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Posts Tagged: "Inc."

The Trademark Cases the Supreme Court Will Hear Next Term

On June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to take up a pair of cases that could affect how trademark cases are argued in federal courts. In Lucky Brands Dungarees, Inc. v. Marcel Fashion Group, Inc., the Court will determine whether federal preclusion principles bar defendants from raising defenses that could have been raised in previous cases between the same parties, even when the plaintiff asserts new claims. In Romag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil, Inc., SCOTUS will decide whether a finding of willful infringement is required to award an infringer’s profits in cases involving false designation of origin or false description.

Federal Circuit Cellspin Ruling Provides Important Clarifications on Aatrix and Berkheimer

On June 25, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued an opinion in Cellspin Soft, Inc. v. Fitbit, Inc. (2018-1817, 2018-1819 to 1826), reversing a district court’s grant of various Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss complaints that alleged patent infringement based on U.S. Pat. No. 8,738,794 (the ’794 patent), U.S. Pat. No. 8,892,752 (the ’752 patent), U.S. Pat. No. 9,258,698 (the ’698 patent), and U.S. Pat. No. 9,749,847 (the ’847 patent). The Federal Circuit did so because the district court misconstrued precedent from both Aatrix Software, Inc. v. Green Shades Software, Inc., 882 F.3d 1121 (Fed. Cir. 2018) and Berkheimer v. HP Inc., 881 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2018). The Federal Circuit panel consisted of Judges Lourie, O’Malley, and Taranto. Judge O’Malley authored the panel’s opinion. he Federal Circuit agreed with the district court that the claims were directed to an abstract idea but reversed anyway on the basis of the district court failing to conduct a proper Alice step two. This was because the district court ignored Cellspin’s factual allegations that, when properly accepted as true, precluded the grant of a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.

The Pathway to Foreign Damages for Patent Infringement

Automobiles, smartphones, laptops, medical devices, among other end products, contain scores of individual components supplied by vendors. For end products sold domestically, vendors for the components are often U.S. companies. They design and develop their products in the United States. They deploy teams of marketing and sales personnel in the United States to win incorporation of their components into end products for the U.S. market. They enter general business agreements in the United States with end product companies in the United States. They comply with U.S. certifications, standards and qualifications that make their components fit for the U.S. market. They provide customer support in the United States to end customers located in the United States. In short, they actively compete for a share of the U.S. market for their technological components. Yet, when it comes to facing liability for patent infringement, they claim to be exempt. They claim they don’t make any products in the United States—the products are made by contract-manufacturers located abroad. They claim they don’t actually sell any products in the United States either—the actual purchase orders and invoices, as well as shipment and delivery for specific units, occurs between foreign subsidiaries and contract manufacturers, also located abroad. A case currently pending before the Federal Circuit could upset these tactics: Power Integrations, Inc. v. Fairchild Semiconductor Int’l, Inc., 2019-1246, 2019-1247 (Fed. Cir.).  At the heart of the case is the question of whether patent law has grown out-of-sync from the supply-chain realities of making, selling and marketing technological components for end use in the United States today. For instance, invoicing and shipment for particular units may be farmed out abroad. That creates an ostensibly easy way for companies selling technological components to claim they are neither making nor selling any product in the United States. But it ignores that domestic infringement can nevertheless cause foreign damages. Indeed, the recent decision of the Supreme Court in WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp.138 S. Ct. 2129 (2018) expressly held that foreign damages caused by domestic infringement are recoverable.

Invest Pic v. SAP America, Inc. Amicus Brief Takes on CAFC’s ‘Physical Realm’ Test

Among the seven amicus curiae briefs filed Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court in InvestPic, LLC, v. SAP America, Inc., Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund’s brief argues that the case demands a hearing because the Federal Circuit has added yet another extra-statutory test to the already distorted patentability jurisprudence. In a decision of May 15, 2018 authored by Judge Taranto, the Federal Circuit found the patent claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,349,291 invalid because they were directed to an abstract idea and lacked an inventive concept necessary to save the invention under 35 U.S.C. § 101. In the course of its opinion, the Federal Circuit created a “physical realm” test, which is nowhere to be found in 35 U.S. Code Section 101, having been wholly conjured by judges.

Invitation to Join Amicus Brief in Federal Circuit Rehearing of Athena Diagnostics v. Mayo

Athena Diagnostics filed a petition for en banc rehearing of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s decision in Athena Diagnostics v. Mayo on April 8, 2019. Amicus briefs are due April 22, 2019. The Athena decision continues to apply U.S. Supreme Court-created common law to the analysis of 35 U.S.C. §101. In its brief requesting rehearing, Athena argues that the decision is “precisely the evisceration of patent law against which the U.S. Supreme Court has long warned” and that the claims at issue were patent eligible, as they are “novel, man-made substances”, “do not preempt natural laws” and “serve a new and useful purpose of diagnosing serious diseases”. Knowles IP Strategies LLC (Sherry M. Knowles) and AddyHart (Meredith Addy) intend to file an amicus brief in support of neither party requesting that the Federal Circuit carry out its constitutional duty to apply strict statutory construction of the literal words of 35 U.S.C. §101 to decide the case (See, Unconstitutional Application of 35 U.S.C. § 101 by the U.S. Supreme Court; 18 J. Marshall Rev. Intell. Prop. L. 144 (2018)).

Tillis, Coons Ask Iancu to Take Action on Serial IPR Challenges

In their latest letter weighing in on intellectual property issues, Senators Thom Tillis and Chris Coons have expressed their concerns about the effects of “serial” inter partes review (IPR) petitions on the U.S. patent system.In March, the senators sent a letter to Karyn Temple, Register of Copyrights, to ask a series of questions about the Copyright Office’s ability to handle the likely impact of Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC. Today’s letter was addressed to USPTO Director Andrei Iancu and similarly asked Iancu to respond to a list of five pointed questions about the Office’s willingness to take action on serial IP challenges.

The Federal Circuit Just ‘Swallowed All of Patent Law’ in ChargePoint v. SemaConnect

In ChargePoint Inc. v. SemaConnect, Inc., (2018-1739) the Federal Circuit inexplicably stated in its opinion that “[i]t is clear from the language of claim 1 that the claim involves an abstract idea—namely, the abstract idea of communicating requests to a remote server and receiving communications from that server, i.e., communication over a network.”  The Court further stated, “[w]e therefore continue our analysis to determine whether the focus of claim 1, as a whole, is the abstract idea. As explained below, we conclude that it is.” In reaching this conclusion, the panel rationalized that “the broad claim language would cover any mechanism for implementing network communication on a charging station, thus preempting the entire industry’s ability to use networked charging stations. This confirms that claim 1 is indeed “directed to” the abstract idea of communication over a network to interact with network-attached devices.” As an electrical engineer and patent attorney, I am truly perplexed by this statement. Claim 1 recites numerous physical electrical components, a control device (on/off switch), transceiver to communicate with a remote server and a controller to activate the on/off switch based on communications from the server. The configuration of the components may be anticipated or obvious under the patent statute based on prior art, but they are anything but abstract and do not preempt all ways of charging a vehicle using a network. Congress specifically stated in 35 U.S.C. 101 that there are four statutory categories of patentable subject matter: process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter. If claim 1 is not a machine, I don’t know what is.

Request for Amici: Tell the Supreme Court to Clarify Section 101

On March 8, Foster Pepper filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court, case number 18-1199, challenging the Federal Circuit’s emerging “physical realm” test as part of its Alice/Section 101 analysis. Amicus briefs in support of our cert petition are most welcome to assist the Court’s understanding of why it is important to grant cert and clarify the correct patent eligibility test for computer-implemented inventions. We are also seeking amicus brief writers for the many amici we have already secured. These efforts will help clear up the uncertainty innovators and patent holders face in cutting-edge fields of our modern economy and, as a result, help drive innovation forward. 

Latest Apple/Qualcomm Ruling Highlights Question of ‘Unwilling Licensees’

On March 20, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel of the Southern District of California issued an order denying a motion by Apple, which was seeking partial judgment against Qualcomm on that company’s claim that it had fulfilled its fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) obligations for licensing its standard-essential patents (SEPs). As a result, Qualcomm can move ahead with its efforts to prove that its SEP portfolio licensing activities have met the company’s FRAND obligations and that Apple has forfeited its right to FRAND licensing because it hasn’t been a willing licensee.The court sided with Qualcomm in finding that Apple’s arguments regarding the unsuccessful licensing negotiations presented a definite and concrete controversy. Qualcomm had cited to a 2017 Eastern District of Texas case, Huawei Techs. Co. v. T-Mobile US, Inc., to show an instance where a court had found subject-matter jurisdiction in a case where a patent holder sought a declaration that it had complied with FRAND obligations. In the current case, Apple hadn’t stated unequivocally that it wouldn’t pursue a stand-alone breach of contract action, giving rise to a substantial controversy with sufficient immediacy and reality to justify declaratory relief. A favorable outcome to Qualcomm on this claim would afford additional relief, as Qualcomm could demonstrate that Apple had engaged in unreasonable holdout behavior, relieving Qualcomm of further FRAND obligations towards Apple.

Why it May Be Time to Provide Criminal Remedies for Patent Infringement

Under normal circumstances, infringement and misappropriation of the intellectual property (IP) rights of others are subject to civil liability under U.S. federal (and some states’) law; the remedies for those whose rights have been violated typically include money damages or some form of equitable relief, such as an injunction. However, sometimes the conduct of offenders is so egregious and the remedies so inadequate that pursuit of a private cause of action is insufficient to make IP owners whole. To make matters worse, civil remedies do little to deter further infringement or misappropriation on the part of individuals and entities with more than enough money to game the system. Known as efficient infringers, according to some IP practitioners, they have mastered the business practice of paying out as little in damages as possible and refusing to negotiate licenses with IP owners, all the while bullying IP owners into spending their much smaller fortunes in order to defend their IP rights or to forfeit them—the end result sometimes being the invalidation or cancellation of their IP. Accordingly, lawmakers have enacted legislation with the goal of creating true deterrents against infringement and misappropriation by imposing criminal sanctions on a narrow set of conditions associated with infringement and misappropriation. However, the law does not criminally punish infringement of a particular type of IP: patents.

Federal Circuit Deems Written Description Requirement Satisfied if Specification Identifies the Claimed Invention in a Definite Way

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently issued a ruling reversing a district court’s grant of summary judgment of non-infringement and invalidity for failure to satisfy the written description requirement. See CenTrak, Inc. v. Sonitor Techs., Inc., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4442 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 14, 2019) (Before Reyna, Taranto, and Chen, Circuit Judges) (Opinion for the Court, Chen, Circuit Judge). The Court said the written description requirement does not require that the specification provide either examples or an actual reduction to practice. Instead, a constructive reduction to practice may be sufficient if the specification identifies the claimed invention in a definite way.

SCOTUS to Hear ‘The Most Significant Unresolved Legal Issue in Trademark Licensing’ in Mission Product Holdings Inc. v. Tempnology, LLC

On February 20, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Mission Product Holdings Inc. v. Tempnology, LLC on appeal from the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The case presents the question of whether a debtor-licensor’s rejection of an executory trademark license agreement in bankruptcy, pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 365, results in the agreement’s complete termination, including loss of the licensee’s right to use the licensed trademark. Given that trademarks are the most widely used form of registered intellectual property, and trademark rights often are among a debtor’s key assets, the treatment of the debtor’s licenses of those rights is an issue that arises frequently in the bankruptcy context. For this reason, among others, the issue presented by this case has been hailed by the International Trademark Association (INTA) as “the most significant unresolved legal issue in trademark licensing.”

IP Due Diligence in the Life Sciences: Key Considerations for 2019

The success of a life science product, and thereby the company, rests heavily upon a combination of patent protection, regulatory exclusivity and product life cycle management. A company’s ability to formulate and articulate an integrated strategy is critical to obtaining investments, strategic partnerships and market success. In this two-part series, we will discuss recent judicial developments that affect life science companies’ IP strategies and also outline the four basic principles of an integrated IP strategy on which a company’s intellectual property audit and preparation for third-party diligence should focus. These are: (1) patent prosecution and strategy, (2) rights and ownership, (3) interplay of patent and regulatory exclusivity, and (4) freedom to operate and competitors. Part one will focus on patent prosecution and strategy, as well as rights and ownership.

District of Delaware Makes it Harder to Corner the Market on Antibody Patents in MorphoSys v. Janssen

Patents covering an antibody are often claimed by the antibody’s function (the residues where it binds to the antigen) rather than its structure (amino-acid sequence). This tactic can successfully cast a very wide net of patent protection over potentially millions of different antibodies. In doing so, even if the patent holder’s own antibodies never make it out of the laboratory, the patents can nevertheless corner the market on intellectual property covering a new class of inhibitors. The risk of this strategy, however, is that extremely broad patent scope can simultaneously doom a patent’s validity for not being sufficiently enabled or lacking written description. As an example, a recent decision from the District of Delaware, MorphoSys AG v. Janssen Biotech, Inc., No. 16-221 (LPS) (Dkt. 471) (Jan. 25, 2019), invalidated broad antibody patents for not being sufficiently enabled, as well as coming near to invalidating the same patents for lacking written description. The case is important to the growing body of patents covering biologic drugs because it delineates more precisely when functionally-claimed antibody patents can survive enablement and written description challenges.

No DMCA safe harbor for Cox’s 13-strike policy for terminating repeat infringers

On February 1, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a decision in the case, BMG Rights Management LLC v. Cox Communications, Inc. The Fourth Circuit affirmed in part the district court’s granting of summary judgment to BMG on the § 512(a) Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor defense. Ultimately, the Fourth Circuit agreed with the district court’s decision that Cox was not entitled to the safe harbor defense, finding that Cox’s 13-strike policy for repeat infringers was effectively no policy at all, and far less than the termination policy required in order to maintain safe harbor protections.