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Posts Tagged: "indirect infringement"

Davis v. Pinterest: Pinterest Pins Victory in Contributory Copyright Infringement Claim – But Decision May Open a Door for Future Suits

On March 9, 2021, a federal court in the Northern District of California dismissed the contributory infringement claim first filed by Harold Davis (hereinafter, “Davis”), the Plaintiff, on November 20, 2019 against Pinterest, Inc. (hereinafter, “Pinterest”), the Defendant, in Davis v. Pinterest, Inc., 2021 WL 879798 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 9, 2021). Davis filed a complaint for both direct and contributory copyright infringement. The order of March 9, 2021 was, however, limited to Pinterest’s challenge to the claim of contributory infringement.

IP and Sovereign Immunity: Why You Can’t Always Sue for IP Infringement

The overlap between sovereign immunity and IP issues is not something that comes up all of the time. However, when it does, the impact of the immunity can be significant. The law for certain matters, such as lawsuits in Federal court, is fairly well resolved. However, its application when new procedures are made available, such as for IPRs which were established in 2012, has provided new challenges and opportunities… So can the Federal or State government be sued for infringement under Federal patent, trademark, or copyright law? The answer often depends on the particular facts and specific legal issues of a dispute. That said, in most cases the answer is Yes for the U.S. Government and No for states and Tribal Nations, unless they have taken a specific action to waive immunity for that matter. A brief summary follows.

Federal Circuit Clarifies Standard for Pleading Infringement in Lifetime v. Trim-Lok

Lifetime Industries, Inc. v. Trim-Lok, Inc., 2017-1096, (Fed. Cir. Sept 7, 2017) is an appeal involving a dispute over the correct pleading standard in the context of allegation of infringement of a patented product.  The appeal resulted in the reversal of a district court’s final judgment granting Trim-Lok, Inc.’s motion to dismiss Lifetime’s complaint for failing to adequately allege that Trim-Lok either directly or indirectly infringed claims of its U.S. Patent 6,966,590 (’590 patent)… In sum, the Federal Circuit opinion in Lifetime is a good refresher on sufficiency of facts needed for filing a complaint alleging patent infringement. It is a refresher also on proving infringement resulting from assembly of components to make the claimed product when not all of the components are made by the same party.

Federal Circuit Reverses and Remands Dismissal of Direct and Indirect Infringement Claims

A party need not prove its infringement case with detailed facts at the pleadings stage. For direct infringement, it is sufficient to identify where the alleged infringement occurred, when it occurred, who performed the allegedly infringing act, and why. For induced infringement, the pleadings must also allege an intent to infringe. For contributory infringement, it is sufficient to plead that the alleged infringer had knowledge, not necessarily intent, that its activities would lead to infringement.

UK Supreme Court says regardless of Article 2, doctrine of equivalents exists under UK patent law

The UK Supreme Court recently addressed the extent to which under the European Patent Convention 2000 (“EPC 2000”), a patentee may obtain protection against products or processes that are not covered by the literal meaning of the claims. In doing so, the UKSC modified what had been previously seen as the established approach of the UK courts towards ‘equivalents’. In particular, while not disapproving the test, the Court has chosen to reformulate the three “Improver” questions that, since 1990, have been in common usage for aiding determinations as to what might constitute patent infringement… The UKSC has concluded that subsequent to the Improver decision, which was then reinforced by the judgment in Kirin-Amgen, there has been a tendency by the UK courts to place “..too much weight on the words of the claim…” and what the patentee might have anticipated or intended. Instead, the UK courts should have focused on whether, on a basis of fact and expert evidence, the variant is a true equivalent of the invention as described in the patent.

2d Cir. affirms S.D.N.Y. decision in Barnes & Noble copyright case, cloud-based services questions

In early October, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (2d Cir.) handed down a decision, which almost answered important questions about how cloud-based access to content can affect copyright holders. At issue in the case, Cheryl Smith v. Barnesandnoble.com, LLC, was Barnes & Noble’s activities in providing samples of a text through the cloud to consumers after a licensing agreement on that piece of text was terminated.

Federal Circuit presumes inventorship correct even when considering standing

Drone sued Parrot for indirect infringement of two patents relating to remote-controlled drones… The Federal Circuit sided with Drone and refused to substantively examine inventorship, where Drone’s claim to title was not otherwise in dispute. Inventorship of an issued patent is presumed correct, and Parrot provided no persuasive reason why the Court must litigate inventorship as part of the standing analysis. Alternatively, Parrot may challenge inventorship as an invalidity defense, but doing so under the guise of standing is improper.

Federal Circuit Reverses District Court on Direct and Induced Infringement

The Court agreed, noting testimony from Cisco’s engineer who stated that the system needed only one copy of the protocol to support all devices. Commil’s expert opined that the protocol was a state machine, and since Cisco’s devices tracked separate information regarding their communication states, each communication state represented a copy of the protocol that was unique. The Court disagreed, finding that tracking separate states for each device was not substantial evidence that each device ran a separate copy of the protocol.

Patent owner must seek remedy in Federal Court of Claims for alleged TSA infringement

Astornet sued NCR Government Systems, MorphoTrust, and BAE Systems Inc., alleging that they supplied the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”) with certain boarding pass scanning systems, and that TSA’s use of the equipment infringed or would infringe its patent. The complaints alleged that the defendants “induced (and contributed to) direct infringement by TSA by virtue of TSA’s use of equipment supplied by the defendants.” The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal based on 28 U.S.C. § 1498 barring the suits by limiting Astornet’s remedy to an action against the United States in the Court of Federal Claims.

ITC Has Jurisdiction Over Allegations of Induced Infringement of Method Claims

Reversing the panel en banc, the Federal Circuit found that the ITC does have jurisdiction to issue an exclusion order predicated on induced infringement. Under Chevron step two, the Court deemed that the ITC’s interpretation of Section 337 was reasonable because it was “consistent with the statutory text, policy, and legislative history of Section 337,” as “Section 337 contemplates that infringement may occur after importation.” Further, the panel’s interpretation of Section 337 would unnecessarily “eliminate relief for the unfair trade act and induced infringement” by allowing foreign entities “to circumvent Section 337 by importing articles in a state requiring post-importation combination or modification before direct infringement could be shown.”

Federal Circuit affirms finding of no indirect infringement software provider

JVC is a member of two licensing pools for optical disc technology, one for DVD and one for Blu-ray. The asserted patents are included in both pools. The district court adopted JVC’s position that the asserted patents are essential to the licensed DVD and Blu-ray optical discs. Given the patent pool and licensing program, which covers any and all optical disc structures and uses that are essential under the patents, only the use of unlicensed optical discs would be an infringement – regardless of any third-party software used to manipulate the discs. JVC did not argue, and no evidence of record established, that unlicensed discs should be attributed to Nero, or the patent pool license should not encompass discs and end-users that implemented the Nero software.

Akamai v. Limelight: Defendant may directly infringe where steps performed by a third party

The en banc Court reversed the previous panel, and expanded the circumstances under which an alleged infringer may be liable under §271(a). In addition to circumstances identified by the panel, liability may arise if “an alleged infringer conditions participation in an activity or the receipt of a benefit upon performance of a step or steps of the patented method, and establishes the manner or timing of that performance.” When that standard is satisfied, the actions of a third party may be attributed to the alleged infringer, who thereby directly infringes under §271(a), even though there was no “mastermind” acting though a formal agent.

AIPLA supports en banc rehearing in Akamai v. Limelight on single entity infringement rule

There can be little doubt of the exceptional importance of Akamai Technologies, Inc. v. Limelight Networks, Inc. to the intellectual property community, and to innovators as a whole. The issue of joint infringement has been the focus of much discussion in recent years by academia, the media, and industry. In its 2014 remand of this case, the Supreme Court suggested this Court would have the opportunity to “revisit the § 271(a) question if it so chooses,” 134 S. Ct. 2111, 2120 (“Akamai III”). The AIPLA, as amicus curiae, argues that the Federal Circuit should choose to do so by rehearing the case en banc because the single entity rule as set out by the Panel majority would make it nearly impossible for certain patent holders to enforce their patents against joint infringers.

Limelight Networks: A Comedy of Errors by SCOTUS*

In a decision barely reaching 11 pages, a unanimous Supreme Court in Limelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Technologies reversed and remanded the Federal Circuit’s per curiam majority ruling in Akamai Technologies and McKesson Technologies. That the Supreme Court overturned the Federal Circuit’s per curiam majority ruling is not a surprise. But what is truly shocking are the factually inaccurate statements, as well as the problematical reasoning that appears in Justice Alito’s opinion for this unanimous Supreme Court. With all due respect, Alito’s opinion is an abysmal ”comedy of errors.”

Defending SCOTUS on Limelight Inducement Decision

There are some who are questioning the wisdom and correctness of the Supreme Court’s recent decision, authored by Justice Alito for a unanimous Court, in Limelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Technologies, Inc. One particular point of criticism seems to be centered around the fact that the Supreme Court failed to take into consideration the existence of 35 U.S.C. § 271(f). . . Arguing that the Supreme Court erred up by misinterpreting, or failing to apply, 271(f) misses the point entirely. The question presented in the appeal to the Supreme Court was whether there can be infringement under 271(b) if there is no direct infringement under 271(a). Infringement under 271(f)(1) was not at issue in the case, and 271(f)(1) was not relied upon by the Federal Circuit below.