Justia Intellectual Property Opinion Summaries
Castillo v. G&M Realty L.P.
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's award of statutory damages to plaintiffs under the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990. Defendants are developers who destroyed aerosol artwork that plaintiff painted on buildings owned by defendants. The site was known as 5Pointz in Long Island City, New York, and evolved into a major global center for aerosol art, attracting thousands of visitors, numerous celebrities, and extensive media coverage. The court held that the district court correctly determined that temporary artwork may achieve recognized stature so as to be protected from destruction by VARA and that plaintiffs' work had achieved that stature. The court also held that the district court did not err in finding defendants' violations of VARA to be willful and that the district court's award of statutory damages was not an abuse of discretion. View "Castillo v. G&M Realty L.P." on Justia Law
Arctic Cat Inc. v. Bombardier Recreational Products, Inc.
Arctic’s patents, directed to personal watercraft (PWC) steering systems, issued in 2004 and 2003, after Arctic stopped selling PWCs. In 2002, Arctic entered into a license agreement with Honda that expressly stated that Honda had no marking obligations. Honda began making and selling unmarked PWCs. Arctic asserted that Honda stopped selling unmarked products in 2013. Bombardier claimed that Honda continued to sell PWCs under the Arctic license until 2018. In 2014, Arctic sued Bombardier for infringement. The court held that Bombardier bore the burden of proving that Honda’s PWCs practiced the asserted claims and denied Bombardier’s motion to limit potential damages because of Honda’s sales of unmarked products. A jury awarded Arctic a royalty to begin in 2008 and found that Bombardier had willfully infringed the asserted claims. The Federal Circuit affirmed as to willfulness but vacated in part. Once an alleged infringer identifies products that it believes are unmarked patented articles subject to the 35 U.S.C. 287 notice requirements, the patentee bears the burden of proving that the products do not practice the claimed invention. On remand, Arctic conceded that it could not show that the Honda PWCs do not practice the asserted claims. The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Bombardier. Section 287 continues to limit damages after a patentee or licensee ceases sales of unmarked products; willful infringement does not establish actual notice under section 287. View "Arctic Cat Inc. v. Bombardier Recreational Products, Inc." on Justia Law
Royal Palm Properties, LLC v. Pink Palm Properties, LLC
Royal Palm Properties filed suit against Pink Palm Properties for infringing its registered service mark on the phrase "Royal Palm Properties." Pink Palm Properties counterclaimed, challenging the validity of the mark. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court erred by flipping the jury's verdict and by granting judgment as a matter of law on Pink Palm Properties' trademark-invalidation counterclaim. The court held that Pink Palm Properties failed to show that no reasonable jury could have found that it failed to prove grounds for cancelling Royal Palm Properties' mark. In this case, Pink Palm Properties' argument that the service mark lacked distinctiveness, and that the mark was confusingly similar to the "Royale Palms" marks, did not entitle it to judgment as a matter of law on its claim that the "Royal Palm Properties" mark was invalid. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment. View "Royal Palm Properties, LLC v. Pink Palm Properties, LLC" on Justia Law
In re Lantus Direct Purchaser Antitrust Litigation
The First Circuit held that Sanofi-Aventis U.S., LLC improperly submitted a patent for listing in "the Orange Book" and that Sanofi was potentially liable under the antitrust laws to drug purchasers who were allegedly harmed by the effective extension of Sanofi's monopoly. At the center of this appeal was a publication maintained by the FDA called Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations, known as "the Orange Book," which lists patents said by their owners to claim FDA-approved drugs. When a patent is listed in the Orange Book the patent-owning drug manufacturer has the ability to trigger an automatic, thirty-month suspension of the FDA's approval of a competing product. Plaintiffs alleged that Sanofi artificially restricted competition in the market for insulin glargine by improperly listing a certain patent in the Orange Book, thereby delaying competition in the insulin glargine market and resulting in inflated prices. The district court dismissed Plaintiffs' Sherman Act claims. The First Circuit vacated the dismissal as to Sanofi's alleged improper Orange Book listing of the patent, holding that Sanofi improperly submitted the patent for listing in the Orange Book and that Sanofi potentially liable under the antitrust laws to drug purchasers who were allegedly harmed by the effective extension of Sanofi's monopoly. View "In re Lantus Direct Purchaser Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law
Serta Simmons Bedding, LLC v. Casper Sleep Inc.
Serta filed a patent infringement action against Casper, citing the 173, 763, and 935 patents. Those patents cover mattresses that include a channel and methods for forming it. These mattresses can have varying areas of firmness by inserting reinforcement of various types into their channels that can be located at regions where additional support is desired. Casper filed three motions for summary judgment directed to non-infringement of Casper’s accused mattresses, accused methods of manufacturing, and redesigned mattresses. While Casper’s summary judgment motions were pending, the parties executed a settlement agreement and advised the district court of the settlement. The district court nevertheless granted Casper’s summary judgment motions of non-infringement. It later denied Serta’s motions to vacate the summary judgment order and to enforce the settlement agreement. The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded with instructions to enforce the settlement agreement. There is no contention that the settlement or the relief sought by Serta is unlawful or contrary to public policy. There is also no dispute that the parties executed the agreement before the district court issued the summary judgment order; Casper has admitted that the agreement was binding. The settlement agreement mooted the case even though it included terms that required future performance. View "Serta Simmons Bedding, LLC v. Casper Sleep Inc." on Justia Law
Acoustic Technology, Inc. v. Itron Networked Solutions, Inc.
Acoustic’s 841 patent relates to communications systems for utility providers to remotely monitor groups of utility meters, e.g., electricity meters. According to Acoustic, the claimed invention was “an improvement upon prior art automated meter reading systems that used expensive and problematic radio frequency (RF) transmitters, or systems that relied on human meter-readers using hand-held or vehicle-mounted short-range wireless devices to obtain meter readings when they were in a customer’s vicinity.” On Network’s petition, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board instituted inter partes review (IPR). Nine days after institution, Network agreed to merge with Itron, an entity undisputedly time-barred under 35 U.S.C. 315(b). Network and Itron completed the merger during the IPR proceeding. The Board later issued a final written decision and found the challenged claim unpatentable. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting Acoustic’s claim that the inter partes review was time-barred due to Network’s and Itron’s merger-related activities. Acoustic waived its time-bar argument because it failed to present that argument before the Board. Substantial evidence supports the Board’s unpatentability findings based on anticipation. View "Acoustic Technology, Inc. v. Itron Networked Solutions, Inc." on Justia Law
Curry v. Revolution Laboratories, LLC
Curry, the founder of “Get Diesel Nutrition,” has paid for advertising for his products, including "Diesel Test," in national fitness magazines since 2002. In 2016, the defendants began selling a sports nutritional supplement, "Diesel Test Red Series." Like Curry’s product, the defendants’ product comes in red and white packaging with right-slanted all-caps typeface bearing the words “Diesel Test.” Curry alleges that he received messages indicating that customers were confused. The defendants concocted a fake ESPN webpage touting their product and conducted all their marketing online. In about seven months, they received more than $1.6 million in gross sales. At least 767 sales were to consumers in Illinois. After Curry demanded that the defendants cease and desist, both parties filed trademark applications for "Diesel Test." The Patent Office suspended both applications. Curry filed suit, alleging violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act, violations of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125, violation of the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, filing a fraudulent trademark application, and violation of common law trademark protections. The district court dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Seventh Circuit reversed. Revolution’s activity can be characterized as purposefully directed at Illinois, the forum state, and related to Curry's claims. Physical presence is not necessary for a defendant to have sufficient minimum contacts with a forum state. Illinois has a strong interest in providing a forum for its residents to seek redress for harms suffered within the state by an out-of-state actor. View "Curry v. Revolution Laboratories, LLC" on Justia Law
Apple Inc. v. Andrea Electronics Corp.
Andrea sued Apple for infringement of Andrea’s 345 patent, relating to certain aspects of digital audio processing. Apple filed two inter partes review (IPR) petitions. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board instituted review. In its 626 IPR Final Written Decision, the Board concluded that, in light of prior art, several challenged claims were unpatentable. The Board declined to consider certain arguments in Apple’s reply brief because Apple was raising new arguments in its reply brief. In its 627 Decision, the Board concluded that, in light of other cited art, several challenged claims are unpatentable. The Board construed the term “periodically” in favor of Andrea. Between the two IPRs, the Board held that all challenged claims except claims 6–9 are unpatentable. The Federal Circuit vacated with respect to the 626 IPR; the Board erred in refusing to consider Apple’s reply arguments. Apple’s reply does not cite any new evidence or “unidentified portions” of the reference at issue but merely demonstrates another example of the same algorithm to further explain why the reference discloses the “current minimum” and “future minimum” limitations of claims 6–9. Apple’s reply arguments are responsive to arguments raised in Andrea’s Patent Owner Response. The petitioner in an IPR may introduce new evidence after the petition stage if the evidence is a legitimate reply to evidence introduced by the patent owner. The court affirmed with respect to the 627 IPR, finding the decision supported by substantial evidence. View "Apple Inc. v. Andrea Electronics Corp." on Justia Law
Cheetah Omni LLC v. AT&T Services, Inc.
Cheetah’s 836 patent is directed to optical communication networks. AT&T uses hardware and software components in its fiber-optic communication networks. Cheetah asserted that AT&T infringes the 836 patent by making, using, offering for sale, selling, or importing its fiber equipment and services. Ciena was allowed to intervene in the suit because it manufactures and supplies components for AT&T’s fiber-optic systems; those components formed the basis of some of Cheetah’s infringement allegations. Ciena and AT&T then moved for summary judgment that Cheetah’s infringement claim was barred by agreements settling previous litigation. Cheetah had sued Ciena and Fujitsu and executed two license agreements—one with Ciena and one with Fujitsu. Ciena and AT&T argued that the licenses included implicit licenses to the 836 patent covering all of the accused products. The district court dismissed the suit. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting Cheetah’s argument that the parties did not intend that the licenses extend to the 836 patent. The court noted the presumption that a license to a patent includes a license to its continuation. The naming of certain patents expressly does not evince a clear mutual intent to exclude other patents falling within the general definitions in an agreement. That is especially true here where the licenses list broad categories of patents without reciting their numbers individually. View "Cheetah Omni LLC v. AT&T Services, Inc." on Justia Law
HVLPO2, LLC v. Oxygen Frog, LLC
HVO’s 941 and 488 patents share a specification and are directed to methods and devices for controlling an oxygen generating system, which is used to sustain and manage airflow for torch glass artists who use surface mix glass torches. HVO sued Oxygen Frog for infringement. A jury concluded that claims 1 and 7 of both patents, the only claims tried, would have been obvious under 35 U.S.C. 103. The Federal Circuit reversed. The district court abused its discretion by admitting lay witness testimony regarding obviousness. That testimony, which was directed to the conclusion of obviousness and its underlying technical questions, is the province of qualified experts, not lay witnesses. Admission of that testimony substantially prejudiced the outcome of the case. View "HVLPO2, LLC v. Oxygen Frog, LLC" on Justia Law