Posts Tagged: "Patent Litigation"

A Winning Patent Infringement Defense: Reexamination Creates Intervening Rights, Erases $29.4 Million Verdict

Companies accused of patent infringement are increasingly looking at patent reexamination at the Patent Office as an attractive avenue for challenging the patent’s validity. Reexamination offers a number of well-known advantages as a forum for such validity challenges over District Court, among them the absence of a presumption of validity and a lower burden of proof. Less well-known, however, is the potential for reexamination to eliminate an accused infringer’s liability for past damages – even if the PTO confirms the validity of a patent in reexamination, the accused infringer might be entitled to “intervening rights,” effectively eliminating past damages, if the patent owner amends its claims to distinguish its invention over the prior art. This possibility of “intervening rights” received a big boost last week with the CAFC’s decision in Marine Polymer Techs. v. HemCon, finding that such rights may be created even without an amendment of the claims if the patent owner presents arguments in reexamination that “effectively amend” the claims.

Chief Judge Rader: “We Need to Tolerate A Little Injustice”

During his contemporaneous, unscripted speech, Chief Judge Randall Rader made several remarks about the access to justice that raised some eyebrows. On Friday we were told that we need to tolerate the injustice of certain rules that might lead to an unfair result, but then on Saturday morning during the Judges’ panel we were told that rules of thumb couldn’t and shouldn’t apply to the law of damages. Rader on one hand was saying that certainty and relatively bright line rules are necessary to control the process of litigation, but then on the other hand saying that a flexible, case-by-case approach needs to be what we pursue. In short, it seems to me that Judge Rader wants to have his cake and eat it too! I dissented in person, and I dissent here and now.

CAFC: Intervening Rights for Claims Unamended During Reexam*

I like writing about esoteric patent law topics and the question of “intervening rights” in reexaminations/reissues is one of the more esoteric. See my 1998 JPTOS article entitledIntervening Rights: A Potential Hidden Trap for Reexamined Patent. The case of Marine Polymer Technologies, Inc. v. HemCon, Inc. is one of those rare instances in this esoteric area of patent law where the Federal Circuit announced a new “wrinkle” on when “intervening rights” apply in reexamination. Unfortunately, the rule announced by the majority in Marine Polymer Technologies (“intervening rights” apply to unamended claims based on statements made during reexamination) is squarely in conflict with the express language of 35 U.S.C. § 307(b), as Judge Lourie’s dissent vigorously (and more importantly, correctly) points out.

America Invents: A Simple Guide to Patent Reform, Part 1

There will be plenty of time to drill down on the particulars of the America Invents Act. The Act is dense, language choices from section to section in some places change and in other places remains the same, making you suspect that different terms must mean different things but the same term in different places has to mean the same thing, right? That being said, I thought I might take this opportunity to provide a high level overview of the America Invents Act.  What follows is discussion of 5 provisions contained in the Act.  Look for an overview breakdown of additional provisions (prior user rights, supplemental examination, post-grant review, etc.) coming soon.

America Invents Act Exercises “Con-Troll” Over Patent Litigation

The economics of mass patent enforcement have changed. A patent owner will no longer be able to casually sue a multitude of parties with a single filing, participate in proceedings in a single action in a single venue likely convenient only for the plaintiff, and thereby expeditiously pursue a recovery against numerous disparate parties. Actions will have to be filed individually against each accused infringer. The patent owner will have to participate in, contend with and address procedural and substantive aspects of each action.

Throwing Down the Gauntlet: Rader Rules in Utramercial that Breadth and Lack Specificity Does Not Make Claimed Method Impermissibly Abstract*

Some will undoubtedly view the Chief Judge’s basis in Ultramercial for distinguishing the ruling in CyberSource as being “slight of hand” and using “mirrors,” but it certainly illustrates the wide gulf of views between the various members on the Federal Circuit on the patent-eligibility question. I wouldn’t be surprised (and frankly it needs to happen) if both Ultramercial and CyberSource ended up before the en banc Federal Circuit. As I’ve noted previously, we’ve currently got what appear to be irreconcilable decisions in the Classen, Prometheus, and AMP cases in determining the patent-eligibility of certain medical (e.g., diagnostic) methods. With what appears to be similarly conflicting decisions in Ultramercial and CyberSource, the gauntlet has truly been thrown down. An en banc Federal Circuit needs to step in soon, or the conflagration that currently exists in the patent-eligibility “war” might soon consume us all.

America Invents: How the New Law Impacts Your Patent Practice

The America Invents Act, which just recently passed by the Congress and sent to the White House for President Obama’s signature, is the most significant patent reform legislation in decades, and it promises to change virtually all of patent practice as we know it over the next 18 months. Some pieces of the legislation will go into effect almost immediately,…

CAFC on Patent-Eligibility: A Firestorm of Opinions in Classen*

That there was a majority (and a dissenting) opinion in the remand of Classen wasn’t surprising. But that there was yet a third “additional views” opinion would likely not have been predicted by anyone. And it is that “additional views” opinion, along with the majority and dissenting opinions, that will certainly generate a “firestorm” through the Federal Circuit, and which may eventually reach the Supreme Court. The judicial donnybrook on the question of what the standard is (or should be) for patent-eligibility under 35 U.S.C. §101 is about to begin in earnest.

Is it too late on Patent Reform?

Now, we’re about to toss it out in favor of a “first to file” bent with post grant challenges and derivation proceedings? Say what…….why? What did the statute do wrong? 8 million patents is a reasonable figure to have achieved. The US is the cross roads of the world’s technology with a statutory “negative pressure” that draws innovators and their ideas here. This country has flourished.

Indicia of Extortion – Federal Circuit Slams Patent Troll

It was also determined that the underlying patent litigation was brought for no other reason than to extract nuisance payments despite the fact that there was no infringement. Specifically, the district court determined that Eon-Net filed the lawsuit against Flagstar had “indicia of extortion” because it was part of Eon-Net’s history of filing nearly identical patent infringement complaints against a plethora of diverse defendants, where Eon-Net followed each filing with a demand for a quick settlement at a price far lower than the cost to defend the litigation.

Patent Litigation Statistics: 1980 – 2010

In trying to determine whether patent litigation is out of control it is worth looking at the numbers of patent cases terminated and how they are terminated. What becomes clear is that there is no statistically relevant increase in the number of trails over the last 30 years even with a significant increase in the number of cases commenced. The following charts show that while actual trials remains largely constant over the last 30 years there has been growth in the number of patent litigations terminated without any court action, as well as increase in cases terminated with court action and before pre-trial and the number of cases terminated between pre-trial and trial.

Groupon Sued for Patent Infringement

SellerBid, Inc. brought the patent infringement lawsuit (see complaint) demanding a jury trial, against Groupon and others on July 20, 2011. Somewhat surprisingly, the lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The Eastern District of Virginia is famously known by attorneys everywhere as “the Rocket Docket,” thanks to how fast cases go from filing to trial. Expect the defendants to seek to remove the case and the Eastern District of Virginia to be sympathetic to the defendants if there is any reason to suspect that SellerBid was merely attempting to manufacture jurisdiction and venue.

The Problem with Patent Trolls

To me a patent troll is not just someone who has acquired a patent for purpose of licensing or bringing a lawsuit, but rather one who is engaging in some kind of unfair business practice. The telltale sign of a patent troll is one who is abusing the patent right in order to shake down a defendant for payment. This type of behavior is typically exhibited by non-practicing entities who are not innovators, but rather acquire patent rights. However, the act of bringing specious claims to provoke a settlement would, in my opinion, be just as bad if brought by an innovator.

InterDigital vs. Nokia, Huawei and ZTE at ITC in Patent Dispute

This InterDigital complaint arises under Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. § 1337). Pursuant to Section 337, the ITC conducts investigations into allegations of unfair practices relating to importation and trade. Section 337 declares the infringement of certain statutory intellectual property rights and other forms of unfair competition to be unlawful practices. Section 337 investigations conducted by the U.S. International Trade Commission most often involve claims regarding intellectual property rights, including allegations of patent infringement and trademark infringement by imported goods. In this case, the InterDigital complaint asserts the defendants are infringing U.S. Patent Nos. 7,349,540, 7,502,406, 7,536,013, 7,616,970, 7,706,332, 7,706,830, and 7,970,127.

What’s Wrong with Reexamination and How to Make it Better

The real sin is that reexamination could be a much better process. Those in Congress talk about alleviating the burden on the district courts by having a reexamination proceeding available, but they don’t seem to appreciate why it is that reexamination is under utilized. On top of that, patent reform circulating in Congress does absolutely nothing to revamp reexamination in a way that would streamline the process and make it more appealing. What patent reform does do, however, is add yet another procedure to bog down the Patent Office while not allowing the Patent Office to set fees and keep those fees they collect to do the work that is promised when they accept those fees. So if patent reform passes you can anticipate that the reexamination pendency numbers will get even more ugly, making the option even less appealing.