Posts in District Courts

Pittsburgh startup files patent suit over educational toys against UK firm with Zuckerberg ties

Primo’s response of the ‘427 patent is evidence of a dismissive attitude towards someone else’s intellectual property right. Again not shocking, but what is interesting is that this London based company has financial backing from an investor with a name very familiar to those following the American high tech industry: Zuckerberg. Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is listed under “Investors & Advisors” in the press room section of Primo Toys’ website. A frequent member of our Companies We Follow series, Facebook obtains a great many patents, 374 U.S. patents in 2015 alone. There’s no clear direct link between the two companies.

2016 Internet Policy Platform repeats some net neutrality bad habits

There has been a rising tide of voices seeking to ensure that the Internet remains open to alternative viewpoints with easy access to all for years to come. In recent years, these groups have sought political avenues for ensuring that their ideals become the law of the land. For instance, many thousands of American citizens have supported net neutrality rules implemented by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), rules which have recently been upheld by a federal appellate court this June. Now, a consortium of civil rights and open technology groups are trying to make open Internet concepts an issue on the political trail leading up to the election of the next U.S. President.

A Trademark Lawsuit ‘Lager’ Than Life 

The Lumbee Tribe’s lawsuit alleges trademark infringement, unfair competition, and deceptive trade practices for Anheuser-Busch’s use of the tribe’s HERITAGE, PRIDE & STRENGTH slogan and related logo design. According to the Complaint, Budweiser allegedly began using the tribe’s logo as early as 2004 and the HERITAGE, PRIDE & STRENGTH mark in 2015.

Legislating from the Bench: Overusing §101 for sake of expediency

Unfortunately, §102, §103, and §112 issues can and do get wrapped into the court’s §101 reasoning, thus resulting in opinions with no differentiation. In the end, courts are forcing a round peg into a square hole when they seek to turn the patentability test into a single factor test analyzed under §101. Such a reworking of the patentability test is contrary to what the Supreme Court said in Diehr, and it violates the statutes passed by Congress. In essence, the courts are legislating from the bench when they consider novelty, obviousness and description under §101. So if you are confused by why decisions are relying on §101 when other sections of the statute seem far better suited you are not alone.

Caltech’s infringement lawsuit against Apple, Broadcom is latest in university patent suit trend

According to multiple reports, the Caltech patents-in-suit are incorporated into both the 802.11n and 802.11ac wireless connectivity standards, which are used by Apple products to communicate digital information. This latest patent infringement lawsuit is part of a growing trend where universities find themselves forced to file suit in U.S. district courts in order to protect their patent rights. They are forced to sue because those that infringe the patents refuse to take licenses on reasonable terms, they refuse to negotiate, and they refuse even to return calls. They choose to infringe with eyes wide open because they feel like they can. This is the face of what is called efficient infringement.

Lex Machina trademark litigation report shows heavy enforcement activity for luxury fashion and bong brands

When looking at damages awarded in trademark infringement cases filed since 2005 and terminating between 2009 and 2016, fashion brands have taken in the highest award totals. The top spot here belongs to Parisian fashion brand Chanel, which has been awarded nearly $1 billion dollars from 160 infringement cases resulting in awards out of the 330 cases filed by Chanel. That’s almost double the $523 million awarded to Burberry Limited but its sibling Burberry Limited UK was awarded $416.6 million and those totals were awarded over the course of a combined 12 infringement cases. In terms of damage totals, there’s another steep drop to Gucci of Florence, Italy, which was awarded $207.7 million over the course of 26 cases.

The Enfish Decision: Some Light at the End of the Tunnel for Software Patents Since Alice?

What makes the Enfish case particularly interesting is that the court found that the software patent at issue was not even an abstract idea. As such, the inquiry as to patent eligibility did not proceed beyond the abstract idea analysis step. Basically the Enfish court used the wording in Alice to refute post-Alice perceptions that all improvements in computer related technology and/or software inventions are inherently abstract and therefore “are only properly analyzed at the second step of the Alice analysis.” Enfish at 11. This interpretation represents what could be a meaningful shift in the interpretation of software patent validity.

Loan fraud charges filed by SEC target notable patent troll Jay Mac Rust

The patent trolling by MPHJ and owner, Texas lawyer Jay Mac Rust, are well known. But now the SEC is going after Jay Mac Rust in federal court for fraud. The SEC’s complaint maintains that Atlantic had “no ability or intention to obtain these loans.” Rather, of the money the two collected, the SEC alleges that Rust took $662,000 from client funds for personal pay and risky securities investments; Brenner himself took $595,000, and both made investments claiming that the money was personally theirs and not from the client funds. Investigations at a brokerage firm where these trades were taking place led the SEC to discover the fraudulent activities.

Patent Office Issues New AIA Rules

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently issued an updated set of rules affecting trial practice before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. In large part, the rules, which went into effect on May 2, 2016, were implemented as proposed on August 20, 2015. In particular, they modify the prior rules governing inter partes review, post-grant review, the transitional program for covered business method patents, and derivation proceedings that implemented provisions of the America Invents Act providing for trials before the Office.

Will the Federal Circuit’s Enfish ruling have broader implications for data storage patents in general?

Days before this Federal Circuit decision, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued its decision for Informatica Corp. v. Protegrity Corp. The patent at issue in this case – U.S. Patent No. 8,402,281 – is directed to a database management system that includes an operative database and an information assets manager database. It is conceivable that the Board erred by pushing past the initial Mayo/Alice question and finding that these claims, which cover a data storage innovation of the kind found in Enfish, may have been erroneous. In other other words, when the Board determined that the combination of the methods did not add significantly more than the already determined abstract idea, that question might have never been properly reached in the first place.

The Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 Creates Federal Jurisdiction for Trade Secret Litigation

There is now federal jurisdiction for trade secret theft. The DTSA creates a federal cause of action for trade secret misappropriation that largely mirrors the current state of the law under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, which has been adopted by 48 states. The DTSA uses a similar definition of trade secrets, and a three-year statute of limitations, and it authorizes remedies similar to those found in current state laws. The DTSA will not preempt existing state law, which will preserve and afford plaintiffs’ options in regards to whether to file federal or state claims and which court to select.

Groupon lawsuit calls IBM “a relic” but IBM R&D invests more than Groupon’s total revenues

Groupon’s complaint and spokespersons have been widely reported that labels IBM as a “dial-up dinosaur” and “a relic of once-great 20th Century technology firms” that is now resorting “to usurping the intellectual property of companies born this millennium.” But IBM spends $5 billion annual on R&D investment, which outpaced Groupon’s total 2015 revenues of $3.1 billion. It’s seems a tough argument to make that a tech firm that invests more money in R&D than the other company earns in a year is somehow a “relic” that is only “usurping” the innovation of this millennium.

PTAB’s Factual Findings Were Sufficient, Standard Was Improper

The Court noted that decisions related to compliance with the Board’s procedures are reviewed for abuse of discretion. As far as the “reasonable expectation of success” requirement, the Court noted that the Board improperly looked to whether one would reasonably expect the references to operate as those references intended once combined. The Court held that this was the incorrect standard, and instead one must have the motivation to combine with the expectation of achieving what is claimed in the patent-at-issue. The Court held, however, that while the Board conflated the reasonable expectation of success standard and motivation to combine, it nonetheless made sufficient factual findings to support its judgment that the claims at issue were not invalid.

WhatsApp end-to-end message encryption draws political ire in U.S. and abroad

In the world of messaging services, the cross-platform mobile messaging app WhatsApp enjoys the enviable position of being the world’s most popular messaging service, eclipsing one billion monthly active users as of this February. Owned by Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB), WhatsApp’s user base even outpaces that of Facebook’s flagship messaging service Messenger. Over on Capitol Hill, WhatsApp’s encrypted messaging services has been drawing strong language from those perceiving the technology as a possible security threat.

‘Science’ publishes biased patent trolling article, regurgitating Harvard patent hatred

Pre-litigation review of cases to weed out instances of patent trolling sounds like a great idea, but what more weeding out do the authors want? Since the Supreme Court decided Alice v. CLS Bank nearly 70% of all software patents have been invalidated by district courts as being patent ineligible, which is almost always done at the motion to dismiss stage. Furthermore, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) institutes 80% of the challenges to patents they receive. Indeed, it seems that over the past 5 years with nearly every court decision and piece of legislation more rights are taken away from patent owners, patents are no longer presumed valid and district courts are disposing of an alarmingly high number of patent infringement cases on motions to dismiss. It is enormously ignorant to suggest changes to “U.S. IP policy” that would make it more difficult for patent owners. Only those unfamiliar with industry reality could make such a recklessly suggestion. Of course, familiarity with the industry is unfortunately not a prerequisite for academics hell-bent on reaching the wrong conclusion.