Posts Tagged: "Guest Contributor"

Patent Filings Roundup: Fintiv Denial in Light of NPE Suit Against Healthcare Co.; More Institutions in Troubled, Funded ParkerVision Campaign; Universal Studios Sued by German Ride Company

Patent filings were average this week, with 21 Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) petitions and 77 district court patent complaints filed (and 67 terminated). In the district courts, Joao, Cedar Lane, and DynaIP campaigns added a fair number of defendants, some interesting competitor-competitor cases cropped up, and Wepay Global Payments LLC continued its single-design-patent campaign, adding Wells Fargo. This week also saw a few discretionary denials, as detailed below.

Actions of USPTO Officials Performing the Director’s Functions and Duties During Director Vacancy are Void

Under the U.S. Constitution’s Appointments Clause, “Officers of the United States” generally are required to be nominated by the President “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.”  This rule applies equally to the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), who has an important executive role with political accountability and therefore, by statute, must be Presidentially-Appointed and Senate-Confirmed (PAS). The Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (VRA) provides that the President (and only the President) may direct an “acting” official to temporarily perform the functions and duties of the vacant PAS office. The VRA states that its mechanisms are “exclusive” of all other mechanisms for temporarily filling a vacant PAS office. On several occasions since 2013, including most recently with Commissioner Andrew Hirshfeld, the USPTO has adopted a modality for filling a vacancy in the office of the Director, not with an Acting Director as the VRA requires, but with a non-PAS official “designated” to “perform the functions and duties” of the Director.

Clause 8 Podcast: Professor Tim Hsieh Explains the Benefits of Judge Shopping

The 2017 TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Supreme Court decision led to a major shift in where patent litigation cases are filed in the United States. Before TC Heartland, a patent owner could bring a case in almost any district where an alleged infringer conducted business. Because of its predictable rules and streamlined procedures, the Eastern District of Texas became the most popular forum for such cases; nearly 40% of patent infringement actions were filed there in 2016. When Professor Timothy Hsieh clerked in the Eastern District of Texas, he saw firsthand the benefits – for patent owners and defendants – of experienced judges handling patent cases. TC Heartland changed that by changing the rules regarding where companies can be sued for patent infringement. By 2017, only 15% of patent infringement cases were tried in the Eastern District of Texas. Instead, patent cases became concentrated in Delaware and California.

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.

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.

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.

Money, Media, Votes, and Passing H.R. 5874

All things in Washington are driven by money, media and votes. If you can deliver one or more of those things, you will get the results you want. Engaging in politics with this in mind is key to fixing the broken patent system by passing HR 5874, the Restoring American Leadership in Innovation Act (RALIA). Since no mortal can compete with Big Tech’s big bucks and their control of social media, and the media in general, the only lever remaining is delivering votes back home, or more importantly, delivering those votes to candidates who commit to supporting HR 5874.

Examining the Circuit Split on Preliminary Injunctions in False Advertising Post-eBay

In responding to the unprecedented COVID-19 challenges, companies around the world are rushing to capitalize on the current crisis by advertising the effectiveness of their products in containing the virus spread. Among these ads and messages, some may be useful in building the public’s confidence and marketing effective products to consumers, but some may mislead and deceive desperate consumers into buying treatments and products without any scientific support. As fear and anxiety proliferate during this pandemic, fraudulent or false advertisements also surge and explode. Petitioners raise false advertising claims and try to stop misleading advertisements by seeking injunctions. However, the injunction standard in the false advertising context is still the subject of debate.

Robots and IP: Protecting Faces, Expressions and Vocalizations

Preventing others from copying your robot’s AI-driven face, expressions and vocalizations requires a comprehensive intellectual property strategy. That’s one of the takeaways from a pending dispute between robot makers as described in Digital Dream Labs, LLC v. Living Technology (Shenzhen) Co. (pending in the Western District of Pennsylvania). The case involves plaintiff DDL, which owns registered copyrights in desktop humanoid-vehicle hybrid robots called COZMO and VECTOR (see below left and middle), and defendant Living.AI, whose headphone-wearing, skateboard riding, humanoid robot called EMO (below right) is alleged by DDL to infringe its copyrights. Both companies reportedly deployed AI software on their robots that selects graphical animations and sounds to output based on the robot’s reactions with its environment and user.

Patent Filings Roundup: Magentar Launches Tenth and Eleventh Campaign; Joao Entity Hits State Healthcare; Board Terminates Eight Petitions Pre-Institution Over Patent Owner Objections

A normal week at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board and a heavy week in the district courts saw 100 new patent complaints filed and 30 petitions before the Board; there were 79 district court terminations as well, as cases settled quickly and a number of withdrawals or refilings continue in and out of the Western District of Texas. Intellectual Ventures—hearing footsteps from the Federal Circuit’s mandamus of Judge Albright transferring automotive cases out of his jurisdiction for lack of venue over car companies—has refiled Eastern District of Texas complaints against car companies in the Northern District of Texas, presumably because those companies have factories or some other serious presence there.

New Dawn: Confirmation of Undersecretary Vidal Presents Opportunities to Expand Diversity Initiatives

My congratulations to Kathi Vidal of Winston & Strawn on her confirmation as the new Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and her new role as advisor to the President and the administration on intellectual property matters. Undersecretary Vidal’s credentials are beyond merely impressive. Her capabilities and her new position afford her an opportunity to influence intellectual property policy at a magnitude few ever experience, including a profound opportunity to enhance diversity. It is well established that diversity unlocks innovation and that innovation is critical to American competitiveness, jobs, national security, and quality of life. One of the tenets of promoting diversity is providing leaders, role models, and mentors from all reaches of the community to encourage participation from others of similar backgrounds.

IP Protects JLTV Despite Sale of Technical Data Package

Oshkosh Corporation has run through a $6.7 billion contract to produce the first 17,000 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs) in a Department of Defense (DOD) program that could produce 55,000 vehicles for the Army and Marines. Oshkosh won the low-rate initial production (LRIP) contract in 2015 to be the sole manufacturer of JLTVs by submitting an original, technologically superior design in a litigated competition with other, arguably, more dominant players in the defense market. Bids for the contract to produce the next tranche of over 15,000 vehicles are due later this year. Competitors for the $7.3 billion recompete contract, including GM Defense, AM General and Navistar, will have access to the proprietary design of the JLTV that Oshkosh used to win the LRIP contract. The U.S. Government has made available to interested bidders a Technical Data Package (TDP) covering the JLTV after purchasing an option in 2016. Oshkosh, however, maintains an intellectual property (IP) portfolio that could counter the sale of the TDP.

NIH’s Fight for Ownership of Moderna’s COVID-19 Patent Highlights Hazards of Business Collaborations

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is at legal odds with Moderna, claiming that Moderna neglected to add three NIH scientists to Moderna’s patent application on a principal COVID-19 vaccine. If a court ends up siding with NIH, it would co-own any issued patents on the technology, which could prove to be quite valuable; in 2021, Moderna’s vaccine sales were forecasted to be in the range of $15 billion and $18 billion. With an equal undivided interest in the patent, NIH could do whatever it wishes with it, such as licensing it to others and collecting royalties.

Patent Filings Roundup: Intel Cancels Qualcomm Claims on Remand; New Rideshare, Cloud Storage NPE Campaigns Launched

Some new assertion entities popped up this week, including a high-stakes campaign filed by LS Cloud Storage Technologies LLC (a Waco vintage, if from 2016) on a couple of data-sharing patents (one very old, one somewhat new, U.S. 6,549,988 and U.S. 10,154,092). There was also a new ride-sharing NPE campaign from Fare Technologies LLC (another older LLC with apparent ties to monetizers) against Uber and Lyft on just one patent, RE46727. By the numbers: the district courts saw 70 new patent complaints and another 106 terminated cases this week; the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) had their now-usual 25 petitions.