Other Barks and Bites for Friday, March 29: Boeing Files Trade Secrets Lawsuit Against Virgin Galactic, Apple Sues Ex-Engineer for Leaking Confidential Information to Journalist; Kim Kardashian is Sued in Trademark Infringement Case

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Happy Easter from the newest addition to the IPWatchdog/ Quinn family, Cocoa (right) and her brother, Loki!!!!

This week in Other Barks & Bites: a Delaware district court throws out a $500 million patent infringement case against Sony; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issues a pair of precedential rulings; and Boeing launches a lawsuit against Virgin Galactic.


CAFC Affirms Ineligibility Holding Following Mandamus Order to Transfer

On Friday, March 29, the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court’s finding that the asserted claims of three Bluebonnet Internet Media Services patents were patent ineligible as abstract. The court had previously granted Pandora Media’s petition for a writ of mandamus requesting transfer from the Western District of Texas to the Northern District of California, and the California court then granted Pandora’s motion for judgment on the pleadings. The CAFC ultimately agreed with the district court that the claims were directed to the abstract idea of ‘customizing a product according to a customer’s likes and dislikes,’ applied ‘to the somewhat narrower context of computer-based media playlists,’” and, at Alice step two, lacked any inventive concept.

Vidal Vacates PTAB Finding for Patent Owner

On Thursday, March 28, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Office Director Kathi Vidal vacated a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decision that upheld patent owners Alexander Soto and Walter Soto’s arguments for denial of institution of Nokia’s petitions for inter partes review of certain claims of three patents. The Board agreed with patent owners that substantially the same art and arguments were previously presented to the Office. Nokia petitioned for Director Review and Vidal found “the Board did not sufficiently explain its findings” on that point.

Apple Sues Ex-Engineer for Leaking Confidential Information to the Press

On Thursday, March 28, it was first publicly reported that Apple filed a lawsuit against an engineer last week accusing the former employee of leaking information about products to a journalist. The former employee allegedly sent thousands of text messages to journalists about unreleased and unannounced Apple products including its new Vision Pro headset. Apple asked for at least $25,000 in damages for the release of the confidential information to the press.

CAFC Rejects Appeal to Increase Patent Infringement Damages in Trading Interface Case

On Wednesday, March 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential opinion rejecting Trading Technologies’ appeal to increase the $6.6 million in patent infringement damages it was awarded in its case against IBG. The original case involved four patents, however, a district court ruled two of the patents were directed at abstract ideas and therefore not patentable. Trading Technologies attempted to argue that the district court erroneously ruled the patent unpatentable using a CAFC non-precedential ruling as evidence. However, citing a Supreme Court case, the CAFC said, “it is clear that the Court in WesternGeco effectively recognized that a causation requirement is part of the § 284 standard, which authorizes an award “adequate to compensate for” the infringement.” Read the full IPWatchdog coverage here.

Judge Throws Out $500 Million Patent Lawsuit Against Sony

On Monday, March 25, a Delaware district court ruled that Sony did not infringe a patent from Genuine Enabling Technology. Genuine was asking for $500 million in damages for alleged patent infringement in the PlayStation 3 and 4 and its controllers. Sony had called the request for damages bloated, and the district court found that none of the Sony products infringed on Genuine’s since-expired patent.

Boeing Files Trade Secrets Lawsuit Against Virgin Galactic

On Friday, March 22, Boeing filed a lawsuit against Virgin Galactic accusing its competitor of  “violating federal and state trade secret laws by retaining, using, and threatening further use of trade secrets” that belong to Boeing. In its complaint, Boeing claimed that Virgin Galactic received access to two proprietary datasets subject to an agreement between the two companies requiring Virgin to return or destroy the trade secrets. Boeing was helping Virgin Galactic design its latest mothership, part of owner Richard Branson’s attempt to stimulate space tourism


CAFC Breathes Life Back Into Plastic Container Patent Case in Precedential Ruling

On Wednesday, March 27 the CAFC issued a precedential opinion vacating parts of a district court’s ruling and remanding a patent infringement case between Inline Plastics and Lacerta Group for further proceedings. The ruling grants Inline Plastics a second chance before a district judge to argue before the district court that its plastic containers were too successful for its patents to be considered obvious. Read the complete IPWatchdog coverage here.

Kim Kardashian Accused of False Endorsement in Furniture Knockoff Lawsuit

On Wednesday, March 27, a non-profit group dedicated to the legacy of artist Donald Judd filed a lawsuit accusing Kim Kardashian of using knockoff Judd tables and chairs in a YouTube video. The lawsuit accuses the reality TV star including of false endorsement and Clements Design the maker of the alleged knockoffs of trademark infringement, copyright infringement, unfair competition, and false advertising.

EU Adopts New Regulation on Geographical Indicators

On Tuesday, March 26, the European Council, adopted a new regulation on geographical indicators (GIs) that aims to improve protections for the agricultural sectors. The goal of the new regulation is to streamline the GI registration process into a single framework, making the process easier for producers. The EUIPO wrote on the new regulation, “this reform is part of the EU’s broader efforts to safeguard the distinctiveness and heritage of its agricultural produce, while also promoting consumer trust and rural development.”

IBM and Chewy Agree to Dismiss Patent Infringement Lawsuit

On Monday, March 25, IBM and pet food company Chewy agreed to dismiss a patent infringement lawsuit filed by Chewy. In the 2021 lawsuit, Chewy made the case that its targetted advertising did not infringe on IBM’s patents after the tech company offered a $36 million deal to license its patents. A district judge ruled in favor of Chewy, however a CAFC revived the case in 2024.

This Week on Wall Street

Sam Bankman-Fried Sentenced to 25 Years for Crypto Fraud

On Thursday, March 28, a New York district court sentenced co-founder of FTX Sam Bankman-Fried to 25 years in jail for defrauding customers and orchestrating multiple fraud schemes. Bankman-Fried reached dizzying heights in the burgeoning crypto world and was dubbed the Crypto King before his cryptocurrency exchange collapsed and did not have funds to pay back customers. Attorney General Merrick Garland commented on the case, “anyone who believes they can hide their financial crimes behind wealth and power, or behind a shiny new thing they claim no one else is smart enough to understand, should think twice.” In total, Bankman-Fried was convicted of defrauding customers of $8 billion which was in part used for political donations.

EU Opens Investigation into Apple, Alphabet, and Meta for DMA Noncompliance

On Monday, March 25, the European Union launched five non-compliance investigations into Apple, Alphabet, and Meta under its Digital Markets Act (DMA). Apple and Alphabet, which owns Google, are both being investigated for not allowing apps to freely communicate with its users. In the other three investigations, Apple is accused of not giving users sufficient choice, Meta is being investigated for asking users to pay to avoid their data being used in ads, and Google’s potential preference for its services in search engine results is also under scrutiny. “Should our investigation conclude that there is lack of full compliance with the DMA, gatekeepers could face heavy fines,” said Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market.


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Join the Discussion

2 comments so far. Add my comment.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    April 1, 2024 10:18 am

    Josh – you know the answers.

  • [Avatar for Josh Malone]
    Josh Malone
    March 30, 2024 09:03 pm

    Why can’t Nokia make their case against two independent inventors in a real court? Why is the USPTO determined to undermine inventors’ issued patents to help big businesses that infringe?

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