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USPTO Report Underscores Split on State of U.S. Patent Eligibility Jurisprudence

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has published its study on patent eligibility jurisprudence in response to a March 2021 request from Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Chris Coons (D-DE). The study, titled “Patent eligible subject matter: Public views on the current jurisprudence in the United States,” is based on more than 140 comments received following a USPTO request of July 9, 2021, and unsurprisingly concluded that high-tech and computer-related companies like the current state of the law; life sciences, startups and SMEs do not; but everyone agrees that consistency, clarity and predictability are needed. The study did not make any recommendations, and indicated that the Office will be continuing to solicit feedback via listening sessions and written comments and that it is also broadening the scope of stakeholders it reaches out to.

CAFC Reverses Contempt Finding for Disclosures of Confidential Discovery Information to Develop Joint Defense Strategy

On June 28, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential decision in Static Media LLC v. Leader Accessories LLC reversing a contempt finding entered in the Western District of Wisconsin over alleged violations of a protective order from a design patent infringement case between Static and Leader. Circuit Judge Jimmie Reyna authored a brief dissent from the majority opinion, arguing that Leader’s disclosure of certain confidential information with another company sued by Static for the development of a joint defense strategy was a violation of the district court’s protective order.

Amazon Brand Protection Report Details Major Anticounterfeiting Investments But Small Businesses Want Stronger Policing Against Knock-Offs

Earlier this month, e-commerce giant Amazon.com issued its latest Brand Protection Report detailing steps taken by the tech titan to reduce the tide of counterfeit products being sold to consumers around the globe. While the report identifies several concrete steps taken by Amazon to prevent knock-offs from being listed for sale, there are plenty of questions that yet remain as to whether Amazon is genuinely committed to eliminating sales of fake branded products that the company has been known to ignore.

‘Reasonable Efforts’ Require Care and Consistency

At this moment, there is a fellow riding a bus in London who will determine the fate of your secrets. To be more precise, he’s on the Clapham bus; but he has no name. In fact, he’s a fictional character originally imagined by 19th Century journalist Walter Bagehot, who thought that “public opinion” was best described as the “opinion of the bald-headed man at the back of the omnibus.” The idea was picked up by the English courts as a metaphor for the “reasonable person” standard that is applied in all sorts of cases, from criminal to personal injury to contract interpretation. It also has special application to trade secrets, which we’ll get to in a minute.

This Week in Washington IP: Potential Impacts of the Copyright Claims Board, Developments in AI Tech and the USPTO’s Inaugural AI/ET Partnership Meeting

This week in Washington IP news, subcommittee hearings at the U.S. House of Representatives will explore the leading role that Michigan has taken in addressing cybersecurity risks in state and local governments, as well as ways to promote data privacy despite the growth of biometric tracking systems. Elsewhere, the Hudson Institute takes a closer look at the background and potential impacts of small claims for copyright infringement filed at the recently established Copyright Claims Board, while the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office hosts the inaugural meeting of the Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technologies Partnership Series. 

The TRIPS Waiver: What Does it Mean to Change the Rules of the Game?

A terrible idea – wayward and ill-conceived, criticized by all economic, political and geopolitical fronts – has come to fruition. The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) TRIPs waiver on patents related to COVID-19 vaccines will disincentivize the entire industry from investing in vaccine production. To understand what happens next, let’s understand history first.

CAFC Sends Centripetal Back to Drawing Board in Case with Cisco Due to Judge’s Stock

Centripetal Networks will have to start from square one in its long-running case against Cisco after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Thursday vacated a judge’s decision awarding Centripetal enhanced damages and royalties exceeding $2.75 billion. The CAFC ruled that Judge Henry C. Morgan, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia was disqualified from hearing the case after becoming aware of his wife’s ownership of $4,687.99 in Cisco stock, ultimately reversing the district court’s denial of Cisco’s motion for recusal and vacating all orders and opinions of the court, including the final judgment in favor of Centripetal.

Other Barks & Bites for Friday, June 24: Congressional Hearings Focus on PTAB Reforms, French Regulators Accept Google’s Copyright Payment Framework, and DOJ Announces Settlement with Meta Over Biased Ad Algorithm

This week in Other Barks & Bites: the Federal Circuit vacates Eastern Virginia’s denial of a motion for recusal, nixing a $2.75 billion verdict for Centripetal Networks; interim USPTO Director Drew Hirshfeld joins Schwegman Lundberg & Woessner as Principal following end of nearly three-decade career at USPTO; the Senate and House of Representatives both host hearings focused on the negative impacts of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board on small businesses as well as potential reforms; Senator Tillis blasts the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for failing to engage with requests for a drug patent study; the U.S. Department of Justice announces a settlement with Facebook owner Meta Platforms over allegations of biased advertising algorithms; U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Kathi Vidal issues a memo clarifying that Fintiv denials are limited to petitions with parallel U.S. district court proceedings; and French authorities approve a payment framework proposed by Internet giant Google for responding to notices from news publishers regarding violations of the EU’s Copyright Directive.

Massie, Centripetal Take Center Stage in House IP Subcommittee Hearing on PTAB Reform

One day after the Senate Judiciary Committee’s IP Subcommittee met to discuss the PTAB Reform Act and other ways to improve the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), the U.S. House of Representative’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet held a similar hearing featuring six witnesses with varying views on the PTAB about how to improve the system. Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY), who last year introduced a bill that would repeal the PTAB entirely, grilled the witnesses about the effects of the PTAB on U.S. investment in innovation and national security, and expressed skepticism that the system has succeeded in its intended goal of providing a cheaper, faster forum, particularly for small businesses and independent inventors.

Sotera Stipulations Less Likely Given Vidal Memo on PTAB Discretion

As we reported yesterday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal issued a memorandum on the “Interim Procedure for Discretionary Denials in AIA Post-Grant Proceedings with Parallel District Court Litigation” clarifying current Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) practice on discretionary denials of inter partes review (IPR) and post grant review (PGR) proceeding institutions. The memo and corresponding press release explain that the PTAB “will not deny institution of an IPR or PGR under Fintiv (i) when a petition presents compelling evidence of unpatentability; (ii) when a request for denial under Fintiv is based on a parallel ITC proceeding; or (iii) where a petitioner stipulates not to pursue in a parallel district court proceeding the same grounds as in the petition or any grounds that could have reasonably been raised in the petition.”

Tillis Blasts FDA for Refusing to Respond on Drug Patent Data Study

Senator Thom Tillis yesterday wrote to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf, asking for a third time that the FDA conduct “an independent assessment and analysis of the sources and data that are being relied upon by those advocating for patent-based solutions to drug pricing.” Tillis expressed his frustration with the lack of response thus far, explaining that no formal reply has yet been received despite his first letter being sent in January 2022, and calling it “unacceptable” that the FDA apparently “refuses to reply to emails or to engage.”

CAFC Says District Court Correctly Invalidated Design Patent

On June 22, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed a decision by the United States District Court for the Southern District of California granting summary judgment in favor of Golden Eye Media USA Inc (GEM) over Evo Lifestyle Products Limited, formerly known as Trolley Bags UK Ltd (TB UK) after holding TB UK’s U.S. Design Patent No. D779,828 (‘828 patent) invalid. The district court held the ‘828 patent to be invalid for reasons of functionality and obviousness.

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Senate IP Subcommittee Starts Dialogue on Reforming the PTAB

Today, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property met to hear testimony from four witnesses about proposed changes to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) as outlined in the recently announced PTAB Reform Act. Subcommittee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ranking Member Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the bill last week. Those testifying generally agreed the bill represents compromise and, at Tillis’ prompting, on a scale of green to red, scored it a green to yellow overall.

Vidal Memo Clarifying PTAB Discretionary Denial Analysis Says Fintiv Does Not Apply to Parallel ITC Investigations

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal has issued a memorandum on the “Interim Procedure for Discretionary Denials in AIA Post-Grant Proceedings with Parallel District Court Litigation” clarifying current Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) practice on discretionary denials of inter partes review (IPR) and post grant review (PGR) proceeding institutions. The memo and corresponding press release explain that the PTAB “will not deny institution of an IPR or PGR under Fintiv (i) when a petition presents compelling evidence of unpatentability; (ii) when a request for denial under Fintiv is based on a parallel ITC proceeding; or (iii) where a petitioner stipulates not to pursue in a parallel district court proceeding the same grounds as in the petition or any grounds that could have reasonably been raised in the petition.”