Posts in District Courts

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.

CAFC Partially Reverses Noninfringement Judgment But Scraps IBM Web Advertising Claims as Ineligible

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in a precedential decision today mostly upheld a district court ruling that found Chewy, Inc. did not infringe several claims of one IBM web advertising patent and that granted summary judgment of patent ineligibility on certain claims of another. However, the decision, authored by Chief Judge Kimberly Moore, reversed the district court’s finding of noninfringement on one of the five asserted claims of one patent, remanding the case for further proceedings on that issue.

Sanctions Imperative When False Statements are the Basis for a Lawsuit

For better or worse, anyone can be sued for any reason—even reasons that are completely fictitious and based on allegations that are entirely false. Several cases have recently caused me to ask a simple question: Can something actually be evidence if it is false? I’ve had a few people respond, some thoughtful and others intentionally dense. “Of course, something that is false is evidence,” one person recently told me. “It is up to the trier of fact to determine what is false, and that which is false is clearly evidence to be considered.”

CAFC Affirms Albright Rulings in Alexa Shopping List Patent Suit

On February 26, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Freshub, Ltd. v. Amazon.com, Inc., affirming a ruling by U.S. District Judge Alan Albright of the Western District of Texas in the face of appeals from both parties to the case. The Federal Circuit left the lower ruling intact after finding that the record developed at trial did not establish clear error with regards either to Freshub’s patent infringement allegations or Amazon’s inequitable conduct defense.

Patent Filings Roundup: Entropic Patents Challenged at PTAB; Push Data Campaign Grows; MyPort Case Closes

It was an average week all around with 31 new patent filings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) – all inter partes reviews (IPRs) – and 67 new filings in district court. The bulk of this week’s new PTAB filings (a total of 19) were petitions challenging patents owned and asserted by Entropic Communications LLC [associated with SoftBank Group Corp.] (discussed further below). Other notable filings include petitions challenging patents held by Softex [associated with SoftBank Group Corp.], Dental Imaging Technologies [associated with Envista Holdings Corporation], Resonant Systems [d/b/a RevelHMI], Immersion Corp, and Dsm IP Assets BV [associated with DSM-Firmenich AG].

Patent Filings Roundup: ‘DASH’ Streaming Patents Struck Down Under 101; Samsung IPRs Fall to Fintiv; IP Edge Affiliate Kicks Off New Campaign

It was an average week for patent filings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and an above-average week in district courts, with 72 district court complaints filed and 18 new PTAB petitions—one petition for Post Grant Review (PGR), and 17 for Inter Partes Review (IPR). At the PTAB, a number of challenges were filed, including two IPRs by Tesla challenging patents owned by Iqar Inc, four IPRs by Dish challenging patents owned by Entropic Communications LLC (associated with Fortress), two IPRs by Microsoft challenging patents owned by Interdigital Patent Holdings Inc (associated with InterDigital Inc.), and two IPRs by Juniper Networks challenging patents owned by Monarch Networking Solutions LLC (associated with Acacia Research Corporation).

CAFC Judges Split on Indefiniteness Analysis for Identity Theft Patent

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today held that certain claims of a patent for a system to protect against identity theft and fraud were invalid for indefiniteness. Judge Schall dissented-in-part, explaining that he would not have found the claims indefinite based on the intrinsic evidence. U.S. Patent No. 9,361,658 is owned by Mantissa Corporation and is titled “System and Method for Enhanced Protection and Control Over the Use of Identity.” Mantissa sued First Financial Corporation and First Financial Bank, N.A. in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleging infringement of certain claims. The parties mainly disputed two terms during claim construction: (1) “transaction partner” and (2) “OFF.” The district court relied on First Financial’s expert testimony to conclude that “transaction partner” was indefinite, after finding that the expert used was a person of ordinary skill in the art (POSA).

Mechanical Licensing Collective Sues Pandora for Unpaid Royalty Fees Under MMA

On February 12, the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) filed a lawsuit against streaming music company Pandora Media in the Middle District of Tennessee seeking unpaid royalty fees for blanket licenses under the Music Modernization Act (MMA). The case, prompted by recent final determinations on blanket license royalty rates, could prove an interesting test case on the level of interactivity and personal control required before a streaming service qualifies as a covered activity under the MMA.

Chanel’s Win in Trademark Infringement Case is a Lesson for Resellers

Fashion is a brand-driven industry, and few brands in the fashion space carry the same cachet as Chanel. But how much control do brands like Chanel have over merchants who resell name-brand items in the secondary market? The answer, according to a federal jury in the Southern District of New York, is “Quite a bit.” The jury awarded Chanel $4 million in statutory damages on Chanel’s claims of trademark infringement, false association, unfair competition, and false advertising related to What Goes Around Comes Around’s (WGACA) reselling and marketing of Chanel products. The plaintiffs prevailed on all claims.

Judge Cooper Denies Injunction But Keeps Newman Case Alive on Key Counts

On February 12, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied a motion for preliminary injunction filed by Circuit Judge Pauline Newman, who has been at the center of a controversial inquiry into her current fitness to continue serving as a federal appellate judge. Despite acknowledging that all of the recent complaints against Judge Newman’s mental fitness continue to be unsubstantiated, the D.C. district court determined that most of Judge Newman’s requested relief was foreclosed by legal precedent limiting constitutional challenges to the Judicial Conduct and Disability (JC&D) Act. However, the court said it maintains jurisdiction over three of the 11 counts, and part of another, brought by Newman.

Patent Filings Roundup: Spike in PTAB Filings and Decisions; Continued Filings in Previous NPE Campaigns; First NPE Lawsuits Filed in UPC

It was a busy week at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) with 40 new filings—all inter partes review (IPR)—and an average week in the district courts with 51 new filings. The bulk of new PTAB filings can be attributed to a few petitioners challenging multiple patents held by one patent owner (and all asserted in parallel district court litigations). For example, Apple continued its filings against Carbyne Biometrics LLC [associated with Bjorn Markus Jakobsson] patents, adding another five petitions against four patents to the two filed earlier this month