Justia Intellectual Property Opinion Summaries

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CUPP’s patents share a common name and priority date and address the problem of malicious attacks aimed at mobile devices. They generally concern systems and methods for waking a mobile device from a power-saving mode and then performing security operations on the device, “such as scanning a storage medium for malware, or updating security applications.” In inter partes review (IPR), the Patent Trial and Appeal Board concluded that the challenged claims in CUPP’s patents were unpatentable as obvious over two prior art references.The Federal Circuit affirmed, upholding a claim construction determination involving the limitation concerning a “security system processor,” which appears in every independent claim in the patents. Substantial evidence supports the Board’s finding that either prior art renders obvious a claimed “security agent” on a mobile device, which “perform[s] security services.” View "CUPP Computing AS v. Trend Micro Inc." on Justia Law

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Pocket Plus, LLC, sued Pike Brands, LLC (“Running Buddy”) for trade-dress infringement of Pocket Plus’s portable pouch. The district court granted summary judgment to Running Buddy and awarded it a portion of its requested attorney fees. Pocket Plus appealed the summary judgment, and both parties appeal the attorney fees award.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court wrote there is no genuine dispute that Pocket Plus’s trade dress is functional and thus not protected by trademark law. To grant trade-dress protection for Pocket Plus would be to hand it a monopoly over the “best” portable-pouch design. Trademark law precludes that. Further, Running Buddy argued that the district court abused its discretion in awarding only a portion of the requested fees. The court found no abuse of discretion in finding that this was an exceptional case. It considered the appropriate law, reviewed the litigation history, held a hearing, and explained its decision. View "Pocket Plus, LLC v. Pike Brands, LLC" on Justia Law

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VLSI sued Intel for infringing a patent, directed to “[a] technique for alleviating the problems of defects caused by stress applied to bond pads” of an integrated circuit. The district court construed the term “force region,” which appears in two independent claims, to mean a “region within the integrated circuit in which forces are exerted on the interconnect structure when a die attach is performed.” In the meantime, Intel sought inter partes review (IPR), and proposed the construction of “force region,” consistent with the construction that the district court adopted. The parties disagreed as to the meaning of the term “die attach.” In its Institution Decisions, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board stated that it disagreed with VLSI that the method of performing a “die attach” cannot include the method of wire bonding. In its Final Decision, the Board did not resolve the meaning of “die attach” but construed the term “force region” as “including at least the area directly under the bond pad.” The Board found that the patent specification made clear that the term “force region” was not limited to flip chip bonding, but could include wire bonding and concluded that the challenged claims were unpatentable for obviousness.The Federal Circuit affirmed the Board’s treatment of the “force region” limitation but held that the Board erred in construing the phrase “used for electrical interconnection” to encompass a metallic structure that is not connected to active circuitry. View "VLSI Technology LLC v. Intel Corp." on Justia Law

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Punchbowl is an online party and event planning service. AJ Press owns and operates Punchbowl News, a subscription-based online news publication that provides articles, podcasts, and videos about American politics, from a Washington, D.C. insider’s perspective. Punchbowl claimed that Punchbowl News is misusing its “Punchbowl” trademark (the Mark).   The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of AJ Press, LLC, in an action brought by Punchbowl, Inc. (Punchbowl), alleging violations of the Lanham Act for trademark infringement and unfair competition and related state law claims. The panel wrote that no reasonable buyer would believe that a company that operates a D.C. insider news publication is related to a “technology company” with a “focus on celebrations, holidays, events, and memory-making.” The panel wrote that this resolves not only the Lanham Act claims, but the state law claims as well. The panel explained that survey evidence of consumer confusion is not relevant to the question of whether AJ Press’s use of the Mark is explicitly misleading, which is a legal test for assessing whether the Lanham Act applies. The panel held that the district court’s denial of Punchbowl’s request for a continuance under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d) to permit further discovery was not an abuse of discretion. View "PUNCHBOWL, INC. V. AJ PRESS, LLC" on Justia Law

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San Antonio Winery, Inc.’s filed a proof of service in which it stated that it had served Jiaxing Jiaxing Micarose Trade Co., Ltd., through the Director of the PTO. When Jiaxing did not appear to defend itself in the action, the district court clerk granted San Antonio’s request for entry of default, after which San Antonio filed the motion for default judgment in which it asked the district court to issue a permanent injunction. Noting the lack of circuit-level precedent on whether the procedures of Section 1051(e) provide a means of serving defendants in court proceedings, the district court denied the motion on the ground that Jiaxing had not been properly served.   The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court’s order denying San Antonio’s motion for a default judgment against in an action in which San Antonio asserts claims under the Lanham Act and related state-law claims. The panel held that the service procedures of Section 1051(e) apply not only in administrative proceedings before the PTO but also in court proceedings. Because the district court erred in concluding otherwise, the panel vacated the district court’s order and remanded for further proceedings. View "SAN ANTONIO WINERY, INC. V. JIAXING MICAROSE TRADE CO." on Justia Law

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Sleep Number’s patents describe systems and methods that purport to adjust the pressure in an air mattress “in less time and with greater accuracy” than previously known.” In inter partes reviews (IPR), the Patent Trial and Appeal Board found that some, but not all, of the challenged claims were not unpatentable.The Federal Circuit affirmed, upholding the Board’s decision permitting Sleep Number to present proposed amended claims that both responded to a ground of unpatentability and made other wording changes unrelated to the IPR proceedings. Each proposed substitute claim included at least one responsive narrowing limitation, so Sleep Number was free to include other amendments, including any addressing perceived 35 U.S.C. 101 and 112 issues. American National challenged the proposed claims and the Board was free to determine whether the proposed claims were unpatentable. The Board did not err in determining that the proposed amended claims were enabled, despite an admitted error in the specification; that error and its correction would have been obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art. The court rejected arguments that the proposed amended claims should have been rejected for allegedly raising an inventorship issue and that the Board inappropriately considered the petitioner’s sales data in its secondary considerations analysis. View "American National Manufacturing Inc. v. Sleep Number Corp." on Justia Law

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Caudill's subsidiary develops nutritional supplements. Jarrow, a dietary-supplement company, solicited Ashurst, Caudill’s Director of Research, who had extensively researched the development of broccoli-seed derivatives at issue. Ashurst had signed Non-Disclosure, Non-Competition, and Secrecy Agreements, and annually signed Caudill’s employee handbook, which barred him from disclosing Caudill’s trade secrets or other confidential information. In April 2011, Ashurst, still a Caudill employee, emailed Jarrow confidential Caudill documents. Days later, Jarrow requested a file of the pertinent data. Ashurst sent a physical disc. On May 1, Ashurst began to work for Jarrow. Ashurst then submitted his resignation to Caudill. Ashurst’s Agreement with Jarrow indicated that Jarrow hired him to mimic his work for Caudill, Ashurst proposed that Jarrow adopt the process that Caudill used to manufacture the raw materials for its BroccoMax supplement. Jarrow brought an activated broccoli product into commercial production four months after hiring Ashurst. From 2012-2019, Jarrow earned $7.5 million in sales of their BroccoMax-type product.In a suit under the Kentucky Uniform Trade Secrets Act, the Sixth Circuit affirmed a judgment of $2,427,605 in damages awarded by the jury, $1,000,000 in exemplary damages, $3,254,303.50 in attorney fees, and $69,871.82 in costs against Jarrow. The court rejected arguments that Caudill failed to define one of its Trade Secrets adequately, failed to show that Jarrow acquired that Trade Secret; and did not introduce sufficient evidence attributing its damages to that misappropriation, as well as challenges to the awards of damages. View "Caudill Seed & Warehouse Co. Inc. v. Jarrow Formulas, Inc." on Justia Law

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Unicolors, which creates designs for use on textiles and garments, alleged that a design it created in 2011 (the EH101 design) is remarkably similar to a design printed on garments that H&M began selling in 2015 (the Xue Xu design). The Supreme Court held that lack of either factual or legal knowledge on the part of a copyright holder can excuse an inaccuracy in a copyright registration under the Copyright Act's safe-harbor provision, 17 U.S.C. Section 411(b)(1). Accordingly, the panel reviewed anew the threshold issue whether Unicolors holds a valid copyright in registration No. VA-1-770-400 (the '400 Registration), and concluded that under the correct standard, the '400 Registration is valid because the factual inaccuracies in the application are excused by the cited safe-harbor provision.   On remand, from the Supreme Court in this copyright-infringement action the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in general, save that it vacated and remanded with instructions to grant a new trial, limited only to damages, if Unicolors rejects the remittitur amount of $116,975.23. The panel held that a party seeking to invalidate a copyright registration under Section 411(b) must demonstrate that (1) the registrant submitted a resignation application containing inaccuracies, (2) the registrant knew that the application failed to comply with the requisite legal requirements, and (3) the inaccuracies in question were material to the registration decision by the Register of Copyrights. View "UNICOLORS, INC. V. H&M HENNES & MAURITZ, LP" on Justia Law

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SoClean, a medical-device company that produces sanitizing devices for CPAP machines, owns the 195 registration for the configuration of replacement filters for its sanitizing devices. SoClean sued its former distributor, Sunset, for patent infringement, and trademark infringement based on that registration. On a motion for a preliminary injunction, the district court concluded that SoClean was likely to succeed on the merits and was entitled to a presumption of irreparable harm. Balancing the equities and weighing the public interest, the court concluded that enjoining all sales of Sunset’s filters would “go[] much further than necessary” to “end any possible statutory violation.” The court crafted a narrow “injunction that prohibits Sunset from engaging in those practices that result in consumer confusion” and enjoined Sunset from marketing its filters “using images of the filter cartridge alone”; “[a]ny image, drawings, or other depictions of Sunset’s filter cartridge used for the purposes of promotion, marketing and/or sales shall prominently display the Sunset brand name in a manner that leaves no reasonable confusion that what is being sold is a Sunset brand filter.”The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the district court afforded too much weight to the presumption of validity and held Sunset to a higher standard of proof than the applicable preponderance-of-the-evidence standard. View "SoClean, Inc. v. Sunset Healthcare Solutions, Inc." on Justia Law

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Aire sued Apple for patent infringement in the Western District of Texas in October 2021. In April 2022, Apple moved for transfer to the Northern District of California. Apple submitted a declaration from an Apple finance manager, “to establish certain facts, such as the relevance, role, and locations of witnesses and their teams, as well as the relevance and locations of various categories of documents.” Shortly before the close of venue discovery, Apple sought leave to supplement its motion with additional declarations, offering to make the declarants available for deposition and stating non-opposition to a “reasonable continuance” of the transfer proceedings.The district court granted Apple’s motion, but sua sponte ordered the parties to complete fact discovery on the merits (which it extended for an additional 30 weeks) and go through another six weeks of re-briefing of the motion before it would rule on Apple’s request to transfer. Apple then sought a writ of mandamus. Citing judicial economy, the Federal Circuit vacated the district court’s amended scheduling order and directed the court to postpone fact discovery and other substantive proceedings until after consideration of Apple’s motion for transfer. View "In Re: Apple Inc." on Justia Law