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Posts Tagged: "Judge Evan Wallach"

CAFC Rules Mass Transit Fare System Claims Patent Ineligible

In Smart Sys. Innovations, LLC v. Chi. Transit Auth., the majority of a Federal Circuit panel affirmed a district court’s holding that several claims of four related patents “are directed to an abstract idea and otherwise lack an inventive concept, such that they are patent ineligible under § 101.” *** In a patent-eligibility analysis under Alice, characterizing what the claims are “directed to” is a key aspect of inquiry for abstract ideas. Overly broad and “categorical” characterizations of the claimed invention may be detrimental to the patentability of claims.

Federal Circuit says inequitable conduct can be inferred from activities in a later patent litigation?

Although the patent prosecution process is adversarial in nature, patent practitioners must be keenly aware of their duty to maintain the integrity of any subsequently issued patent by supplying the patent examiner with all prior art that is believed to be relevant and also avoiding any misrepresentations of the prior art.  Patent litigators have long been aware of the potential pitfall of having a patent invalidated based on inequitable conduct due to activities of a patent prosecutor carried out months or years prior to the litigation proceedings.  In light of a recent decision by the Federal Circuit in Regeneron Pharmaceuticals v. Merus, however, it now appears that inequitable conduct by a patent prosecutor may be inferred due to activities of a patent litigator carried out month or years after patent prosecution has concluded.

Burden of Persuasion for Patentability of Amended Claims in IPR Stays with Petitioner

After a panel of the Federal Circuit affirmed the Board’s decision, in Aqua Products v. Matal, Aqua requested an en banc rehearing. The USPTO Director Joseph Matal joined the appeal on behalf of the USPTO. At issue was whether the Board could place the burden of proof for patentability of amended claims on the patent owner in an IPR, and the Board’s underlying interpretation of the relevant statutes, specifically § 316(d) governing claim amendments and 35 U.S.C. § 316(e) allocating the burden of proof in an IPR… With respect to the burden of proof, the burden of persuasion for patentability of amended claims in an IPR proceeding is placed on the petitioner, not the patent owner. However, considering Judge Reyna’s concurrence, patent owners might still have the burden of production; depending on future cases.

CAFC says Equitable Estoppel Cannot Compel Arbitration in Waymo v. Uber

Uber Technologies, Inc. and Ottomotto LLC (“Uber”), appealed the district court’s order, denying Uber’s motion to compel arbitration of pending litigation with Waymo, LLC (“Waymo”). Levandowski, a former employee of Waymo, was an Intervenor in this case. Uber sought to compel arbitration on the basis of Waymo’s arbitration agreement with Levandowski, not because of any arbitration agreement with Waymo.

Intervenor Not Entitled to Mandamus Relief on Discovery Dispute in Waymo v. Uber

Waymo, a Google spin-off, sued Uber and Ottomotto for patent infringement and violations of federal and state trade secret laws. Waymo alleged that its former employee, Mr. Levandowski, improperly downloaded documents on Waymo’s driverless vehicle technology prior to leaving the company and founding Ottomotto, which was subsequently acquired by Uber… During discovery, the Magistrate Judge granted Waymo’s Motion to Compel production of the Stroz Report. Waymo subpoenaed Stroz to produce the report and accompanying communications, documents, and devices. After a Motion to Quash was denied, Levandowski, Ottomotto, and Uber filed Motions for Relief from the Magistrate’s orders. The District Court denied the Motions. Acting alone, Mr. Levandowski appealed the district court’s denial of relief. Because the orders were not appealable final judgments, Mr. Levandowski presented his appeal as a writ of mandamus. The Court denied the writ, dismissed the appeal on jurisdictional grounds, and ordered production of the Report.

Federal Government Not Barred from Petition for CBM Review

In a case of first impression, a majority of a Federal Circuit panel held that the U.S. Postal Service and the United States (collectively, “USPS”) were not statutorily barred from filing a petition for review of a covered business method patent (“CBM”). The majority also affirmed the Board’s determination that all challenged claims of the patent are directed to ineligible subject matter… The government qualifies as a “person” who may petition for CBM, and a party suing the government for improper use of a patented business method may be required to litigate issues before the Board in a CBM proceeding, and further the government appears to be exempt from the AIA’s CBM estoppel provision in a parallel litigation.

Federal Circuit says U.S. government is a ‘person’, can file CBM to challenge patents

the Federal Circuit also upheld a controversial ruling of the PTAB, which determined that the United States has standing to bring a CBM challenge. Legally speaking, the United States, or in this case the United States Postal Service, is considered a “person” within the meaning of AIA § 18(a)(1)(B). To put this into perspective, despite the fact that the America Invents Act (AIA) does not specifically identify the United States as qualifying to be considered a “person” under AIA § 18(a)(1)(B), and despite the fact that the United States Supreme Court has unequivocally ruled that a sovereign such as the United States government is not a “person” absent an explicit statement of intent by Congress, the Federal Circuit (over a convincing and persuasive dissent from Judge Newman) decided that the United States federal government can challenge patents issued by the United States federal government in a post grant CBM proceeding.

Federal Circuit affirms patent owner victory of lost profits, enhanced damages

The standards for overturning a jury verdict and Court’s award of enhanced damages are high. The legal standard regarding lost profits is not limited to one third party sale and courts have discretion to determine if substantial evidence supports a finding of lost profits.

Board’s analysis internally inconsistent, Federal Circuit vacates inter partes reexam

At the Federal Circuit, Honeywell argued that the Board erred in (1) finding a motivation to combine the references with a reasonable expectation of success, (2) rejecting Honeywell’s objective evidence of patentability, and (3) relying on a new ground of rejection (Omure), without giving Honeywell notice and opportunity to respond. The Court found that the Board improperly relied on inherency to find the claims obvious and in its analysis of motivation to combine. First, the Board’s analysis was internally inconsistent. While finding that “the claimed combination’s stability/miscibility is an inherent property of HFO-123yf and cannot confer patentability, the Board also acknowledged that inherent properties must be considered if they demonstrate unexpected and nonobvious results.

Federal Circuit returns dispute over Dale Earnhardt trademark rights back to USPTO

The Federal Circuit heard the case of Earnhardt v. Kerry Earnhardt, Inc., where Teresa Earnhardt appealed from the dismissal of its opposition to the trademark registration of EARNHARDT COLLECTION by Kerry Earnhardt, Inc (“KEI”). Teresa Earnhardt is the widow of Dale Earnhardt and the owner of common law rights and trademark registrations for the mark DALE EARNHARDT in typed and stylized form, in connection with various goods and services. Kelly Earnhardt is the co-founder and CEO of KEI, the son of Dale Earnhardt, and the stepson of Teresa Earnhardt.

Federal Circuit declares Regeneron patent unenforceable due to inequitable conduct

The Federal Circuit issued a decision in Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Merus N.V. upholding the determination that the patent owned by biotech firm Regeneron was unenforceable. The decision affirmed a lower court’s finding based on Regeneron’s inequitable conduct during prosecution of the patent at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which was the result of the withholding of references from the USPTO that had but-for materiality. The patent, which the Federal Circuit deemed unenforceable, is U.S. Patent No. 8502018, titled Methods of Modifying Eukaryotic Cells.

Federal Circuit says Cleveland Clinic Diagnostic Patents Ineligible Under § 101

The Cleveland Clinic’s diagnostic or “testing” patents at issue dealt with a process by which an enzyme was measured and correlated against known levels of the enzyme in patients who were healthy or had cardiovascular disease. The Federal Circuit applied the two step Alice analysis, affirming a finding of Section 101 ineligibility and a failure by plaintiff to state a claim of contributory or induced infringement.

Use of ‘Means’ with term that Designates Structure Does Not Invoke § 112 ¶ 6

MindGeek and Playboy filed an IPR petition. The Board determined that § 112 ¶ 6 did not apply because “‘wireless device means’ is not purely functional language, but rather is language that denotes structure.” In the alternative, Skky argued that the “wireless device means” term should be construed to require multiple processors or a specialized processor. The Board found Skky’s alternative argument unconvincing. The claims were held invalid in light of prior art that disclosed a “wireless device means,” specifically a cell phone. Skky appealed.

CAFC: Exclusive license must include provisions establishing minimum contacts for personal jurisdiction

In New World International v. Ford Global Techs, FGTL sued New World for patent infringement in Michigan. New World countersued in Texas, seeking a declaratory judgment that FGTL’s patents are invalid and were not infringed. FGTL moved to dismiss the Texas action for lack of personal jurisdiction. New World argued that Texas had specific personal jurisdiction over the declaratory judgment action, because LKQ, FGTL’s exclusive licensee, had sent multiple cease and desist letters to New World in Texas. These letters and the exclusive license between LKQ and FGTL was alleged to be sufficient minimum contacts by FGTL with Texas. The district court disagreed and dismissed the declaratory judgment action for lack of personal jurisdiction. New World appealed, and the Court affirmed.

Federal Circuit Affirms Service Mark is Owned by Group, Not by Departing Group Member

In Lyons v. American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine the Federal Circuit affirmed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s (“Board”) cancellation of Sheila Lyons’s registration of the service mark, THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF VETERINARY SPORTS MEDICINE AND REHABILITATION (“the mark”) on the Supplemental Register on the grounds that she does not own the mark… Ownership of a service mark, as between a group and a departing member, depends on the objective intentions and expectations of the parties and on who the public associates with the mark and stands behind the quality of services offered under the mark.