Posts Tagged: "Judge Todd Hughes"

Using a European technical effect approach to software patent-eligibility

Unlike Judge Chen’s breadth-based approach, Judge Hughes appears to adopt the proposal of using the European technical effect ( or “technological arts”) analysis to determine whether a U.S. claim is patent-eligible… The CAFC decides that the above claim indeed is related to an improvement to computer functionality itself, not on economic or other tasks for which a computer is used in its ordinary capacity. This once again approaches the “technical problem” analysis of European law, which at least has the advantage of possessing something of a legal principle about it, as opposed to being a tautology.

Patents For Self-referential Computer Database Are Not Categorically Unpatentable as Abstract

Where the claims are directed to an improvement to computer functionality, they are not abstract under the first step of Alice, and thus no step-two analysis is necessary. Here, the Federal Circuit found that Enfish’s self-referential table was directed to a specific improvement in computer capabilities, unlike Alice, where the claimed technology only added a computer to a traditional business practice. For this reason, the Court held that Enfish’s claims were not abstract under the first step of Alice, and therefore did not warrant the application of step two.

PTAB’s Factual Findings Were Sufficient, Standard Was Improper

The Court noted that decisions related to compliance with the Board’s procedures are reviewed for abuse of discretion. As far as the “reasonable expectation of success” requirement, the Court noted that the Board improperly looked to whether one would reasonably expect the references to operate as those references intended once combined. The Court held that this was the incorrect standard, and instead one must have the motivation to combine with the expectation of achieving what is claimed in the patent-at-issue. The Court held, however, that while the Board conflated the reasonable expectation of success standard and motivation to combine, it nonetheless made sufficient factual findings to support its judgment that the claims at issue were not invalid.

Federal Circuit rules willfulness a prerequisite for disgorgement of trademark infringer’s profits

The Federal Circuit affirmed. Undertaking an extensive analysis of the legislative history of Lanham Act damages, the Court attempted to explain a 1999 amendment inserting language regarding willfulness. Because the “willful violation” language appears to modify violations of § 1125(c) regarding dilution, Romag argued that the amendment negated any preexisting willfulness requirement for causes of action other than dilution. Relying heavily on Second Circuit precedent, which governed the district court decision, the Court disagreed.

Appending Conventional Steps to Abstract Idea an Insufficient Inventive Concept

The Court held that dealing “physical playing cards” did not constitute patent eligible territory. This constituted a “purely conventional” activity, like the conventional computer implementation that fell short in Alice. The Court found there was no inventive concept sufficient to transform the subject matter into a patent-eligible application of an abstract idea.

Forum non conveniens not appropriate because foreign courts cannot adjudicate US infringement

Halo sued Comptoir for infringing a large number of U.S. design patents, copyrights, and one common-law trademark relating to a number of Halo’s furniture designs. Both companies manufacture and sell furniture. Comptoir is a Canadian company that manufactures furniture in China, Vietnam, and India, and then imports that furniture into the United States for sale. Comptoir moved to dismiss the suit on forum non conveniens grounds, alleging that the Federal Court of Canada would be the appropriate forum for the dispute.

Federal Circuit: Interference Party Can’t Support Copied Claims Described as Undesirable in Spec

Bamberg’s specification stated that plastics must not melt at ironing temperatures (up to above 220 degrees Celsius) because the effects would be undesired. Bamberg argued that while this was in the specification, the written description requirement was satisfied because one skilled in the art would understand that one could have a layer that melted above and below 220 degrees Celsius, but both may not be desired. The Court held there was insufficient evidence on the record to support the conclusion that Bamberg possessed a white layer that melted below 220 degrees Celsius because it specifically distinguished this as an undesired result.

CAFC overturns $18 million verdict because jury improperly left to determine claim scope

Following a five-day trial, the jury found the asserted claims valid and infringed, and awarded Eon $18,800,000. In determining only that the terms should be given their plain and ordinary meaning, the district court left the ultimate question of claim scope unanswered, and improperly left it for the jury to decide. Instead of remanding, the Court independently found that, when read in their appropriate context, the terms “portable” and “mobile” could not be construed as covering the accused products at issue. The jury’s infringement finding was reversed.

Restricted Sales Do Not Exhaust Patent Rights Under Supreme Court Rulings

The Federal Circuit took the case en banc to review the applicability of the patent exhaustion doctrine under Mallinckrodt and Jazz Photo, in view of the Supreme Court’s decisions in Quanta and Kirtsaeng. The Federal Circuit affirmed the holdings in Mallinckrodt and Jazz Photo, and distinguished them from the Supreme Court’s decisions. In Quanta, the Supreme Court was reviewing whether a patentee’s rights in a product were exhausted by a licensee’s sale of a product.

CAFC reaffirms patent exhaustion doctrine cases en banc in Lexmark Int’l v. Impression Products

In a painfully long decision that at one point analyzed a 1628 statement of Lord Coke as relating to British common-law principles and what light that might shed on modern day patent exhaustion, the Federal Circuit held that when a patentee sells a patented article under otherwise-proper restrictions on resale and reuse communicated to the buyer at the time of sale, the patentee does not confer authority on the buyer to engage in the prohibited resale or reuse. The patentee does not exhaust its rights to charge the buyer who engages in those acts—or downstream buyers having knowledge of the restrictions—with patent infringement. The Federal Circuit also held that a foreign sale of a U.S. patented article, when made by or with the approval of the U.S. patentee, does not exhaust the patentee’s U.S. patent rights in the article sold, even when no reservation of rights accompanies the sale. Loss of U.S. patent rights based on a foreign sale remains a matter of express or implied license.

Printed Matter Doctrine Implicates Matter That Is Claimed for What it Communicates

The Court held that printed matter must be claimed for what it communicates, and it is only afforded patentable weight if the claimed informational content has a functional or structural relation to the substrate. In this case, the Court held that the Board erred in finding that the origins of the web assets made them printed subject matter, because nothing in the claim called for the origin to be part of the web asset.

Wi-LAN suffers Federal Circuit defeat to Apple in patent dispute

Wi-LAN argued that even if they could not prove direct infringement, a structure that performs the steps in the reverse order should properly be found to infringe under the doctrine of equivalents. Curiously, the Federal Circuit disagreed despite finding the Wi-LAN argument to have merit. Exactly how the Federal Circuit came to the determination that there was substantial evidence to support the jury verdict on the doctrine of equivalents is unclear.

Timely filed supplemental information does not need to be considered by PTAB in IPR

The PTAB refused entry of the supplemental information because Redline did nothing to justify submitting it after filing the initial IPR petition and even after the institution decision was made, other than to say that submitting it then was cost effective. The PTAB pointed out that the authorization to submit supplemental information under 42.123 does not require the PTAB to accept such information even if it is timely, noting that the moving party bears the burden in all cases to demonstrate entitlement to the relief, a rule that patent owners seeking to amend are all too familiar with (i.e., despite there being a right to file an amendment the PTAB says there is no associated right to amend).

CAFC uses de novo review because claim interpretation based solely on intrinsic evidence

On remand, the Federal Circuit used the de novo standard. Teva’s deferential “clear error” standard did not apply, because the district court did not make any factual findings based on extrinsic evidence in connection with its claim construction. Although extrinsic evidence may be used at trial, a district court must rely on subsidiary factual findings from that evidence to reach its claim construction, in order for any deference to arise on appeal. In this case, the Federal Circuit held that the intrinsic evidence led to a de novo conclusion that the district court conflated the claimed virtual machine with applications written to run on the virtual machine.

Federal Circuit Reverses PTAB Claim Construction in IPR

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board) cancelled the claims of the patent, finding them anticipated or obvious over several references. The Board construed “is connected” to mean that the computer be “active and online at registration,” even if the connection server’s database record was inaccurate, and the computer was no longer online. The Court reversed this construction, holding that the plain and ordinary meaning of the term “is connected” requires that the computer be connected to the network at the time the query is sent. The term “is” has a plain meaning, which requires concurrency. Where the claim language has a plain meaning that leaves no uncertainty, the specification generally cannot be used to infer a different meaning, absent clear redefinition or disavowal.