The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today upheld in a precedential decision the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) denial of Director rehearing for two inter partes review (IPR) decisions in which the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) found CyWee Group Ltd.’s U.S. Patent Nos. 8,441,438 and 8,552,978 unpatentable. The IPRs were brought by Google in 2018 challenging certain claims of the two patents, which cover 3D pointing devices. The PTAB instituted the two IPRs within three months of CyWee’s preliminary responses to the petitions, and following institution, the IPRs were joined by other parties, including Samsung, LG and Huawei. Because of the joinders, the PTAB extended the deadline for its response by one month beyond the statutory deadline of one year from institution, to January 10, 2020. The Board issued final written decisions (FWDs) in both IPRs on January 9, 2020, finding all claims unpatentable for obviousness.
Patent Term Adjustment (PTA) was designed to serve an important purpose – to compensate patentees for time lost during examination due to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) delays. Most industries rely heavily on their patent portfolios to drive business strategies that ultimately impact their bottom line. The impact of patent term is especially acute in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, where companies spend billions of dollars to develop new drugs. For these companies, every day that their patent is in force matters, generating millions in additional revenue. With so much at stake, companies strive to accrue all the patent term they are entitled to under the current statutory regime, including by way of PTA.
The American Bar Association (ABA) filed an amicus brief on February 3 with the U.S. Supreme Court asking the Court to clarify issues related to the application of the Lanham Act to trademark disputes that cross international borders. The ABA filed the brief in the Abitron Austria GmbH v. Hetronic International, Inc. trademark case, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed a $90 million damages award for trademark infringement based on infringement that occurred almost entirely outside of the United States.
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has a well-earned and perfectly appropriate problem with perception, and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal seems to be doing her level best to make that problem of perception even worse. It isn’t bad enough that petitioners do not owe the PTAB or the Office itself a duty of candor, but now they can stay in a case as a petitioner even if they are found to have engaged in extortion. There has long been a systemic bias against patent owners, who have for many years suffered through lengthy examinations of their innovations. But ever since former PTAB Chief Judge James Smith embraced the moniker of “patent death squad” as a badge of honor, the PTAB has suffered from a perception problem, and really now lacks all credibility.
Litigation finance trends, Supreme Court decisions on patent enablement and copyright fair use, the launch of the Unified Patent Court, more cases dealing with the intersection of IP law and AI— and continued uncertainty. These are some of the key issues to watch in 2023, according to the readers below. As we do each December, IPWatchdog asked its IP community what they will be paying attention to as we enter the new year; hopefully their responses will help prepare you for what’s ahead.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York last week dismissed a trade secrets lawsuit against International Business Machines Corp (IBM) and IBM China by Beijing Neu Cloud Oriental System Technology Co. The Chinese firm alleged that IBM stole trade secrets from its joint venture in order to sell IBM products to the Chinese market. IBM China and Beijing Teamsun Technology Co. originally formed Beijing Neu Cloud in 2014 as a joint venture to distribute IBM technology in China. But in a 2021 complaint, Beijing Neu Cloud alleged that IBM induced “Neu Cloud and its majority owner through later-breached contracts to expend resources and provide IBM with access to sensitive, confidential customer information, which IBM then secretly used to create competing ventures in China.”
On November 10, a group of Democratic members of congress sent a letter to United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai expressing concerns about extending a waiver of intellectual property rights under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement to therapeutics and diagnostics for the treatment of COVID-19. The letter comes as talks are heating up at the World Trade Organization (WTO) about such an extension, with the technical deadline for a decision being December 19. The letter poses seven questions for Tai to consider and respond to as she formulates the U.S. position on waiver extension, including whether the current waiver of IP rights for vaccine-related technology has been effective, how “diagnostics” and “therapeutics” will be defined, and that she provide a list of countries that have expressed interest in gaining access to American IP for COVID-related diagnostics and therapeutics.
In February 2020, ParkerVision filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Intel in Judge Alan Albright’s Waco, Texas, courthouse in the Western District of Texas. Only three years later, and through the pandemic, today, the case settled all pending matters. ParkerVision still has remaining patent infringement cases in process against TCL, LG, MediaTek and RealTek in Judge Albright’s court. A settled case is the best way to close a patent infringement dispute. It not only reduces costs for the parties, but it also reduces the court’s burden of a trial. When the parties agree to settle, everyone goes home happy.
On Friday, February 3, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal issued an order in the ongoing Director Review of OpenSky v. VLSI, restoring OpenSky as a party to the inter partes review (IPR) and awarding reasonable attorney fees to VLSI as sanctions against OpenSky. Vidal had dismissed OpenSky from the proceedings in December after first merely relegating OpenSky to be a “silent understudy” to the proceedings. In Friday’s order, following briefing from OpenSky and VLSI on her order to show cause as to why OpenSky shouldn’t have to pay compensatory damages to VLSI, Vidal held that VLSI was entitled to attorney fees for the time it spent addressing OpenSky’s abusive behavior, “including the Director Review process in its entirety.”
Venable LLP’s Patent Prosecution and Counseling group seeks a patent agent with a background in mechanical or aerospace engineering to join the group in the Washington, D.C., New York, NY, Chicago, IL, Los Angeles, CA, or San Francisco, CA office. This is a full-time, permanent position. The ideal candidate holds undergraduate and/or graduate degrees in mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, electrical engineering or computer science. Strong preference for previous experience as a patent examiner and for PTO registration. Industry experience is a plus. The qualified candidate has one to three years of patent prosecution experience at USPTO or in a law firm setting. Candidates must have excellent academic credentials, strong writing skills, and sharp analytical ability.
On November 10, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in Unicolors, Inc. v. H&M Hennes & Mauritz, L.P. following remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, which clarified the knowledge standard required for invalidating copyright registrations based on inaccuracies in the registration application. In light of that ruling, the Ninth Circuit upheld Unicolors’ ability to maintain its copyright infringement action against H&M because the plaintiff did not have the requisite knowledge of the legal inaccuracy on its registration application to invalidate the registration. While the Ninth Circuit dismissed most of H&M’s arguments on remand, the appellate court did agree with H&M that the district court’s post-remittitur damages were improperly calculated, leading to a significant reduction in the amount awarded to Unicolors in the case.
Earlier today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential decision in CUPP Computing AS v. Trend Micro Inc. affirming final written decisions from a trio of inter partes review (IPR) proceedings invalidating CUPP Computing’s patent claims covering methods for performing security operations on a mobile device. The CAFC’s decision makes clear to patent owners defending their rights at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that the Board is not required to consider a disclaimer entered during IPR as binding on the proceedings before it.
In a precedential opinion issued yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) ruled partially in favor of VLSI Technology, Inc. in its case with Intel, reversing the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB’s) holding that one claim of U.S. Patent No. 7,247,552 was unpatentable. The court upheld the PTAB’s unpatentability findings on the three other challenged claims. Intel filed three separate inter partes review (IPR) petitions against VLSI challenging the validity of claims 1, 2, 11, and 20 of the ‘552 patent, which is directed to “’[a] technique for alleviating the problems of defects caused by stress applied to bond pads’ of an integrated circuit.”