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Posts Tagged: "Patent Act"

Rethinking Article III Standing in IPR Appeals at the Federal Circuit

In 2011, as part of the American Invents Act (“AIA”), Congress significantly restructured the way in which previously issued patents could be challenged.   In some cases, existing post-issuance proceedings, like ex parte reexamination and reissue proceedings, were kept intact as such proceedings existed prior to the AIA.  In other cases, existing post-issuance proceedings, like inter partes reexamination, were replaced with new proceedings, such as the inter partes review proceedings (“IPRs”).    In addition, brand new proceedings were created, such as post-grant review proceedings (“PGRs”), covered business method patent review proceedings (“CBMs”), and supplemental examination proceedings.  In each instance, Congress made policy choices as to who could (or could not) bring and/or participate in such proceedings, and who could (or could not) raise challenges to decisions made by the government in such proceedings. 

Proving A Patent Invalid: The Burden is on the Challenger

When an individual or company challenges the validity of a patent, “the burden of establishing invalidity of a patent or any claim thereof shall rest on the party asserting such invalidity.” In other words, the challenger bears the burden of demonstrating that the patent is invalid—the individual or company holding the patent need not show that the patent is valid. However, the text of the statute is silent on the precise nature of the challenger’s burden.

Design Patent Owners Find Optimism in Columbia Sportswear Jury Verdict

The first design patent case to go to trial since Apple v. Samsung has given design patent owners hope that a ‘total profit’ award is still achievable… Patent owners are keeping a close eye on how juries respond to the new legal framework, and will be carefully attuned to appeals from these cases as the Federal Circuit addresses the standards that apply to design patent damages cases going forward. If patent owners continue to get total profits for design patent infringement, even after Samsung v. Apple, companies are likely to increase their efforts in obtaining design patents, particularly given the current climate facing utility patents.

When all else fails, consult the statute!

Specifically, the petition presents the question: is patent ineligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101, which Congress did not codify in 35 U.S.C. § 282(b), not a cognizable defense in a patent litigation? The question presented parallels that of the one recently decided by the Supreme Court in SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC, 137 S. Ct. 954 (2017). In SCA Hygiene, the Supreme Court examined 35 U.S.C. § 282(b), which enumerates the defenses that may be raised in a patent litigation, and held that laches, which is not recited in § 282(b), is not a defense to patent damages within the statute of limitations set forth in 35 U.S.C. § 286. RPost’s petition asks the Court to again examine § 282(b) in order to determine whether patent ineligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101, which, like laches, is not recited in § 282(b), is similarly not a defense that may be raised in a patent litigation.

The Impact of Bad Patents on American Businesses

What is a bad patent? Congress has established the requirements for obtaining a patent. The patent office grants a patent to applicants when they meet those requirements. It is simple. No trolls involved. If there are bad patents, then either the law is bad, or the patent office is not following the law when they grant the patents. Is the patent office issuing patents that do not meet the requirements set forth by Congress in the Patent Act? Or is the Patent Act too generous in setting forth the conditions for granting a patent?

Pity the Patients if Exclusive Licensing is Undermined

We’ve learned from experience that just because a theory’s off base doesn’t mean it won’t take root, particularly when it involves patents and medicine. “No Vaccines Before the Next Zika Outbreak?: A Case for IP Preparedness”  by Professor Ana Santos Rutshman, a faculty fellow in Health Law and Intellectual Property at DePaul University, Co-Director of the Global Healthcare Innovation Alliances at Duke University, and consultant to the World Health Organization, previews  her upcoming UCLA law review article. It could be titled “Developing Treatments Without Patents: Let’s Give it a Try.” The article blames exclusive licensing for the lack of a Zika vaccine citing the failed deal between the Department of the Army and Sanofi. The remedy: banning exclusive licensing for federally supported inventions related to specific diseases while imposing price controls on other life science discoveries. Before this bandwagon rolls, let’s look at the quality of its construction.

For A Trial Court Peering Through The Looking Glass, Everything Appears Abstract

Many district courts have interpreted Alice as authorizing invalidation of issued patents as “abstract” based solely on the pleadings. They have done so even where the invalidation rests on resolution of a disputed issue of fact or of claim construction or scope. In short, since Alice, the Federal Circuit has done nothing to clear up the district courts’ confusion, but instead has affirmed pleading invalidations more than 90 percent of the time. Nothing in Alice, or Mayo for that matter, authorized these “pleadings invalidations.” Whether you agree with the decisions or not, both Alice and Mayo, were decided on summary judgment.

CAFC says Attorney’s Fees are an Equitable Remedy Not Subject to Right to a Jury Trial

Avid sought fees as a prevailing party under § 285, and therefore the attorney’s fees in this action were properly characterized as an equitable remedy, properly decided by a judge. AIA argued that when an award of attorney’s fees is based in part or in whole on a party’s state of mind, intent, or culpability, only a jury may decide those issues. The Court rejected this argument because AIA provided no cases holding that once an issue is deemed equitable, a Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial may still attach to certain underlying determinations.

Octane Standard for Attorney’s Fees Applies to Lanham Act and Patent Act Cases

In mag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil, Inc., Romag sued Fossil for patent and trademark infringement and a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (“CUTPA”) after one batch of Fossil’s handbags appeared to have counterfeit magnetic snaps. The jury found Fossil liable for patent and trademark infringement and for violating the CUTPA. The Federal Circuit affirmed the patent and trademark infringement verdicts. After that appeal, Romag sought attorney’s fees under the Patent Act, Lanham Act, and the CUTPA. The district court awarded attorney’s fees under all but the Lanham Act… The Supreme Court’s “objectively unreasonable” standard for attorney’s fees set forth in Octane applies to infringement cases under the Lanham Act and the Patent Act. In attorney’s fee disputes, courts must consider the totality of the circumstances, including the conduct of both parties.

Patent ‘gold rush’ to blame for patent sharks, patent trolls

Patent trolls – as well as calls for changes to the law to prevent them – date back to at least the 1800’s. A look at their history suggests that they have more to do with fluidity in the definition of patentable subject matter than any unique feature of a particular class of inventions… A change in a fundamental definition of what comprised patentable subject matter, and that change brought a major building block of commerce into the ambit of the patent system. In the age of the sharks, the farm remained the core of the U.S. economy, driving a gold rush of new patents covering every element of the farming process. Such a rush also encourages the formation of patent thickets, as speculators scramble for any potentially protectable chunk of the market. The same phenomenon drove the development of modern tech and software patents. In the aftermath of State Street, once again the market found that the machinery that undergirded the economy was suddenly open to being patented, leading to a similar gold rush.

Revising Section 101 of the Patent Act: What’s at Stake?

These revisions favor patent owners, according to Palmer, but not everyone is supportive. For instance, Bilski, Mayo, Myriad, and Alice have given several accused infringers an additional tool for fighting non-practicing entities. So. the level of support for these revisions will depend where you fall on this spectrum. That being said, Palmer does not think the Court will change its eligibility analysis in the foreseeable future, and Congress is not likely to take up these anytime soon.

PTAB Appellants Must Pay USPTO’s Attorneys’ Fees Regardless of Outcome of Appeal

In Nantkwest v. Matal, the Federal Circuit reversed the Eastern District of Virginia’s denial of the USPTO’s request for attorneys’ fees in connection with Nantkwest’s district court appeal of the PTAB rejection of its patent application. At issue was the correct interpretation of Section 145 of the Patent Act, namely the language “[a]ll of the expenses of the proceeding.” The Court held that Section 145 of the Patent Act requires the appellant to pay the USPTO’s attorneys’ fees, regardless of the outcome of the case.

End of Laches Might Increase Declaratory Judgment Actions

Without laches, accused infringers might more frequently invoke declaratory judgment to clear their products and services upfront rather than tolerate a looming threat of suit for years…. The Supreme Court’s recent decision in SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC (Mar. 21, 2017) eliminated the equitable defense of laches in patent cases.  While time will reveal the impact of the SCA decision, elimination of laches, an equitable defense against “unreasonable, prejudicial delay in commencing suit,” Id. at 3 (citing Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.(2014), provides greater security to patent owners who assert claims several years after discovering potential infringement.  Conversely, the decision removes one shield—albeit a relatively modest shield—from the accused infringer’s armament of potential defenses. 

Supreme Court Eliminates Key Defense in Many Patent Infringement Suits

In a strong reversal of the Federal Circuit, the US Supreme Court held in SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v First Quality Baby Products, LLC, No. 15-927 (March 21, 2017), that delay by a patentee will not give rise to a laches defense during the statutory six-year damages period under 35 U.S.C. § 286. Justice Samuel Alito authored the 7–1 majority opinion, extending the court’s decision in Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (2014), which held that laches is inapplicable for copyright infringement, a provision similar to Section 286 of the Patent Act… The Supreme Court noted that its determination regarding laches does not preclude a defense based on equitable estoppel…

§ 101 Rejections in the Post-Alice Era

The § 101 rejection rate for patent applications in the e-commerce work groups approaches 100%, then drops precipitously for the remaining seven of the top ten work groups with the greatest percentage of § 101 rejections. Before Bilski, the § 101 rejection rate in the e-commerce work groups hovered around around the 30% mark, but has now tripled. The remaining work groups have also seen their § 101 rejection rates rise by 200-300%, although they make up a significantly smaller proportion of total rejections than in the e-commerce art units. While it did not surprise us that these work groups were at the very top of the list for § 101 rejections, we also wanted to know what other technologies are particularly prone to § 101 rejections.