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Posts Tagged: "justice thomas"

The View from the Court’s 2 Live Crew: Examining the Thomas/Alito Dissent in Google v. Oracle

Most commentators agree that Google v. Oracle is the most important copyright decision of the last 25 years (since Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music). But what if the Court got it wrong?  The Court has not always done well with issues of technology (the Sony v. Universal “Betamax” case being an exception), and the majority decision in Google v. Oracle appears to be more of the same. For many reasons, the powerful dissent from Justices Thomas and Alito may be the better opinion.

Supreme Court decides Helsinn v. Teva, Secret Sale Qualifies as Prior Art Under the AIA

n a relatively short, unanimous decision authored by Justice Thomas, the Court begins by explaining that twenty-years ago in Pfaff v. Wells Electronics, Inc., 525 U.S. 55, 67 (1998) the Court determined that an invention was on sale within the meaning of pre-AIA § 102 if it was subject to a commercial offer for sale and it was ready for patenting. Moreover, Thomas recognized that prior to passage of the AIA the Federal Circuit had clearly established that a secret sale could invalidate a patent. Therefore, given the settled precedent, Justice Thomas explained that there was a presumption “that when Congress reenacted the same language in the AIA, it adopted the earlier judicial construction of that phrase.” The Court also found the catch all phrase “or otherwise available to the public” was “simply not enough of a change… to conclude that Congress intended to alter the meaning of the reenacted term ‘on sale.’”

Disparaging, Immoral, and Scandalous Trademarks Since Matal v. Tam

A little more than one year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Lanham Act’s disparagement clause as unconstitutional in Matal v. Tam, 137 S. Ct. 1744 (June 19, 2017).  While Tam settled some issues related to The Slants, the Washington Redskins, and D*kes on Bikes, the decision’s full impact remains to be seen. Issues remain ripe for future consideration. Most significantly, are trademarks considered “commercial speech?”  If so, laws relating to trademarks might be subject to relaxed scrutiny for constitutional compliance rather than strict scrutiny.

SCOTUS says Patents are a Government Franchise, Not a Vested Property Right

While there has been much optimism due to the arrival of USPTO Director Andrei Iancu and his recent speeches signaling he understands the U.S. patent system must move along a different path, it is impossible to think that one man will be able to correct the collective mistakes of 535 elected Members of Congress and 9 ivy league educated jurists who seem convinced that forfeiting America’s patent system is somehow what the Constitution demands. His job just became much more difficult, and all the more important.

Denying TC Heartland Changed the Law on Venue Ignores Reality

On May 22, 2017, in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands, LLC, 137 S.Ct. 1514 (2017), the Supreme Court held that patent venue is controlled exclusively by 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b), which restricts venue in patent cases to (1) where the Defendant resides, or (2) where the Defendant commits an act of infringement and has a regular and established place of business. The decision was immediately hailed by commentators as a significant break with past precedent… Despite the common perception of practitioners that the TC Heartland decision changed the law of venue in patent cases, the majority of district courts to address this issue have come to the opposite conclusion, finding that the decision merely reaffirmed existing law and could not excuse the failure to raise the defense earlier. The reasoning of these decisions is questionable, as is the refusal of these courts to recognize how dramatically TC Heartland changed the landscape for patent litigation.

SCOTUS says OK to give notice of commercial marketing before FDA license under Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act

42 U.S.C. § 262(l) of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (BPCIA) regulates “biosimilars,” biological products that are highly similar to FDA-approved biological products. Section 262(l) has two notification requirements that are important to this case… The second question addressed by the Court was whether the applicant must provide notice after the FDA licenses its biosimilar, or if it may provide notice before the FDA licenses its biosimilar. The Court concluded that an applicant might, but does not have to, provide notice to the manufacturer of the biologic before obtaining a license from the FDA.

SCOTUS reverses Federal Circuit in TC Heartland, Patent Venue in State of Incorporation

The Supreme Court reversed the Federal Circuit and ruled that 28 U.S.C. 1400(b) remains the only applicable patent venue statute, that 28 U.S.C. 1391(c) did not modify or amend 1400(b) or the Court’s 1957 ruling in Fourco Glass Co. v. Transmirra Products Corp., and that the term “residence” in 28 U.S.C. 1400(b) means only the state in which a company is incorporated. The importance of this ruling should be immediately felt on patent litigation in the United States. No longer will a patent owner be able to sue an infringing defendant in a district court where the defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction. Instead, patent infringement lawsuits will only be able to be filed in districts within states where the infringing defendant is incorporated, or in districts where there has been an act of infringement and the defendant has a regular and established place of business.

Knock-Offs Beware: SCOTUS Makes a Fashion Forward Decision

The ruling has wide implications for both the fashion apparel and home furnishings industry, both of which rely on distinctive, eye-catching designs to sell products. The upshot for clothing and furniture companies is that the Varsity Brands ruling gives product manufacturers an additional tool to combat knock-off designs. With that in mind, manufacturers should review their product line to ensure their copyright-eligible products are protected under this new standard.

Frankly My Dear I Don’t Give a Tam: The Oddball Consequences of In re Tam

The Supreme Court heard oral argument on the cloudy Wednesday morning of January 18, 2017. Although the Justices posed tough questions and intricate hypotheticals to both sides, the tone of each Justice’s questions and their individual jurisprudences indicate an even 4-4 split, with Justices Breyer, Ginsberg, Kagan, and Sotomayor favoring the USPTO, and Justices Alito, Kennedy, Thomas, and Chief Justice Roberts favoring Tam. Of course, oral argument is often shaky, at best, when predicting the outcome of a case, especially one with such potential for a drastic overhaul of a body of law… Although no one can know for certain the outcome of Lee v. Tam, one consequence that appears very likely is that, if the Court does rule in favor Tam, it would strike the entirety of Section 2(a), not just the portion prohibiting disparaging marks that forms the central issue of the case. John C. Connell, counsel for Tam, went so far as to call that result “inevitable” in response to Justice Ginsberg’s question on the topic.

Is the Supreme Court breathtakingly dishonest or just completely clueless?

In Star Athletica Breyer laments that the majority is ignoring the statute, refers to copyrights as a monopoly, and explains that copyrights are a tax on consumers… These seemingly innocent comments demonstrate a breathtaking dishonesty, which is hardly a newsworthy conclusion, or even much of a revelation to anyone in the patent community. Still, over the past few days the drivel that has been sprinkled into Supreme Court opinions has been particularly nauseating. The ends justify the means for the Supreme Court. When it is convenient they defer to Congress and wax poetically about the importance of stare decisis, as they actually had the gall to do in Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment. When adhering to well-established rules and expectations of an entire industry is inconvenient, they create exceptions to statutes, ignore statutory schemes altogether, and overrule generations of well-established law.

Can the Supreme Court’s erosion of patent rights be reversed?

The resulting decisions reveal the Supreme Court’s holistic outlook as a generalist court concerned with broad legal consistency rather than fidelity to patent law’s underlying specialized and unique features moored in technology research, invention, and patenting processes. Unfortunately, as shown below, the adverse effects on patent rights due to the deviant patent doctrines arising out of the Court’s decisions far exceed the benefits of assimilation and conformity of the patent law with the general law… The dearth in understanding technologies and related invention processes and the lack of prior expertise in patent law pertains to Justices across the political spectrum. Patent law raises questions that have the potential to divide conservatives and liberals alike, as it pits principles of liberty and property against one another. For example, the pillars of the recent problematic jurisprudence on patent-eligibility were authored by liberal Justice Breyer (Mayo v. Prometheus) and by conservative Justice Thomas (Alice v CLS Bank).

Supreme Court applies stare decisis in patent case

Simply stated, any patent decision from the Supreme Court that cites stare decisis lacks all intellectual credibility given how arbitrarily and capriciously they have ignored their patent own precedent and the patent statutes over the past decade. Obviously, this Supreme Court doesn’t understand the true definition of stare decisis. Given how frequently the Court disturbs well-established principles and precedent in the patent space the use of stare decisis in this case is nothing more than a complete and total cop-out. It also insults the intelligence of anyone who has even casually observed the Supreme Court on patent matters over the past decade.

Arbitrary and Capricious: Exploring Judge Lourie’s flip-flop in Ultramercial

It would be extremely unsettling if the Supreme Court has weakened Judge Lourie’s resolve to independently and properly interpret the Patent Act. If there is another explanation for his flip-flop on matters of patent eligibility I would love to hear it, but so far an explanation for diametrically different opinions has not been forthcoming. I don’t expect Judge Lourie to make a speech or hold a press conference like a politician, but if he is going to make diametrically opposite decisions in the same case, on the same facts, relating to the same claims, he owes litigants and the industry an explanation. Without an explanation it makes the entire process seem nothing more than arbitrary and capricious.

Supremes end Federal Circuit love affair with de novo review

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has had a very long love affair with de novo review, a standard whereby the reviewing appellate court can simply do whatever they want without giving any deference to the district court judge or the jury. It isn’t much of an exaggeration to say that the Federal Circuit does what they want, when they want, how they want, and they have rarely let the standard of review get in the way. That was until today. Assuming the Federal Circuit follows the Teva decision as they are supposed to and as they have mindlessly followed other recent Supreme Court decisions in Myriad, Mayo and Alice, the Federal Circuit’s application of the de novo review standard to everything will come to an abrupt end.

SCOTUS Rules Alice Software Claims Patent Ineligible

On Thursday, june 19, 2014, the United States Supreme Court issued its much anticipated decision in Alice v. CLS Bank. In a unanimous decision authored by Justice Thomas the Supreme Court Court held that because the claims are drawn to a patent-ineligible abstract idea, they are not eligible for a patent under Section 101. In what can only be described as an intellectually bankrupt opinion, the Supreme Court never once used the word “software” in its decision.