Justia Intellectual Property Opinion Summaries
Carbon Six Barrels v. Proof Research
Proof Research, Inc. and Carbon Six Barrels, LLC both manufacture carbon-fiber gun barrels. Proof entered the market first and obtained a trademark for the unique appearance of its barrels. When Proof found out that Carbon Six intended to begin manufacturing and selling similar-looking carbon-fiber gun barrels of its own, Proof responded with litigation. However, Proof did not file suit against Carbon Six but rather against McGowen Precision Barrels, LLC, Carbon Six’s sister company. McGowen then initiated separate proceedings to have Proof’s trademark canceled. McGowen was ultimately successful, and Proof’s trademark for its carbon-fiber gun barrels was canceled in 2021. On February 9, 2022, Carbon Six filed this lawsuit against Proof for defamation and violation of the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act stemming from Proof’s efforts to register, renew, enforce, and defend its previously valid trademark. However, Carbon Six brought its claims after the one-year prescriptive period imposed by Louisiana law had run. On Proof’s motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), Carbon Six failed to convince the district court that any of its claims were timely. The district court also held that Carbon Six’s LUTPA claim was legally deficient. The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court held that all actions Carbon Six alleged Proof took were discrete rather than ongoing, and each began and ended more than a year before this lawsuit was filed. Carbon Six’s LUTPA claim is therefore prescribed. The court explained even if Carbon Six could do so, Proof’s attempt to enforce a later-invalidated trademark does not violate LUTPA. View "Carbon Six Barrels v. Proof Research" on Justia Law
Bliss Collection, LLC v. Latham Companies, LLC
In 1999, Latham, McLean, and Vernooy formed Bliss to sell children’s clothing under the name “bella bliss.” In 2003, Shannon left Bliss and started Latham to sell her own children’s clothing under the name “little english.” Bliss’s logo is a lowercase “b” drawn out as if stitched in thread. Bliss has registered trademarks for this logo. Bliss has several designs that it claims as signature looks of the bella bliss brand that have “become famous and widely known and recognized as symbols of unique and high-quality garments.” There has been previous litigation between the parties.In 2020, Bliss filed federal claims for copyright, trademark, and trade dress infringement; false designation of origin and misappropriation of source; and unfair competition. The district court dismissed Bliss’s claims and granted Latham attorney’s fees for defending the copyright claim but found that Bliss filed its action in good faith and that the trademark and trade dress claims were not so “exceptionally meritless” that Latham merited a rare attorney’s fees award under 15 U.S.C. 1117. The Sixth Circuit affirmed in part. Bliss stated claims for federal and state trademark infringement but has not stated a claim for trade dress infringement. The district court did not err in denying attorney’s fees to Latham for defending the trademark and trade dress infringement claims. View "Bliss Collection, LLC v. Latham Companies, LLC" on Justia Law
Elekta Ltd. v. ZAP Surgical Systems, Inc.
Elekta’s 648 patent, titled “Method and apparatus for treatment by ionizing radiation,” discloses a device for treating a patient with ionizing radiation for certain types of radiosurgery and radiation therapy. The invention uses a radiation source, e.g., a linear accelerator (linac), mounted on a pair of concentric rings to deliver a beam of ionizing radiation to the targeted area of the patient. ZAP Surgical Systems sought inter partes review (IPR). The Patent Trial and Appeal Board addressed Elekta’s arguments that a skilled artisan would not have been motivated to combine, and would not have had a reasonable expectation of success in combining, one prior art device (Grady) with the linac described in the prior art, Ruchala, and whether a skilled artisan would have been dissuaded from combining the devices because one device was an imaging device, rather than a radiation device, and because the linac’s weight would render the Grady device inoperable, imprecise, and unsuitable for treatment.The Board concluded that a skilled artisan would have been motivated to combine Grady and Ruchala. The Federal Circuit affirmed, finding substantial support for the finding that a person of ordinary skill in the art would have been motivated to make the proposed combination. View "Elekta Ltd. v. ZAP Surgical Systems, Inc." on Justia Law
Baxalta Inc. v. Genentech, Inc.
In a “key step” of the "coagulation cascade" that forms blood clots, an enzyme (Factor VIIIa) complexes with another enzyme (Factor IXa) to activate Factor X. Hemophilia A is a disorder where the activity of Factor VIII is functionally absent, impeding the body’s ability to effectively form blood clots. Historically, Hemophilia A has been treated by intravenously administering Factor VIII. Approximately 20–30% of Hemophilia A patients cannot benefit from that treatment because they develop Factor VIII inhibitors. Baxalta’s patent provides alternative means to treat Hemophilia A.Baxalta sued, alleging Genentech’s Hemlibra® (emicizumab) product infringes the patent. Emicizumab is a humanized bispecific antibody that binds to Factor IXa with one arm and Factor X with the other arm, mimicking the function of Factor VIIIa. Following the district court’s construction of the claim terms “antibody” and “antibody fragment” to exclude bispecific antibodies, the Federal Circuit held the proper construction of “antibody” was “an immunoglobulin molecule having a specific amino acid sequence comprising two heavy chains (H chains) and two light chains (L chains),” and the proper construction of “antibody fragment” was “a portion of an antibody” and remanded. On remand, Genentech successfully moved for summary judgment of invalidity of multiple claims for lack of enablement. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The patent fails to teach skilled artisans how to make and use the full scope of claimed antibodies without unreasonable experimentation. View "Baxalta Inc. v. Genentech, Inc." on Justia Law
Columbia Sportswear North America, Inc.v. Seirus Innovative Accessories, Inc.
Columbia’s D093 patent, titled “Heat Reflective Material,” claims “[t]he ornamental design of a heat reflective material. Seirus markets and sells products (e.g., gloves) made with material that it calls HeatWave. Columbia sued Seirus for infringement. the district court granted summary judgment of infringement; a jury awarded Columbia $3,018,174 in damages. On remand, a jury found that Seirus did not infringe.The Federal Circuit vacated the non-infringement judgment, first rejecting arguments concerning the preclusive effect of the prior proceedings. The district court erred by failing to instruct the jury as to the scope of the D093 patent claim (design for a heat reflective material) and, relatedly, the proper scope of comparison prior art. To qualify as comparison prior art, the prior-art design must be applied to the article of manufacture identified in the claim. Here, the issue is not whether the patent’s design (e.g., a wavy pattern) is dictated by function but whether the claimed article to which that design is applied is the same as another article. A natural, relevant consideration for distinguishing one article from another involves looking to the articles’ respective functions. View "Columbia Sportswear North America, Inc.v. Seirus Innovative Accessories, Inc." on Justia Law
IMPOSSIBLE FOODS INC. V. IMPOSSIBLE X LLC
Impossible X, now a Texas LLC, is a one-person company run by Joel Runyon, a self-described “digital nomad” who for two years operated his business from San Diego. Impossible X sells apparel, nutritional supplements, diet guides, and a consulting service through its website and various social media channels. Impossible Foods sued Impossible X in federal court in California, seeking a declaration that Impossible Foods’ use of the IMPOSSIBLE mark did not infringe on Impossible X’s trademark rights. The district court dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal. The panel held that Impossible X was subject to specific personal jurisdiction in California because it previously operated out of California and built its brand and trademarks there, and its activities in California were sufficiently affiliated with the underlying trademark dispute to satisfy the requirements of due process. First, Impossible X purposefully directed its activities toward California and availed itself of the privileges of conducting activities there by building its brand and working to establish trademark rights there. Second, Impossible Foods’ declaratory judgment action arose out of or related to Impossible X’s conduct in California. The panel did not confine its analysis to Impossible X’s trademark enforcement activities, but rather concluded that, to the extent the Federal Circuit follows such an approach for patent declaratory judgments, that approach is not justified in the trademark context. Third, the panel concluded that there was nothing unreasonable about requiring Impossible X to defend a lawsuit based on its trademark building activities in the state that was its headquarters and Runyon’s home base. View "IMPOSSIBLE FOODS INC. V. IMPOSSIBLE X LLC" on Justia Law
Grubhub, Inc. v. Relish Labs LLC
Since 2013, Home Chef has created and delivered meal kits. In 2014, Home Chef began using its “HC Home Mark,” covered by five federal trademark registrations. Home Chef later merged with Kroger, and now delivers meals directly to customers and offers them for sale in Kroger stores, through Kroger’s website, and through food delivery services.Grubhub, an online food-ordering and delivery marketplace, owns numerous trademark registrations covering the GRUBHUB name and stylized variations. In 2021, Grubhub was acquired by JET, which owns food-delivery brands worldwide and combines its “JET House Mark” with local brand names when conducting business in various countries. JET has used the JET House Mark since 2014. JET had filed an international trademark application for the JET House Mark. A USPTO examiner found the JET House Mark “highly similar” and “confusingly similar” to the HC Home Mark and Home Chef Home Logo. JET withdrew its application. JET later combined the GRUBHUB word mark with the JET House Mark. Grubhub invested millions of dollars in rebranding its print and electronic materials.After receiving a cease-and-desist letter from Home Chef, Grubhub sought a declaratory judgment that its Logo did not infringe Home Chef’s marks. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of Home Chef's motion for a preliminary injunction. The district court did not clearly err in finding that Home Chef failed to meet its burden to show a likelihood of success on the merits of its infringement claim. View "Grubhub, Inc. v. Relish Labs LLC" on Justia Law
American Society for Testing and Materials v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc.
Plaintiffs in this case are three standard-developing organizations: the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and the NFPA. Defendant, Public.Resource.Org, is a non-profit group that disseminates legal and other materials. It has posted on its website copies of hundreds of incorporated standards. Plaintiffs sued Public Resource for copyright infringement. Plaintiffs moved for summary judgment on their claims as to nine of the disputed standards. The district court granted the motion and enjoined Public Resource from posting these standards. The DC Circuit reversed and remanded for further factual development. On remand, the district court held that the non-commercial posting of standards incorporated by reference into law is fair use. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court’s reasonable exercise of discretion in declining to award injunctive relief. The court explained that the first three factors under section 107 strongly favor fair use, and the fourth is equivocal. The court concluded that Public Resource’s non-commercial posting of incorporated standards is fair use. Further, the court found that the district court reasonably declined to enter an injunction. Public Resource promptly removed from its website the 32 standards found not to have been incorporated into law. The court explained that Plaintiffs give the court no reason to think that Public Resource will post unincorporated standards again absent an injunction View "American Society for Testing and Materials v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc." on Justia Law
Netflix, Inc. v. DivX, LLC
The DivX patent explains, in a section titled “Background of the Invention,” that “[t]he present invention relates generally to encoding, transmission and decoding of multimedia files.” In its petition for inter partes review, Netflix asserted that several claims of the patent would have been obvious in view of prior art, Zetts as modified by Kaku. In a section titled “Field of the Invention,” Kaku’s specification states that the invention “relates to motion image apparatuses and, more particularly, to a motion image reproducing apparatus which is applicable to a digital camera for reproducing motion image data recorded on a recording medium.” The Patent Trial and Appeal Board found that Kaku failed to qualify as analogous art.The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded. The Board failed to identify the field of endeavor for either the challenged patent or the prior art and thus failed to establish analogous art under the field of endeavor test. The Board’s directive that Netflix more precisely articulate the relevant field of endeavor to meet its burden was unduly strict. View "Netflix, Inc. v. DivX, LLC" on Justia Law
Apple, Inc. v. Corephotonics Ltd.
The Corephotonics patent is directed to creating “portrait photos” and discloses “a thin (e.g., fitting in a cell phone) dual-aperture zoom digital camera” that combines images taken by a wide lens and a tele lens to create a fused still image. Apple filed petitions for inter partes review, each challenging various claims of the patent as obvious in view of multiple prior art references. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board rejected Apple’s arguments.The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded. Neither the claim language nor the specification presents a cut-and-dry case of claim construction for “fused image with a point of view of the Wide camera” but taken together and in context, the intrinsic evidence supports that the claim term requires only that the fused image maintain Wide perspective point of view or Wide position point of view, but does not require both. Apple’s proposed construction is more in line with the intrinsic evidence. In addition, the Board based its second decision on a ground not raised by any party in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. View "Apple, Inc. v. Corephotonics Ltd." on Justia Law