the trademark owner;" and

2."the best use of Federal Government services to protect trademarks and prevent counterfeiting."

Pub. L. No. 111-146 § 4(a). The modification in S. 3689 states, "(h) TRADEMARK TECHNICAL AMENDMENTS ACT.—Section 4(a)(1) of Public Law 111–146 is amended by striking ''by corporations attempting'' and inserting ''the purpose of which is''."

In my initial blog posting about this Bill, I had posited that Congress would not reach S. 3689 because it had been proposed so late in the session. Pundits have argued that the remaining term of this Congress would be spent drafting and passing a budget, since one had not been proposed to date. However, it appears that this amendment may be enacted before the new year. The impact of this amendment, in fact, may be minimal because the mandated study has already begun, with comments due to the USTPO before January 7, 2011.