Posts Tagged: "patents"

Set Better Standards for Quality to Save the U.S. Patent System

A recent New York Times Editorial Board opinion urged comprehensive reform of America’s patent system by focusing on a few examples of what the Board views as “bad” drug-related patents. Unfortunately, the opinion does not define what makes a patent good or bad. Nor do the sources relied on by the Board provide open access to the underlying data on which such judgments are made. Calls for improving America’s patent system should be based on more than unverifiable grievances. Real reform will take more than just suggestions that nibble around the edges of our current patent system in response to broad allegations of unfairness. Real reform needs objective standards for measuring patent quality that can guide improvements. Such evidence about patent quality may show that fundamental aspects of our patent system must be updated to keep it relevant for today’s innovation economy.

Federal Circuit Signals Appetite for Increased PTAB Discretion in Motions to Amend

Patent owners facing inter partes review (IPR) challenges have the option of filing a motion to amend as a contingency plan. This motion, accompanied by proposed substitute claims, allows the patent owner a fallback position if the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) finds the original claims unpatentable. If successful, despite the unpatentability of the original claims, the patent owner maintains the substitute claims. While this sounds great in concept, the historical success rate of such motions is low. From October 2012 through March 2020, only 14% of motions to amend were granted. This improved slightly in 2020, to 25%, but dropped back to 18% in 2021 (calculated using data from Docket Navigator). The recent decision in Hunting Titan, Inc., v. DynaEnergetics Europe GmbH thus presents the somewhat rare case in which an amendment was granted by the PTAB and affirmed on appeal. That said, the Federal Circuit’s narrow holding does not indicate an easier future for patent owners’ motions to amend; indeed, the opposite may be true.

Patent Practitioners Tell Justices to Forget American Axle—Fix Eligibility Law with Interactive Wearables’ Petition

A group of patent practitioners told the Supreme Court on Thursday that a case involving a patent for a type of content player would be a better vehicle for unraveling the patent eligibility problem than American Axle & Manufacturing v. Neapco Holdings, which has been awaiting a brief of the U.S. Solicitor General for about one year now. The case is Interactive Wearables, LLC v. Polar Electro Oy and Polar Electro, Inc. Interactive Wearables petitioned the High Court in March 2022.

Jump Rope Systems Asks CAFC for Initial En Banc Rehearing Challenging Collateral Estoppel Ruling in XY v. Trans Ova Genetics

On April 19, exercise equipment developer Jump Rope Systems filed a petition  with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) seeking an initial hearing en banc to challenge a consent judgment  entered in a patent infringement case filed in the Southern District of Ohio. Jump Rope Systems is asking the full Federal Circuit to overturn its own decision in XY, LLC v. Trans Ova Genetics, L.C. (2018), arguing that preclusive effect cannot be given to invalidity determinations issued by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) because XY conflicts with U.S. Supreme Court rulings on collateral estoppel doctrine.

CAFC Reverses District Court Finding that Apple Lacked Personal Jurisdiction Over Zipit

On April 18, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) reversed and remanded the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California’s decision dismissing Apple Inc.’s complaint for declaratory judgment of noninfringement for lack of personal jurisdiction. Apple brought the complaint against patent owner Zipit Wireless, Inc. The CAFC found the district court erred in interpreting precedential cases as applying a bright-line rule that patent infringement notice letters and related communications can never form the basis for personal jurisdiction.

New York Times Editorial Board Lobs Unfounded Criticism at Patent System, Iancu

The New York Times Editorial Board over the weekend penned an op-ed charging that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has “devolved into a backwater office that large corporations game, politicians ignore and average citizens are wholly excluded from.” The piece calls for an overhaul of the U.S. patent system and for new USPTO Director Kathi Vidal and Congress to “seize the opportunity…to modernize and fortify the patent system.” It includes input from Priti Krishtel of the Initiative for Medicines, Access and Knowledge (I-MAK)—which recently has been the subject of scrutiny by pro-patent lawmakers like Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC)—and Charles Duan, who has testified to Congress that patents deter genetic research and “bully and suppress true innovators.”

Netflix Scores as California Judge Says Broadcom’s Dynamic Resource Provisioning Patent Claim is Abstract under Alice

Last week, U.S. District Judge James Donato of the Northern District of California issued a judgment on the pleadings invalidating claims from one of 12 patents asserted by semiconductor and software developer Broadcom against streaming video provider Netflix. The ruling is the latest setback for Broadcom in its enforcement campaign against Netflix’s use of patented server technologies to support streaming media services that are cutting into Broadcom’s market for semiconductors developed for use in set-top boxes.

DABUS Sent Back to Drawing Board Following Reversal of Inventorship Decision by Australia Court

On April 13, 2022, the Federal Court of Australia, on appeal, reversed its 2021 decision that DABUS, an artificial intelligence (AI) machine, qualified as an inventor for a patent application under Australian law. DABUS is a computer built, programmed and owned by Dr. Stephen Thaler. Thaler has filed patent applications in several countries around the world for inventions created by DABUS. Each application names DABUS as the sole inventor. Patent offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia determined that the applications were incomplete, since a human inventor was not identified. Thaler appealed each application in the patent offices, all of which continued to rule that an AI machine was not an inventor. On further appeals, courts in the United States and the United Kingdom have agreed with the patent offices and ruled against Thaler. However, in 2021, the Federal Court of Australia issued an opinion by a primary judge, who reversed the Australian Patent Office and held that Australia’s law did not require an inventor to be a natural person.

IP Practice Vlogs: Writing Strong Patents

In the United States, patent prosecution practice is primarily shaped by two governing bodies: 1) the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which issues procedural practice guidelines, and 2) judicial rulings from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. When it comes to the matter of Section 101 subject matter eligibility, the USPTO and the Federal Circuit diverge somewhat in their analysis, specifically in their consideration of what constitutes an “abstract idea.” Our modern-day concept of “abstract idea” is shaped by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Alice v. CLS Bank in 2014. The USPTO and the Federal Circuit both operate under the Alice doctrine of “abstract idea” when it comes to assessing subject matter eligibility, particularly when it comes to software patents. Alice requires that an “abstract idea” has “something more” than what is well-understood, routine and conventional in order to be patent eligible.

Patent Filings Roundup: Denial of Me-Too Joinder under General Plastics; Magnetar Sub, Wielding LG Wireless Charging Patents, Sues Volkswagen

A light district court week saw just 37 new patent complaints filed (I believe, the lowest week of the year to date); statistically, the beginning of the year, month, and quarter are generally lower than the rest of the year in terms of patent filings, due primarily to the filing patterns of megafiler IP Edge and their proclivity to ramp up filings at the ends of months and quarters. There were 78 terminations (just above average). Frequent filer, RFC Lenders of Texas LLC, ensnared yet another local Texas company, this time Texas Southern Tire Mart LLC, in volume patent litigation; Intellectual Ventures refiled their new automotive OEM campaign outside of the Eastern District of Texas, moving to the Northern for certain OEMs; and Jack Henry Associates, as provider to many banks and websites of check deposit software, filed a declaratory judgment action against frequent filer, Lupercal LLC.

Vidal Takes the Helm as USPTO’s Second Congressionally Approved Woman Director

On Wednesday, April 13, Kathi Vidal was officially sworn in and began her role as the new Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Chief Judge Kimberly Moore administered the oath of office, and Vidal now assumes her position at the helm of the agency and head of its 13,000 employees. She is the second woman to be confirmed by the Senate to the position. “I am excited to join America’s innovation agency,” said Vidal, according to a USPTO press release. “This nationwide workforce of more than 13,000 employees is one of the most talented and respected the world over, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to work with them to help bring more ideas to impact, including in key technologies and through inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Leahy/ Tillis Announce Bill to Balance PTAB Process

Last night, the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property published an op-ed in The Hill on the important role the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) plays in the U.S. patent ecosystem, and expressed their commitment to strong patent rights as a necessity for American innovation to flourish. “In order to ensure America’s continued dominance in all areas of innovation, we must have strong patent rights,” Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) wrote. “However, for our patent rights to truly be strong, they have to be based on high-quality patents… The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) plays a critical role in this process and is a necessary backstop to invalidate truly low-quality patents that do not represent true innovation and never should have been issued.”

Money, Media, Votes, and Passing H.R. 5874

All things in Washington are driven by money, media and votes. If you can deliver one or more of those things, you will get the results you want. Engaging in politics with this in mind is key to fixing the broken patent system by passing HR 5874, the Restoring American Leadership in Innovation Act (RALIA). Since no mortal can compete with Big Tech’s big bucks and their control of social media, and the media in general, the only lever remaining is delivering votes back home, or more importantly, delivering those votes to candidates who commit to supporting HR 5874.

CAFC Vacates Section 112 Indefiniteness Ruling, Sending St. Jude Medical Back to Court

On April 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential decision in Niazi Licensing Corp. v. St. Jude Medical S.C., Inc. in which the court affirmed most of a ruling from the District of Minnesota, including sanctions against Niazi for improper use of expert testimony, as well as a finding of no induced infringement by St. Jude on one of Niazi’s asserted patent claims. However, the Federal Circuit’s decision reversed the Minnesota district court’s ruling invalidating most patent claims asserted by Niazi for indefiniteness under Section 112. The CAFC found that Niazi’s asserted claims were not invalid simply for including descriptive words or terms of degree, as long as the intrinsic record and extrinsic evidence enable a skilled artisan to identify the boundaries of a claim’s scope.

CAFC Orders New Damages Trial for Roche, Clarifies Standard for Patent Damages Limitations Period

On April 8, in a mixed and split precedential decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed, reversed, vacated, and remanded a decision by the U.S. District Court for the district of Delaware in a patent infringement suit brought by Meso Scale Diagnostics (Meso) against Roche Diagnostic Corporation and BioVeris Corporation (collectively Roche). Judge Pauline Newman dissented. Meso brought suit claiming that Roche violated exclusive license rights belonging to Meso by both direct and induced infringement of their patents. The CAFC affirmed the district court’s findings on the direct infringement claim, reversed the induced infringement finding, vacated the awarded damages, and remanded for a new trial on damages.