Posts in District Courts

Stay on Top of Hot Topics in Patent Damages Litigation

In patent litigation, damages issues are sometimes treated as an afterthought when compared to the issues of infringement and invalidity. However, achieving a client’s goals requires an attorney to place damages at the center of the litigation strategy from the very beginning. Damages, quite simply, can make or break a case. And it is a quickly evolving field, rife with inconsistent judicial decisions, vague standards, and new techniques for measuring damages. Below are some of the current hot topics in patent litigation—and tips for practitioners on both sides of the “v” on how to handle them.

Patent Filings Roundup: Slow Week in PTAB and District Court, Ideahub Subsidiary Challenges Instituted; Patent Armory Continues the Offensive

It was a slow week for new patent filings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and in the district courts. This week saw only 18 new filings at the PTAB—one of which was a Post Grant Review, while the remaining were inter partes reviews (IPRs). Texas Instruments, Inc. continued challenging Greenthread LLC patents, filing four IPRs against  four patents (bringing the total number of IPRs Texas Instruments has filed up to seven). Amazon filed two IPRs against one Nokia Technologies Oy [associated with Nokia Corporation] patents; Apple filed five IPRs against three Resonant Systems Inc. (d/b/a RevelHMI) patents; and Micron filed two IPRs against two Yangtze memory Technologies Company Ltd.

Timberland Loses Fourth Circuit Bid to Protect Trade Dress for Iconic Boots

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Monday rejected Timberland’s bid to protect its popular boot design. The court explained that the district court did not err in finding that the company failed to prove the design had acquired distinctive meaning…. According to Monday’s ruling, the boot’s design lacks “a distinctive meaning” that identifies them as Timberlands. While the brand’s distinct tree logo remains protected under the Lanham Act, the boot’s design falls short of being “distinguishable” enough to earn the same protection.

SCOTUS Won’t Review District Courts’ Authority to Award Sanctions

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied a petition that challenged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s decision that found a district court had authority to impose $36 million in sanctions for abusive litigation practices in a trademark case. The underlying case relates to AECOM Energy & Construction, Inc.’s (AECOM) suit against Gary Topolewski, who owned a clothing business called Metal Jeans, Inc., for infringing use of trademarks associated with AECOM’s predecessor, Morrison Knudsen Corporation.

Thaler, Copyright Office Fight Over Human-Authorship Requirement for AI-Created Artwork Continues

On April 10, Dr. Stephen Thaler filed a reply brief  at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, continuing the artificial intelligence (AI) technologist’s legal challenge to the U.S. Copyright Office’s refusal to register copyright to an artwork generated by Thaler’s Creativity Machine. The reply brief argues that there is no human authorship requirement under the U.S. Copyright Act preventing Thaler from claiming copyright in the AI-generated work, and that standard principles of property law enables ownership of the work to vest in Thaler, who created the AI system at issue in the case.

Federal Circuit Says District Court Erred in Assessing Inequitable Conduct in Toddler Dining Mat Patent Case

In a precedential decision issued Friday by Judge Leonard Stark, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed a district court’s judgment that Luv n’ care, Ltd. and Nouri E. Hakim (LNC) succeeded in proving Lindsey Laurain and Eazy-PZ, LLC (EZPZ) were barred from relief due to unclean hands but vacated the court’s judgment for EZPZ of no inequitable conduct. The CAFC also vacated a grant of partial summary judgment of invalidity and vacated orders denying LNC attorney fees and costs.

CAFC Panel Splits on Reasonable Expectation of Success Analysis

In a precedential decision authored by Judge Lourie, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court’s final judgment that certain claims of several patents owned by Salix Pharmaceuticals for a drug used to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other ailments were invalid as obvious. The CAFC also affirmed an order of the district court that instructed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the effective approval date of generic company Norwich’s Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) may not precede the expiration dates of the claims of three other Salix patents that were found to be valid and infringed by Norwich. Norwich cross-appealed from that order and also from the denial of its motion to modify the district court’s final judgment.

Heirs to Author of Article That Inspired Top Gun Crash and Burn in California District Court

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled on Friday that Shosh Yonay and Yuval Yonay, the widow and son of Ehud Yonay, who authored a 1983 magazine article that inspired the renowned film, Top Gun, were not entitled to damages for copyright infringement related to the 2022 sequel to the film. Yonay authored a magazine article titled “Top Guns,” published in California Magazine on April 21, 1983, that was an account of the experiences of F-14 pilots in training at Navy’s Fighter Weapons School, known as “Top Gun.”

A Case Study on the ‘Crime-Fraud’ Exception to Attorney-Client Privilege

The protection of privilege in communications between clients and lawyers is a very important one under U.S. law. The basic rule is that when a client seeks legal advice from a lawyer, the communication between the client and the lawyer is confidential and cannot be discovered during litigation. An important purpose of this rule is to encourage clients to communicate fully and freely with lawyers in the process of seeking legal help. The lawyers here include both external lawyers and in-house lawyers.

CAFC Precedential Decision on Rule 12(b)(6) Affirms Patent Ineligibility of Medical Scan Visualization Claims

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential decision decision authored by Judge Reyna today affirming a district court’s grant of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion alleging that AI Visualize’s patent claims were ineligible under Section 101. AI Visualize owns U.S. Patent Nos. 8,701,167 (’167 patent), 9,106,609 (’609 patent), 9,438,667 (’667 patent), and 10,930,397 (’397 patent), which all relate to visualization of medical scans. AI Visualize sued Nuance Communications, Inc. and Mach7 Technologies, Inc. for patent infringement. Nuance filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, arguing the claims were directed to patent ineligible subject matter. Since AI Visualize’s Amended Complaint provided no further information about the eligibility of the claims and neither party asked for claim construction, the district court reviewed the eligibility of the claims and concluded they were all ineligible.

CAFC Affirms District Court Dismissal of Pro Se Inventor’s Procedural and Patent Claims

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Wednesday affirmed a number of district court orders against inventor Urvashi Bhagat, whose patent application  was rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Bhagat’s U.S. patent application No. 13/877,847 covers orally-delivered nutritional formulations containing omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidants. The application was filed in 2013 and the USPTO examiner rejected all claims as obvious, two claims as lacking written description, several other claims as indefinite and others for improper dependency. On appeal to the PTAB, the Board summarily affirmed the dependency and indefiniteness rejections, affirmed the obviousness rejection on the merits and reversed the written description rejection. Bhagat then appealed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, claiming the USPTO erroneously rejected her patent claims and asking for damages due to the Office’s bad faith and for taking her property.

Patent Filings Roundup: Financed IP Edge Patents Back From the Dead; Toyota Challenges InfoGation Patents at PTAB

In a nod to Mark Twain’s famous quote, the rumors of the death of IP Edge are greatly exaggerated. It appears the prolific NPE aggregator has either sold or transferred at least one portfolio (and potentially up to 40) to a new entity, Inferential Capital, LLC, which after hiring, has begun asserting again—more below.  On the stats, it was a slightly below average week at both the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and in the district courts. At the PTAB, there were 25 new patent filings, with one post-grant review and 24 inter partes reviews (IPR). 

Ninth Circuit Says District Court Properly Canceled Cannabis Trademark Applications for Lack of Bona Fide Intent to Use

On April 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling in BBK Tobacco & Foods LLP v. Central Coast Agriculture, Inc. affirming a lower court’s ruling that canceled trademark applications pending at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The Ninth Circuit panel majority determined that the district court had statutory authority to invalidate a trademark application for no bona fide intent to use over a dissent authored by U.S. Circuit Judge Patrick Bumatay, who argued that district courts lacked the authority to cancel trademarks before registration by the USPTO.

CAFC Sends Janssen Schizophrenia Treatment Claims Back to District Court for New Obviousness Analysis

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) ruled in a precedential decision authored by Judge Prost on Monday that certain claims of Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s patent for a schizophrenia drug are not indefinite but vacated and remanded the district court’s finding that Teva Pharmaceuticals had not proven all of the claims obvious.

No Presents for Gift Card Patent Owner from Federal Circuit

AlexSam, Inc. lost its patent infringement cases against Simon Property Group/Blackhawk Network and Cigna Corporation in two separate decisions issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Monday, April 1. AlexSam owns U.S. Patent No. 6,000,608, which discloses a “multifunction card system.” Essentially, the invention is a type of gift card that “can serve a number of functions, thus allowing the consumer to have one card which may act as their card for financial transactions, long-distance telephone calls, loyalty information, and medical information.”