Posts in District Courts

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.”

VLSI-PQA Saga Continues in Virginia County/ Federal Courts

After VLSI Technology filed a complaint against Patent Quality Assurance (PQA) and its representative, Joseph Uradnik, in the Circuit Court of the City of Alexandria in late January this year, Uradnik recently filed a Notice of Removal with the U.S. District Court for the District of Alexandria, Alexandria Division, arguing the case should be tried there instead. VLSI’s complaint alleged abuse of the inter partes review (IPR) system and is seeking approximately $3.2 million in legal fees from Uradnik, according to the March Notice of Removal.

Federal Circuit Clarifies WesternGeco Approach to Foreign Damages

In a lengthy, precedential opinion authored by Judge Taranto, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Wednesday, March 27, affirmed a district court’s decision invalidating the claims of two of Trading Technologies’ (TT’s) patents as being patent ineligible under Section 101 and also clarified the application of a 2018 Supreme Court ruling on foreign damages. Harris Brumfield, as Trustee for Ascent Trust, is the successor to TT, which sued IBG LLC in 2010 for infringement of four patents: U.S. Patent Nos. 6,766,304; 6,772,132; 7,676,411; and 7,813,996. All of the patents’ specifications describe “assertedly improved graphical user interfaces for commodity trading and methods for placing trade orders using those interfaces.”

CAFC: Jury Instructions Must Address Each Objective Indicia of Nonobviousness Raised by Patent Owner

On March 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential ruling in Inline Plastics Corp. v. Lacerta Group, LLC, on appeal from the District of Massachusetts. Judge Richard Taranto authored the opinion and held that an improper jury instruction given at trial by the district court required vacatur of the court’s final judgment that Inline’s patent claims were invalid for obviousness. The Federal Circuit remanded that portion of the case for a new trial so that the jury can properly consider each objective indicia of nonobviousness raised by Inline at trial.

Consumers Target Apple Following DOJ Antitrust Suit

A number of individual consumers have filed suit against Apple, Inc. in California and New Jersey courts, piggybacking on the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) March 21 complaint accusing Apple of “broad-based, exclusionary conduct” amounting to monopolization of the smartphone market. The DOJ’s sweeping complaint included a number of U.S. states as plaintiffs and charged Apple with “thwart[ing] innovation” and throttle[ing] competitive alternatives via its practices around the iPhone platform.

Second Circuit Okays Hard Seltzer Sales in Blow to Modelo

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Monday, March 25, affirmed a district court’s denial of summary judgment to beer company Modelo, owned by AB InBev, which alleged that sublicensee, Constellation Brands, had violated the terms of a licensing agreement to sell Modelo beer products in the United States. Modelo argued that Constellation violated the sublicense, which defined “Beer” as “beer, ale, porter, stout, malt beverages, and any other versions or combinations of the foregoing, including non-alcoholic versions of any of the foregoing,” by selling hard seltzer products under Modelo’s MODELO and CORONA trademarks.

Lourie Dissents from CAFC View that Heart Valve Transport was Not Infringing

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today held in a precedential split decision authored by Judge Stoll that the safe harbor provision of 35 U.S.C.§ 271(e)(1) applied to Meril Life Sciences’ importation of two demonstration samples of its transcatheter heart valves to a medical conference. Judge Lourie dissented, explaining that both the district court and the Federal Circuit have erred in interpreting the statute, specifically by failing to adequately consider the word “solely,” under which interpretation it could be reasonably held that Meril “at least partially” imported the valves for commercial reasons.

Patent Filings Roundup: Mixed Results in DraftKings IPRs; Key Patent Innovations Entity Launches First Campaign Asserting Former BlackBerry Patents; Pointwise Ventures Aims for Numerous Targets

It was a below-average week in both the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and in district courts this week for new patent filings, with only 27—all inter partes review (IPR)—at the PTAB and 47 new filings in district court…. The PTAB issued institution  decisions in 16 proceedings this week, denying institution in two IPRs (both on the merits) and ordering institution in 12 IPRs and two post-grant reviews (PGR). Instituted proceedings include two IPRs filed by Palo Alto Networks and Keysight Technologies challenging one Centripetal Networks patent; two IPRs filed by Samsung Electronics Co., challenging two Headwater Research Patents; and two IPRs filed by Motorola Solutions Inc., challenging two Sta Group LLC patents.

Law Professors Say Judicial Conference’s Guidance on Case Assignment Practices is ‘Toothless’

Last week, the Judicial Conference of the United States issued guidance on recently announced changes to case assignment policies designed to prevent gamesmanship in litigation filed in U.S. district court. While the Conference’s guidance clarifies that the amendments are intended to impact patent lawsuits, where claims of judge-shopping have been rife, commentary from legal scholars highlights several issues with implementing these policy changes in the patent infringement context.

CAFC Denies Apple Transfer Out of Albright’s Court

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today denied Apple’s petition for a writ of mandamus asking the court to compel Judge Alan Albright of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas to transfer its case to the Northern District of California. Carbyne Biometrics sued Apple for infringement of six patents via Apple’s “Secure Enclave” and Apple Cash platform features. Apple moved for transfer in July 2023, the motion was briefed in November 2023 and the district court denied the motion in December 2023 and said it would soon issue a decision. Apple filed the petition for writ of mandamus when no decision had issued by January 31, 2024 asking the CAFC to either stay the proceedings until a decision had issued or to compel transfer.

CAFC Affirms District Court’s Inventorship Analysis

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Friday affirmed a district court finding that two inventors should be added as co-inventors to a patent for a method of transporting gaseous fluids. The CAFC concluded that the record “does not leave us with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made” in finding the inventors contributed significantly to the invention.

New York Times Hits Back at OpenAI’s Hacking Claims

In an opposition brief filed Monday, The New York Times Company (The Times) told a New York district court that OpenAI’s late February claim that The Times “paid someone to hack OpenAI’s products” in order to prove OpenAI infringed its copyrights amounts to little more than “grandstanding.” In late December 2023, the Times became the latest of many complainants to accuse OpenAI’s Large Language Model, ChatGPT, as well as Microsoft’s GPT-4-powered Bing Chat, of widespread copyright infringement. The Times alleged that Microsoft and OpenAI reproduce Times content verbatim and also often attribute false information to the Times. The Times’ opposition brief filed yesterday responds to OpenAI’s recent motion to dismiss, which alleged that The Times paid someone to target and exploit “a bug (which OpenAI has committed to addressing) by using deceptive prompts that blatantly violate OpenAI’s terms of use.”

Federal Circuit Says Narrowing Limitation Does Not Create a Contradiction Leading to Indefiniteness

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential decision today reversing the Western District of Texas district court’s indefiniteness analysis and explaining that it improperly found a contradiction between two claim limitations to arrive at its indefiniteness holding. Amperex Technology Limited filed an action seeking declaratory judgment of noninfringement and challenged the validity of certain claims of Maxell, Ltd.’s U.S. Patent No. 9,077,035 for a rechargeable lithium battery and Maxell asserted infringement of the patent in a separate action. The two actions were consolidated in the Western District of Texas and the court ultimately held that two of the “wherein” clauses of the sole independent claim 1 of the ‘035 patent contradicted one another.

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