“The CAFC explained that when a jury returns a verdict based on ‘multiple independent factual bases…a lack of substantial evidence for some of those bases does not warrant JMOL.’ Instead, the verdict must be upheld if there is substantial evidence to support ‘any of the proffered factual bases.’”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today affirmed a district court’s ruling denying Innovation Sciences’ post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) that claims of three of its patents are not invalid and that Amazon.com, Inc. infringed them, or, alternatively, a new trial. The CAFC said that substantial evidence supported the district court’s finding of anticipation, which Amazon proved via expert testimony relating to a prior art home automation software called HAL.
A wireless HUB system for managing information communications comprising:
an input interface configured to receive a wireless signal through a wireless communication network;
a decoder; and
a network interface configured to provide a communication through a network communication channel,
wherein the wireless HUB system is configured to perform a conversion of the wireless signal to accommodate production of a corresponding information content, the wireless signal comprising a compressed signal, the conversion comprising decompressing the compressed signal;
wherein the decoder is configured to decompress the compressed signal;
wherein the wireless HUB system is further configured to communicate, through the network communication channel, information for managing an item status of an item in connection with a short range wireless communication regarding an updated status of the item; and
wherein the network communication channel is separate from a wireless channel for the short range wireless communication.
Innovation Sciences accused Amazon’s Echo, Fire Tablet, Fire TV, and Alexa Voice Service of infringing the three patents in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, but a jury found the patents invalid and not infringed. Innovation Sciences moved for JMOL that the claims were not invalid and that Amazon infringed, while Amazon moved for costs. The jury district court denied the JMOL motion and granted Amazon’s motion in part, awarding graphics and printing costs.
The CAFC explained that when a jury returns a verdict based on “multiple independent factual bases…a lack of substantial evidence for some of those bases does not warrant JMOL.” Instead, the verdict must be upheld if there is substantial evidence to support “any of the proffered factual bases.”
One of the bases for invalidity that Amazon presented was anticipation under 5 U.S.C. § 102. Innovation Sciences conceded that the appellate court could affirm the denial of JMOL if substantial evidence supported the finding of anticipation. Amazon relied on a prior art home automation system titled HAL, created by Tim Shriver, that existed before August 9, 2006, to show anticipation. Innovation Sciences argued that Amazon’s expert witness “improperly based his invalidity opinion on a reconstructed HAL system that is not prior art,” but the CAFC said substantial evidence supported that the relied upon HAL system was representative of prior-art systems. Innovation Sciences argued that Shriver’s testimony about the HAL system he provided in response to a subpoena request, during which he explained “that each customer’s system was ‘unique,’” proved “he did not know whether a customer ‘would have set up a system like this on August 9th of 2006.’” But the CAFC said Shriver also testified that, “except for some light bulbs, all the system’s components pre-dated the priority date…that his customers’ systems had the same components,…and that the system operated the way prior-art HAL systems did.” The court similarly found Innovation Sciences remaining arguments regarding Shriver’s and Johnson’s testimonies unpersuasive and ultimately found that substantial evidence supported the jury’s finding of anticipation.
As to Innovation Sciences’ request for a new trial, the court said its arguments were largely the same as those raised with respect to the denial of JMOL and rejected them for the same reasons. The only unique argument was that Amazon’s counsel made improper remarks to the jury about one of its other invalidity defenses, but the CAFC said Innovation Sciences forfeited this argument by failing to object at trial and had not provided argument as to the interest of justice warranting the CAFC to take action. Furthermore, Amazon’s other invalidity defenses would be moot anyway given the court’s affirmance of the anticipation finding.
With respect to costs, the CAFC said the district court abused its discretion in awarding Amazon $126,399.19 in graphics costs because “[g]raphics do not meet the definition of exemplification [under 28 U.S.C. § 1920(4)], i.e., “[a]n official transcript of a public record, authenticated as a true copy for use as evidence.” The district court interpreted the language of the statute to “include graphics support” but the CAFC said “that was error.” It added:
“Graphics do not meet the definition of exemplification, i.e., ‘[a]n official transcript of a public record, authenticated as a true copy for use as evidence.’… And, as Amazon concedes, ‘creating graphics is not copying.’”
The court thus reversed the award of graphics costs but upheld the award of $25,698.85 for printing two sets of trial exhibits.
Image Source: deposit Photos