Justia Intellectual Property Opinion Summaries

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Between November 2019 and August 2020, Core Optical Technologies, LLC filed complaints against three groups of defendants led by Nokia Corp., ADVA Optical Networking SE, and Cisco Systems, Inc. Core Optical alleged that these companies infringed on U.S. Patent No. 6,782,211, which was assigned to Core Optical by the inventor, Dr. Mark Core, in 2011. The defendants argued that the patent was actually owned by Dr. Core's former employer, TRW Inc., due to an employment-associated agreement signed by Dr. Core in 1990.The district court in the Central District of California agreed with the defendants, ruling that the 1990 agreement between Dr. Core and TRW automatically assigned the patent rights to TRW. The court found that the patent did not fall under an exception in the agreement for inventions developed entirely on the employee's own time, as Dr. Core had developed the patent while participating in a fellowship program funded by TRW.The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated the district court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. The appellate court found that the phrase "developed entirely on my own time" in the 1990 agreement was ambiguous and did not clearly indicate whether Dr. Core's time spent on his PhD research, which led to the invention, was considered his own time or partly TRW's time. The court concluded that further inquiry into the facts was needed to resolve this ambiguity. View "CORE OPTICAL TECHNOLOGIES, LLC v. NOKIA CORPORATION " on Justia Law

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Dexon Computer, Inc., a reseller of computer networking products, was sued by Cisco Systems, Inc. and Cisco Technologies, Inc. for federal trademark infringement and counterfeiting. The complaint alleged trademark infringements between 2006 and 2010, and thirty-five acts of infringement between 2015 and 2020. Dexon sought defense from Travelers Property Casualty Company of America under a liability policy it had purchased from Travelers. Travelers denied coverage and a duty to defend, arguing that all the alleged acts of trademark infringement were "related acts" under the policy and thus were deemed to have been committed before the policy's retroactive date.The District Court of Minnesota denied Travelers' motion to dismiss Dexon's claims for a declaratory judgment that Travelers has a duty to defend and indemnify. The court held that the documents submitted by the parties concerning the coverage dispute were not "matters outside the pleadings" and could be considered in ruling on the motion to dismiss. The court concluded that it could not hold, as a matter of law, that every act of trademark infringement alleged in the Cisco complaint was necessarily related to an act of trademark infringement that occurred prior to the retroactive date.The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The court held that the district court correctly determined that Travelers had a duty to defend Dexon in the entire Cisco Action. The court noted that this did not resolve whether Travelers has a duty to indemnify, and if so, the extent of that duty, which would depend on the ultimate resolution of the Cisco Action. View "Dexon Computer, Inc. v. Travelers Prop. Cas. Co. Am." on Justia Law

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The case involves Dragon Intellectual Property, LLC (Dragon), DISH Network L.L.C. (DISH), and Sirius XM Radio Inc. (SXM). Dragon sued DISH, SXM, and eight other defendants in 2013, alleging infringement of claims of U.S. Patent No. 5,930,444. DISH and SXM responded by sending letters to Dragon’s counsel, arguing that their products were not covered by the patent and that a reasonable pre-suit investigation would have shown this. Despite this, Dragon continued to pursue its infringement claims. In 2014, DISH filed a petition seeking inter partes review (IPR) of the patent, which was granted and joined by SXM. The district court stayed proceedings for DISH and SXM pending the Board's review.After the consolidated claim construction hearing, Dragon’s counsel withdrew. Based on the claim construction order, Dragon, DISH, SXM, and the other eight defendants stipulated to noninfringement as to the accused products, and the district court entered judgment of noninfringement in favor of all defendants. The Board later issued a final written decision holding all asserted claims unpatentable. In 2016, DISH and SXM moved for attorneys’ fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285 and 28 U.S.C. § 1927.The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court's decision that the case was exceptional and granted-in-part Appellants’ motion for attorneys’ fees under § 285 to the extent Appellants sought fees from Dragon for time spent litigating. However, the court denied-in-part the motion to the extent Appellants sought attorneys’ fees incurred solely during the IPR proceedings and recovery from Dragon’s former counsel, holding § 285 does not permit either form of recovery. The court also held that liability for attorneys’ fees awarded under § 285 does not extend to counsel. View "DRAGON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LLC v. DISH NETWORK L.L.C. " on Justia Law

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This case involves a dispute between Jacam Chemical Company 2013, LLC (Jacam) and its competitor GeoChemicals, LLC, along with Arthur Shepard Jr., a former Jacam employee who later worked for GeoChemicals. Jacam sued both Shepard and GeoChemicals, alleging breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, and tortious interference with contracts. Shepard and GeoChemicals countersued Jacam. The district court granted a declaratory judgment to Shepard, concluding that he owed no contractual obligations to Jacam, and dismissed the remaining claims of Jacam and GeoChemicals.The district court had previously reviewed the case and granted summary judgment to Shepard, holding that he had no enforceable agreements with Jacam. The court also dismissed all of Jacam’s and GeoChemicals’s other claims against each other. Both Jacam and GeoChemicals appealed aspects of the summary judgment order.The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The court found that neither the HCS Agreement nor the 2015 version of CES’s Conduct Code created an enforceable contract between Jacam and Shepard. The court also held that Jacam did not make reasonable efforts to keep its pricing information secret, which means the pricing information documents were not trade secrets which Shepard could misappropriate. Finally, the court agreed with the district court that Jacam’s tortious-interference claim fails. The court also dismissed GeoChemicals’s cross-appeal, holding that Jacam did not commit an independently tortious act that interfered with GeoChemicals’s relationship with Continental. View "Jacam Chemical Co. 2013, LLC v. Shepard" on Justia Law

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The case involves Creative Games Studio LLC and Ricardo Bach Cater, who sued Daniel Alves for alleged breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, constructive fraud, and deceit. The plaintiffs, who are co-founders of Creative Games Studio, a company that develops board games for online sale, accused Alves of collaborating with a competitor and using the company's funds and intellectual property for the competitor's benefit. Alves, a Brazilian citizen, was also a co-founder of the company. The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in Montana, where the company is based.The District Court of the Thirteenth Judicial District, Yellowstone County, dismissed the case due to lack of personal jurisdiction over Alves. The court determined that exercising jurisdiction over Alves would not comply with constitutional requirements. Alves had moved to dismiss the complaint under M. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) for lack of personal jurisdiction or under the doctrine of forum non-conveniens.The Supreme Court of the State of Montana affirmed the lower court's decision. The court found that Alves did not consent to jurisdiction and that subjecting him to the jurisdiction of Montana courts would not comply with due process. The court noted that Alves' only connection to Montana was the fact that one of the plaintiffs resided there and established the company in the state. The court concluded that the plaintiffs failed to show that Alves either availed himself of the privileges of Montana law or that their claims arose out of Alves's actions in Montana. View "Creative Games v Alves" on Justia Law

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The case involves a patent infringement dispute between Copan Italia S.p.A. and Copan Diagnostics Inc. (collectively, “Copan”) and Puritan Medical Products Company LLC and its affiliated companies (collectively, “Puritan”). Copan, the holder of several patents on flocked swabs used for collecting biological specimens, filed a patent infringement complaint against Puritan in the District of Maine. Puritan, in response, filed a partial motion to dismiss, claiming immunity under the Pandemic Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (“PREP Act”) for a portion of its accused product.The District Court for the District of Maine denied Puritan's motion to dismiss. The court found that Puritan had not shown, as a factual matter, that its flocked swabs were “covered countermeasures” under the PREP Act. The court also granted Puritan’s motion to amend its answer, allowing it to assert PREP Act immunity as a defense, subject to further argument.Puritan appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. However, the appellate court found that it lacked jurisdiction to review the case. The court reasoned that the district court's denial of Puritan's motion to dismiss did not conclusively determine any issue, which is a requirement for the application of the collateral order doctrine. The court suggested that the district court may wish to structure the litigation in a manner that could allow it to make a conclusive determination on Puritan’s PREP Act immunity defense before the case proceeds any further. The appeal was dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction. View "COPAN ITALIA SPA v. PURITAN MEDICAL PRODUCTS COMPANY LLC " on Justia Law

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The case revolves around a dispute between Sherman Nealy and Warner Chappell Music, Inc. Nealy, who co-founded Music Specialist, Inc. in 1983, alleged that he held the copyrights to the company's songs and that Warner Chappell's licensing activities infringed his rights. The infringing activity, according to Nealy, dated back to 2008, ten years before he brought suit. Nealy sought damages and profits for the alleged misconduct, as authorized by the Copyright Act. To proceed with his claims, Nealy had to show they were timely under the Copyright Act, which requires a plaintiff to file suit "within three years after the claim accrued." Nealy argued that all his claims were timely under the discovery rule because he did not learn of Warner Chappell’s infringing conduct until 2016, less than three years before he sued.In the District Court, Warner Chappell accepted that the discovery rule governed the timeliness of Nealy’s claims. However, it argued that even if Nealy could sue under that rule for infringements going back ten years, he could recover damages or profits for only those occurring in the last three. The District Court agreed, and Nealy appealed. The Eleventh Circuit reversed the decision, rejecting the notion of a three-year damages bar on a timely claim.The Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the Eleventh Circuit's decision. The Court held that the Copyright Act entitles a copyright owner to obtain monetary relief for any timely infringement claim, no matter when the infringement occurred. The Act’s statute of limitations establishes a three-year period for filing suit, which begins to run when a claim accrues. That provision establishes no separate three-year limit on recovering damages. If any time limit on damages exists, it must come from the Act’s remedial sections. But those provisions merely state that an infringer is liable either for statutory damages or for the owner’s actual damages and the infringer’s profits. There is no time limit on monetary recovery. So a copyright owner possessing a timely claim is entitled to damages for infringement, no matter when the infringement occurred. View "Warner Chappell Music, Inc. v. Nealy" on Justia Law

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In 2020, Zircon Corp. filed a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission alleging that Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. and Black & Decker (U.S.), Inc. violated section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 by importing and selling electronic stud finders that infringed on Zircon's patents. The Commission instituted an investigation based on Zircon's complaint. A Commission Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found no violation of section 337. On review, the Commission affirmed the ALJ's finding of no violation.The Commission's decision was based on two independent reasons. First, it affirmed the ALJ's determination that Zircon had not satisfied the economic prong of the domestic industry requirement. Zircon had argued that it met this requirement based on its investment in plant and equipment, its employment of labor and capital, and its investment in the exploitation of the asserted patents. However, the Commission found that Zircon had not provided an adequate basis to evaluate the investments and the significance of those investments with respect to each asserted patent.Second, the Commission found each of the claims of the patents that were before the Commission were either invalid or not infringed. The Commission found that all the asserted claims of one patent would have been obvious in view of four prior art references; that several claims of two other patents were invalid as anticipated by or obvious in light of Zircon’s original stud finder; and that several of the claims of these two patents were not infringed.Zircon appealed the Commission's decision, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Commission's decision. The court agreed with the Commission's interpretation of section 337 and found that substantial evidence supported the Commission's finding that Zircon failed to meet its burden to prove the existence of a domestic industry relating to articles protected by each of its patents. View "ZIRCON CORP. v. ITC " on Justia Law

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The case involves IOENGINE, LLC (IOENGINE) appealing a series of Final Written Decisions by the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board) that found certain claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 8,539,047, 9,059,969, and 9,774,703 unpatentable during inter partes review (IPR). The patents in question share a written description and title—“Apparatus, Method and System for a Tunneling Client Access Point.” They claim a “portable device” configured to communicate with a terminal, with the device and terminal having various program codes stored in memory to facilitate communications.The Board had previously determined that certain claims of the patents were unpatentable. IOENGINE appealed, arguing that the Board incorrectly construed the claim term “interactive user interface,” incorrectly applied the printed matter doctrine, and otherwise erred in its anticipation and obviousness analysis.The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that the Board erred in its application of the printed matter doctrine to certain claims, reversing the Board’s unpatentability determinations as to claims 4 and 7 of the ’969 patent and claims 61–62 and 110–11 of the ’703 patent. However, the court affirmed the Board’s unpatentability determinations as to all other claims. The court also found that IOENGINE forfeited its proposed claim construction by not presenting it to the Board during IPR. View "IOENGINE, LLC v. INGENICO INC. " on Justia Law

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This case involves Packet Intelligence LLC ("Packet") and NetScout Systems, Inc. and NetScout Systems Texas, LLC (collectively, "NetScout"). Packet had sued NetScout for patent infringement. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas found that NetScout had willfully infringed Packet's patents and awarded Packet damages, enhanced damages for willful infringement, and an ongoing royalty. NetScout appealed this decision.In a previous appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit had reversed the district court's award of pre-suit damages and vacated the court's enhancement of that award. The court affirmed the district court's judgment in all other respects and remanded the case to the district court. On remand, the district court denied NetScout's motion to dismiss or stay the case and entered an amended final judgment. The amended judgment reduced the enhanced damages and reset the ongoing royalty rate.Meanwhile, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board ("Board") found all of the patent claims asserted by Packet in this case unpatentable as obvious. Packet appealed the Board's final written decisions. The Federal Circuit coordinated those appeals so they would be considered by the same panel deciding this appeal.The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated the district court’s amended final judgment and remanded the case with instructions to dismiss the case as moot. The court held that Packet’s infringement judgment was not final before the Board’s unpatentability determinations were affirmed. Therefore, the court was compelled to order that Packet’s patent infringement claims be dismissed as moot. View "PACKET INTELLIGENCE LLC v. NETSCOUT SYSTEMS, INC. " on Justia Law