Posts in Courts

CAFC Gives Google Second Shot at PTAB in Challenge of Communications Patents

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today vacated and remanded three decisions of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that had found Google failed to prove the relevant claims of IPA Technologies, Inc.’s patents to be unpatentable. The CAFC found that the PTAB “failed to resolve fundamental testimonial conflicts in concluding that the relied-upon reference was not prior art.” The patents in question are U.S. Patent Nos. 6,851,115 (“the ’115 patent”) and 7,069,560 (“the ’560 patent”). They cover “a software-based architecture . . . for supporting cooperative task completion by flexible, dynamic configurations of autonomous electronic agents.” Specifically, the patents disclose that “[c]ommunications and cooperation between agents are brokered by one or more facilitators” and that “[t]he facilitators employ strategic reasoning for generating a goal satisfaction plan to fulfill arbitrarily complex goals by users and service requesting agents.” The patents list David L. Martin and Adam J. Cheyer as inventors.

Patent Filings Roundup: Petitions on Key Dupe Patents Denied Under Fintiv; Taxidermy Patent Filings Stuffed

It was a slow week at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and a fast one in the district court, with 82 new patent complaints and 85 terminations, but just 18 patent filings at the PTAB. Those few filings were mostly a battery company challenging Maxell patents, a few bigger NPE cases, and Apple and Samsung filing against assertor Smart Mobile Technologies from the middle of last year. Askeladden had a petition denied on the merits, Microchip Technology had a petition denied on General Plastics, and The Hillman Group got four inter partes reviews (IPRs) denied under Fintiv, guaranteeing they will head to trial in the Eastern District of Texas; more below.

Hyatt Returns to SCOTUS with Request to Clarify Standard for Summary Judgment, APA Scope of Review Provisions

Gilbert Hyatt, an inventor who has been granted more than 70 patents and has filed more than 400 applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court asking the Justices to weigh in on his challenge of a policy he alleges the USPTO implemented in the 1990s to categorically deny him issuance of any additional patents. Hyatt has been embroiled in litigation with the USPTO for decades and won a previous Supreme Court appeal in 2012.  

CAFC Dismisses Appeal of PTAB Determination Because it Partially Involved Time-Bar

On May 13, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit dismissed Bennett Regulator Guards, Inc.’s (Bennett) challenge of a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decision to vacate the institution of an inter partes review (IPR), citing a lack of jurisdiction, since the PTAB’s decision was based in part on its reconsideration of whether the petitioner was time barred from petitioning for IPR under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b). Judge Pauline Newman dissented.

LG’s Recent Infringement Fight Against TCL Could Take Some Tips from DivX’s Approach

On April 21, 2022, LG Electronics Inc. filed suit against Chinese television manufacturer, TCL, through several of its affiliates and related entities, in the Eastern District of Texas for patent infringement. See LG Electronics, Inc. v. TCL Electronics Holding Ltd. et al, Case: 2:22-cv-00122 (EDTX). The patents relate to display hardware, wireless transmission technology, and user interface controls. Several of TCL’s 4-Series, 5-Series, and 6-Series TVs are accused of infringement. The patents asserted by LG are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,982,803, 9,080,740, 9,788,346, 10,334,311 and 10,499,431. LG requests a jury trial, seeks a permanent injunction, and a finding that the infringement is willful (for enhancement purposes) and exceptional (for the awarding of attorneys’ fees).

Opinion: Growing Misuse of Patent Protections Threatens U.S. Competitiveness and Security

The chaotic state of the world today makes it increasingly difficult for American companies to compete. Russian hostility has the democratic world on edge, U.S. inflation is at a 40-year high and hitting consumers hard, and China continues its aggressive push for economic and technological dominance.  To stay on top, the United States must out-innovate our competitors. America needs to lead the world in cutting-edge products and new technologies, and those are made possible by policies that support the innovation economy. The Ukraine crisis makes it clear that energy and cyber policy is crucial. Recently, the U.S. Trade Representative told Congress that supporting and protecting the full range of our innovators from China’s distortive practices is critical to our nation’s future.

CAFC Clarifies Infringement Analysis and Vacates a Finding of Noninfringement for Hulu

On May 11, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed the claim construction and decision of the United States District Court for the Central District of California to exclude evidence relating to damages but vacated its infringement determination and remanded a case alleging that Hulu, Inc. infringed Sound View Innovations, Inc.’s patent for data streaming technology. Sound View is the owner of expired U.S. Patent No. 6,708,213 (the ‘213 patent), which discloses “methods which improve the caching and streaming of multimedia data (e.g., audio and video data) from a content provider over a network to a client’s computer.” In June 2017, Sound View sued Hulu, alleging that its “Hulu Streaming Video on Demand products” infringed six Sound View patents, though only claim 16 of the ‘213 patent remained at issue on appeal.

Patent Filings Roundup: FintivDenials Over WD of TX, ITC Schedules; Vector Capital-Funded Semi Campaign Hits an IPR Wall

This week saw 60 district court patent complaints, 76 terminations, 26 Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) petitions (some post grant reviews [PGRs] in there), and two new Fintiv denials—one PGR and one inter partes review (IPR). Gesture Technology had a handful of IPRs instituted against its asserted portfolio; lots of dismissals from relatively high-profile semiconductor cases suggest either a group or cheap RPX settlement; and a number of older assertion campaigns seemed to wrap up with terminations.

Mailer’s Remorse: Notice Letters and Personal Jurisdiction for Declaratory Judgment Lawsuits

There are many reasons why patent holders might want to put potential infringers on notice of their rights. Such communications can serve the salutary goal of encouraging settlement of disputes without resort to lawsuits. And under some circumstances, notice may be legally necessary under 35 U.S.C. § 287 to enable a patent holder to recover damages for infringement. But a patent holder might be reluctant to do this if providing such notice can subject it to personal jurisdiction for a declaratory judgment suit in a remote and inconvenient forum.

In re Killian: Harvey the Rabbit Comes to the Federal Circuit

In 1950, Jimmy Stewart starred in the iconic movie “Harvey,” which is the story of Elwood P. Dowd, an affable but eccentric man who pals around with an invisible 6’4” rabbit with an affection for martinis and that has the magical power to stop time. In the end of the movie, the viewer is left to believe that some level of insanity in people is good, and that there is some possibility that Harvey actually exists in some form. Fast forward to May 5, 2022. While many Americans were celebrating Cinco de Mayo, the Federal Circuit was asked to address an entity far more fictitious and unbelievable than Harvey the Rabbit, known as “inventive concept,” during oral hearing in In re Killian (Appeal No. 21-2113).

SDNY Finds Patent for Processing Financial Transaction Data Invalid Under 101

Last week, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted Block, Inc.’s Motion to Dismiss a complaint brought by AuthWallet, LLC against it for failure to state a claim. The district court found that the claims of AuthWallet’s patent were invalid because they claimed patent ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. AuthWallet’s U.S. Patent No. 9,292,852 relates to systems and methods for processing financial transaction data. Block provides online platforms, products, and services that facilitate financial transaction data. Specifically, Block offers mobile payment options that provide a means for customers to earn and redeem rewards for multiple vendors. In its complaint, AuthWallet alleged that Block’s payment platforms infringe on one or more of claims of the ’852 patent, either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents. Specifically, AuthWallet alleged that Block put the inventions claimed by the ’852 patent into service (i.e., used them) and, therefore, Block benefited financially and commercially.

Importers Beware! Burden Shifting in Patent Infringement Cases

A large portion of the technology that we rely on daily—cell phones, computers, and the sensors and infrastructure that connect them, as well as an increasing percentage of drugs—is manufactured outside the United States, and in particular China. Indeed, over the past 25+ years the value of goods imported from China has increased ten-fold. Most companies are aware of the potential patent infringement liability for sales made in the United States but may not know that liability for infringing a U.S. patent can also extend to the processes used to make their product—even when manufacturing is done entirely outside the United States by a contract manufacturer.

California Court Holds Pinterest’s Display of User-Uploaded Works Near Ads are Protected by DMCA Safe Harbor

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California this week ruled that the safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protects Pinterest from a photographer’s claim that the platform infringed his copyrights by displaying his works alongside advertisements in the form of “promoted pins.” Harold Davis, an artist and professional photographer, claimed that Pinterest infringed 51 of his copyrighted works. In one example, Davis’ work, “Kiss from a Rose,” was displayed next to a promoted Pin for an art print called “White Tea Roses by Neicy Frey,” which Davis contended constituted unauthorized commercial use of his work.

Patent Filings Roundup: Third VLSI Trial on Fintiv-Denied Patents Postponed Over COVID Outbreak; Funded Single-Patent Semiconductor Campaign Files in ITC, District Courts; 225 Anonymous Platform Defendants Sued on Single Patent

My 40th birthday this week brought another litigation explosion (I assume no causation), with 120 new suits, double the average, though a spike is common at the ends of months and quarters; the new filings are dominated by filings by IP Edge, DynaIP, IP Valuation, and to a far lesser extent, Leigh Rothschild’s subsidiaries. There were a typical 30 inter partes reviews (IPRs) and no discretionary denials last week, coupled with an average 79 terminations in district court. A new abbreviated new drug application (ANDA) Paragraph IV suit was launched—GE Healthcare challenging the three remaining patents over their ANDA application to bring a generic Lexiscan® drug to market, against brand Astellas and Gilead. New funded semiconductor litigation and further trial postponements in VLSI rounded out this week.

Biotechnology at the Supreme Court—Will the U.S. Government Back Amgen’s Petition?

Earlier this year, we discussed Amgen’s petition for Supreme Court review of the Federal Circuit’s affirmance invalidating several antibody patent claims based on a lack of enablement for genus claims. At that time, we believed Amgen had a slim chance of its petition being granted—mainly because the Supreme Court denied a similar petition from Idenix in 2021 (No. 20-380, January 19, 2021).
However, on April 18, the Supreme Court invited the Solicitor General to file a brief expressing the views of the U.S. government on the questions presented. The Supreme Court’s likelihood of granting cert. in any particular case increases by about 10-fold when a Solicitor General’s brief is requested, but more importantly, the Supreme Court follows the Solicitor General’s recommendation about 75% of the time.