Justia Intellectual Property Opinion Summaries
Digital Drilling Data Systems, LLC v. Petrolink Services, Inc.
Digidrill filed suit against its competitor, Petrolink, alleging that Petrolink hacked into its software at various oil drilling sites in order to "scrape" valuable drilling data in real time. The district court granted Petrolink's motion for summary judgment on Digidrill's copyright claims. Digidrill's unjust enrichment claim proceeded to trial, where a jury returned a verdict in Digidrill's favor. In regard to the copyright infringement claim, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that Digidrill likely waived its "qualitative importance" argument but, even if not, the argument fails on the merits because no reasonable jury could find substantial similarity based on the qualitative importance of the copied schema to DataLogger as a whole. The court also affirmed the district court's judgment as to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act claims, holding that the USB dongle and Interface Process did not effectively control access to the protected database schema. The court also held that Digidrill's unjust enrichment claim is not preempted by the Copyright Act because the claim incorporates an element beyond mere unauthorized copying. The court held that the available Texas authorities do not foreclose the possibility that a litigant may show the taking of an undue advantage without showing the violation of a law or legal duty. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's denial of Petrolink's judgment as a matter of law on the issue of whether Digidrill adduced sufficient evidence of the benefit Petrolink obtained from Digidrill. Finally, the court held that the district court failed to treat Petrolink as the prevailing party under the relevant statutes and failed to apply the correct legal standard. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's denial of Petrolink's motion for fees and remanded. View "Digital Drilling Data Systems, LLC v. Petrolink Services, Inc." on Justia Law
Immunex Corp v. Sandoz Inc.
The patents at issue are directed to the fusion protein etanercept and methods of making the same. Etanercept is the active ingredient in Immunex’s biologic drug Enbrel®, which is primarily indicated for reducing the signs and symptoms of moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder. Sandoz filed an abbreviated Biologics License Application (aBLA), seeking approval to market Erelzi, a biosimilar version of Enbrel®. In a patent infringement suit under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act, Sandoz stipulated to infringement of the asserted claims of the patents-in-suit. The district court held that Sandoz had failed to prove that the asserted claims of the patents-in-suit were invalid. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting claims of obviousness-type double patenting; failure to meet the written description requirement; and obviousness. View "Immunex Corp v. Sandoz Inc." on Justia Law
Electronic Communication Technologies, LLC v. ShoppersChoice.Com, LLC
ECT sued ShoppersChoice for infringement of its 261 patent, directed “to systems and methods that notify a party of travel status associated with one or more mobile things. ShoppersChoice challenged claim 11 as patent-ineligible, 35 U.S.C. 101. ShoppersChoice moved to join a patent eligibility hearing set in a parallel lawsuit, in which ECT alleged claim 11 infringement against other companies. The court conducted a consolidated hearing and invalidated claim 11 as directed to the abstract idea of providing advance notification of the pickup or delivery of a mobile thing. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that “the claim only entails applying longstanding commercial practices using generic computer components and technology.” ShoppersChoice sought attorney fees, citing evidence that ECT sent standardized demand letters and filed repeat infringement actions to obtain low-value “license fees” and force settlements. Before the court ruled, a California District Court awarded attorney fees against ECT in another case related to the patent. The Federal Circuit vacated a holding that the case was not exceptional. A pattern of litigation abuses characterized by the repeated filing of patent infringement actions for the sole purpose of forcing settlements, with no intention of testing the merits of one’s claims, is relevant to a district court’s exceptional case determination. The court clearly erred by failing to consider the objective unreasonableness of ECT’s alleging infringement of claim 11 against ShoppersChoice. View "Electronic Communication Technologies, LLC v. ShoppersChoice.Com, LLC" on Justia Law
Patent and Trademark Office v. Booking.com B.V.
A generic name—the name of a class of products or services—is ineligible for federal trademark registration. Booking.com, a travel-reservation website, sought federal registration of marks including the term “Booking.com.” Concluding that “Booking.com” was a generic name for online hotel-reservation services, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) refused registration. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the District Court decision that “Booking.com”—unlike the term “booking” standing alone—is not generic. The Supreme Court affirmed. A term styled “generic.com” is a generic name for a class of goods or services only if the term has that meaning to consumers. Whether a compound term is generic turns on whether that term, taken as a whole, signifies to consumers a class of goods or services. Consumers do not perceive the term “Booking.com” that way. Only one entity can occupy a particular Internet domain name at a time, so a “generic.com” term could convey to consumers an association with a particular website. An unyielding legal rule disregarding consumer perception would be incompatible with a bedrock principle of the Lanham Act. The PTO’s policy concerns do not support a categorical rule against the registration of “generic.com” terms. Several doctrines ensure that registration of “Booking.com” would not yield its holder a monopoly on the term “booking.” View "Patent and Trademark Office v. Booking.com B.V." on Justia Law
UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Kurbanov
Plaintiffs, twelve record companies, filed suit against defendant alleging claims for five separate violations of the Copyright Act. Plaintiffs are Delaware corporations, with eight having their principal place of business in New York, three in California, and one in Florida. Defendant, born in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, is a Russian citizen who still resides in Rostov-on-Don. Defendant owns and operates websites that offer visitors a stream-ripping service through which audio tracks may be extracted from videos available on various platforms and converted into a downloadable format. The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of defendant's motion to dismiss, holding that defendant's contacts sufficiently show he purposefully availed himself of the privilege of conducting business in Virginia. Therefore, the exercise of specific personal jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(k)(1) is appropriate if it is constitutionally reasonable. Because the district court did not perform a reasonability analysis in the first instance, the court remanded for the district court to do so. View "UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Kurbanov" on Justia Law
B/E Aerospace, Inc. v. C&D Zodiac, Inc
On inter partes review (IPR) of B/E’s patents, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board found certain claims unpatentable as obvious. The patents relate to space-saving technologies for aircraft enclosures such as lavatory enclosures, closets, and galleys. The patents are directed to space-saving modifications to the walls of aircraft enclosures; they are not directed to the structures contained within those walls. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that the Board incorporated a claim limitation that is not present in the prior art. The challenged claims would have been obvious because modifying a combination of prior art to include a second recess was nothing more than the predictable application of known technology. The Board fully articulated its conclusion of obviousness, and substantial evidence supports the Board’s determination of obviousness independent of whether it erred in considering design drawings. View "B/E Aerospace, Inc. v. C&D Zodiac, Inc" on Justia Law
Blumenthal Distributing, Inc. v. Herman Miller, Inc.
HM filed suit alleging infringement of HM's rights in the EAMES and AERON trade dresses under the Lanham Act. The jury found in favor of HM as to the Eames chairs and awarded infringement and dilution damages. As to the Aeron chair, the jury found in favor of OSP. The Ninth Circuit held that for a product's design to be protected under trademark law, the design must be nonfunctional. The panel affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of HM on its causes of action for the infringement of its registered and unregistered EAMES trade dresses and rejected OSP's argument that the utilitarian functionality of the Eames chairs' component parts renders their overall appearances functional as a matter of law; reversed the judgment in favor of OSP regarding the Aeron chair because the functionality jury instruction does not accurately track the panel's functionality caselaw; reversed the judgment in favor of HM on its cause of action for dilution because there was legally insufficient evidence to find that the claimed EAMES trade dresses were famous under 15 U.S.C. 1125(c)(2)(A); and remanded for a new trial. View "Blumenthal Distributing, Inc. v. Herman Miller, Inc." on Justia Law
Adidas AG v. Nike, Inc.
Nike’s patents share a specification and are directed to methods of manufacturing an article of footwear with a textile upper. Adidas petitioned for inter partes review of certain claims. The Patent Board held that Adidas had not demonstrated that the challenged claims are unpatentable as obvious. The Federal Circuit affirmed, first holding that Adidas had standing. The companies are in direct competition. Nike refused to grant Adidas a covenant not to sue, confirming that Adidas’ risk of infringement is concrete and substantial. Substantial evidence supports a finding that the claims are not obvious. The claims recite a method of “mechanically-manipulating a yarn with a circular knitting machine . . . to form a cylindrical textile structure.” The process involves removing a textile element from the textile structure and incorporating it into an upper of the article of footwear. Adidas had not demonstrated that a person of ordinary skill in the art would have been motivated to combine prior references and failed to identify which reference or combination of references it was relying on to disclose each limitation of the challenged claims. View "Adidas AG v. Nike, Inc." on Justia Law
Shoes by Firebus LLC v. Stride Rite Children’s Group, LLC
The Firebug patents are generally directed to footwear illumination systems. According to the patents, while light-up shoes are not new to the industry, there are many possible structural designs. In some designs, the light sources are external to the footwear; in others, the lights are integrated into the shoes. The Firebug patents purport to disclose an improved structure for internally illuminated footwear. The patents describe footwear comprising a sole and an upper portion having three layers—a liner (the innermost layer), an interfacing layer, and a light-diffusing layer. The light sources are connected to the interfacing layer between the interfacing layer and the light-diffusing layer. The interfacing layer is reflective and maximizes the amount of light that exits through the light-diffusing layer. Stride Rite, Firebug’s competitor, filed an infringement suit. Stride Rite, in response, filed petitions for inter partes review of certain claims. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board found the claims unpatentable as obvious over prior art. The Federal Circuit affirmed. While the preamble of claim 1 of one patent limits the challenged claims to require textile footwear, the Board’s ultimate conclusion of obviousness is correct under the proper claim construction and any error was therefore harmless. The obviousness determination was supported by substantial evidence. View "Shoes by Firebus LLC v. Stride Rite Children's Group, LLC" on Justia Law
SM Kids, LLC v. Google LLC
SM Kids filed suit against Google and related entities, seeking to enforce a 2008 agreement settling a trademark dispute over the Googles trademark. The agreement prohibited Google from intentionally making material modifications to its then-current offering of products and services in a manner that is likely to create confusion in connection with Googles. The district court concluded that the trademark assignment was invalid, and dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The Second Circuit vacated the district court's judgment and held that the validity of the trademark was not a jurisdictional matter related to Article III standing but was instead a merits question properly addressed on a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a motion for summary judgment, or at trial. In this case, the district court erroneously resolved Google's motion as a fact-based motion under Rule 12(b)(1) and considered evidence beyond the complaint, as well as placed on SM Kids the burden of proving subject-matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "SM Kids, LLC v. Google LLC" on Justia Law