Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

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SSI sued the Chicago Transit Authority, alleging infringement of patents covering inventions designed to implement open-payment fare systems in mass transit networks. “An open-payment fare system allows riders to conveniently and quickly access mass transit by using existing bankcards,” such as debit and credit cards, thereby “eliminat[ing] the need for, and added operational cost of, dedicated fare-cards,” paper tickets, and tokens. The district court found the claims patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101, as directed to an abstract idea and otherwise lacking an inventive concept. The Federal Circuit affirmed, stating that the asserted claims recite the abstract idea of collecting financial data using generic computer components. View "Smart Systems Innovations, LLC v. Chicago Transit Authority" on Justia Law

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The International Trades Commission instituted a section 337 investigation based on Cisco’s complaint alleging that Arista’s imports of certain network devices, related software, and components thereof infringed six of its patents. An ALJ issued a final initial determination finding a violation with respect to three patents, but no violation based on two other patents, 19 U.S.C. 1337(a)(1)(B)(i). The sixth patent had previously been terminated from the investigation. On review, the Commission upheld those findings and entered a limited exclusion order against imports by Arista of “certain network devices, related software and components thereof.” The Federal Circuit affirmed. The Commission sufficiently articulated its findings and employed claim construction requiring “router configuration data” to be “stored in said database.” View "Arista Net 2 Works, Inc. v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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Secured Mail’s “Intelligent Mail Barcode” patents, “QR Code” patents, and “Personalized URL” patents involve methods whereby a sender affixes an identifier on the outer surface of a mail object (e.g. envelope or package) before the mail object is sent. Computers and networks are used to communicate the information about the mail object’s contents and its sender after the mail object is delivered. The Intelligent Mail Barcode patents recite a method for verifying the authenticity of the mail object by means of a barcode affixed to the outside of the mail object. The QR Code and Personalized URL patents require that a reception device (e.g., a personal computer) be used to scan the encoded data and display the resulting data on the reception device’s display screen. The district court dismissed Secured’s infringement claims against Universal on grounds that the patents’ claims are directed to subject matter ineligible for patenting under 35 U.S.C. 101. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The claims of the asserted patents are directed to an abstract idea and contain no additional elements that transform the nature of the claims into a patent-eligible application of the abstract idea. View "Secured Mail Solutions LLC v. Universal Wilde, Inc." on Justia Law

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Fast Felt’s patent describes and claims methods for printing nail tabs or reinforcement strips on roofing or building cover material. Fast Felt sued Owens Corning for infringement. Owens Corning then filed a petition with the Patent and Trademark Office seeking an inter partes review (IPR) of five claims under 35 U.S.C. 311–19. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board concluded that Owens Corning had failed to show obviousness of any of the challenged claims. The Federal Circuit reversed, stating that, once the key claim term, “roofing or building cover material,” is given its broadest reasonable interpretation, the record conclusively establishes obviousness. The Board effectively treated that term as limited to material that either has been or would be coated or saturated with asphalt or asphalt mix; such a construction is legally incorrect under the broadest-reasonable-interpretation standard applicable in the IPR. View "Owens Corning v. Fast Felt Corp." on Justia Law

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Rohm’s patents are directed to processes for preparing emulsion polymers with improved opacity for use in coatings such as paints, inks, and other products benefitting from opacity. Opacity results from absorbing and scattering light, a property produced by voids (hollows) within the polymer particles. Hollow emulsion polymers were previously known. The Rohm patents state that their method of manufacture produces products of improved opacity and low density, based on the “discover[y] that by providing an aqueous emulsion of a multi-stage emulsion polymer, monomer and swelling agent under conditions wherein there is no substantial polymerization of the monomer, we can enhance the extent of swelling of the multistage emulsion polymer.” The Federal Circuit affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in sustaining the patentability of claims challenged on inter partes review. The court rejected arguments that the Board adopted an overly narrow interpretation of the term “swelling agent,” improperly added a “swelling step” into the claims, and erred in finding that the prior art references do not disclose a “swelling agent.” View "Organik Kimya AS v. Rohm and Haas Co." on Justia Law

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Amgen’s patents relate to antibodies that help reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDLC), or “bad cholesterol.” Typically, high LDL-C is treated using small molecules (statins), which sometimes have adverse side effects or cannot reduce a patient’s LDL-C to a healthy level, requiring an alternative treatment, such as a PCSK9 inhibitor. PCSK9 is a naturally occurring protein that binds to and causes the destruction of liver cell receptors (LDL-Rs) that are responsible for extracting LDLC from the bloodstream. Amgen began studying PCSK9 in 2005 and developed the drug Repatha™ with the active ingredient “evolocumab,” a monoclonal antibody that targets PCSK9 to prevent it from destroying LDL-R proteins.The FDA approved Repatha in 2015. In 2007, Appellants started exploring antibodies targeting PCSK9, resulting in the development of Praluent. Praluent's active ingredient is a monoclonal antibody that targets PCSK9 to prevent it from binding to and destroying LDL-R proteins. The LDL-R proteins then extract LDL-C, lowering overall LDL-C levels. In 2011, Appellants obtained a patent that claimed Praluent by its amino acid sequence. The FDA approved Praluent in 2015. Amgen sued Appellants. Appellants stipulated to infringement. The district court enjoined the sale of Praluent. The Federal Circuit reversed in part. The district court erred by excluding Appellants’ evidence regarding post-priority-date evidence of enablement and improperly instructed the jury on written description. View "Amgen Inc. v. Sanofi" on Justia Law

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Aqua’s patent concerns automated swimming pool cleaners that use “an angled jet drive propulsion system” to move in a controlled pattern. Using motor-driven wheels that enable the cleaner to move in a controlled pattern requires a drive motor and integrated circuitry. Cleaners that use suction or water jets do not require a drive motor but often move in erratic patterns. Zodiac sought inter partes review, citing prior art. Aqua moved to substitute new claims to require that the jet creates a downward vector force rear of the front wheels and the wheels control the cleaner's directional movement. Aqua argued that the combination of prior art did not render the substitute claims obvious because it does not suggest the vector limitation. The Patent Board denied Aqua’s motion to amend. The Federal Circuit initially affirmed, but on en banc review, vacated, holding that 35 U.S.C. 316(e) requires the petitioner to prove all propositions of unpatentability, including for amended claims. The court alternatively reasoned that, absent required deference, the most reasonable reading of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act places the burden of persuasion with respect to the patentability of amended claims on the petitioner. The Board must consider the entire record when assessing the patentability of amended claims without placing the burden of persuasion on the patent owner. View "Aqua Products, Inc. v. Matal" on Justia Law

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Dr. David Jang, M.D., is the named inventor of the patent, which is directed to a coronary stent. Jang assigned the patent to BSC. BSC agreed to pay a royalty if it ever produced a product that would infringe the patent. Jang sued, based on BSC’s “Express stent.” BSC sought ex parte reexamination, then sought to include invalidity defenses in Jang’s suit. The district court denied the motion, deeming invalidity defenses “irrelevant” as to whether BSC owed royalties for past sales. The Patent and Trademark Office subsequently cancelled the asserted claims as unpatentable. The court denied BSC’s motion in limine to preclude Jang from presenting a doctrine of equivalents theory, finding that Jang’s experts sufficiently explained his doctrine of equivalents theory in their expert reports. The jury ultimately found no literal infringement, but found infringement under the doctrine of equivalents. Following through on its earlier decision, the district court conducted an evidentiary hearing on ensnarement. Concluding that Jang did not meet his burden of persuasion, which includes providing a proper hypothetical claim that does not ensnare the prior art, the district court vacated the jury verdict and entered judgment of non-infringement. The Federal Circuit affirmed the entry of judgment of non-infringement. View "Jang v. Boston Scientific Corp." on Justia Law

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Smith’s 817 patent, entitled “Expandable Underreamer/Stabilizer,” is directed to a downhole drilling tool for oil and gas operations. It describes an “expandable tool 500” having “a generally cylindrical tool body 510 with a flowbore 508 extending therethrough” and “one or more moveable, non-pivotable tool arms 520.” The Patent Board affirmed the rejection of certain claims in an ex parte examination, interpreting the term “body” as a broad term that may encompass other components such as “mandrel” and “cam sleeve.” The Federal Circuit reversed. The Board’s construction of “body” was unreasonably broad. Even when giving claim terms their broadest reasonable interpretation, the Board cannot construe the claims “so broadly that its constructions are unreasonable under general claim construction principles.” The challenged claims were not unpatentable as obvious. View "In re: Smith International, Inc." on Justia Law

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NFC’s patent relates to a near-field communication device, using electromagnetic induction to communicate information over very short distances. The patent claims a priority date of March 1999, the date of the filing of a French patent application. HTC sought inter partes review, alleging that claims were unpatentable as obvious over the Sears patent, with a filing date of February 1999. NFC responded that the inventor, Charrat, had reduced the invention to practice before Sears’s priority date. By September 1998, NFC claimed, Charrat and his team had sufficiently developed the device that they commissioned CE, a chip fabrication company, to generate printed circuit board layouts for the device. The Patent Board determined that NFC had not adequately demonstrated that Charrat had reduced the invention to practice before Sears’s priority date; even if the prototype embodied the invention, NFC had not adequately established that Charrat had conceived the claims' subject matter. The Federal Circuit reversed and remanded. Charrat’s testimony relating to conception was adequately corroborated by NFC’s documentary evidence. NFC established conception. The Board assumed, but did not decide, that the prototype embodied the claimed invention; that issue must be decided in order to determine whether Sears can be antedated. View "NFC Techoloty, LLC v. Matal" on Justia Law