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Senators Rubio, Tillis, Cotton Warn Attorney General Merrick Garland Against Revising SEP Policy

The DOJ should refrain from taking any steps that would make it more difficult for Americans to innovate amid fierce competition abroad. Further challenges to American innovation will jeopardize national security by disadvantaging and ceding U.S. technological leadership to China and other foreign competitors actively looking to displace the United States as the world leader in critical technologies.

Obviousness and Inherency in Solid Forms

Claimed inventions in issued patents must, of course, pass the statutorily required hurdles of novelty and non-obviousness. In the context of solid forms, there are particular nuances the practitioner should consider when formulating a strategy for obtaining such claims in the United States. This article touches upon novelty and obviousness matters which have arisen with solid-form patents and provides some food for thought on how to plan in advance to tackle these issues.

CAFC Reverses District Court Finding that Apple Lacked Personal Jurisdiction Over Zipit

On April 18, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) reversed and remanded the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California’s decision dismissing Apple Inc.’s complaint for declaratory judgment of noninfringement for lack of personal jurisdiction. Apple brought the complaint against patent owner Zipit Wireless, Inc. The CAFC found the district court erred in interpreting precedential cases as applying a bright-line rule that patent infringement notice letters and related communications can never form the basis for personal jurisdiction.

Terminating an IPR: File Your Settlement Agreement Without Concern—At Least For Now

Once an inter partes review (IPR) has been instituted at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), it will generally proceed to final written decision, unless the parties settle their dispute and agree to terminate the IPR. As a prerequisite to termination, the PTAB requires the parties to file their settlement agreement, as well as any collateral agreements, with the PTAB before an IPR will be terminated. Interestingly, 35 U.S.C. § 317(b) also provides that filed settlement agreements “shall be made available only to Federal government agencies on written request, or to any person on a showing of good cause.” This language has, understandably, caused some concern for parties about filing their settlement agreements with the PTAB. As a general matter, settlement agreements are highly confidential and could be harmful to either or both parties to the IPR if disclosed. Yet the language of Section 317(b) makes it at least facially possible for anyone to request access to these agreements without defining the circumstances under which the agreements could be disclosed.

Understanding the Importance of Words in Design Patents

Is the scope of a design patent determined by the figures alone? Two recent Federal Circuit decisions highlight that the words describing the article of manufacture in the title and claims can indeed limit the scope and enforceability of a design patent. In particular, the title and claims of the design patent contain important information that provide a more accurate and predictable notice of what is and is not protected by the design patent. Thus, the title and the claims of a design patent are particularly relevant to the scope of the patent—both for procurement and enforcement.

New York Times Editorial Board Lobs Unfounded Criticism at Patent System, Iancu

The New York Times Editorial Board over the weekend penned an op-ed charging that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has “devolved into a backwater office that large corporations game, politicians ignore and average citizens are wholly excluded from.” The piece calls for an overhaul of the U.S. patent system and for new USPTO Director Kathi Vidal and Congress to “seize the opportunity…to modernize and fortify the patent system.” It includes input from Priti Krishtel of the Initiative for Medicines, Access and Knowledge (I-MAK)—which recently has been the subject of scrutiny by pro-patent lawmakers like Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC)—and Charles Duan, who has testified to Congress that patents deter genetic research and “bully and suppress true innovators.”

Netflix Scores as California Judge Says Broadcom’s Dynamic Resource Provisioning Patent Claim is Abstract under Alice

Last week, U.S. District Judge James Donato of the Northern District of California issued a judgment on the pleadings invalidating claims from one of 12 patents asserted by semiconductor and software developer Broadcom against streaming video provider Netflix. The ruling is the latest setback for Broadcom in its enforcement campaign against Netflix’s use of patented server technologies to support streaming media services that are cutting into Broadcom’s market for semiconductors developed for use in set-top boxes.

This Week in Washington IP: Understanding the Controversy Behind the DOJ’s SEP Statement, Financial Privacy in Electronic Currencies, and Encouraging Mobility Data Sharing for Social Good

This week in Washington IP news, while both houses of Congress remain quiet during regularly scheduled work periods, the Hudson Institute takes a deeper look at the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s recent draft policy statement on SEPs from the view of those who feel that the statement doesn’t include enough support for SEP owners. Elsewhere, the American Enterprise Institute looks at privacy concerns prevalent during the adoption of central bank digital currencies, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation explores ways that private companies could work with public governmental entities to anonymize and share mobile phone data to aid humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, while the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office hosts its 15th annual Design Day taking a deeper look at the benefits of design patent protection and case law and legislative developments in that sector.

DABUS Sent Back to Drawing Board Following Reversal of Inventorship Decision by Australia Court

On April 13, 2022, the Federal Court of Australia, on appeal, reversed its 2021 decision that DABUS, an artificial intelligence (AI) machine, qualified as an inventor for a patent application under Australian law. DABUS is a computer built, programmed and owned by Dr. Stephen Thaler. Thaler has filed patent applications in several countries around the world for inventions created by DABUS. Each application names DABUS as the sole inventor. Patent offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia determined that the applications were incomplete, since a human inventor was not identified. Thaler appealed each application in the patent offices, all of which continued to rule that an AI machine was not an inventor. On further appeals, courts in the United States and the United Kingdom have agreed with the patent offices and ruled against Thaler. However, in 2021, the Federal Court of Australia issued an opinion by a primary judge, who reversed the Australian Patent Office and held that Australia’s law did not require an inventor to be a natural person.

IP Practice Vlogs: Writing Strong Patents

In the United States, patent prosecution practice is primarily shaped by two governing bodies: 1) the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which issues procedural practice guidelines, and 2) judicial rulings from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. When it comes to the matter of Section 101 subject matter eligibility, the USPTO and the Federal Circuit diverge somewhat in their analysis, specifically in their consideration of what constitutes an “abstract idea.” Our modern-day concept of “abstract idea” is shaped by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Alice v. CLS Bank in 2014. The USPTO and the Federal Circuit both operate under the Alice doctrine of “abstract idea” when it comes to assessing subject matter eligibility, particularly when it comes to software patents. Alice requires that an “abstract idea” has “something more” than what is well-understood, routine and conventional in order to be patent eligible.

Other Barks & Bites for Friday, April 15: Australian Appeals Court Rejects DABUS AI Inventorship, Brent Lutes is Copyright Office’s First Chief Economist, and Judge Albright Invalidates Reissue Claims Under Original Patent Doctrine

This week in Other Barks & Bites: Senators Thom Tillis and Patrick Leahy announce a forthcoming bill to limit petitioner challenges at the PTAB, preventing abuse; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce publishes an open letter to Congress in support of bills limiting the Executive Branch’s ability to authorize a waiver of IP obligations under TRIPS; the Federal Court of Australia overturns a previous decision that had found DABUS AI as a legitimate inventor on patent applications filed in Australia; the Copyright Office announced that the Brattle Group’s Brent Lutes will serve the agency as its first Chief Economist; Elon Musk makes an unsolicited bid to buy Twitter that values the company at nearly $42 billion; the Department of Justice announces that the RaidForums marketplace for hacked databases has been seized; and Judge Albright issues a ruling invalidating reissued patent claims for failing the original patent requirement codified in Section 251(a) of U.S. patent law.

Federal Circuit Vacates PTAB Ruling After Failure to Address Cost Reduction as Factor in Obviousness Finding

Earlier this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) vacated and remanded a decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in a post grant review where the PTAB concluded that Everstar did not meet its burden to demonstrate the challenged claims were unpatentable as obvious because it failed to show a motivation to combine the asserted prior art. The CAFC found that the PTAB abused its discretion when it refused to consider whether cost reduction would have driven one skilled in the art to combine the asserted prior art.

CAFC Schools District Court on Claim Construction Again

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) vacated and remanded a decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada denying Power Probe’s request for a preliminary injunction to bar future sales of Innova Electronics Corporation’s Powercheck #5420 device. The CAFC held that the district court erred in its preliminary claim construction, particularly in determining that “detecting continuity and measuring continuity are mutually exclusive.”

Patent Filings Roundup: Denial of Me-Too Joinder under General Plastics; Magnetar Sub, Wielding LG Wireless Charging Patents, Sues Volkswagen

A light district court week saw just 37 new patent complaints filed (I believe, the lowest week of the year to date); statistically, the beginning of the year, month, and quarter are generally lower than the rest of the year in terms of patent filings, due primarily to the filing patterns of megafiler IP Edge and their proclivity to ramp up filings at the ends of months and quarters. There were 78 terminations (just above average). Frequent filer, RFC Lenders of Texas LLC, ensnared yet another local Texas company, this time Texas Southern Tire Mart LLC, in volume patent litigation; Intellectual Ventures refiled their new automotive OEM campaign outside of the Eastern District of Texas, moving to the Northern for certain OEMs; and Jack Henry Associates, as provider to many banks and websites of check deposit software, filed a declaratory judgment action against frequent filer, Lupercal LLC.

Vidal Takes the Helm as USPTO’s Second Congressionally Approved Woman Director

On Wednesday, April 13, Kathi Vidal was officially sworn in and began her role as the new Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Chief Judge Kimberly Moore administered the oath of office, and Vidal now assumes her position at the helm of the agency and head of its 13,000 employees. She is the second woman to be confirmed by the Senate to the position. “I am excited to join America’s innovation agency,” said Vidal, according to a USPTO press release. “This nationwide workforce of more than 13,000 employees is one of the most talented and respected the world over, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to work with them to help bring more ideas to impact, including in key technologies and through inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship.”

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