Justia Intellectual Property Opinion Summaries
Matthew Green v. DOJ
Claiming that the code they write qualifies as speech protected by the First Amendment, Appellants brought a pre-enforcement action challenging the DMCA on facial and as-applied First Amendment grounds. The government moved to dismiss all claims, and the district court partially granted the motion. The district court dismissed all, but the as-applied First Amendment claims. The district court summarily denied an injunction for the dismissed claims. Appellants appealed the district court’s dismissal of their facial challenge and denial of injunctive relief. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Appellants’ motion for a preliminary injunction and remanded for further proceedings. The court first addressed jurisdiction and held that declaring the DMCA facially unconstitutional would resolve Appellants’ as-applied claims, but not so in reverse, ensuring that their as-applied claims remain anything but inextricably bound to their facial challenge. The court, therefore, held that it lacked jurisdiction over Appellants’ facial challenge. In regards to the Appellant, that wants to publish an academic book “to instruct readers in the methods of security research,” which will include “examples of code capable of bypassing security measures, the court held that the government’s concession ends any “credible threat of prosecution” against Appellant, leaving him without standing to obtain a preliminary injunction. Moreover, the court held that the other Appellant’s arguments on the remaining preliminary injunction factors rest entirely on his flawed claim that continued enforcement of the DMCA imperils his First Amendment rights. View "Matthew Green v. DOJ" on Justia Law
Treehouse Avatar LLC v. Valve Corp.
Treehouse sued Valve for infringement of its patent, which discloses a method of collecting data from an information network in response to user choices of a plurality of users navigating character-enabled network sites on the network. Valve owns two accused video games that involve team-based competitions. The parties adopted the interpretation of the “CE limitation” that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board reached in a previous inter partes review: “A network location, other than a user device, operating under control of a site program to present a character, object, or scene to a user interface.” Treehouse’s infringement expert, Friedman, submitted a report that applied the plain and ordinary meaning for the CE limitation rather than the agreed-upon construction,The district court ruled in favor of Valve, striking every paragraph of Friedman’s report that Valve requested and finding noninfringement because Treehouse failed to offer admissible evidence showing that Valve’s video games operated the CE limitation. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The district court did not abuse its discretion in striking expert testimony that did not rely upon the parties’ own agreed-upon construction, that the court adopted, nor err in finding that Treehouse failed to rebut Valve’s evidence of noninfringement. View "Treehouse Avatar LLC v. Valve Corp." on Justia Law
MGFB Properties, Inc., et al. v. 495 Productions Holdings LLC, et al.
Plaintiffs sued Defendants, alleging that the title of Defendants’ series, MTV Floribama Shore, infringes on Plaintiffs’ Flora-Bama trademarks. The district court granted summary judgment to Defendants. Plaintiffs timely appealed. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment for Defendants. The court explained that the titles are not being used as trademarks to identify and distinguish the source of the artistic works. Plaintiffs have presented no evidence that any of these titles to the third parties’ artistic works have any source-identifying function. Because these titles are not being used as trademarks, this is not a title-versus-title case for purposes of the Rogers footnote. Further, Plaintiffs have not provided any evidence that they own interests in those artistic works as trademarks for Plaintiffs’ own goods or services—the foundation of trademark rights. Indeed, nothing in the record would allow a reasonable jury to conclude that the public views Plaintiffs as the source of these artistic works. Moreover, Plaintiffs’ claims are premised on alleged confusion with Plaintiffs’ commercial establishments, not with any artistic works purportedly owned by Plaintiffs. As Defendants note, Plaintiffs’ complaint did not claim rights in or allege any confusion relating to any artistic work, and Plaintiffs’ cease-and-desist letter did not mention any artistic works. View "MGFB Properties, Inc., et al. v. 495 Productions Holdings LLC, et al." on Justia Law
CUPP Computing AS v. Trend Micro Inc.
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
Pocket Plus, LLC v. Pike Brands, LLC
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
VLSI Technology LLC v. Intel Corp.
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
PUNCHBOWL, INC. V. AJ PRESS, LLC
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
SAN ANTONIO WINERY, INC. V. JIAXING MICAROSE TRADE CO.
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
American National Manufacturing Inc. v. Sleep Number Corp.
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
Caudill Seed & Warehouse Co. Inc. v. Jarrow Formulas, Inc.
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