Posts in District Courts

Patent Filings Roundup: Centripetal Sees More IPRs; Microsoft Engineer Sues Seven in Waco

Another light summer week in the patent world saw just 19 new petitions (all inter partes reviews [IPRs]), with 65 new district court cases (roughly average), including 75 newly terminated cases.  Five petitions were denied, with six granted; Peloton appears to have settled their dispute with Ifit (and dismissed the five related IPRs and district court suit); Peloton has been targeted by a few others. Flexiworld expanded its campaign against a number of Chinese and other foreign entities; Zoom was sued again by yet another York Eggleston subsidiary; and, after years of dormancy, more new Empire IP campaigns (AR Designs and Nearby Systems] signal the return of a once-frequent repeat player on the monetization scene.

INTA Asks Second Circuit to Limit Rogers’ Definition of ‘Expressive Work’ to Prevent Application of Test on Ordinary Consumer Products

On June 24, the International Trademark Association (INTA) filed an amicus brief in Vans, Inc. v. MSCHF Product Studio, Inc., a case currently on appeal from the Eastern District of New York to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In the brief, INTA urges the Second Circuit to clarify the kinds of “expressive works” to which the Rogers test may be applied, and in such a way that the use of Vans trade dress on sneakers sold by MSCHF Product Studio would be actionable for infringement and not protected by the First Amendment simply because MSCHF claims the sneakers are works of art.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

CAFC Reverses January Decision Affirming Sufficient Written Description for Negative Claim Limitation Over Judge Linn’s Dissent

Earlier today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. v. Accord Healthcare, Inc. granting a petition for rehearing from appellant HEC Pharm Co., Ltd. In granting HEC’s petition, the panel majority of Chief Judge Kimberly Moore, who authored the decision, and Circuit Judge Todd Hughes vacated a previous January ruling by the Federal Circuit, which had affirmed the District of Delaware’s final judgment that Novartis patent claims covering its Gilenya treatment for multiple sclerosis were not invalid for failing to satisfy the written description requirement under 35 U.S.C. § 112. Senior Circuit Judge Richard Linn authored a dissent arguing that the panel majority had improperly adopted a heightened written description standard and failed to take into account expert testimony from Novartis regarding a negative claim limitation that the district court found was supported by ample evidence.

Patent Filings Roundup: Mylan Accuses Bausch of Planting Trulance® Patent Thicket; American Patents Files 63rd Suit, Attacks Semiconductor Industry; Intel Joined to VLSI IPRs Years After Fintiv Denial

A normal (statistically) patent filings week saw 29 new Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) proceedings (including a pair of post grant reviews) and 67 district court patent complaints, with another 76 terminations. Among those cases, note: Peter Pedersen has continued to add defendants to what promises to be a wide-ranging assertion campaign based on a single patent covering organizing email lists; Samsung has settled a tranche of IPRs against Trenchant Blade Technologies (associated with Tanit Ventures, Inc., with old patents, presumably with a backend, from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation TSMC); Google filed more inter partes reviews (IPRs) against Jawbone (the failed company “zombie” NPE now controlled by Fortress); Samsung filed a PGR on the single design patent that has been asserted repeatedly by WePay Global Payments against generic graphical user interfaces (D930702); and various highlights, below.

CAFC Reverses and Vacates Decision for L’Oréal, Finding District Court Claim Construction was Improper

On June 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded a decision by the United States District Court for the District of Delaware relating to the University of Massachusetts’ (UMass’) suit against L’Oréal S.A. and its American subsidiary L’Oréal USA, Inc. (collectively, L’Oréal), alleging patent infringement of both U.S Patent No. 6,423,327 (the ‘327 patent) and U.S. Patent No. 6,645,513 (the ‘513 patent). The district court held that it lacked personal jurisdiction over L’Oréal S.A. and that the patents were invalid based on indefiniteness. UMass on appeal challenged both of the district court’s holdings, arguing that they were entitled to jurisdictional discovery against L’Oréal S.A. and that the claim construction performed by the district court was improper.

Top Gun Copyright Lawsuit—A Real Dog Fight or Destined to Flameout?

On June 6, Paramount Pictures got its tower buzzed for copyright infringement in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California over the blockbuster film of the summer, Top Gun Maverick. According to the allegations in the complaint, in 1983, author Ahud Yonay wrote a magazine story about the real-life exploits of two naval fighter pilots entitled, “Top Guns.” Paramount allegedly secured the “exclusive motion picture rights to Ehud Yonay’s copyrighted story” and in 1986 released the motion picture Top Gun. Fast forward a few decades. In 2018, Yonay’s heirs (Plaintiffs in this action who are both Israeli citizens) allegedly served Paramount with a notice “terminating” the original assignment of the motion picture rights to Paramount. Paramount apparently took the position that the purported termination was ineffective and, over the Memorial Day weekend, launched Top Gun Maverick to critical acclaim at the box office (and to the delight of millions of fans of the original 1980s classic).

Another Peculiar Anti-Patent Court Decision in ParkerVision v. Qualcomm

Infringing patented inventions feels like stealing, from the innovator’s perspective, much like a smash and grab at a jewelry store. Politicians refuse to fix the gutted patent system so it can protect U.S. startups and small inventors. The American Dream is slipping away, as it consolidates into the hands of just a few tech giants and sending whatever is left to China. Case in point, ParkerVision v. Qualcomm, which illustrates just how anti-patent some courts have become. In this case the importance of ParkerVision’s seminal semiconductor chip technology that helped to transform cellphones into smartphones is at issue. ParkerVision invested tens of millions in R&D, but the courts have allowed it to be taken from them and transferred to a multinational corporation free of charge.

CAFC Affirms California Court’s Claim Construction and Damages Calculation in Flash Drive Infringement Suit

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California from an appeal by Kingston Technology Company LLC, in which the district court held that Kingston willfully infringed U.S. Patent No. 6,926,544 (‘544 patent) and awarded $7,515,327.40 in compensatory damages. The CAFC said in part that the district court can judicially correct claims when there are “obvious minor typographical and clerical errors in patents” without changing the scope of the claim.  

More Mandamus Maneuvering at the CAFC in Latest Venue Transfer Win for Apple

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today granted Apple’s petition for a writ of mandamus asking the court to direct the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas to transfer a case brought by BillJCo, LLC to the Northern District of California. BillJCo owns six patents directed to beacon technology, with Bill Johnson and his son Jason Johnson, who lives in Waco, Texas, named as inventors or co-inventors. The suit was brought against Apple for infringement based on its iBeacon protocol. Apple argued that it “researched, designed, and developed the accused technology from its headquarters within the [Northern District of California]; that evidence and witnesses would likely be in Northern California; and that neither BillJCo nor this litigation had any meaningful connection to Western Texas.”

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.