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All Posts by Eileen McDermott

Eileen McDermott is the Editor-in-Chief of IPWatchdog.com. Eileen is a veteran IP and legal journalist, and no stranger to the intellectual property world, having held editorial and managerial positions at several publications and industry organizations. She has acted as editorial consultant for the International Trademark Association (INTA), chiefly overseeing the editorial process for the Association’s twice-monthly newsletter, the INTA Bulletin. Eileen has also served as a freelance editor for the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); as senior consulting editor for the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) from 2015 to 2017; as Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief at INTA from 2013 to 2016; and was Americas Editor for Managing Intellectual Property magazine from 2007 to 2013.
CAFC Grants Mandamus on Netflix Motion to Transfer Out of Gilstrap’s Court

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today granted Netflix, Inc.’s Petition for Writ of Mandamus to transfer a case brought against it by CA Inc. and Avago Technologies from Judge Rodney Gilstrap’s Eastern District of Texas court to the Northern District of California. The Order is the latest in a series of decisions from the CAFC censuring Texas courts for their refusal to transfer cases. In today’s ruling, the CAFC said the district court’s denial of transfer was a clear abuse of discretion and ordered the court to transfer the case, but did not address Netflix’s motion to dismiss the case for lack of venue.

CAFC Nixes District Court Claim Construction in Win for Firearms Patent Owner

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Friday ruled that a California district court erred in its claim construction relating to Evolusion Concepts, Inc.’s patent for a method of converting a semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine to one with a fixed magazine. The CAFC reversed the court’s grant of summary judgment of non-infringement for Juggernaut Tactical, Inc., reversed a denial of summary judgment of direct infringement, vacated the award of attorneys’ fees and remanded for further proceedings.

Senate Judiciary Committee Sends Vidal and Stark Nominations to Senate Floor

Today, the full Senate Judiciary Committee officially voted to confirm the nomination of Katherine Vidal by a vote of 17-5 for Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The Committee also voted 16-6 in favor of Judge Leonard Stark, President Biden’s nominee to replace U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Judge Kathleen O’Malley, who announced on July 27, 2021, that she will retire, leaving a vacancy on the court as of March 11, 2022. The hearing was originally scheduled to take place last week, but was postponed to allow members of the committee to attend the funeral of former Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) on January 6.

D.C. Court Says FTC’s Antitrust Claim Against Facebook Can Proceed

On Tuesday, January 11, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia denied Facebook’s motion to dismiss a complaint brought against it by the U.S.  Federal Trade Commission (FTC), holding that the FTC had stated a plausible claim for relief under Section 2 of the Sherman Act. The FTC filed a complaint on December 9, 2020, asserting one count of monopoly maintenance under Section 2 of the Sherman Act. Facebook moved to dismiss both this case, and a related state case. The district court dismissed the Commission’s complaint but granted the FTC the opportunity to amend. Following a leadership change from when the complaint was initially filed, the FTC filed an amended complaint in August of 2021. L

Iancu and Kappos: TRIPS IP Waiver Proposal Will Kill More People Than It Saves

A webinar hosted on Tuesday, January 12, by The Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project featured former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Directors Andrei Iancu and David Kappos, as well as Duke University Professor of Law and former USPTO Administrator of the Office of External Affairs Arti Rai, discussing the proposal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive IP rights under the Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement for certain COVID-19 technologies. While all three panelists agreed that the IP waiver discussion has become a distraction that will not solve the fundamental problems, Iancu and Kappos were especially passionate that the precedent set by the U.S. government’s decision to back the proposal could do very real harm, rather than good.

High Court Asks U.S. Government for Input on Petition Accusing CAFC of Violating Seventh Amendment

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday asked the Solicitor General of the United States to weigh in on a petition for writ of certiorari that claims the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) is depriving litigants of their right to trial by jury under the Seventh Amendment. The petition, filed in September by Olaf Sööt Design, LLC (OSD), asks the Court to take up the following question: “Whether the Seventh Amendment allows the Federal Circuit to reverse a jury verdict based on a sua sponte new claim construction of a term the district court concluded was not a term of art and construed to have its plain and ordinary meaning; where the Federal Circuit’s sua sponte claim construction essentially recasts a specific infringement factual question, previously decided by the jury, as a claim construction issue, to be decided de novo by the appellate court.”

USPTO Delivers on Senators’ Request for Deferred Subject Matter Eligibility Response Pilot

In March 2021, Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) asked interim Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Drew Hirshfeld to “initiate a pilot program directing examiners to apply a sequenced approach to patent examination,” rather than the traditional “compact approach.” In response to that request, the USPTO today announced a “Deferred Subject Matter Eligibility Response (DSMER) Pilot Program” for nonprovisional patent applications, which is set to launch on February 1, 2022. According to the Federal Register Notice, pilot participants will be “permitted to defer responding to [subject matter eligibility] SME rejections until the earlier of final disposition of the application, or the withdrawal or obviation of all other outstanding rejections.” Applicants with qualifying applications—including a requirement that the first Office action on the merits makes both SME and non-SME rejections—will receive invitations to participate in the pilot.

Tillis Backs Vidal for USPTO Head, Dubbing Her a ‘Visionary Leader’

Senator Thom Tillis has come out on the record in support of Kathi Vidal to be the next Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), on the eve of a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on her confirmation. Despite recent scrutiny of her ties to big tech and Silicon Valley, Tillis in a statement today said that he was satisfied with Vidal’s responses to his “tough questions” during the confirmation hearing process and feels he has received her commitment that she will continue the reforms implemented by former USPTO Director Andrei Iancu.

In Dissent to CAFC Ruling for Novartis on Written Description, Chief Judge Argues ‘Silence is not Disclosure’

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) yesterday affirmed a district court’s ruling that Novartis’ U.S. Patent No. 9,187,405 is not invalid and that HEC Pharm Co., Ltd. and HEC Pharm USA Inc.’s Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) infringed the patent. The CAFC found no clear error in the district court’s finding that the patent’s claims did not fail the written description requirement under 35 U.S.C. § 112(a). Chief Judge Moore dissented, arguing that the district court’s analysis was inconsistent with the CAFC’s established precedent. The ‘405 patent covers methods of treating relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) with fingolimod (an immunomodulating medication) or a fingolimod salt “at a daily dosage of 0.5 mg without an immediately preceding loading dose.”

In Written Responses to Senators’ Questions, Vidal Supports Iancu’s 101 Guidance ‘In Principle’

In written answers to Senators’ questions for the record submitted today by Kathi Vidal, President Joe Biden’s nominee for the next U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director, Vidal said that she “support[s] the principle of” former USPTO Director Andrei Iancu’s Patent Eligibility Guidance for examiners, but stopped short of wholly endorsing the present guidance or committing to keeping it in place. Instead, Vidal said she would review the guidance in light of intervening case law and comments on the USPTO’s study on the state of patent eligibility jurisprudence to determine if updates are needed.   

USPTO Imposes Sanctions on Flagrant Fraudulent Filer

On Friday, December 10, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued a “Show Cause Order” imposing sanctions against Huanyee Intellectual Property Co., Ltd. and its Executive Director, Yusha Zhang, for violations of the USPTO’s trademark rules of practice relating to improper trademark submissions. The 198-page Order, comprised mostly of an exhibit listing all of the company’s trademark filings, indicates that the Respondents named in the Order “have filed more than 15,000 trademark matters before the USPTO” and “engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, provided false domicile information for applicants, impermissibly entered the signature of the named signatory on declarations and verifications, and violated other USPTO Rules and the USPTO’s website terms of use.”

Warhol Foundation Tells SCOTUS Second Circuit’s Fair Use Ruling ‘Threatens a Sea-Change’ in Copyright Law

The Andy Warhol Foundation has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to review a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit holding  that Andy Warhol’s Prince Series did not constitute fair use of Lynn Goldsmith’s photograph. The Second Circuit held in March that “the district court erred in its assessment and application of the fair-use factors and the works in question do not qualify as fair use.” The Court of Appeals further concluded that the Prince Series works were substantially similar to the Goldsmith Photograph “as a matter of law.” The Supreme Court petition argues that “the Second Circuit’s decision…creates a circuit split and casts a cloud of legal uncertainty over an entire genre of visual art.”

DOJ Issues Revised Draft Joint Policy Statement on Remedies for SEPs Subject to FRAND

The U.S. Department of Justice – Antitrust Division (DOJ) is requesting public comment on a new iteration of the Joint DOJ-USPTO-NIST Policy Statement on Remedies for Standards-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary FRAND Commitments. The announcement comes in response to President Joe Biden’s July 2021 Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, which asked the three agencies to review the 2019 statement.

Vidal Agrees Eligibility Needs More Clarity in Senate Judiciary Committee Questioning of Two IP Nominees

Today, the full Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing to question two key IP nominees: Judge Leonard Stark of the of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, who was nominated to replace Judge Kathleen O’Malley on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC); and Katherine Vidal, the nominee for Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). IPWatchdog has previously reported on the qualifications of both candidates and what their appointments might mean for IP law and practice going forward. While neither nominee made any particularly earth shattering statements, as is often the case in such hearings, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), a vocal IP advocate, said he was heartened by Vidal’s acknowledgement that it has become “very difficult to understand the contours of [patent eligibility] law.” Vidal also stated that the current USPTO guidelines on eligibility, which were revised by former USPTO Director Andrei Iancu to provide more clarity, are consistent with the law right now.

O’Malley Dissents from ‘Concerning’ CAFC Ruling that Biogen’s MS Drug Patent is Invalid

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) earlier today affirmed a district court ruling that Biogen International’s patent for a method of treating multiple sclerosis (MS) was invalid for lack of written description. Judge O’Malley dissented, arguing that the district court clearly erred in its finding that Biogen was judicially estopped from drawing a distinction between clinical and therapeutic effect, and that the entire analysis “might well change” if the case was remanded “for reconsideration of the record with the understanding that the patent is not about clinical efficacy” but therapeutic effect.