Justia Intellectual Property Opinion Summaries
Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Apple, Inc.
Uniloc filed patent infringement actions against Apple, which moved to dismiss, arguing that Uniloc had granted its creditor a license with the right to sublicense in the event of a Uniloc default. According to Apple, Uniloc had defaulted and “lacked the right to exclude Apple from using the patents.” Apple’s motion referenced material that Uniloc had designated as highly confidential. Uniloc asked the court to seal most of the materials in the parties’ filings, including citations to case law, quotations from published opinions, and 23 entire exhibits, including matters of public record. The court denied that motion. Uniloc sought reconsideration, stating that it was willing to make public more than 90 percent of the material it had originally sought to shield; it submitted a declaration including individual grounds for redacting or sealing the remaining materials and declarations from third-party licensees that disclosure would cause them significant competitive harm. The court denied Uniloc’s motion. The Federal Circuit affirmed with respect to Uniloc’s requests to seal its purportedly confidential information and that of its related entities and vacated with respect to licensees. In denying Uniloc’s “sweeping motion,” the court sent a strong message that litigants should submit narrow, well-supported sealing requests and “took seriously the presumption of public access.” The court failed to make sufficient findings on balancing the public’s right of access against the interests of the third parties in shielding their financial and licensing information from public view. View "Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Apple, Inc." on Justia Law
Fitbit, Inc. v. Valencell, Inc.
Valencell’s patent, entitled “Methods and Apparatus for Generating Data Output Containing Physiological and Motion-Related Information,” concerns systems for monitoring information such as blood oxygen level, heart rate, and physical activity. Apple sought inter partes review (IPR) of claims 1–13. The Patent Board instituted review of several claims but denied review of claims 3–5. Fitbit then filed an IPR petition for claims 1, 2, and 6–13 and moved for joinder with Apple’s IPR. The Board granted Fitbit’s petition, terminating Fitbit’s separate proceeding. The Supreme Court then held that all patent claims challenged in an IPR petition must be reviewed by the Board if the petition is granted. The Board re-instituted conducted further proceedings and issued a Final Written Decision, finding claims 1, 2, and 6–13 unpatentable, and claims 3–5 not unpatentable. Following the decision, Apple withdrew from the proceeding. Valencell challenged Fitbit’s right to appeal as to claims 3–5. The Federal Circuit held that Fitbit has a right to appeal but vacated as to claims 3–5. Fitbit’s rights as a joined party apply to the entire proceedings and include the right of appeal, conforming to the statutory purpose of avoiding redundant actions by facilitating consolidation, while preserving statutory rights, including judicial review. The court remanded for review of the patentability of claims 3-5 in light of claims of obviousness. View "Fitbit, Inc. v. Valencell, Inc." on Justia Law
In Re Boloro Global Ltd.
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board, in an ex parte appeal, affirmed an examiner’s rejection of claims in Boloro’s patent applications. Boloro moved to vacate. The Director of the Patent and Trademark Office acknowledged that the administrative patent judges (APJs) were not constitutionally appointed at the time of the Board’s final decision. The Federal Circuit has previously held that the appropriate remedy for such a constitutional violation was to vacate the Board’s decision and to remand for reassignment to a different panel of APJs for a new hearing and decision. The Director urges that the same remedy should not be extended to ex parte proceedings, like the Boloro proceedings, because the Director possesses “complete control over the initial examination” and could at any time before the Board proceedings have directed the issuance of Boloro’s patents but did not, consistent with the Board’s subsequent decisions. The Federal Circuit rejected that argument and remanded to the Board. View "In Re Boloro Global Ltd." on Justia Law
Genentech, Inc. v. Immunex Rhode Island Corp.
Genentech manufactures and sells bevacizumab, a biological product used to treat certain types of cancer, under the name Avastin. Amgen filed a biologics license application, 42 U.S.C. 262(k) to market a biosimilar version of Avastin—Mvasi. Mvasi received FDA approval effective September 2017. In October, Amgen notified Genentech of its intent to commercially market Mvasi starting no earlier than 180 days from the date of the letter. In August 2018, Amgen filed a third supplement to its Mvasi application to add a manufacturing facility and a fourth supplement to change its drug label. By July 2019, Amgen decided it would commercially launch Mvasi, intending to market it immediately. Genentech filed motions, seeking to preclude Amgen from commercially marketing Mvasi until Amgen “provides notice of its intent to commercially market such product” pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 262(l)(8) and 180 days have elapsed,” arguing that Amgen’s third and fourth supplements resulted in new and distinct applications that require new notices. The Federal Circuit affirmed the denial of the motions, reasoning that Amgen’s October 2017 commercial marketing notice for Mvasi satisfied Section 262(l)(8)(A)’s notice requirements. View "Genentech, Inc. v. Immunex Rhode Island Corp." on Justia Law
Digital Drilling Data Systems, LLC v. Petrolink Services, Inc.
Digidrill filed suit against its competitor, Petrolink, alleging that Petrolink hacked into its software at various oil drilling sites in order to "scrape" valuable drilling data in real time. The district court granted Petrolink's motion for summary judgment on Digidrill's copyright claims. Digidrill's unjust enrichment claim proceeded to trial, where a jury returned a verdict in Digidrill's favor. In regard to the copyright infringement claim, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that Digidrill likely waived its "qualitative importance" argument but, even if not, the argument fails on the merits because no reasonable jury could find substantial similarity based on the qualitative importance of the copied schema to DataLogger as a whole. The court also affirmed the district court's judgment as to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act claims, holding that the USB dongle and Interface Process did not effectively control access to the protected database schema. The court also held that Digidrill's unjust enrichment claim is not preempted by the Copyright Act because the claim incorporates an element beyond mere unauthorized copying. The court held that the available Texas authorities do not foreclose the possibility that a litigant may show the taking of an undue advantage without showing the violation of a law or legal duty. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's denial of Petrolink's judgment as a matter of law on the issue of whether Digidrill adduced sufficient evidence of the benefit Petrolink obtained from Digidrill. Finally, the court held that the district court failed to treat Petrolink as the prevailing party under the relevant statutes and failed to apply the correct legal standard. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's denial of Petrolink's motion for fees and remanded. View "Digital Drilling Data Systems, LLC v. Petrolink Services, Inc." on Justia Law
Immunex Corp v. Sandoz Inc.
The patents at issue are directed to the fusion protein etanercept and methods of making the same. Etanercept is the active ingredient in Immunex’s biologic drug Enbrel®, which is primarily indicated for reducing the signs and symptoms of moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder. Sandoz filed an abbreviated Biologics License Application (aBLA), seeking approval to market Erelzi, a biosimilar version of Enbrel®. In a patent infringement suit under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act, Sandoz stipulated to infringement of the asserted claims of the patents-in-suit. The district court held that Sandoz had failed to prove that the asserted claims of the patents-in-suit were invalid. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting claims of obviousness-type double patenting; failure to meet the written description requirement; and obviousness. View "Immunex Corp v. Sandoz Inc." on Justia Law
Electronic Communication Technologies, LLC v. ShoppersChoice.Com, LLC
ECT sued ShoppersChoice for infringement of its 261 patent, directed “to systems and methods that notify a party of travel status associated with one or more mobile things. ShoppersChoice challenged claim 11 as patent-ineligible, 35 U.S.C. 101. ShoppersChoice moved to join a patent eligibility hearing set in a parallel lawsuit, in which ECT alleged claim 11 infringement against other companies. The court conducted a consolidated hearing and invalidated claim 11 as directed to the abstract idea of providing advance notification of the pickup or delivery of a mobile thing. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that “the claim only entails applying longstanding commercial practices using generic computer components and technology.” ShoppersChoice sought attorney fees, citing evidence that ECT sent standardized demand letters and filed repeat infringement actions to obtain low-value “license fees” and force settlements. Before the court ruled, a California District Court awarded attorney fees against ECT in another case related to the patent. The Federal Circuit vacated a holding that the case was not exceptional. A pattern of litigation abuses characterized by the repeated filing of patent infringement actions for the sole purpose of forcing settlements, with no intention of testing the merits of one’s claims, is relevant to a district court’s exceptional case determination. The court clearly erred by failing to consider the objective unreasonableness of ECT’s alleging infringement of claim 11 against ShoppersChoice. View "Electronic Communication Technologies, LLC v. ShoppersChoice.Com, LLC" on Justia Law
Patent and Trademark Office v. Booking.com B.V.
A generic name—the name of a class of products or services—is ineligible for federal trademark registration. Booking.com, a travel-reservation website, sought federal registration of marks including the term “Booking.com.” Concluding that “Booking.com” was a generic name for online hotel-reservation services, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) refused registration. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the District Court decision that “Booking.com”—unlike the term “booking” standing alone—is not generic. The Supreme Court affirmed. A term styled “generic.com” is a generic name for a class of goods or services only if the term has that meaning to consumers. Whether a compound term is generic turns on whether that term, taken as a whole, signifies to consumers a class of goods or services. Consumers do not perceive the term “Booking.com” that way. Only one entity can occupy a particular Internet domain name at a time, so a “generic.com” term could convey to consumers an association with a particular website. An unyielding legal rule disregarding consumer perception would be incompatible with a bedrock principle of the Lanham Act. The PTO’s policy concerns do not support a categorical rule against the registration of “generic.com” terms. Several doctrines ensure that registration of “Booking.com” would not yield its holder a monopoly on the term “booking.” View "Patent and Trademark Office v. Booking.com B.V." on Justia Law
UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Kurbanov
Plaintiffs, twelve record companies, filed suit against defendant alleging claims for five separate violations of the Copyright Act. Plaintiffs are Delaware corporations, with eight having their principal place of business in New York, three in California, and one in Florida. Defendant, born in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, is a Russian citizen who still resides in Rostov-on-Don. Defendant owns and operates websites that offer visitors a stream-ripping service through which audio tracks may be extracted from videos available on various platforms and converted into a downloadable format. The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of defendant's motion to dismiss, holding that defendant's contacts sufficiently show he purposefully availed himself of the privilege of conducting business in Virginia. Therefore, the exercise of specific personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k)(1) is appropriate if it is constitutionally reasonable. Because the district court did not perform a reasonability analysis in the first instance, the court remanded for the district court to do so. View "UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Kurbanov" on Justia Law
B/E Aerospace, Inc. v. C&D Zodiac, Inc
On inter partes review (IPR) of B/E’s patents, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board found certain claims unpatentable as obvious. The patents relate to space-saving technologies for aircraft enclosures such as lavatory enclosures, closets, and galleys. The patents are directed to space-saving modifications to the walls of aircraft enclosures; they are not directed to the structures contained within those walls. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that the Board incorporated a claim limitation that is not present in the prior art. The challenged claims would have been obvious because modifying a combination of prior art to include a second recess was nothing more than the predictable application of known technology. The Board fully articulated its conclusion of obviousness, and substantial evidence supports the Board’s determination of obviousness independent of whether it erred in considering design drawings. View "B/E Aerospace, Inc. v. C&D Zodiac, Inc" on Justia Law