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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of copyright infringement claims brought by a monkey over selfies he took on a wildlife photographer's unattended camera. Naruto, a crested macaque, took several photos of himself on the camera, and the photographer and Wildlife Personalities subsequently published the Monkey Selfies in a book. PETA filed suit as next friend to Naruto, alleging copyright infringement. The panel held that the complaint included facts sufficient to establish Article III standing because it alleged that Naruto was the author and owner of the photographs and had suffered concrete and particularized economic harms; the monkey's Article III standing was not dependent on the sufficiency of PETA; but Naruto lacked statutory standing because the Copyright Act did not expressly authorize animals to file copyright infringement suits. Finally, the panel granted defendants' request for attorneys' fees on appeal. View "Naruto v. Slater" on Justia Law

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The patent, which lists Rieley and Muller as inventors and for which they applied for in 1997, describes the conversion of an incoming facsimile or voicemail message into a digital representation, which is then forwarded to an email address. The patent was originally assigned to JFAX, which was owned by Rieley and Muller. It is now assigned to AMT; j2 has an exclusive license. The patent expired in 2017. James alleges that in 1995 Rieley asked James to develop software that would provide “Fax-to-Email, Email-to-Fax, and Voicemail-to-Email” functions. In 1996, James and Rieley signed a contract that does not mention patent rights, but expressly requires the assignment to JFAX of “all copyright interests” in the developed “code and compiled software.” The system was complete in 1996. James assigned all copyrights in code and compiled software to JFAX, but “did not assign any patent ownership or inventorship rights.” He claims that he was not aware of the patent until 2013 when he was contacted by attorneys representing a defendant in an infringement suit. James brought a claim for correction of inventorship under 35 U.S.C. 256, with state-law claims for unjust enrichment, conversion, misappropriation, and unfair competition. Finding James had no Article III standing, the district court dismissed. The Federal Circuit reversed, finding that the agreement could be read as not assigning patent rights and as not establishing a hired-to-invent relationship. View "James v. J2 Cloud Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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Verified’s patent is directed to “auto-verification” of a voter’s ballot. In 2009, Verified sued Election Systems, which markets automated voting systems, for infringement. Election counterclaimed that the patent's claims were invalid under 35 U.S.C. 101, 102, 103, and 112. The court determined that claims 1–93 were not infringed and claim 94 was invalid under section 112. No further analysis of section 101 was provided; claim 49 was invalid under section 103, but not infringed, while claims 1–48, 50–84, and 86–92 were not invalid under sections 102 and 103. The Federal Circuit affirmed the invalidity of claim 49 and upheld that claims 1–48, 50–84, and 86–92 were not proven invalid because, in failing to respond to these arguments in its summary judgment briefing, Election had not met its burden to prove its invalidity counterclaims. In 2016, Verified again sued Election for infringement, asserting that issue preclusion, or collateral estoppel, precludes Election from relitigating the section 101 issue. The district court dismissed, concluding that the Supreme Court's 2014 “Alice” decision constituted a “substantial change” in the law such that “the issue of patent validity is not precluded from further litigation.” The court determined that the patent was based on the abstract idea of “vote collection and verification” and that the voting system was made up of “generic computer components performing generic computer functions,” insufficient to transform the abstract idea into patent-eligible subject matter. The Federal Circuit affirmed. While “Alice” did not constitute a substantial change in law and the section 101 issue was not actually litigated, the claims are patent-ineligible. View "Voter Verified, Inc. v. Election Systems & Software LLC" on Justia Law

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The patent is directed to improving the efficiency by which messages are sent from a receiver to a sender in a telecommunications system to advise the sender that errors occurred in a particular message.The patent is concerned with organizing the information contained in Status Protocol Data Units efficiently, to minimize the size of the S-PDUs, thus conserving bandwidth. The patent discloses several methods for encoding the sequence numbers of missing packets in S-PDUs. In inter partes review, the Patent Board found, and the Federal Circuit affirmed, that various claims were anticipated and that the petition for review was not time-barred. After an en banc court vacated the decision, addressing only the appealability of the Board’s time-bar determination under 35 U.S.C. 315(b), the panel reaffirmed the determinations left unaffected by the en banc court’s decision. With respect to the time-bar claim, the panel affirmed the decision of the Board. In making that determination, the Board did not apply a legally erroneous standard in deciding the “real party in interest, or privy” issue and based its decision on substantial evidence. View "Wi-Fi One, LLC v. Broadcom Corp." on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from the parties' dispute over adjudicating rights associated with The Sloppy Tuna, a restaurant in Montauk, NY. On appeal, Montauk challenged the district court's dismissal of its Lanham Act claims and motion for preliminary injunction under the first-filed rule. Montauk also challenged the district court's order to pay costs, including attorneys' fees, that Associates incurred in responding to a previous action Montauk brought against Associates in Georgia state court that Montauk voluntarily dismissed. The Second Circuit held that, because New York law allowed for derivative representation on the facts presented, the district court correctly rejected Montauk's request to hold Associates in default. Nonetheless, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of the complaint and preliminary injunction motion in favor of a first-filed federal Georgia action because the Georgia suit was transferred to the Eastern District of New York, so the reasoning behind the first-filed ruling no longer applied. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's award of costs under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(d), including attorneys' fees, incurred by Associates in the Georgia state action. View "Montauk U.S.A., LLC v. 148 South Emerson Associates LLC" on Justia Law

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John Bean’s patent, directed to a chiller for cooling poultry carcasses, issued in 2002. Morris is the only other U.S. poultry chiller manufacturer. Weeks after the patent issued, Morris sent a letter stating that Bean had been contacting Morris’s customers and claiming that the equipment being sold by Morris infringed the patent. That Demand Letter notified Bean that Morris believed the patent to be invalid based on prior art and claimed unfair competition. Bean never responded. Morris continued to sell its chillers. In 2013, Bean requested ex parte reexamination. The Patent Office rejected both claims of the 622 patent as anticipated or obvious. Bean amended the two original claims and added six claims. The Patent Office issued a reexamination certificate under 35 U.S.C. 307 allowing the amended and newly added claims. Bean sued, alleging infringement from the date the reexamination certificate issued. In 2016, the district court granted Morris summary judgment, finding the infringement action barred by laches and equitable estoppel based on the 2002 Demand Letter. The Federal Circuit reversed, noting the Supreme Court holding in SCA Hygiene Products (2017), that laches cannot be asserted as a defense to infringement occurring within the six-year period before the filing of an infringement complaint as prescribed by 35 U.S.C. 286. Tthe allegedly infringing activity for which Bean sought damages started in 2014, and Bean filed its infringement complaint in 2014; SCA Hygiene bars Morris’s laches defense. View "John Bean Technologies Corp. v. Morris & Associates, Inc." on Justia Law

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Droplets’s 115 Patent, describing a system “for delivering interactive links for presenting applications and second information at a client computer from remote sources in a network-configured computer processing system,” was filed in 2009, copending with the application leading to the 838 Patent, filed in 2003. The 838 Patent was copending with the application leading to the 745 Patent, filed in 2000; the 745 Patent was copending with the 917 Provisional, filed in 1999. A Patent Cooperation Treaty application was filed in 2000, and published in 2001. The specification of the 115 Patent includes a priority claim that specifically refers to the 838 Patent and incorporates its disclosure by reference and includes a cross reference to the 917 Provisional. The 115 Patent properly claims priority from the 838 Patent and is entitled to the benefit of the 2003 filing date; the 838 patent is entitled to the benefit of the 917 Provisional's 1999 filing date. The Patent Board found the 115 Patent invalid as obvious under 35 U.S.C. 103, reasoning that it failed to enumerate a priority claim sufficient to avoid fully-invalidating prior art; incorporation by reference is insufficient to satisfy a patentee’s burden of providing notice of the asserted priority date under 35 U.S.C. 120. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Because the 115 Patent expressly claims priority only to an immediately preceding application, and not the preceding provisional application, an earlier-filed reference (international publication with the same specification) invalidated it. View "Droplets, Inc. v. E*Trade Bank" on Justia Law

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In 1995, Raniere assigned all rights in the five patents to GTI. Raniere is not listed on GTI’s incorporation documents as an officer, director, or shareholder. GTI dissolved in 1996. In 2014, Raniere executed a document on behalf of GTI, as its “sole owner,” purportedly transferring the patents to himself. Raniere subsequently sued Microsoft and AT&T for infringement, identifying himself as the patents’ owner. Microsoft moved to dismiss for lack of standing, noting that the PTO’s records indicated that Raniere did not own the patents. Raniere produced documents that, according to the court, failed to indicate that Raniere had an ownership interest in GTI at any time or had the right to assign the patents. Raniere obtained documents from an attorney, showing the GTI shareholders’ consent to a transfer of shares from Raniere’s ex-girlfriend (75% owner of GTI) to Raniere. The documents did not indicate that any transfer was completed and did not establish that Raniere owned the patents. The district court held a hearing, found that Raniere’s testimony contradicted Raniere’s earlier representation that the shares had already been transferred and was “wholly incredible and untruthful,” concluded that Raniere was unlikely to be able to cure the standing defect, dismissed the case, and found that Raniere’s conduct demonstrated “a clear history of delay and contumacious conduct.” The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal and a subsequent award of prevailing parties attorney fees and costs, 35 U.S.C. 285. View "Raniere v. Microsoft Corp." on Justia Law

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In 1995, Raniere assigned all rights in the five patents to GTI. Raniere is not listed on GTI’s incorporation documents as an officer, director, or shareholder. GTI dissolved in 1996. In 2014, Raniere executed a document on behalf of GTI, as its “sole owner,” purportedly transferring the patents to himself. Raniere subsequently sued Microsoft and AT&T for infringement, identifying himself as the patents’ owner. Microsoft moved to dismiss for lack of standing, noting that the PTO’s records indicated that Raniere did not own the patents. Raniere produced documents that, according to the court, failed to indicate that Raniere had an ownership interest in GTI at any time or had the right to assign the patents. Raniere obtained documents from an attorney, showing the GTI shareholders’ consent to a transfer of shares from Raniere’s ex-girlfriend (75% owner of GTI) to Raniere. The documents did not indicate that any transfer was completed and did not establish that Raniere owned the patents. The district court held a hearing, found that Raniere’s testimony contradicted Raniere’s earlier representation that the shares had already been transferred and was “wholly incredible and untruthful,” concluded that Raniere was unlikely to be able to cure the standing defect, dismissed the case, and found that Raniere’s conduct demonstrated “a clear history of delay and contumacious conduct.” The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal and a subsequent award of prevailing parties attorney fees and costs, 35 U.S.C. 285. View "Raniere v. Microsoft Corp." on Justia Law

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Kamstrup filed a petition for inter partes review of the 559 patent. The Board instituted review, based in part on the Nielsen patent. During trial, Apator attempted to swear behind Nielsen’s effective filing date (March 25, 2010), 18 days before its own effective filing date of April 12 and proffered a declaration in which the inventor, Drachmann, declared he conceived of his invention, an ultrasonic consumption meter, before Nielsen’s effective filing date. Apator further proffered: an email from Drachmann to Tunheim dated February 15, 2010 that the Drachmann Declaration states attached an image file; a March 22, 2010 email to Tunheim that the Drachmann Declaration states attached a presentation; an email from Drachmann to Bjerngaard dated March 22, 2010 that the Drachmann Declaration states attached a file; and several drawings that the Drachmann Declaration states were created between February 15 and March 22, 2010. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board rejected Apator’s attempt to swear behind Nielsen and found the claims anticipated and obvious. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Apator failed to sufficiently corroborate Drachmann’s testimony of conception. None of the emails themselves indicate what file was attached or what such attachment disclosed. View "Apator Miitors ApS v. Kamstrup A/S" on Justia Law