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Cisco’s 597 patent, titled “Method and Apparatus for Securing a Communications Device using a Logging Module,” relates generally to ensuring network device security by using a logging module with restricted configurability to detect and communicate changes to a network device’s configuration. Arista petitioned for an inter partes review (IPR) of certain claims of the patent. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board upheld some of those challenged claims as patentable but invalidated others. On appeal, Arista argued that the Board erred in construing the term “broadcast,” and that this error caused the Board to improperly reject Arista’s obviousness challenge to five claims. Cisco’s cross-appeal concerned the Board’s refusal to apply the doctrine of assignor estoppel. The Federal Circuit reversed as to Arista’s appeal, finding that the Board applied incorrect claim construction, and affirmed Cisco’s cross-appeal. While the issue of assignor estoppel was reviewable, section 311(a), by allowing “a person who is not the owner of a patent” to file an IPR, unambiguously dictates that assignor estoppel has no place in IPR proceedings. View "Arista Networks, Inc. v. Cisco Systems, Inc." on Justia Law

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The patents at issue are directed to a broadcast technique in which a broadcast channel overlays a point-to-point communications network. The communications network consists of a graph of point-to-point connections between host computers or “nodes,” through which the broadcast channel is implemented. Blizzard filed six inter partes review (IPR) petitions regarding the three patents based principally on two different prior art references: one set of IPRs challenged claims based on the Shoubridge article 2 alone or combined with a prior art book DirectPlay3 and another set of IPRs challenged claims based on the Lin article 4 alone or combined with DirectPlay. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board held that multiple claims were unpatentable but upheld others and held that the Lin article is not a printed publication under 35 U.S.C. 102(a). The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the Board erred by construing the term “participant” according to its plain meaning; that the terms “game environment” and “information delivery service,” appearing in two patents should have been given patentable weight; and that the Board failed to identify a broadcast channel in Shoubridge in its anticipation and obviousness analyses. The Board’s finding that Lin was not publicly accessible before the critical date was supported by substantial evidence. View "Acceleration Bay, LLC v. Activision Blizzard Inc." on Justia Law

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SMRI filed suit alleging that defendants, through their participation in the selling of Rushmore's unlicensed motorcycle rally-related products, had violated several provisions of the Lanham Act and related South Dakota statutes. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court did not err in declining to apply licensee estoppel against defendants; the trial record did not support a finding that SMRI owned the rally or its intellectual property, that SMRI and the Chamber before it have been the substantially exclusive users of the word "Sturgis" in relation to either the rally or rally-related goods and services, or that relevant consumers associate the word "Sturgis" with a single source of goods and services in any context; and thus the court reversed the jury's finding that defendants diluted the "Sturgis" mark and vacated the jury's finding that defendants engaged in cybersquatting. The court also held that defendants should have been granted judgment as a matter of law on the infringement claims relating to SMRI's unregistered marks, "Sturgis Motorcycle Rally" and "Sturgis Rally & Races," because the jury was not presented with sufficient evidence to find that the marks had acquired secondary meaning. Finally, the evidence at trial supported the jury's finding that SMRI's mark "Sturgis Bike Week" was valid; there was sufficient evidence to show that SMRI's "Monahan Composite Mark" was widely used in connection with the rally and that defendants' infringement of the mark was willful and intentional; the differences between the shot glass's design and the Monahan mark were so obvious that the jury did not have any basis in the record for its finding of a counterfeit; SMRI's claims for deceptive practices, false advertising and unfair competition were not time-barred; the district court did not err in granting judgment as a matter of law to JRE; the court vacated the district court's order granting defendants the defenses of laches and acquiescence; and the court reversed and remanded the permanent injunction. View "Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. v. Rushmore Photo & Gifts, Inc." on Justia Law

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The 753 trademark, issued to Converse in 2013, describes the trade-dress configuration of three design elements on the midsole of Converse’s All Star shoes. Converse filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC), alleging violations of 19 U.S.C. 337 by various companies in the importation into the U.S., the sale for importation, and the sale within the U.S. after importation of shoes that infringe its trademark. The ITC found the registered mark invalid and that Converse could not establish the existence of common-law trademark rights, but nonetheless stated that various accused products would have infringed Converse’s mark if valid. The Federal Circuit vacated. The ITC erred in failing to distinguish between alleged infringers who began infringing before Converse obtained its trademark registration and those who began afterward. With respect to the pre-registration period, Converse, as the party asserting trade-dress protection, must establish that its mark had acquired secondary meaning before the first infringing use by each alleged infringer. In addition, the ITC applied the wrong legal standard in its determination of secondary meaning. On remand, the ITC should reassess the accused products to determine whether they are substantially similar to the mark in the infringement analysis. View "Converse, Inc. v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from RPD's purchase of a patent license from multiple debtors in bankruptcy sales of their estates. Tech Pharm alleged that RPD did not have rights under the license to Tech Pharm's patented invention. The bankruptcy court held that RPD did not have rights and the district court agreed. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that the patent license was a rejected executory contract and could not have been transferred by the bankruptcy sales in question. In this case, because the license agreement was an executory contract deemed rejected by operation of law, RPD could not and did not acquire the license from any of the Grapevine, Western Pennsylvania, and Waco estates—and no bankruptcy court order held otherwise. Finally, the court held that the bankruptcy court did not exceed its authority in addressing RPD's rights through purchase of the OnSite machines, and did not err in reading the license agreement to require that third parties operate OnSite machines in the same locations where they were placed at the time of sale. View "RPD Holdings, LLC v. Tech Pharmacy Services" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, three publishing houses, alleged that members of the Board of Regents at GSU infringed their copyrights by maintaining a policy which allows GSU professors to make digital copies of excerpts of plaintiffs' books available to students without paying plaintiffs. At issue on appeal was whether the district court misinterpreted the Eleventh Circuit's mandate in an earlier appeal and misapplied the defense of fair use. The court held that the district court erred when it made its new findings of fair use, but the district court did not abuse its discretion when it declined to reopen the record. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's order denying the publishers' request to reopen the record, but vacated the judgment entered on remand. Finally, the court vacated the district court's award of attorney's fees and costs and the underlying determination that the University was the prevailing party. View "Cambridge University Press v. Albert" on Justia Law

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The annotations contained in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA), authored by the Georgia General Assembly and made an inextricable part of the official codification of Georgia's laws, may not be copyrighted by the State of Georgia. The Eleventh Circuit held that the annotations in the OCGA are sufficiently law-like so as to be properly regarded as sovereign work; the People are the ultimate authors of the annotations; and as a work of the People, the annotations are inherently public domain material and uncopyrightable. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment of the district court and directed the judgment be entered for PRO, vacated the district court's order granting Georgia injunctive relief, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Code Revision Commissioner v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc." on Justia Law

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Roche’s 723 patent, titled “Detection of a Genetic Locus Encoding Resistance to Rifampin in Microbacterial Cultures and in Clinical Specimens,” is directed to methods for detecting the pathogenic bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a major cause of tuberculosis. In 1994, before the priority date of the 723 patent, the general method of MTB detection in a tuberculosis patient was known as sputum examination by the acid-fast bacilli smear. The diagnostic test of the 723 patent involves subjecting DNA extracted from a biological sample taken from a patient to amplification by polymerase chain reaction using a short, single-stranded nucleotide sequence that can hybridize (bind) to at least one of the eleven position-specific signature nucleotides in the MTB rpoB gene. The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment, holding that the patent’s claims are directed to patent-ineligible subject matter and are therefore invalid under 35 U.S.C. 101. Roche’s discovery of the signature nucleotides on the MTB rpoB gene and the designing of corresponding primers are valuable contributions to science and medicine, allowing for faster detection of MTB in a biological sample and testing for rifampin resistance but groundbreaking, innovative, or even brilliant discovery does not by itself satisfy the section 101 inquiry. The primers can be found in nature. View "Roche Molecular Systems, Inc. v. Cepheid" on Justia Law

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The district court entered judgment on the pleadings, finding the Tab Patents, titled “System and Methods for Improved Spreadsheet Interface With User-Familiar Objects,” patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101, as directed to abstract concepts and failing to provide an inventive concept. The patents claim systems and methods for making complex electronic spreadsheets more accessible by providing familiar, user-friendly interface objects—specifically, notebook tabs—to navigate through spreadsheets while circumventing the arduous process of searching for, memorizing, and entering complex commands. The Federal Circuit reversed in part, finding all but one claim to be patent eligible. The claims are not abstract, but rather are directed to a specific improved method for navigating through complex three-dimensional electronic spreadsheets. The asserted claims of one patent, reciting methods for tracking changes to data in spreadsheets, are directed to the abstract idea of collecting, recognizing, and storing changed information; nothing in these claims that provides an inventive concept sufficient to render the claims patent eligible. View "Data Engine Technologies LLC v. Google LLC" on Justia Law

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Real Foods sought registration of two marks: “CORN THINS,” for “crispbread slices predominantly of corn, namely popped corn cakes”; and “RICE THINS,” for “crispbread slices primarily made of rice, namely rice cakes.” Frito-Lay opposed the registrations, arguing that the proposed marks should be refused as either generic or descriptive without having acquired distinctiveness. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board refused registration of the applied-for marks, finding the marks “are merely descriptive and have not acquired distinctiveness,” dismissing Frito-Lay’s “genericness claim. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Substantial evidence supports the finding that the proposed marks are highly descriptive. The terms “corn” and “rice,” both of which are grains, describe the primary ingredient in Real Foods’ respective goods; the term thins describes physical characteristics of the corn and rice cakes. Viewing the marks as composites does not create a different impression. Real Foods “has not demonstrated that its applied-for marks have acquired distinctiveness. Real Foods did not demonstrate that its applied-for marks have acquired distinctiveness. The court remanded in part, finding that the Board erred in its analysis of genericness. View "Real Foods Pty Ltd. v. Frito-Lay North America, Inc." on Justia Law