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Posts Tagged: "District Court"

Top Tips for Trying Your First (or Next) Patent Jury Trial

Writing about tips for trying patent jury trials is, in some ways, like teaching skills for hunting dinosaurs. To start, patent jury trials are challenging, which (presumably, at least) would be true for hunting a T-Rex. But patent jury trials have also trended toward the same fate as dinosaurs over the last several years. Creating the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and Inter Partes Review (IPR) process has shifted patent litigation from district court to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The now infamous patent “death squads” at the PTAB have mooted the need for many jury trials. At the same time, the Federal Circuit and district courts have used the Supreme Court’s Alice decision and Section 101 as a tool to dismiss large swaths of cases on the pleadings with no discovery, let alone the opportunity to offer evidence or call witnesses at trial. Finally, changes in the law on venue selection have limited patent holders’ ability to select a venue with an express reverence for the right to trial by jury, like the Eastern District of Texas. Thus, like the overall trend in civil cases in general, patent jury trials today are in decline compared with even the last decade.  

BIC Files Complaints at the ITC, EDNY Alleging Trademark Infringement of Pocket Lighters

Although many readers might be more familiar with patent infringement claims asserted in Section 337 actions at the ITC, BIC Vice President and General Counsel Steve Burkhart notes that trademark and trade dress infringement claims in a Section 337 context aren’t terribly different. “We’ve had our three-dimensional trademark registration for decades,” Burkhart said, adding that one of the defendants in the ITC action was familiar with BIC’s trademark because it was cited as a basis for denying their own trademark application filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. “Quantitatively, you may see more Section 337 filings on the patent side but there are many examples in the patent and trademark areas where filings encounter denials because of prior art,” Burkhart said.

Section 101 Motions to Dismiss Still Alive in District Courts

In Berkheimer and Aatrix, the Federal Circuit indicated that although patent eligibility under Section 101 is ultimately a question of law, the determination may have factual underpinnings that, at least in some cases, render it inappropriate for motions to dismiss or for summary judgment… However, following Berkheimer and Aatrix, the Federal Circuit has itself affirmed numerous Section 101 rulings that were made at the dismissal or pleadings stage. This article provides a summary of recent district court decisions granting Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss under Section 101.

PTAB Institutes IPR, Finds Unified Patents is Sole Real Party in Interest

On Tuesday, November 27th, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a redacted version of a decision to institute an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding petitioned by Unified Patents to challenge the validity of patent claims that have been asserted in district court against at least one of Unified’s subscribing members. The PTAB panel of administrative patent judges (APJs) decided to institute the IPR despite the patent owners’ assertion that the petition should be denied because Unified didn’t identify all real parties in interest (RPIs) including members of Unified’s Content Zone. The charade that Unified is the only real party in interest and simply acts in uncoordinated ways and not at the behest of those who pay for them to challenge patents continues, at least at the PTAB.

Use of the Book of Wisdom in Reasonable Royalties

Courts consistently focus on the availability of non-infringing substitutes as of the date of the hypothetical negotiation. In most of the cases reviewed, the determination of available substitutes was limited to those available at the date of first infringement. If an alternative introduced after the hypothetical negotiation was considered, its impact was discounted to reflect uncertainty as of the date of the negotiation. For example cases, please contact the author. From a review of the above cases, it is clear that the book of wisdom can be relevant and useful, but it is not always allowed by courts. Use and acceptance of the book of wisdom is case and court specific.

Harmonizing the PTAB: Iancu calls change to Phillips ‘critically important’

“It seems self-evident that the same patent contested in different tribunals should have its meaning – its boundaries – determined using the same standard,” Director Iancu said when discussing the final rules implementing the Phillips standard at the PTAB… Those few who were not pleased by the change have cited a believe that the change to the Phillips standard would usher in a return to lower quality patents. With a bit of a confrontational tone, Director Iancu took issue with that, finding the argument without merit.

Congressman Rohrabacher Introduces the Inventor Protection Act to Protect Inventor-Owned Patents

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) has introduced H.R. 6557, the Inventor Protection Act, into the House of Representatives. This bill is the latest proposed piece of legislation to help undo some of the more damaging effects of recent federal government actions on patent law which have negatively impacted the ability of patent owners to enforce their patent rights against infringers.

Federal Circuit Denies Petition for Rehearing En Banc in Xitronix Appeal on Walker Process Claims

On Friday, June 15th, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit denied a petition for panel rehearing and rehearing en banc in Xitronix Corporation v. KLA-Tencor Corporation. The petition for rehearing was filed by KLA-Tencor after the Federal Circuit first decided Xitronix back in February of this year, where the appellate court held that it didn’t have jurisdiction to hear an appeal in a patent case which only involved claims of monopolization under U.S. Supreme Court standards set in 1965’s Walker Process Equipment v. Food Machinery & Chemical Corp.

‘Graphical User Interface’ does not necessarily invoke means-plus function analysis

In Zeroclick, LLC v. Apple Inc., before Judge Jimmie Reyna, Judge Richard Taranto, and Judge Todd Hughes, Zeroclick appealed a district court’s interpretation of the claims as containing “means plus function” limitations under 35 U.S.C. § 112 ¶ 6, arguing that the district court erred by imposing a means plus function analysis. The Court agreed with Zeroclick finding that the district court failed to give appropriate weight to the rebuttable presumption created by the absence of the word “means” within the claims, vacating and remanding the case to the district court.

Lofgren, Issa Denounce Proposed PTAB Claim Construction Changes in Oversight Hearing

found it disturbing that the Director Iancu would circumvent the prerogative of Congress with recently announced proposed PTAB claim construction changes, though she admitted the decision wasn’t unlawful. She expounded for several minutes on issues of res judicata, which could tie the hands of the PTAB in light of district court or U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) decisions regarding patent validity. “[This] would completely blow up what we were trying to do as a Congress,” Lofgren said. “It looks to me that the people who disagreed with [the AIA] and lost in the Congress, they went to the Supreme Court, they lost in the Supreme Court, and now they’re going to you, and you are reversing what the Congress decided to do and what the Court said was permissible to do.”

Hatch-Waxman Litigation: 60 Percent Increase in ANDA Lawsuits from 2016 to 2017

In 2017, U.S. district courts saw a total of 417 patent infringement suits related to ANDA filings made by drugmakers with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeking to bring generic versions of brand-name pharmaceuticals to the U.S. market. This total number of ANDA cases was below recent highs set in 2014 (437 cases) and 2015 (475 cases) but it was also a significant increase over the 324 ANDA cases filed in 2016. Going back to 2009, 2017 saw the third-highest number of ANDA cases in a single year. The fact that ANDA litigation is rising is pretty consistent with the number of ANDA applications being received by the FDA. In 2017, the FDA approved a record number of ANDAs with 763 such approvals that year; the agency attributed this uptick to an increased number of agency hires.

CAFC Upholds Section 101 Invalidity Finding on Rule 12(b)(6) Motion, Nixing Patents Covering App Management

On Monday, April 9th, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the invalidity of a series of patents asserted against the American subsidiary of Japanese consumer electronics firm Funai. The patents, owned by Illinois-based Maxon, LLC, covered electronic means for improving user control over subscription entertainment content but the claimed technologies were deemed to be invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101, the basic statute governing the patentability of inventions. The decision was issued by a panel comprised of Chief Judge Sharon Prost and Circuit Judges Todd Hughes and Kara Stoll.

PTAB Judges Shockingly Inexperienced Compared to District Court Judges

This study uncovered several shocking revelations. First, 12.64% of PTAB judges were appointed with less than 5 years of experience prior to their appointment as APJs (i.e., 5 years or less removed from graduating from law school), while some PTAB judges were appointed with as little as 2 years of experience. Indeed, 7.47% of APJs had 4 or less years of experience when they were appointed to the PTAB… There were zero federal district court judges appointed with 10 years or less experience, while 46.55% of PTAB judges were appointed with 10 years or less experience… This would mean that 46.55% of PTAB judges were appointed while they were still at best senior associates. Worse, 4.60% of PTAB judges were appointed with 3 or fewer years of experience, which means those 4.60% of PTAB judges were appointed at a time when they were only at a junior associate level.

Factual Allegations on Inventive Concept Preclude Dismissal of Complaint Under § 101

In Atrix Software v. Green Shades Software, Aatrix sued Green Shades for infringement, and Green Shades moved to dismiss. The district court granted the motion, holding: (1) claim 1 of the ‘615 patent was not directed to any tangible embodiment and was not patent-eligible subject matter under § 101; and (2) under the Alice/Mayo two-step analysis, the remaining claims were for abstract ideas without inventive concepts and were also ineligible. Aatrix appealed. The Federal Circuit vacated the district court’s decision, reversed its denial of Aatrix’s motion for leave to file a second amended complaint, and remanded for further proceedings… Allegations in a patent infringement complaint that create a factual dispute about whether the claimed invention contains an inventive concept will defeat a motion to dismiss under § 101. For software inventions, such allegations include improvements in how a computer functions. An amended complaint to make such allegations should generally be allowed.

Aatrix Software v. Green Shades Software: Pleading must be taken as true on 101 motion to dismiss

“The Aatrix ruling is significant because when deciding a motion to dismiss all factual allegations made by the plaintiff (i.e., the patent owner) in the complaint are supposed to be taken as true,” explained patent attorney Gene Quinn. “The Federal Circuit has not always seemed to apply basic, fundamental procedural rules when reviewing cases dismissed for lack of patent eligibility on a motion to dismiss. Returning patent litigation to the status quo required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure will make it much more difficult for defendants to prevail on motions to dismiss if complaints are properly worded.”