Justia Intellectual Property Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
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Qualcomm sued Apple in the Southern District of California for infringing claims of two patents. Apple sought inter partes review. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board held Apple did not prove that claims in the two patents would have been obvious. Before the filing of appeals, Apple and Qualcomm settled all litigation between the two companies worldwide. Based on that settlement, the parties jointly moved to dismiss Qualcomm’s district court action with prejudice, which the district court granted.The Federal Circuit dismissed appeals from the inter partes review for lack of standing. Apple has not alleged that the validity of the patents will affect its contract rights (ongoing royalty obligations) in the settlement. The possibility of a future suit is too speculative to confer standing, as is the likelihood that 35 U.S.C. 315(e) would estop Apple from arguing that the patents would have been obvious in future disputes. Apple has failed to show an injury in fact based on potential future allegations that its products infringe the patents. View "Apple Inc. v. Qualcomm Inc." on Justia Law

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Wi-LAN’s 654 patent concerns “methods to display interlaced video on [a] noninterlaced monitor” Interlaced video. Television sets use interlaced video formats to prevent a “flicker” effect that results from the difference in the frame rate of the television set and the frame rate in which a program was filmed. Wi-LAN’s 250 patent, “relates generally to multimedia encoders and specifically [to] an integrated multimedia stream multiplexer,” which receives separate audio and video data streams and combines them into a single multimedia data stream. The 250 patent is directed to a system for dynamically adjusting the bit rates of the input audio and video data streams to obtain a combined multimedia data stream with an optimal bit rate. Vizio and Sharp sold “smart” television sets. Wi-LAN alleged direct and induced infringement of the patents against both.For the 250 patent, the district court construed the terms “output multimedia data stream” and “a multimedia processor, coupled to the data rate analyzer” and entered a stipulated judgment of noninfringement. The court reasoned that Wi-LAN knew that it could not establish infringement without establishing that the source code of Sharp’s and Vizio’s systems actually practiced the patented method and lacked sufficient admissible evidence to prove direct infringement of the 654 patent. The Federal Circuit affirmed, upholding the construction of the claim terms. With respect to the 654 patent, a source code printout did not constitute a business record admissible under Rule 803(6). View "Wi-LAN Inc. v. Sharp Electronics Corp." on Justia Law

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Stanford’s 2012 patent application is directed to computerized statistical methods for determining haplotype phase. A haplotype phase acts as an indication of the parent from whom a gene has been inherited. The written description explains that accurately estimating haplotype phase based on genotype data obtained through sequencing an individual’s genome “plays pivotal roles in population and medical genetic studies.” The application is directed to methods for inferring haplotype phase in a collection of unrelated individuals.The Federal Circuit affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s final rejection of the patent claims, applying the two-step “Alice” analysis to determine patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. 101 and finding that the claims involve patent-ineligible subject matter. The rejected claims are drawn to abstract mathematical calculations and statistical modeling, and similar subject matter that is not patent-eligible. The improvement in computational accuracy alleged by Stanford does not qualify as an improvement to a technological process; rather, it is merely an enhancement to the abstract mathematical calculation of haplotype phase itself. View "In Re Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University" on Justia Law

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The parties compete in the market for veterinary orthopedic implants. DePuy sued VOI, alleging patent infringement. The district court entered the parties’ joint proposed protective order, designating certain information as “Confidential Material” and “Highly Confidential Material—Attorney Eyes Only.” The information designated “Highly Confidential” encompassed “supplier . . . names and identifying information.” DePuy filed under seal an unopposed motion for leave to amend the complaint to join as a defendant the manufacturer of VOI’s accused products, disclosing the manufacturer’s identity and information about the business relationship between the manufacturer and VOI.According to VOI, the manufacturer identity and other information are Highly Confidential and constitute trade secrets, so that it was necessary to file the amended complaint under seal, with only a redacted version publicly available. DePuy argued that the manufacturer’s public website advertises its business; that VOI and the manufacturer have no confidentiality agreement; that the manufacturer ships its products to VOI using a public carrier; and that a third party was aware that the manufacturer supplied products to VOI.The district court ordered that the amended complaint be filed on the public record without redaction of either the manufacturer's identity or other information. The order did not specifically analyze the other information. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The district court did not abuse its discretion in performing its obligation to ensure public access to court documents. View "DePuy Synthes Products, Inc. v. Veterinary Orthopedic Implants, Inc." on Justia Law

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Janssen sued Mylan for infringing claims in the 906 patent. Less than six months later, Mylan petitioned for inter partes review (IPR) of that patent, raising four grounds for the unpatentability under 35 U.S.C. 103. Opposing institution, Janssen claimed IPR would be an inefficient use of Patent Trial and Appeal Board resources because of two co-pending district court actions: the suit against Mylan and another suit against Teva. The Board agreed and denied the petition. Applying its six-factor standard, the Board found substantial overlap between the issues raised in Mylan’s IPR petition and the co-pending district court actions and that both actions would likely reach final judgment before any final written decision. The Teva trial date was only weeks away.Mylan argued that the Board’s determination, based on the timing of separate litigation to which Petitioner is not a party, undermines its constitutional and other due process rights and that the Board’s continued adoption and application of non-statutory institution standards through ad hoc proceedings lie in contrast to congressional intent. The Federal Circuit denied relief, stating that it lacks jurisdiction over appeals from decisions denying institution. Although the court has jurisdiction over mandamus petitions challenging such decisions, Mylan has not shown it is entitled to such an extraordinary remedy. View "Mylan Laboratories Ltd. v. Janssen Pharmaceutica, N.V." on Justia Law

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Stanford’s 925 application is directed to methods and computing systems for determining haplotype phase--an indication of the parent from whom a gene has been inherited. Improved haplotype phasing techniques “promise[] to revolutionize personalized health care by tailoring risk modification, medications, and health surveillance to patients’ individual genetic backgrounds.” Achieving the understanding necessary to accomplish those goals requires “interpretation of massive amounts of genetic data produced with each genome sequence.” The 925 application describes a method for receiving genotype and pedigree data and processing the data by performing mathematical calculations and statistical modeling to arrive at a haplotype phase determination.The Federal Circuit affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in rejecting the claims as patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101 because they are drawn to abstract mathematical calculations and statistical modeling, and similar subject matter that is not patent-eligible. Claim 1 recites no steps that practically apply the claimed mathematical algorithm; instead, claim 1 ends at storing the haplotype phase and “providing” it “in response to a request.” Simply storing information and providing it upon request does not alone transform the abstract idea into patent-eligible subject matter. View "In Re Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University" on Justia Law

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Uniloc’s patent is directed to “a system and method for enabling local and global instant [Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)] messaging over an IP network.” Facebook filed two petitions for inter partes review (IPR) of the patent, challenging claims as obvious under 35 U.S.C. 103. Apple's IPR proceeding was already pending. Facebook filed a third petition, identical in substance to Apple’s petition, with a motion to join the Apple IPR. The Board granted Facebook’s motion. LG filed IPR petitions identical in substance to Facebook’s original petitions, with motions to join both Facebook IPRs. The Board instituted IPRs based on LG’s petitions and granted LG’s motion. In the Apple IPR, the Board upheld the patentability of all challenged claims. The Board dismissed-in-part Facebook, finding that Facebook was estopped under 35 U.S.C. 315(e)(1), as to the claims challenged in the Apple IPR. The Board concluded that the dismissal of Facebook did not limit LG’s participation. In consolidated IPRs, the Board found all of the challenged claims unpatentable. Uniloc unsuccessfully sought rehearing, arguing that the proceeding should have been terminated once the original petitioner, Facebook, was deemed estopped,The Federal Circuit affirmed; 35 U.S.C. 314(d)’s “No Appeal” provision did not bar review of the Board’s conclusion that under section 315(e)(1) a petitioner is not estopped from maintaining the IPR proceeding before it. The Board did not err in finding that LG was not estopped from maintaining its IPR challenge to claims 1–8 and that Facebook is not estopped from challenging claim 7. There was no error in the Board’s unpatentability findings. View "Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Facebook, Inc." on Justia Law

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Edgewell manufactures and sells Diaper Genie, a system comprising a pail for the collection of soiled diapers and a replaceable cassette that is placed inside the pail and forms a wrapper around the soiled diapers. The 420 and 029 patents relate to alleged improvements in the cassette design. Edgewell accused Munchkin’s refill cassettes, which Munchkin marketed as being compatible with Edgewell’s Diaper Genie-branded diaper pails, of infringement. The district court granted, summary judgment of non-infringement of both patents.The Federal Circuit vacated with respect to the 420 patent. The district court erred in construing the term “clearance” on summary judgment in a manner dependent on the way the claimed cassette is put to use in an unclaimed structure. The 420 patent claims are directed only to a cassette; absent an express limitation to the contrary, the term “clearance” should be construed as covering all uses of the claimed cassette. The court reversed with respect to the 029 patent, directed to a cassette with a cover extending over pleated tubing housed therein. The district court correctly construed “annular cover” and “tear-off section” but there remained a genuine issue of material fact for the jury, sufficient to preclude summary judgment of noninfringement under the doctrine of equivalents. View "Edgewell Personal Care Brands, LLC v. Munchkin, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2010, the Army granted Authentic a nonexclusive license to manufacture and sell clothing bearing the Army’s trademarks. The agreement required the Army’s advance written approval of any products and marketing materials bearing the Army’s trademarks and included exculpatory clauses that exempted the Army from liability for exercising its discretion to deny approval. In 2011-2014, Authentic submitted nearly 500 requests for approval; the Army disapproved 41 submissions. During that time, Authentic received several formal notices of material breach for claimed failures to timely submit royalty reports and pay royalties. Authentic eventually paid its royalties through 2013. Authentic’s counsel indicated that Authentic would not pay outstanding royalties for 2014.Authentic's ensuing breach of contract suit cited the Army’s denial of the right to exploit the goodwill associated with the Army’s trademarks, refusal to permit Authentic to advertise its contribution to Army recreation programs, delay of approval for a financing agreement, denial of approval for advertising, and breach of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing by not approving the sale of certain garments. The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the government. The license agreement stated in no uncertain terms that the Army had “sole and absolute discretion” regarding approval of Authentic’s proposed products and marketing materials; the exercise of that broad approval discretion is not inconsistent with principles of trademark law. View "Authentic Apparel Geoup, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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Rain sued Samsung for infringement of claims of the 349 patent, which is directed to delivering software application packages to a client terminal in a network based on user demands. The claimed invention purports to deliver these packages more efficiently by using an operating system in a client terminal rather than a web browser. The district court found the patent not infringed and not indefinite.The Federal Circuit reversed as to indefiniteness, 35 U.S.C. 112. The term “user identification module” fails to provide any structure for performing the claimed functions, has no commonly understood meaning, and is not generally viewed by one skilled in the art to connote a particular structure. The term is a means-plus-function term subject to section 112; the function of “user identification module” is “to control access to one or more software application packages to which the user has a subscription,” but nothing in the claim language or the written description provides an algorithm to achieve the “control access” function of the “user identification module.” View "Rain Computing, Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd." on Justia Law