Justia Intellectual Property Opinion Summaries

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LHO's Chicago hotel underwent a branding change in February 2014 when the establishment became “Hotel Chicago,” a signature Marriott venue. Around May 2016, Perillo and his associated entities opened their own “Hotel Chicago” three miles from LHO’s site. LHO sued for trademark infringement and unfair competition under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a), and for trademark infringement and deceptive trade practices under Illinois law. After more than a year, LHO moved to voluntarily dismiss its claims, with prejudice. Defendants made a post‐judgment request for attorney fees, 15 U.S.C. 1117(a), for the prevailing party in “exceptional cases.” The parties identified two distinct standards for exceptionality: the Seventh Circuit’s standard, that a case is exceptional under section 1117(a) if the decision to bring the claim constitutes an “abuse of process” and the more relaxed totality‐of‐the‐circumstances approach under the Patent Act that the Supreme Court announced in Octane Fitness (2014). Other circuits have extended Octane to the Lanham Act. The district judge acknowledged Octane but adhered to the “abuse‐of‐process” standard and declined to award fees. The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that Octane’s “exceptional case” standard controls. The court noted the legislative history, the Patent Act’s identical language, and the Supreme Court’s use of trademark law in Oc‐ tane View "LHO Chicago River, L.L.C. v. Perillo" on Justia Law

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On inter partes reexamination after the Federal Circuit vacated the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s prior decision, the Board reversed the patent examiner’s rejection of new claims presented by Firepass (the patent owner). The patent discloses a fire prevention and suppression system that prevents and extinguishes fires using breathable air instead of water, foam, or toxic chemicals— each of which can present risks to personnel or electronic equipment. The invention is based on the inventor’s alleged discovery that a low-oxygen (hypoxic” but normal pressure (normbaric) atmosphere inhibits fire ignition and combustion, yet remains breathable for humans. The Federal Circuit vacated the Board’s reversal of the examiner’s rejection of the claims. The Board erred in its analogous art analysis by declining to consider record evidence relied on by Airbus to demonstrate the knowledge and perspective of a person of ordinary skill in the art at the time of the invention. The court remanded for consideration whether a particular prior art reference is analogous art in view of the four prior art references relied on by Airbus to demonstrate the knowledge and perspective of a person of ordinary skill in the art at the time of the invention. View "Airbus S.A.S. v. Firepass Corp." on Justia Law

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Ericsson’s 052 patent describes and claims a “direct conversion receiver” for wireless communication systems that may receive signals from systems that operate at different frequency bands. On inter partes review, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board found that all of the challenged claims are unpatentable on the ground of obviousness, 35 U.S.C. 103. The Federal Circuit affirmed, finding that substantial evidence established that a specific foreign publication is an available reference against the patent. The article at issue was published in a German periodical whose cover states the date “Mai/Juni” 1996, more than one year earlier than Ericsson’s filing date of July 1, 1997. While journal issue did not reach the UCLA library until October 1996, substantial evidence supports the ruling that it was accessible to the public in the May/June 1996 period. Substantial evidence also supports the finding that the article renders obvious the claim 18 “steps of generating a first oscillator signal and frequency dividing the first oscillator signal to generate the in-phase and quadrature oscillator signals prior to the step of mixing.” View "Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson v. TCL Corp." on Justia Law

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The 2012 patent application relates to the construction of travel trailers with two compartments, living quarters and a garage portion, separated by a wall assembly. Claim 1 covers a travel trailer with first and second compartments separated by a wall assembly which is movable so as to alter the relative dimensions of the compartments without altering the exterior appearance of the travel trailer. Claim 2 covers a travel trailer having compartments separated by a wall assembly having a side member located adjacent to and movable in parallel with respect to a sidewall of the trailer, and the wall assembly moved along the longitudinal length of the trailer by drive means positioned between the side member and the sidewall. The examiner rejected both claims under 35 U.S.C. 102(b) as anticipated by patents that describe a conventional truck trailer and that describe a bulkhead for shipping compartments. The inventors argued that a “travel trailer” is “a type of recreational vehicle” and that the examiner erred by rejecting the claims without addressing the level of ordinary skill in the art. The Board affirmed, concluding the preamble term “travel trailer” is a mere statement of intended use that does not limit the claim. The Federal Circuit reversed. The Board erred in concluding “travel trailer” does not limit the scope of the claims; "no one would confuse a travel trailer with a truck trailer." View "In re: Fought" on Justia Law

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In “Arthrex,” the Federal Circuit concluded that the appointments of Administrative Patent Judges (APJs) violated the Appointments Clause and vacated a decision made by a panel of APJs. Customedia sought to assert the same challenge. The Federal Circuit denied a motion to vacate, finding that Customedia forfeited its Appointments Clause challenge. Arguments not raised in the opening brief are waived. Appointments Clause challenges are not jurisdictional and must be properly raised on appeal. Customedia did not raise any semblance of an Appointments Clause challenge in its opening brief or raise this challenge in a motion filed prior to its opening brief. View "Customedia Technologies,, LLC v. Dish Network Corp." on Justia Law

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Arthrex’s patent is directed to a knotless suture securing assembly. On inter partes review, heard by a three-judge panel consisting of three Patent Trial and Appeal Board Administrative Patent Judges (APJs), several claims were found to be unpatentable as anticipated. Arthrex appealed and argued that the appointment of the APJs by the Secretary of Commerce, as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 6(a), violates the Appointments Clause, U.S. Const., art. II, section 2, cl. 2. The Federal Circuit agreed and vacated the decision. The statute as currently constructed makes the APJs principal officers, requiring appointment by the President as opposed to the Secretary of Commerce. The court considered review within the agency over APJ panel decisions, the Director’s supervisory powers, and that APJs can only be removed from service for “misconduct [that] is likely to have an adverse impact on the agency’s performance of its functions,” 5 U.S.C. 7513. Under existing law, APJs issue decisions that are final on behalf of the Executive Branch and are not removable without cause. To remedy the violation, the court concluded that severing the portion of the Patent Act restricting removal of the APJs is sufficient to render the APJs inferior officers and remedy the constitutional appointment problem. View "Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc." on Justia Law

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Index and Gilead were developing drugs for treating the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Idenix alleged that the imminent FDA approval, and launch, of Gilead’s HCV treatment drug sofosbuvir would infringe Idenix’s 597 patent. After a jury trial, Gilead stipulated to infringement under the district court’s claim construction but argued that the patent was invalid for failure to meet the written description and enablement requirements. The jury found for Idenix, upheld the patent and awarded damages. The district court denied Gilead’s motion with respect to written description but granted judgment as a matter of law on enablement, holding the 597 patent invalid. The Federal Circuit affirmed as to non-enablement and held that the patent is also invalid for lack of written description. Although the level of skill in the art is high, the patent does not provide enough meaningful guidance or working examples, across the full scope of the claim, to allow a person of ordinary skill in the art to determine which nucleosides would be effective against HCV without extensive screening. The immense breadth of screening required amounts to "undue experimentation." Given the conspicuous absence of that compound, a person of ordinary skill in the art would not “visualize or recognize the members of the genus” as including 2'-fluoro-down, and the specification could not demonstrate that the inventor had possession of that embodiment at the time of filing. View "Idenix Pharmaceuticals LLC v. Gilead Sciences Inc." on Justia Law

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Liqwd’s patent, titled “Keratin Treatment Formulations and Methods,” relates to formulations and methods of treating hair, skin, or nails by mixing compounds with a coloring or bleaching formulation to achieve a repairing or strengthening effect. The described formulations contain polyfunctional compounds referred to as “active agents” that may be maleic acid, salts thereof, or other compounds. L’Oreal sought post-grant review by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, which found that certain claims were obvious under 35 U.S.C. 103 in light of prior references. The Board found that L’Oreal used Liqwd’s confidential information and copied Liqwd’s patented method but disregarded its factual finding in concluding that the copying involved was legally irrelevant. Federal Circuit vacated. Objective indicia “‘may often be the most probative and cogent evidence’ of nonobviousness” and copying by a competitor is a relevant consideration in the objective indicia analysis. The proponent of objective evidence offered to show nonobviousness, such as copying, must show that a nexus exists between the evidence and the claimed features of the invention. View "Liqwd, Inc. v. L'Oreal USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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This lawsuit stemmed from MGA and Mattel's dispute over ownership of the Bratz line of dolls and claims of copyright infringement. The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court that, under California law, the same suspicions that allowed MGA to request discovery and plead the unclean hands defense in the federal court in 2007 were sufficient to trigger the statute of limitation on its misappropriation of trade secrets claim which was filed in federal court in 2010. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment on the complaint because it was barred by the statute of limitations. View "MGA Entertainment, Inc. v. Mattel, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Army Corps of Engineers awarded Ikhana a contract to build a Pentagon facility by October 12, 2015. Ikhana procured required performance and payments bonds from GCNA, which required Ikhana to execute a general indemnity agreement, including a provision that assigned GCNA all rights under the contract if Ikhana defaulted or if GCNA made a payment on any bond. Each time Ikhana discovered a new worksite problem, it had to halt work until the Corps issued a unilateral contract change, causing significant delays and cost overruns. One modification required a power outage at the Pentagon, but the Corps never scheduled the outage. By mid-October 2015, construction stopped; Ikhana submitted claims seeking additional compensation and an extension of the deadline. Ikhana’s sub-contractors filed claims against GCNA’s bond. The Corps terminated Ikhana and made a claim on the bond. Ikhana appealed the termination and its claims to the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals. GCNA and the Corps negotiated for GCNA to tender a completion contractor. GCNA invoked the indemnity agreement and entered into a settlement with the Corps then sought a declaratory judgment that the agreement authorized it to settle Ikhana’s dispute with the Corps and dismiss the Board appeal. The district court stayed GCNA’s action pending resolution of Ikhana’s Board appeal. The Federal Circuit affirmed the denial of GCNA’s motion to intervene and withdraw Ikhana’s Board appeal. GCNA lacked standing. A party seeking to supplant the plaintiff must be able to show that it could have initiated the complaint on its own. GCNA’s settlement agreement with the Corps, even if it constitutes a takeover agreement, does not entitle GCNA to assert claims that arose before the settlement. View "Guarantee Co. of North America USA v. Ikhana, LLC" on Justia Law