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Posts in Federal Circuit

CAFC Dismisses LG’s Interlocutory Appeal as Untimely

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), with Judge Hughes writing for the court, dismissed defendant-appellant LG Electronics Inc. and LG Electronics U.S.A. Inc.’s (collectively, ‘LG’) request for interlocutory review due to lack of jurisdiction; the court said LG had failed to file within 30 days of the date at which the liability issues became final, resulting in an untimely appeal. In 2014, Mondis Technology, Ltd. (“Limited”) sued defendants for patent infringement over U.S. Patent No. 7,475,180(“the ‘180 patent”), which claims a “display unit configured to receive video signals from an external video source.” The district court granted Limited leave to join other plaintiffs, namely, Hitachi Maxell, LTD., NKA Maxell Holdings, LTD., Maxell, LTD., (collectively ‘Hitachi’) to address LG’s pretrial standing challenge. A jury trial in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey found LG infringed claims 14 and 15 of the ‘180 patent, the claims weren’t invalid, and the infringement was willful. The jury then awarded plaintiffs $45 million in damages. 

CAFC Affirms Improper Venue Ruling in Victoria’s Secrets’ Favor

On August 3, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed the Eastern District of Texas’ partial grant of Victoria’s Secret Stores LLC, Victoria’s Secret Stores Brand Management Inc, and Victoria’s Secret Direct Brand Management’s (the Defendants) motion to dismiss Andra Group, LP’s (Andra’s) patent infringement suit for improper venue. In April 2019, Andra sued the Defendants for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,078,498 (‘498 patent), which claims inventions directed to presenting articles on a webpage. Andra’s infringement claims focus on the victoriassecret.com website, and other functional smartphone applications for using the “master display field,” which the ‘498 patent claims.

CAFC Holds Bylaws Failed to ‘Effectuate Present Automatic Assignment’, Thwarting Apple’s Attempt to Dismiss Infringement Suit

On August 2, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California’s denial of Apple’s motion to dismiss in Omni MedSci, Inc. v. Apple, Inc. The majority, with Judge Linn writing, determined that the University of Michigan’s (UM’s) bylaws did not effectuate a present automatic assignment of patent rights from one of its faculty members…. The CAFC concluded that paragraph 1 of Bylaw 3.10 does not unambiguously constitute either a present automatic assignment or a promise to assign in the future and is instead best read as a “statement of intended disposition and a promise of a potential future assignment . . .”

Teaching Away, Commercial Success, and Blocking Patent Doctrines All Under the CAFC Spotlight

In The Chemours Company FC, LLC v. Daikin Industries, Ltd., Nos. 2020-1289, 2020-1290 (Fed. Cir. July 22, 2021) (“Chemours v. Daikin”), the Federal Circuit clarified three doctrines involved in the determination of obviousness: teaching away, commercial success, and blocking patents. While all three panel judges agreed that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) misapplied the commercial success and blocking patents doctrines, they disagreed as to the Board’s application of the teaching away doctrine. In contrast to the Board, the majority found evidence of teaching away in the prior art. But Judge Dyk, dissenting, found no such evidence and called the majority’s determination an impermissible expansion of the doctrine that now encompassed a reference’s mere preference for a particular alternative.

Federal Circuit Nixes Appeal on Claims of Unfair Treatment by California Court in Pro Se Lawsuit Over Restrictions to Cancer Research

On July 20, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a non-precedential decision in Siegler v. Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. in which the appellate court affirmed a series of rulings on motions in a copyright and trade secret lawsuit filed in the Southern District of California. Although the Federal Circuit panel in the case “[understood] that Siegler feels unfairly treated as a result of the events she outlines, she was treated more than fairly by the district court,” said the CAFC, and the court did not err or abuse its discretion in reaching decisions to deny several motions for default judgment and reconsideration, as well as dismissing a pair of amended complaints filed by Siegler.

Second CAFC Judgeship Opens as O’Malley Retirement Announced

According to U.S. Courts and as reported by IPLaw360 earlier today, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Judge Kathleen O’Malley announced on July 27 that she will retire, leaving a vacancy on the court as of March 11, 2022. O’Malley’s announcement means that Biden will get a second nominee to the United States’ top IP court. Tiffany Cunningham was nominated by President Joe Biden earlier this year to succeed Judge Evan Wallach and recently was confirmed by the Senate.

Federal Circuit: PTAB Failed to Provide Adequate Notice of Sua Sponte Claim Construction

In a precedential opinion authored by chief Judge Moore, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit today vacated and remanded six Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) final written decisions in inter partes review (IPR) proceedings filed by Intel that found Qualcomm’s patent claims 1–15, 17–25, and 27–33 of U.S. Patent No. 9,608,675 would have been obvious. While the CAFC agreed with the PTAB’s construction of one of the claims, which Qualcomm had challenged, it ultimately held that the Board violated Qualcomm’s procedural rights under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) for failing to provide the company “adequate notice of and opportunity to respond to its sua sponte claim construction.”

Thoughts on Tiffany Cunningham’s Confirmation to the CAFC

Tiffany Cunningham was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit earlier this week, making her—incredibly—the intellectual property court’s first Black judge. Cunningham has been a patent litigation partner at Perkins Coie LLP in Chicago, Illinois since 2014, and prior to that worked in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. She will replace Judge Evan J. Wallach, who announced in March that he would retire from active service and assume senior status as of May 31, 2021, after 10 years of service with the court. Below are some thoughts from members of the IP community, and senators who voted for her, on what Cunningham’s appointment might mean for the CAFC long term.

CAFC Reverses PTAB Obviousness Finding, Clarifying Concepts of ‘Teaching Away’ and ‘Commercial Success’

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) yesterday concluded that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB’s) decision finding certain claims of Chemours’ patents obvious was not supported by substantial evidence and that the Board erred in its analysis of objective indicia of nonobviousness. As such, the CAFC reversed the decisions.

Are 5% of All U.S. Issued Patents Presumed to Be Unenforceable Under Laches Due to Their Priority Claims?

Laches is an equitable defense that may be raised in a patent-related proceeding. If a defending party can show that a patent holder exhibited unreasonable delay that caused prejudice to the defending party, the patent holder may be barred by laches from asserting the right.While the examples of “reasonable” and “unreasonable” delay provided in Symbol Techs. are informative (as are the fact-specific analyses from the other cases), a bright-line test for “unreasonable delay” had yet to be established in the prosecution laches context. That is, until the June 2021 decision of Gil Hyatt v. Hirshfeld (Fed. Cir. 2021). This case pertained to the laches defense raised by the USPTO when Hyatt filed an action under 35 U.S.C. § 145 to obtain four patents subsequent to receiving an affirmance of rejections of various claims at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

In Partial Reversal of Decision for Sony, CAFC Reiterates Patentees Need Not Prove Their Case at the Pleading Stage

On July 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California’s decision that Sony Corporation of America, et al (Sony) did not infringe Bot M8 LLC’s (Bot M8) patents, again clarifying the pleading standard for patent infringement. Bot M8 filed suit against Sony in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleging infringement of six of their patents, five of which remain relevant on appeal: U.S. Patent Nos. 8,078,540 (the ‘540 patent); 8,095,990 (the ‘990 patent); 7,664,988 (the ‘988 patent); 8,112,670 (“the ‘670 patent”); and 7,338,363 (the ‘363 patent). Bot M8 accused Sony’s PlayStation 4 (PS4) gaming consoles and aspects of Sony’s PlayStation network of infringing their ‘540, ‘990, ‘988, and ‘670 patents. Additionally, Bot M8 accused certain PS4 video games of infringing their ‘363 patent.

On Tiffany Cunningham’s Appointment to the CAFC: An Impeccable Candidate and a Rallying Call for More Diversity in IP

On March 30, 2021, President Biden tapped Tiffany Cunningham to be the first African American to sit on the Federal Circuit. After a straightforward and speedy hearing, the Senate Judiciary Committee later advanced Cunningham’s nomination with a 16-6 vote. With her confirmation now imminent, Cunningham is poised to become the first African American, and the first African American woman, to join the Federal Circuit bench. Now that she has reached this historic milestone, this article reflects on the significance and impact of Cunningham’s nomination.

USPTO Delivers on Senators’ Request for Patent Eligibility Jurisprudence Study

In March of this year, a bipartisan group of senators asked Drew Hirshfeld, who is Performing the functions and duties of the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), to “publish a request for information on the current state of patent eligibility jurisprudence in the United States, evaluate the responses,” and provide the senators with a detailed summary of the findings in order to assist them as they consider appropriate legislative action. The letter gave a deadline of March 5, 2022 to submit a report on the topic. Now, a Federal Register Notice (FRN) scheduled to be published July 9 is requesting answers and input from stakeholders to 13 questions/topics to assist in that effort, according to a publicly posted draft of the FRN.

Federal Circuit: Clear Attempts to Manipulate Venue Won’t Defeat Motions to Transfer

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in In re Samsung today granted Samsung’s and LG’s writs of mandamus, which sought to order the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas to transfer the underlying actions to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The CAFC explained that the district court erred in failing to consider pre-litigation tactics by Ikorongo Technology LLC (Ikorongo Tech) and Ikorongo Texas LLC aimed at purposely manipulating venue in the case.

District Court Thwarts $100 Million Damages Award, Finding Litigation Conduct Exceptional

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California recently ended a long, drawn-out patent infringement battle dealing with menu patents, which saw action in front of a jury, at the district court, at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), at the Federal Circuit, and even an unsuccessful petition to the Supreme Court. The resolution: The district court awarded Domino’s $2.7 million in attorneys’ fees and costs after finding the case exceptional within the meaning of 35 U.S.C. 285.