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Posts in Patents

Green Light for Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court

The countdown to the launch of the EU Unitary Patent has begun, with the new system expected to start before the end of this year. The final legal step took place on January 19, when Austria deposited its instrument of accession to the Protocol on Provisional Application of the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement. It is the 13th country to take this step, meaning that the provisional application period has now entered into force. In practice, this means that UPC judges and other staff can now be recruited, IT systems set up and budget confirmed. The provisional period is expected to last at least eight months, i.e. until late September 2022, although it could be as long as 12 months.

Patent Filings Round-up: Claims from $25 Million Verdict Held Unpatentable After Stay Denied; Panel Denies IPR Over Lengthy Reexam History

It was a relatively consistent week in terms of overall patent filings, with 24 inter partes reviews (IPRs) and two post grant reviews (PGRs) and 77 new district court complaints. The district court saw a couple of new higher-profile cases involving Google, one by small company, Flypsi, and another a declaratory judgment (DJ) action against small smart thermostat maker (and aggressive enforcer), Ecofactor.

SCOTUS Denials of Apple and Mylan Petitions Unlikely to End Challenges to PTAB NHK/Fintiv Framework

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order list indicating it had denied petitions for writs of certiorari in two cases challenging the NHK/Fintiv framework developed by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) for discretionary denials of validity trials under the America Invents Act (AIA). In denying petitions from consumer tech giant Apple and generic pharmaceutical firm Mylan Laboratories, SCOTUS has ended the latest challenge to the PTAB’s NHK/Fintiv rule, which has raised the ire of many entities who have found the PTAB to be a very valuable backdoor towards patent invalidation outside of U.S. district court. Both petitions essentially asked the Court whether the PTAB’s application of its NHK/Fintiv rule passes muster under precepts of U.S. administrative or due process law.

Tillis to Garland/ Kanter: Pursuit of New Draft Policy on SEPs Shows a ‘Failure of innovation Leadership’

Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) today sent a second letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General – Antitrust Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Jonathan Kanter expressing concern over the process for releasing, and the substance of, a revised version of the Joint DOJ-U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)-National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Policy Statement on Remedies for Standards-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary FRAND Commitments. Tillis sent an initial letter on December 10, 2021, four days after the DOJ published the latest iteration of the Policy Statement for public comment.

CAFC Grants Mandamus on Netflix Motion to Transfer Out of Gilstrap’s Court

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today granted Netflix, Inc.’s Petition for Writ of Mandamus to transfer a case brought against it by CA Inc. and Avago Technologies from Judge Rodney Gilstrap’s Eastern District of Texas court to the Northern District of California. The Order is the latest in a series of decisions from the CAFC censuring Texas courts for their refusal to transfer cases. In today’s ruling, the CAFC said the district court’s denial of transfer was a clear abuse of discretion and ordered the court to transfer the case, but did not address Netflix’s motion to dismiss the case for lack of venue.

Knowledge Ecology International’s New March-In Petition is Déjà vu All Over Again – With One Twist

Some say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different outcome. That would appear to be the case with the recent refiling of a petition by Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) asking it to march in under the Bayh-Dole Act to force licensing to additional parties of the prostate cancer drug Xtandi, because of its cost. The law allows academic institutions, companies and federal laboratories to own and license inventions made with government support. Similar petitions were rejected by NIH and the Department of Defense (which funded the research on the underlying invention) in the Obama/Biden Administration for a simple reason: the law is for the commercialization of federally funded inventions; it does not allow the government to set prices for successful products.

Return of the ‘Hold-Up’ Bogeyman: Analyzing the 2021 Draft Policy Statement on SEPs Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments (Part III)

In Part II of this series, we considered the language of a specific licensing commitment made to European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the prevailing law relating thereto. In this Part III, we consider the 2021 Draft Policy Statement with a particular view to highlighting its inconsistencies with the ETSI framework and the inapplicability of the hold-up narrative to the situation involving an individual United States patent. Despite its purported purpose of providing the agencies’ views on “remedies for the infringement of standards-essential patents (or SEPs) that are subject to a RAND and/or F/RAND licensing commitment”, the 2021 Draft Policy Statement does not take a clear position on this issue, instead merely stating the following (some might say “the obvious”):

Property Rights Groups Urge Garland and Kanter to Withdraw ‘Misguided’ Policy Statement on SEPs Subject to FRAND

On January 12, a coalition of 28 property rights groups signed a letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Jonathan Kanter asking those officials to reconsider and withdraw a draft policy statement issued in early December regarding licensing negotiations and remedies for standard-essential patents (SEPs) subject to voluntary fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) commitments. According to the coalition, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) statement will only serve to bolster the fortunes of China, the major economic rival to the United States, by allowing Chinese tech implementers to infringe SEPs without respect to the rights of U.S. innovators.

CAFC Nixes District Court Claim Construction in Win for Firearms Patent Owner

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Friday ruled that a California district court erred in its claim construction relating to Evolusion Concepts, Inc.’s patent for a method of converting a semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine to one with a fixed magazine. The CAFC reversed the court’s grant of summary judgment of non-infringement for Juggernaut Tactical, Inc., reversed a denial of summary judgment of direct infringement, vacated the award of attorneys’ fees and remanded for further proceedings.

Tips for Litigating Multiple Simultaneous Patent Infringement Investigations at the ITC

Global concern regarding climate change is forcing all industries to evaluate energy consumption and seek out ways to do more using less energy. For example, LED lighting fixtures achieve significant energy savings compared with older lighting methods. At the same time, technological advances now make it possible to communicate with and control electronic devices from anywhere at any time. Often referred to as the Internet of Things, or IoT, consumers now have the ability to control virtually any device in the home using a computer or smartphone, including lighting, appliances, and climate systems. Among the numerous benefits provided by IoT, enhanced control can reduce unnecessary use, thus conserving energy. As IoT and LED use becomes more widespread, intellectual property protecting these technologies has become increasingly valuable. This has led to a dramatic increase in litigation asserting such IP in district courts across the country as well as another popular forum for IP litigation, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).

Senate Judiciary Committee Sends Vidal and Stark Nominations to Senate Floor

Today, the full Senate Judiciary Committee officially voted to confirm the nomination of Katherine Vidal by a vote of 17-5 for Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The Committee also voted 16-6 in favor of Judge Leonard Stark, President Biden’s nominee to replace U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Judge Kathleen O’Malley, who announced on July 27, 2021, that she will retire, leaving a vacancy on the court as of March 11, 2022. The hearing was originally scheduled to take place last week, but was postponed to allow members of the committee to attend the funeral of former Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) on January 6.

Patent Filings Roundup: New Litigation-Funded Campaign; PTAB Denies Under NHK-Fintiv Despite Sotera(ish) Stipulation

Apologies for missing last week, which was a light, short holiday recap—nothing much of note beyond less-than-average filings, given the holidays. This week was back to the new normal at the Board, with 24 petitions—one post grant review (PGR) and 23 inter partes reviews (IPRs)—and 50 new filings, with fewer than usual file-and-settle suits (as it’s the beginning of a quarter, year, and month). Another unusually high 92 terminations are mostly due to the end of file-and-settle suits from last year. A few new campaigns of note below, more discretionary denials, and a bunch of IPR denials filed against a German microbattery company round out the week.

mRNA IP and Competitive Landscape: 2021 in Review – Part II, Sanofi, Startups, Conclusions and Outlook

This article, originally published on 12/27/2021, was updated on 1/12/2022 and republished on 1/13/2022 to include information that was omitted in error, beginning after “Conclusions and Outlook”.

In Part I of this post, we provided an update on three lead pioneers in the mRNA IP space, Moderna, BioNTech and CureVac. In this post we profile Sanofi, Arcturus, eTheRNA and other mRNA companies and offer conclusions. Sanofi (NASDAQ: SNY), headquartered in Paris, FR, acquired mRNA pioneer Translate Bio in September 2021 for approximately $3.2 billion and mRNA startup Tidal Therapeutics in April 2021 for approximately $470 million. With its acquisition of Translate alone, Sanofi obtained an mRNA pipeline of nine candidates (two in the clinic), hundreds of patents, and undoubtedly valuable mRNA-based technical and regulatory know-how.

SCOTUS, Vaccine Mandates and Patent Law: God Help Us

Is the Supreme Court competent to handle issues dealing with technology? The question is often discussed in private among patent attorneys who find themselves completely befuddled by the wanton disregard and open duplicitous handling of patent laws by the Nation’s High Court. In one decision, the Supreme Court will wax poetically about the need to adhere to precedent, and citing stare decisis, and then overrule well-established, 30-year-old Supreme Court precedent. The whim and fancy – and intellectual dishonesty – of the Supreme Court knows no bounds when it comes to patent law. But now, just how little at least some of the Justices know about basic science – and logic — has become glaringly and unmistakably obvious to everyone, thanks to the recent oral argument held regarding vaccine mandates.

Iancu and Kappos: TRIPS IP Waiver Proposal Will Kill More People Than It Saves

A webinar hosted on Tuesday, January 12, by The Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project featured former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Directors Andrei Iancu and David Kappos, as well as Duke University Professor of Law and former USPTO Administrator of the Office of External Affairs Arti Rai, discussing the proposal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive IP rights under the Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement for certain COVID-19 technologies. While all three panelists agreed that the IP waiver discussion has become a distraction that will not solve the fundamental problems, Iancu and Kappos were especially passionate that the precedent set by the U.S. government’s decision to back the proposal could do very real harm, rather than good.