Justia Intellectual Property Opinion Summaries
In Re Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University
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
Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Facebook, Inc.
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
Edgewell Personal Care Brands, LLC v. Munchkin, Inc.
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
Authentic Apparel Geoup, LLC v. United States
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
MidlevelU, Inc. v. ACI Information Group
After a blog operator filed suit against a content aggregator for copyright infringement after the aggregator copied and published the blog's content, the jury ruled in favor of the blog operator. At issue is whether the district court should have allowed the jury to decide whether the aggregator had an implied license to copy and publish the blog's content.The Eleventh Circuit concluded that, although the district court employed a too narrow understanding of an implied license, a jury could not have reasonably inferred that the blog impliedly granted the aggregator a license to copy and publish its content. In this case, the district court erred by granting judgment as a matter of law against the aggregator on its implied-license defense; the district court did not err by instructing the jury that it could consider unregistered articles in its calculation of statutory damages; the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying the aggregator's motion for a new trial on the basis of the jury's statutory-damages award; the district court did not err by failing to consult with the register of copyrights about the alleged fraud on the copyright office; and the aggregator is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law on its fair-use defense. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment against the aggregator. View "MidlevelU, Inc. v. ACI Information Group" on Justia Law
Rain Computing, Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
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
Bayer HealthCare LLC v. Baxalta Inc.
Bayer’s patent is directed to recombinant forms of human factor VIII (FVIII), a protein that is produced, and released into the bloodstream, by the liver. In Bayer’s suit, alleging that Baxalta’s biologic product Adynovate® infringes certain claims of the patent, a jury found that the asserted claims were enabled and infringed, and that Bayer was entitled to reasonable-royalty damages. The district court did not send the question of willful infringement to the jury, holding as a matter of law that Baxalta’s conduct did not meet the requirements for willfulness.The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting Baxalta’s challenges to the district court’s construction of the claim term “at the B-domain” and its interpretation of the word “random” in its construction of the claim term “an isolated polypeptide conjugate.” The court upheld the district court’s judgments of infringement and enablement as supported by substantial evidence, along with the court’s awards of damages and pre-verdict supplemental damages. Even accepting Bayer’s evidence as true and weighing all inferences in Bayer’s favor, the record is insufficient to establish that Baxalta’s “conduct rose to the level of wanton, malicious, and bad-faith behavior required for willful infringement.” View "Bayer HealthCare LLC v. Baxalta Inc." on Justia Law
The Ohio State University v. Redbubble, Inc.
Redbubble operates a global online marketplace. Around 600,000 independent artists, not employed by Redbubble, upload images onto Redbubble’s interface. Consumers scroll through those images and order customized items. Once a consumer places an order, Redbubble notifies the artist and arranges the manufacturing and shipping of the product with independent third parties. Redbubble never takes title to any product shown on its website and does not design, manufacture, or handle these products. The shipped packages bear Redbubble's logo. Redbubble handles customer service, including returns. Redbubble markets goods listed on its website as Redbubble products; for instance, it provides instructions on how to care for “Redbubble garments.” Customers often receive goods from Redbubble’s marketplace in Redbubble packaging.Some of Redbubble’s artists uploaded trademark-infringing images that appeared on Redbubble’s website; consumers paid Redbubble to receive products bearing images trademarked by OSU. Redbubble’s user agreement states that trademark holders, and not Redbubble, bear the burden of monitoring and redressing trademark violations. Redbubble did not remove the offending products from its website. OSU sued, alleging trademark infringement, counterfeiting, and unfair competition under the Lanham Act, and Ohio’s right-of-publicity law. The district court granted Redbubble summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Redbubble’s marketplace involves creating Redbubble products and garments that would not have existed but for Redbubble’s enterprise. The district court erred by entering summary judgment under an overly narrow reading of the Lanham Act. View "The Ohio State University v. Redbubble, Inc." on Justia Law
Bitmanagement Software GMBH v. United States
In 2013, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command installed copyrighted graphics-rendering software created by German company Bitmanagement onto all computers in the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet. No express contract or license agreement authorized the Navy’s actions. In 2016, Bitmanagement filed suit, alleging copyright infringement, 28 U.S.C. 1498(b). The Claims Court found that, while Bitmanagement had established a prima facie case of copyright infringement, the Navy was not liable because it was authorized to make copies by an implied license, arising from the Navy’s purchase of individual licenses to test the software and various agreements between the Navy and the vendor.The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded for the calculation of damages. The Claims Court ended its analysis prematurely by failing to consider whether the Navy complied with the terms of the implied license, which can readily be understood from the parties’ entire course of dealings. The implied license was conditioned on the Navy using a license-tracking software, Flexera, to “FlexWrap” the program and monitor the number of simultaneous users. The Navy failed to effectively FlexWrap the copies it made; Flexera tracking did not occur as contemplated by the implied license. That failure to comply creates liability for infringement. View "Bitmanagement Software GMBH v. United States" on Justia Law
SynQor, Inc. v. Vicor Corp.
SynQor’s 190 patent issued in 2006, as part of an extensive family of patents that disclose technology for DC-DC power converters used in large computer systems and data communication equipment to convert direct electric current from one voltage to another. In 2011, SynQor asserted several patents against Vicor. Vicor petitioned for reexamination of the 190, 702, and 290 patents. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board affirmed that claims of the 702 patent were not unpatentable, finding that “there are incompatibilities in frequency between” prior references Cobos and Steigerwald, and found the challenged claims of the 290 patent not unpatentable based on a combination of Steigerwald, Cobos, and another reference.The Federal Circuit court affirmed the patentability of the claims of the 290 patent and the finding the 702 patent not unpatentable but did not reach the finding that Steigerwald and Cobos were incompatible. The 190 patent expired in 2018. A year later, the Board issued its decision in the 190 reexamination, rejecting SynQor’s argument that Steigerwald and Cobos had incompatible frequencies.The Federal Circuit vacated. Common law issue preclusion arising from the 702 and 290 reexaminations collaterally estopped the Board from finding that an artisan would be motivated to combine Steigerwald and Cobos. The Board’s decision on newly presented claims 34–38 became moot with the patent's expiration. View "SynQor, Inc. v. Vicor Corp." on Justia Law