Posts in Patents

American Axle Denied: Patent Stakeholders Sound Off on SCOTUS’ Refusal to Deal with Eligibility

As we’re all aware by now, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition in American Axle & Mfg., Inc. v. Neapco Holdings LLC late last week, in its last Orders List of the term. This leaves it up to Congress and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to restore any semblance of clarity on U.S. patent eligibility law for now. In a statement sent to IPWatchdog following the denial, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said it is “committed to making every effort to ensure that the U.S. patent system is as clear and consistent as possible.” Whether Congress will take eligibility up again remains an open question.

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.

SCOTUS Kicks Patent Eligibility Cases to the Curb in Last Move of the Term

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied certiorari in American Axle v. Neapco Holdings, Inc., leaving it up to Congress and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to restore any semblance of clarity on U.S. patent eligibility law for now. Many expected that the Court would grant the petition after the U.S. Solicitor General in May recommended granting review. The SG’s brief said that inventions like the one at issue in American Axle have “[h]istorically…long been viewed as paradigmatic examples of the ‘arts’ or ‘processes’ that may receive patent protection if other statutory criteria are satisfied” and that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit “erred in reading this Court’s precedents to dictate a contrary conclusion.”

Patent Litigation Financing: Fighting Efficient Infringement with Funding

Today, many companies make the business decision to infringe patented technology instead of paying a royalty to license it—so called efficient infringement. The calculation is that it will ultimately be less expensive to ignore the patent rights of innovations than to take a license in an arm’s length negotiation. Over the last 15 years, that calculus has largely proven correct, with changes to numerous laws and the introduction of additional administrative processes all conspiring to make it easier to challenge issued patents. This means that litigation is often the only way for an innovator to protect valuable intellectual property and to stop infringement. Unfortunately, lacking leverage and financial resources, many patent owners cannot stop infringement—in some instances, even after a jury trial.

USPTO Expedited Processes for Examination and the New Petition to Make Special for Climate Change Inventions

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has a massive backlog of patent applications (typically in the hundreds of thousands). Indeed, the average wait for patent applicants to receive any substantive response from the USPTO is 19.4 months, and the wait is growing. (See chart below). Because of this situation, there has been a need for patent applicants to accelerate the process. The USPTO has obliged and provides several options discussed here for patent applicants to consider.

USPTO Report Underscores Split on State of U.S. Patent Eligibility Jurisprudence

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has published its study on patent eligibility jurisprudence in response to a March 2021 request from Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Chris Coons (D-DE). The study, titled “Patent eligible subject matter: Public views on the current jurisprudence in the United States,” is based on more than 140 comments received following a USPTO request of July 9, 2021, and unsurprisingly concluded that many (mostly larger) high-tech and computer-related companies like the current state of the law; life sciences, startups and SMEs do not; but everyone agrees that consistency, clarity and predictability are needed. The study did not make any recommendations, and indicated that the Office will be continuing to solicit feedback via listening sessions and written comments and that it is also broadening the scope of stakeholders it reaches out to.

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.

The TRIPS Waiver: What Does it Mean to Change the Rules of the Game?

A terrible idea – wayward and ill-conceived, criticized by all economic, political and geopolitical fronts – has come to fruition. The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) TRIPs waiver on patents related to COVID-19 vaccines will disincentivize the entire industry from investing in vaccine production. To understand what happens next, let’s understand history first.

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.

Sotera Stipulations Less Likely Given Vidal Memo on PTAB Discretion

As we reported yesterday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal 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.”

Tillis Blasts FDA for Refusing to Respond on Drug Patent Data Study

Senator Thom Tillis yesterday wrote to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf, asking for a third time that the FDA conduct “an independent assessment and analysis of the sources and data that are being relied upon by those advocating for patent-based solutions to drug pricing.” Tillis expressed his frustration with the lack of response thus far, explaining that no formal reply has yet been received despite his first letter being sent in January 2022, and calling it “unacceptable” that the FDA apparently “refuses to reply to emails or to engage.”

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.

Senate IP Subcommittee Starts Dialogue on Reforming the PTAB

Today, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property met to hear testimony from four witnesses about proposed changes to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) as outlined in the recently announced PTAB Reform Act. Subcommittee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ranking Member Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the bill last week. Those testifying generally agreed the bill represents compromise and, at Tillis’ prompting, on a scale of green to red, scored it a green to yellow overall.

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.”

USPTO Encourages Parties to Indicate Issues of First Impression When Requesting Director Review Process

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Tuesday announced that it has updated its interim guidance on the Director Review process under Arthrex v. Smith & Nephew to indicate that parties should identify any issues of first impression in their requests for Director Review. In a conversation with IPWatchdog Founder and CEO Gene Quinn yesterday, USPTO Director Kathi Vidal said that “it helps when parties focus the review on particular issues,” and indicated that issues of first impression fall under one of the three main categories of cases warranting Director Review.