Justia Intellectual Property Opinion Summaries

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Sullivan, a graphic design artist, produced 33 illustrations for Flora, an herbal supplement company, to use in two advertising campaigns. Upon noticing that Flora was using the illustrations in other ads, Sullivan brought suit for copyright infringement and opted to pursue statutory damages to maximize her potential payout by classifying each of her 33 illustrations as “one work” within the meaning of section 504(c)(1) of the Copyright Act. Flora argued that the illustrations were part of two broader compilations. The district court instructed the jury that Sullivan could recover separate awards of statutory damages for 33 acts of infringement on 33 separate illustrations. The jury returned a statutory damages award of $3.6 million. The Seventh Circuit vacated. The district court committed error in permitting separate awards of statutory damages unaccompanied by any finding that each or any of the 33 illustrations constituted “one work” within the meaning and protection of section 504(c)(1). View "Sullivan v. Flora, Inc." on Justia Law

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CGI’s 275 patent relates to an apparatus and method for communicating information about the status of a movable barrier, for example, a garage door. The district court rejected TTI’s allegation that the asserted claims are directed to the abstract idea of wireless transmission of content and, therefore, directed to patent-ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 101, finding the claims directed “to garage door openers that wirelessly transmit status information” and constituted “a particular improvement over prior art which uses a particular manner of sending and experiencing data.” The court granted CGI’s motions for enhanced damages and attorney fees. The Federal Circuit reversed in part, concluding that three claims are directed to an abstract idea and are patent-ineligible. No inventive concept exists in the asserted claims sufficient to transform the abstract idea of communicating status information about a system into a patent-eligible application of that idea. The court affirmed the jury’s verdict with respect to its finding of no anticipation of three claims of CGI’s 966 patent, directed to a rechargeable battery backup system for a barrier movement operator. The court vacated the injunction and awards of enhanced damages and attorney fees and remanded for reconsideration of enhanced damages and attorney fees with respect to only the 966 patent. View "Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Techtronic Industries Co. Ltd." on Justia Law

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Arthrex’s 541 patent describes a surgical suture anchor used to reattach soft tissue to bone. The disclosed “fully threaded suture anchor” includes “an eyelet shield that is molded into the distal part of the biodegradable suture anchor.” In an inter partes review, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruled two claims invalid. In doing so, the Board employed different language than Smith & Nephew, Inc.’s petition to explain why a person of ordinary skill in the art would have been motivated to combine the teachings of the prior art. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The Board’s minor variation in wording does not violate the safeguards of the Administrative Procedure Act and did not deprive Arthrex of an opportunity to be heard. The Board’s findings have substantial evidence support, its claim constructions are correct, and Arthrex has not articulated a cognizable constitutional challenge to inter partes review for its patent. View "Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this declaratory judgment action over the copyright ownership of six scores composed by Ennio Morricone, the assignee of Morricone's copyrights sought to terminate that assignment under the U.S. Copyright Act. The district court granted summary judgment to Bixio Music Group, the company in which Morricone assigned his rights to the scores. The Second Circuit reversed, holding that the scores were not works made for hire under either Italian law or U.S. law. Therefore, the works were subject to the termination right of 17 U.S.C. 203. View "Ennio Morricone Music, Inc. v. Bixio Music Group" on Justia Law

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In September 2017, Anza alleged that Mushkin had infringed its 927 patent, entitled “Flip Chip Bonding Tool and Ball Placement Capillary,” which relates to “dissipative and insulative ceramic flip chip bonding tools and capillaries for ball placement for bonding electrical connections.” After Mushkin was severed from another defendant and the case was transferred, the parties engaged in mediation. Anza conceded that its claims were no longer viable and was permitted to file an amended complaint in June 2018; Anza removed the infringement allegations regarding the 927 patent and alleged infringement of the 479 and 864 patents under 35 U.S.C. 271(g). Anza also omitted 10 of the 16 products that had originally been accused and added two new products. The district court dismissed, finding that Anza’s claim of damages for patent infringement was barred by the six-year statute of limitations, 35 U.S.C. 286 because the claims in Anza’s second amended complaint did not relate back to the date of Anza’s original complaint. The Federal Circuit vacated, finding the district court’s application of the relation-back doctrine overly restrictive. Claims in the second amended complaint that relate to the six originally accused products relate back to the original filing date and are not barred. For the products that were added in the second amended complaint, the district court must determine whether the allegations regarding those products are sufficiently similar that they should relate back to the filing date of the original complaint. View "Anza Technology, Inc. v. Mushkin, Inc." on Justia Law

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MyMail’s patents are directed to methods of modifying toolbars that are displayed on Internet-connected devices such as personal computers. MyMail sued ooVoo and IAC for infringement of the MyMail patents. After the Supreme Court’s 2017 opinion in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods, the parties agreed to transfer the lawsuits to the Northern District of California. That court dismissed, finding that the MyMail patents are directed to patent-ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 101. The Federal Circuit vacated the dismissal finding that the district court erred by declining to resolve the parties’ claim construction dispute before adjudging patent eligibility. MyMail had argued that the claimed inventions are patent-eligible, as evidenced in part by a construction of the term “toolbar” rendered by the Eastern District of Texas in an earlier proceeding involving the patent. View "MyMail, Ltd. v. ooVoo, LLC" on Justia Law

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Nalpropion markets Contrave® for weight management in overweight or obese adults, with three Orange Book-listed patents. The 626 patent is drawn to a method for treating overweight or obesity comprising diagnosing an individual as suffering from overweight or obesity by body mass index, administering bupropion in an amount effective to induce weight loss, and administering naltrexone in an amount effective to enhance the weight loss activity of bupropion. The 195 patent is also directed to methods of treating overweight or obesity, but the claims are drawn to specific dosages of sustained-release naltrexone and bupropion that achieve a specific dissolution profile. The 111 patent is directed to a composition of sustained-release bupropion and naltrexone for affecting weight loss. Actavis filed an abbreviated new drug application seeking to enter the market with a generic version of Contrave® before the expiration of those patents. Nalpropion alleged infringement; Actavis brought invalidity counterclaims. The district court held each claim not invalid and infringed. The Federal Circuit affirmed in part, rejecting Actavis’s argument that a claim of the 195 patent lacked adequate written description support because its claimed dissolution profile was achieved using one method but the specification discloses data obtained using another method. The court reversed with respect to the 626 patent; it would have been obvious for a person of skill to combine bupropion and naltrexone for treating overweight and obesity because both drugs were known to cause weight loss. View "Nalpropian Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Actavis Laboratories FL, Inc." on Justia Law

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Sanofi’s 170 and 592 patents respectively claim the compound cabazitaxel and methods of using it. Sanofi markets cabazitaxel under the trade name Jevtana® to treat certain drug-resistant prostate cancers. Both patents are listed in the Orange Book as covering cabazitaxel. Cabazitaxel belongs to a family of compounds called taxanes and is the third and most recent taxane drug to gain FDA approval. The others are paclitaxel, approved in 1992, and docetaxel, approved in 1996. Defendants filed Abbreviated New Drug Applications to market generic versions of cabazitaxel before the expiration of the patents, prompting Sanofi to sue for infringement. Defendants sought a declaration of invalidity. The district court found claims 7, 11, 14–16, and 26 of the 592 patent invalid as obvious and claims 1 and 2 of the 170 patent not invalid as obvious. The Federal Circuit vacated as to claims 7, 11, 14–16, and 26 of the 592 patent because there was no case or controversy with respect to those claims when the district court issued its decision. Sanofi’s disclaimer of the disclaimed claims mooted any controversy over them. The court affirmed that the 170 patent is not invalid as obvious over docetaxel. View "Sanofi-Aventis U.S., LLC v. Fresenius Kabi USA, LLC" on Justia Law

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Iridescent’s 119 patent, entitled “System and Method of Providing Bandwidth on Demand,” is directed to a system and method of network communication that provides guaranteed bandwidth on demand for applications that require high bandwidth and minimizes data delay and loss during transmission. In Iridescent’s infringement suit against AT&T, the parties stipulated to noninfringement based on the district court’s construction of the term “high quality of service connection.” The Federal Circuit affirmed. The term “high quality of service connection” is a term of degree that is limited to the minimum connection parameter requirements disclosed in Figure 3 of the 119 patent. The term means “a connection that assures connection speed of at least approximately one megabit per second and, where applicable based on the type of application, packet loss requirements that are about 10-5 and latency requirements that are less than one second.” View "Iridescent Networks, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility, LLC" on Justia Law

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MTD’s 458 patent discloses a steering and driving system for zero-turn radius (ZTR) vehicles, with specific reference to ZTR lawnmowers. The patented system is designed to provide a more intuitive steering mechanism to operators of ZTR vehicles. Toro sought inter partes review of claims 1–16 of the patent. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board found the challenged claims obvious under 35 U.S.C. 103, holding that the claim term “mechanical control assembly . . . configured to” perform certain functions is not a means-plus-function term subject to 35 U.S.C. 112. The Federal Circuit vacated, concluding that the Board erred by conflating corresponding structure in the specification with a structural definition for the term, and by misinterpreting certain statements in the prosecution history. Under the appropriate legal framework, the term “mechanical control assembly” is a means-plus-function term governed by section 112. That the specification discloses a structure corresponding to an asserted means-plus-function claim term does not necessarily mean that the claim term is understood by persons of ordinary skill in the art to connote a specific structure or a class of structures. View "MTD Products Inc. v. Iancu" on Justia Law