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Seoul's asserted patents are directed to methods of backlighting display panels, particularly LED displays used in televisions, laptop computers, and other electronics. The 209 patent teaches, “uniform illumination is difficult to achieve, and prior art devices frequently fail[ed] to provide a sufficiently uniform source of illumination for LCD displays.” The invention claimed in the patent purports to solve this problem by providing a light source that uniformly backlights the rear surface of the display panel. The district court entered summary judgment that claim 20 is not anticipated and awarded damages. The Federal Circuit affirmed that claim 20 of the 209 patent and the asserted 554 patent claims are not anticipated and upheld the denial of judgment as a matter of law of no induced infringement. The evidence, while not overwhelming, provides at least circumstantial evidence that would allow a jury to reasonably find that Emplas had knowledge of the patents and of its customers’ infringing activity and that it intended to induce their infringement. 35 U.S.C. 271(b), The court upheld the $70,000 award for infringement of the 209 patent but vacated the $4 million damages award for infringement of the 554 patent, as not supported by substantial evidence. View "Enplas Display Device Corp. v. Seoul Semiconductor Co." on Justia Law

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Ancora’s 941 patent, entitled “Method of Restricting Software Operation Within a License Limitation,” describes and claims methods of limiting a computer’s running of software not authorized for that computer to run. It issued in 2002, and the patentability of all claims was confirmed in a reexamination in 2010. Ancora sued HTC, alleging infringement of the 941 patent. The district court dismissed, concluding that the patent’s claims are invalid because their subject matter is ineligible for patenting under 35 U.S.C 101, as directed to, and ultimately claiming no more than, an abstract idea. The Federal Circuit reversed. The claimed advance is a concrete assignment of specified functions among a computer’s components to improve computer security, and this claimed improvement in computer functionality is eligible for patenting. The asserted innovation of the patent relates to where the license record is stored in the computer and the interaction of that memory with other memory to check for permission to run a program that is introduced into the computer. View "Ancora Technologies, Inc. v. HTC America, Inc." on Justia Law

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The patent, entitled “Rinseable splash shield and method of use,” discloses a vessel for containing contents to be mixed that is positioned in a mixing machine and a splash shield that is positioned to shield the opening of the vessel. After the material within the vessel is mixed by a mixing element, the splash shield is separated from the vessel and rinsed by a nozzle on the mixing machine. The patent describes how the invention “provide[s] a drink mixer having a splash shield that may be automatically rinsed following mixing of each batch or beverage, preferably without disassembly or removal of any components or disposable covers.” The Patent Trial and Appeal Board upheld the patentability of claim 21 under 35 U.S.C. 103. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that the Board changed claim construction theories midstream without providing the parties an opportunity to respond, and erred in construing the “nozzle” terms so as to require that the nozzles be prepositioned. Substantial evidence supports the Board’s decision ’s that Hamilton Beach did not persuasively establish a motivation to combine the prior art references to arrive at claim 21. View "Hamilton Beach Brands, Inc. v. f'real Foods, LLC" on Justia Law

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Around 1959, the company started doing business as Omaha Steaks. It has multiple trademark registrations that include the words “Omaha Steaks" and spent over $50 million in 2012 and 2013, on domestic advertising of its beef products through national radio, television, and freestanding print campaigns. It has been featured in national newspapers, magazines, television shows, and movies. It promotes its products via catalog and direct mail, a daily blast email, customer calls, and on social media. Omaha Steaks has 75 stores and two airport kiosks and sells via Amazon. In 1920, Greater Omaha Packing Company was formed; it sells boxed beef to wholesalers, such as hotels, restaurants, and food service institutions and has sold beef to Omaha Steaks since 1966. GOP sought to register the mark “GREATER OMAHA PROVIDING THE HIGHEST QUALITY BEEF” with a design for: “meat, including boxed beef primal cuts.” The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board dismissed Omaha Steak’s opposition, finding no likelihood of confusion between the opposed mark and Omaha Steaks’ registered trademarks. The Federal Circuit vacated. The Board’s fact-findings confirm that due to Omaha Steaks’ sales and marketing, the consuming public has been regularly exposed to its marks on a nationwide scale; the Board’s conclusion that Omaha Steaks did not provide any context for its “raw” sales figures and ad expenditures lacks substantial evidence. The Board’s findings regarding third-party use improperly relied on marks found on dissimilar goods not directed to the relevant public. View "Omaha Steaks International, Inc. v. Greater Omaha Packing Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff’s asserted RE940 patent, a reissue of its 805 patent, relates to boron steel sheets with an aluminum-based coating that, when hot-stamped, become highly mechanically resistant. In 2010, plaintiff sued AK Steel for infringement. The primary issue was whether steel sheets produced by AK met the mechanical resistance limitation of the 805 patent after thermal treatment. While the 2010 case was on remand, Plaintiff filed the complaint related to this appeal, asserting the RE940 patent. According to AK, the accused products in this case—steel sheets marketed and sold under the trade name ULTRALUME—are the same as the AXN steel sheets in the 2010 case. The district court granted AK summary judgment, citing collateral estoppel. The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded. Evidence indicates a material difference in the accused products, so collateral estoppel does not apply. Differences with respect to the claimed limitations constitute changes in controlling facts. Discovery is necessary to determine whether and to what extent AK supplied auto manufacturers with steel sheets with ultimate tensile strength in excess of 1,500 megapascals after thermal treatment, its knowledge and intent in doing so, and the relationships between AK, the hot-stampers, and the auto manufacturers during the relevant timeframe. View "Arcelormittal Atlantique v. AK Steel Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sued Oath in the Eastern District of New York, alleging patent infringement. Oath conducts business in New York, but is incorporated in Delaware; it does not have “a regular and established place of business” in the Eastern District as defined in the patent statute venue provision, 28 U.S.C. 1400(b) In 2016, Oath moved under FRCP 12(b)(6) to dismiss for failure to state a claim but did not object to venue. Oath withdrew its motion and filed an answer, admitting the complaint’s venue allegations but expressly reserving the right to challenge venue based upon any change in law, including the Supreme Court’s "TC Heartland" decision. The Supreme Court subsequently issued that decision, holding that, under section 1400(b), “a domestic corporation ‘resides’ only in its State of incorporation,” rejecting Federal Circuit precedent that a domestic corporation “resides” in any judicial district in which the defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction. Oath moved to dismiss. Plaintiffs argued that Oath had waived the venue defense because it was “available” in 2016. The district court agreed. In November 2017, the Federal Circuit held (Micron) that “TC Heartland changed the controlling law ... making the waiver rule ... inapplicable” but that venue rights might be forfeited by delay in asserting them in some circumstances. On reconsideration, the district court again denied Oath’s motion. The Federal Circuit remanded with instructions to either dismiss or transfer the case. The district court provided no analysis of why these circumstances supported a finding of forfeiture under section 1406(b) and erred in failing to apply the Micron precedent. View "In re: Oath Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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Under the circumstances of this case, copyright registration, without more, does not trigger accrual of an ownership claim under section 205(c) of the Copyright Act. The Second Circuit denied a petition for rehearing in a dispute over ownership of the renewal term copyrights of certain musical compositions and sound recordings. The court had previously vacated the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss for untimeliness under section 205(c) and remanded for further proceedings. View "Wilson v. Dynatone Publishing Co." on Justia Law

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Bell sued Vacuforce for copyright infringement, accusing it of publishing his photograph of the Indianapolis skyline on its website without a license. Vacuforce hired attorney Overhauser. The parties quickly settled; the federal lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice. Overhauser then moved to recover attorney fees from Bell, arguing that because the settlement produced a dismissal with prejudice, Vacuforce was the “prevailing party” for purposes of fees under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 505. The district court denied Overhauser’s as motion frivolous and misleading and ordered monetary sanctions against Overhauser: one under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 and another under 28 U.S.C. 1927. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the sanctions, rejecting an argument that a party can “prevail” for purposes of a fee-shifting statute by paying a settlement and obtaining a dismissal with prejudice. The district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing the section 1927 sanction. “Objective bad faith” will support such a sanction. A lawyer demonstrates objective bad faith when she “pursues a path that a reasonably careful attorney would have known, after appropriate inquiry, to be unsound.” The district court found that Overhauser’s legal contentions were baseless and that he failed to disclose the proper factual foundation necessary to evaluate his legal argument. View "Overhauser v. Bell" on Justia Law

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Under the Defend Trade Secrets Act, a defendant is not eligible for fees when the plaintiff obtains a dismissal without prejudice because such a dismissal does not establish the winner of the dispute. The Fifth Circuit held that taking the lead early in the lawsuit did not make defendants eligible for fees, nor did the trial court's postponement of the litigation when it allowed plaintiff to dismiss the federal suit without prejudice. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of fees. View "Dunster Live, LLC v. LoneStar Logos Management Co." on Justia Law

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Cisco’s 597 patent, titled “Method and Apparatus for Securing a Communications Device using a Logging Module,” relates generally to ensuring network device security by using a logging module with restricted configurability to detect and communicate changes to a network device’s configuration. Arista petitioned for an inter partes review (IPR) of certain claims of the patent. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board upheld some of those challenged claims as patentable but invalidated others. On appeal, Arista argued that the Board erred in construing the term “broadcast,” and that this error caused the Board to improperly reject Arista’s obviousness challenge to five claims. Cisco’s cross-appeal concerned the Board’s refusal to apply the doctrine of assignor estoppel. The Federal Circuit reversed as to Arista’s appeal, finding that the Board applied incorrect claim construction, and affirmed Cisco’s cross-appeal. While the issue of assignor estoppel was reviewable, section 311(a), by allowing “a person who is not the owner of a patent” to file an IPR, unambiguously dictates that assignor estoppel has no place in IPR proceedings. View "Arista Networks, Inc. v. Cisco Systems, Inc." on Justia Law