Justia Intellectual Property Opinion Summaries
Wudi Industrial (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. v. Wai Wong
Plaintiff Wudi Industrial (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. Challenged two adverse rulings made by the district court in favor of defendant Wai L. Wong and his business entity, GT Omega Racing, Ltd. (collectively “GTOR”). Wudi and GTOR are Asian-centered business entities that compete in the marketing of video gaming chairs and other products. In March 2017, Wudi obtained from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) a registration for the stylized word mark “GTRACING.” For its part, GTOR claimed that it already owned an earlier use of a similar word mark — that is, “GT OMEGA RACING” — and challenged Wudi’s registration of the “GTRACING” word mark in cancellation proceedings before a USPTO component called the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board (the “Board”). In June 2020, the Board ruled in favor of GTOR, concluding that Wudi’s use of the “GTRACING” word mark encroached on GTOR’s earlier use of its own “GT OMEGA RACING” word mark. The Fourth Circuit vacated the challenged rulings and remanded. The court agreed with Wudi’s primary contention that the district court’s challenged rulings constitute awards of injunctive relief in favor of GTOR and against Wudi. Secondly, the court also agreed that the challenged rulings failed to comport with the applicable Rules of Civil Procedure and controlling precedent. The court emphasized that the First Order possesses all of the necessary attributes and thus qualifies as an injunction order. That is, the First Order contains “clear, enforceable directives” and threatens Wudi with contempt for noncompliance. View "Wudi Industrial (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. v. Wai Wong" on Justia Law
Medtronic, Inc. v. Teleflex Innovations S.à.r.l.
For decades, cardiologists have used guide catheters to deliver interventional cardiology devices (e.g., guidewires, stents, balloon catheters) designed to alleviate stenoses. These procedures involved certain challenges and risks. Telex’s patents sought to address these problems by using a coaxial extension catheter insertable into standard guide catheters that offered increased backup support and the ability to deep seat without the attendant drawbacks of traditional systems.Medtronic petitioned for inter partes review (IPR), alleging the challenged claims would have been obvious over prior art. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board found certain claims unpatentable. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The Board did not err in determining Medtronic failed to carry its burden to show that certain claims would have been obvious, and substantial evidence supports its underlying findings of fact. The court also upheld the Board’s determination that Telex's proposed Substitute Claims had adequate written description support and would not have been obvious over Medtronic’s asserted grounds. View "Medtronic, Inc. v. Teleflex Innovations S.à.r.l." on Justia Law
ENIGMA SOFTWARE GROUP USA, LLC V. MALWAREBYTES, INC.
Plaintiff Enigma Software Group USA LLC (“Enigma”), a computer security software provider, sued a competitor, Defendant-Appellee Malwarebytes, Inc. (“Malwarebytes”), for designating its products as “malicious,” “threats,” and “potentially unwanted programs” (“PUPs”). Enigma’s operative complaint alleged a false advertising claim under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1125(a)(1)(B), and tort claims under New York law. Malwarebytes moved to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The district court granted the motion, concluding that all of Enigma’s claims were insufficient as a matter of law. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part. In the context of this case, the panel concluded that when a company in the computer security business describes a competitor’s software as “malicious” and a “threat” to a customer’s computer, that is more a statement of objective fact than a non-actionable opinion. It is potentially actionable under the Lanham Act, provided Enigma plausibly alleges the other elements of a false advertising claim. The panel disagreed with the district court and concluded that Malwarebytes is subject to personal jurisdiction in New York. As this action was initially filed in New York, the law of that state properly applies. Because the panel held that the Lanham Act and NYGBL Section 349 claims should not have been dismissed, the panel concluded that the tortious interference with business relations claim should similarly not have been dismissed. The panel agreed with the district court regarding the dismissal of the claim for tortious interference with contractual relations, however, and affirmed the dismissal of that claim. View "ENIGMA SOFTWARE GROUP USA, LLC V. MALWAREBYTES, INC." on Justia Law
JASON SCOTT COLLECTION, INC. V. TRENDILY FURNITURE, LLC, ET AL
Appellee Jason Scott Collection, Inc. (JSC) and Appellants Trendily Furniture, LLC, Trendily Home Collection, LLC and Rahul Malhotra (collectively, “Trendily”) are high-end furniture manufacturers that sell their products in the Texas market. Trendily intentionally copied three unique furniture designs by JSC and sold them to Texas retailers. The district court granted summary judgment to JSC on its copyright claim and then held Trendily liable on the trade dress claim following a bench trial. On appeal, Trendily challenged only the latter ruling, arguing that trade dress liability is precluded here because JSC did not demonstrate either secondary meaning or the likelihood of consumer confusion. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. The panel held that the district court did not clearly err in finding that JSC did so. The panel wrote that Trendily’s clear intent to copy nonfunctional features of JSC’s pieces supports a strong inference of secondary meaning. Noting that copyright and trademark are not mutually exclusive, the panel rejected Trendily’s argument that it should be held liable only under the Copyright Act. The panel held that the district court properly considered several other factors, including that the JSC pieces were continuously manufactured and sold since 2004, that JSC had a longstanding and well-known presence in the high-end furniture market, and that JSC’s furniture was distinctive in the minds of purchasers. The panel held that the district court did not err in finding that there was a likelihood of confusion between the JSC pieces and the Trendily pieces. View "JASON SCOTT COLLECTION, INC. V. TRENDILY FURNITURE, LLC, ET AL" on Justia Law
In re Estate of Bisignano
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Exile Brewing Company's attempt to intervene in the underlying probate matter and striking Exile's motion to vacate, dismiss, and close two estates seeking to pursue certain claims, holding that the probate court did not err in denying the request to intervene and close the estates.During the 1950s and '60s, Ruth Bisignano owned and operated a popular bar in Des Moines. In 2012, Exile named one of its craft beers "Ruthie" and used Ruth's image. Ruthie died in 1993, and her estate was closed that year. Her husband Frank Bisignano died three years later, and his estate was closed in 1999. In 2020, Plaintiff successfully filed petitions to reopen both estates. Subsequently, as administrator of Frank's estate, Plaintiff sued Exile alleging common law appropriation and other claims. Exile filed a motion to vacate, dismiss, and close both estates, arguing that the probate court lacked statutory jurisdiction to reopen the estates. The probate court denied the motion, concluding that Exile had no right to intervene in the probate proceedings. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the probate court correctly determined that Exile was an interloper with no ability to challenge the estates' reopening. View "In re Estate of Bisignano" on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Consumer Law, Intellectual Property, Iowa Supreme Court
Syntel Sterling Best Shores Mauritius, Ltd., et al. v. The TriZetto Grp.,
Plaintiffs appealed from a final judgment entered in favor of Defendants The TriZetto Group, Inc. and Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation (collectively, “TriZetto”) after a jury trial in district court. Relevant here, the district court ordered and entered judgment that (1) Syntel misappropriated 104 of TriZetto’s trade secrets in violation of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) and New York law; and (2) TriZetto’s $284,855,192 compensatory damages award was proper under the DTSA. On appeal, Syntel challenges the district court’s judgment with respect to liability and damages. The Second Circuit affirmed and vacated the judgment of the district court and remanded. The court held that the unambiguous terms of the Amended Master Services Agreement (MSA) are clear, and so is the extrinsic evidence: TriZetto did not authorize Syntel to use TriZetto’s trade secrets to compete with TriZetto. Thus, Syntel misappropriated TriZetto’s intellectual property in violation of the DTSA and New York law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court’s denial of Syntel’s Rule 50(b) motion on this issue. The court concluded that, as a matter of law, an unjust enrichment award of avoided costs was unavailable under the specific facts of this case. Syntel’s unjust gain was fully “addressed in computing damages for [TriZetto’s] actual loss,” and TriZetto suffered no compensable harm beyond that actual loss. Thus, the court remanded the case for the district court to address the propriety of the two jury awards based on TriZetto’s damages theory of awarding a reasonable royalty: (1) the $142,427,596 New York trade secret misappropriation award and (2) the $59,100,000 copyright infringement award. View "Syntel Sterling Best Shores Mauritius, Ltd., et al. v. The TriZetto Grp.," on Justia Law
Medtronic, Inc. v. Teleflex Innovations S.À.R.L.
The challenged patents, owned by Teleflex, all descend from a common application filed in 2006, share a common specification, and are directed to guide extension catheters that use a tapered inner catheter that runs over a standard coronary guidewire to reduce the likelihood that a guide catheter will dislodge from the coronary artery’s opening. According to Teleflex, the claimed invention was conceived in early 2005 and developed under the “GuideLiner” name. The “rapid exchange” (RX) version of GuideLiner practices the challenged patents. An “over-the-wire” (OTW) version of GuideLiner was similar to prior art guide extension catheters and does not practice the challenged patents. The RX GuideLiner entered the market in 2009. Medtronic filed 13 petitions for inter partes review (IPR). five of which are consolidated in this appeal and asserted Itou as the primary prior art reference under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(e).The Federal Circuit affirmed the Patent Board, finding that Medtronic did not establish that the challenged claims were unpatentable. The claimed inventions were conceived by August 2005, before Itou’s filing date, and either actually reduced to practice for their intended purpose before that date, or were diligently worked on toward constructive reduction to practice on the challenged patents’ effective filing date. The intended purpose of the claimed inventions was to provide improved backup support for the guide catheter, so Itou did not qualify as prior art. View "Medtronic, Inc. v. Teleflex Innovations S.À.R.L." on Justia Law
OneSubsea IP UK Ltd. v. FMC Technologies, Inc.
FMC and OSS own patents that cover structures for subsea oil and gas recovery. OSS sued, alleging that FMC’s Enhanced Vertical Deepwater Tree equipped with FMC’s Retrievable Choke and Flow Module infringed 95 claims across 10 OSS patents. The infringement question in the suit boiled down to whether fluid flows through FMC’s accused device as required by the OSS Patents. Finding that OSS failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether FMC’s accused devices met the “divert” limitations of the OSS Patents, the district court granted FMC summary judgment.FMC sought Attorneys’ Fees and Non-Taxable Costs under 35 U.S.C. 285, which applies to “exceptional cases.” FMC argued that the Markman Order foreclosed any legitimate diverter infringement claims going forward, making OSS’s litigation position on infringement objectively baseless and that the substantive weakness of OSS’s infringement claims is shown by OSS’s failure to produce any admissible evidence. FMC alleged litigation misconduct by OSS as unreasonably prolonging the case.Applying the Supreme Court's “Octane Fitness” test the district court denied FMC’s motion. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting FMC’s arguments that OSS’s case was objectively baseless after the claim construction order and that rejection of OSS’s evidence demonstrated the substantive weakness of OSS’s case. OSS that it had no obligation to revise its litigation strategy just because the Patent Board had invalidated diverter claims in different patents. View "OneSubsea IP UK Ltd. v. FMC Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law
Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith
In 1984, Goldsmith, a portrait artist, granted Vanity Fair a one-time license to use a Prince photograph to illustrate a story about the musician. Vanity Fair hired Andy Warhol, who made a silkscreen using Goldsmith’s photo. Vanity Fair published the resulting image, crediting Goldsmith for the “source photograph,” and paying her $400. Warhol used Goldsmith’s photograph to derive 15 additional works. In 2016, the Andy Warhol Foundation (AWF) licensed one of those works, “Orange Prince,” to Condé Nast to illustrate a magazine story about Prince. AWF received $10,000. Goldsmith received nothing. When Goldsmith asserted copyright infringement, AWF sued her. The district court granted AWF summary judgment on its assertion of “fair use,” 17 U.S.C. 107. The Second Circuit reversed.The Supreme Court affirmed, agreeing that the first fair use factor, “the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes,” weighs against AWF’s commercial licensing to Condé Nast. Both the 1984 and the 2016 publications are portraits of Prince used in magazines to illustrate stories about Prince; the “environment[s]” are not “distinct and different.” The 2016 use also is of a commercial nature. Orange Prince reasonably can be perceived to portray Prince as iconic, whereas Goldsmith’s portrayal is photorealistic but the purpose of that use is still to illustrate a magazine about Prince. The degree of difference is not enough for the first factor to favor AWF. To hold otherwise would potentially authorize a range of commercial copying of photographs, to be used for purposes that are substantially the same as those of the originals. AWF offers no independent justification for copying the photograph. View "Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith" on Justia Law
Posted in: Communications Law, Copyright, Intellectual Property, US Supreme Court
Amgen Inc. v. Sanofi
LDL cholesterol can lead to cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes. PCSK9 is a naturally occurring protein that degrades LDL receptors responsible for extracting LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream. In 2011, Amgen and Sanofi each obtained a patent for the antibody employed in a PCSK9-inhibiting drug, describing the relevant antibody by its unique amino acid sequence. Amgen obtained two additional patents in 2014 that relate back to its 2011 patent and purport to claim “the entire genus” of antibodies that “bind to specific amino acid residues on PCSK9,” and “block PCSK9 from binding.” Amgen identified the amino acid sequences of 26 antibodies that perform those functions and described “roadmap” and “conservative substitution” methods for making other antibodies that perform the described functions.Amgen sued Sanofi for infringement. Sanofi argued that Amgen’s relevant claims were invalid under the “enablement” requirement, which requires a patent applicant to describe the invention “in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art” to make and use the invention,” 35 U.S.C. 112(a), characterizing the methods Amgen outlined for generating additional antibodies as a trial-and-error process.The district court, the Federal Circuit, and the Supreme Court sided with Sanofi. If a patent claims an entire class of processes, machines, manufactures, or compositions of matter, its specification must enable a person skilled in the art to make and use the entire class. The claimed class of antibodies does not include just the 26 that Amgen described by their amino acid sequences, but many additional antibodies. The “roadmap” and “conservative substitution” approaches are little more than research assignments. View "Amgen Inc. v. Sanofi" on Justia Law
Posted in: Drugs & Biotech, Intellectual Property, Patents, US Supreme Court