The U.S. Supreme Court today granted a petition brought by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Katherine Vidal that asks, “whether the refusal to register a mark under Section 1052(c) violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment when the mark contains criticism of a government official or public figure.” The case was decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in February of last year, and the full court denied a request for panel rehearing or rehearing en banc in August. The February CAFC decision held the Office’s application of Section 2(c) of the Lanham Act to reject the mark TRUMP TOO SMALL was unconstitutional. Specifically, the CAFC panel held that “applying section 2(c) to bar registration of [Steve] Elster’s mark unconstitutionally restricts free speech in violation of the First Amendment.”
In two separate precedential decisions authored by Chief Judge Moore today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) delivered victory for Teleflex Innovations, S.À.R.L. when it upheld Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) rulings that found Medtronic, Inc. had failed to prove Teleflex’s patent claims for catheter technology used in interventional cardiology procedures unpatentable. The court issued a related decision last month, authored by Judge Lourie, also finding for Teleflex. Chief Judge Moore joined Lourie’s opinion, while Judge Dyk dissented.
Last week, retired U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Chief Judge Paul Michel and law professor John F. Duffy filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of CareDx, Inc. and the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. The company and university are asking the Supreme Court to review a 2022 decision invalidating claims of its patents directed to detection levels of donor cell-free DNA (cfDNA) in the blood of an organ transplant patient. In the amicus brief, Michel and Duffy wrote, “this case concerns [us] because it represents a continuing trend of uncertainty and inconsistency in patent-eligibility jurisprudence…The outcome undermines the innovation promoting goals of U.S. patent law.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) ruled in a precedential decision today that Medtronic, Inc. failed to show the challenged claims of five patents covering catheter technology unpatentable. The CAFC specifically upheld the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB’s) finding that the primary prior art reference cited by Medtronic did not qualify as prior art under pre-America Invents Act (AIA) first-to-invent provisions. Judge Dyk dissented, arguing that the prior art reference had been shown to qualify as prior art, and thus could support a determination of anticipation or obviousness.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential decision affirming a district court ruling that denied attorney fees to oil drilling equipment company, FMC Technologies. OneSubsea, a competitor in the offshore oil extraction industry, originally sued FMC for patent infringement in 2015; FMC subsequently countersued. At the heart of the patent infringement dispute was whether fluid flows through FMS’s device, as in the OneSubsea patent.
The Special Committee of the Judicial Council of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) that is investigating Judge Pauline Newman over allegations she is unfit to serve on the court issued a redacted order yesterday specifying the behavior they say warrants the probe. Amid calls from Newman’s attorneys and ethics experts to transfer the complaint to a different circuit, a footnote on page one of yesterday’s order somewhat confusingly notes that Chief Judge Moore “did not file a complaint nor is she a complainant. Instead, Chief Judge Moore identified a complaint pursuant to Rule 5, which allows a Chief Judge to initiate the complaint when others have presented allegations establishing probable cause to believe a disability exists.”
Bacon is delightful. And the similarly savory subject of who must be named inventor on a bacon patent was the issue in the recent case of HIP, Inc. v. Hormel Foods Corp., No. 2022-1696 (Fed. Cir. May 2, 2023). HIP claimed that one of its employees materially contributed to the invention of Hormel’s patent on methods for precooking bacon. The question of what makes one an “inventor” was central to whether HIP’s employee should be added to the patent. More broadly, questions about inventorship and authorship have become central to recent commentary and speculation about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on intellectual property law. While AI did not factor into HIP v. Hormel, the decision provides a useful reminder about the role of the common law in developing answers to these momentous questions.
Just like utility patents, design patents can be found obvious under 35 U.S.C. § 103 by combining prior art references. But the test for obviousness for design patents differs from the more familiar standards for utility patents. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently reaffirmed this distinction, but the issue is far from resolved. A long line of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) actions between LKQ and GM Global Technologies escalated to the Federal Circuit, where LKQ submitted an argument seeking to fundamentally change the obviousness analysis for design patents.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court urging the Court to accept a certiorari case relating to patent eligibility. See Interactive Wearables, LLC v. Polar Electro Oy, et al, and David A. Tropp v. Travel Sentry, Inc., Nos. 21-1281 and 22-22. In each of these cases, which were separate from one another, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled the patents to be ineligible as being abstract ideas, and thus an exception to Section 101 patentable subject matter. This amicus brief follows an earlier amicus brief from the Justice Department, in May 2022, also supporting the petition for certiorari on a patent found by the Federal Circuit to be an abstract idea, and therefore not patentable under Section 101.
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Judge Pauline Newman yesterday filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against CAFC Chief Judge Kimberly Moore and Judges Prost and Taranto, as members of the Special Committee of the Judicial Council of the Federal Circuit appointed by Moore to investigate Newman. The complaint called Moore’s March 24 Order characterizing Newman as being unfit to carry out her duties on the court “riddled with errors” and cited 12 counts warranting claims for relief.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential decision Tuesday that reversed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decision invalidating claims of Sanofi’s U.S. Patent No. RE47,614, which covers a drug delivery device. Mylan Pharmaceuticals petitioned the PTAB for inter partes review (IPR) of all 18 claims in Sanofi’s drug injector pen patent. The company argued the patent was invalid due to obviousness, and the PTAB agreed and invalidated the patent. However, Sanofi appealed to the CAFC and argued that Mylan failed to show that the previous patent was analogous to the ‘614 patent. The appeals court agreed with Sanofi because Mylan only argued that two prior patents were analogous and not the challenged patent.
There is little doubt that the way patent rights are viewed and protected has transformed over the last 15 to 17 years. The patent system our government has enabled over that timeframe incentivizes stealing patent rights rather than engaging in an arm’s length negotiation. This is antithetical to basic, fundamental principles embedded throughout American law, and has caused dispute resolution, licensing and enforcement to emphatically derail.
On May 8, digital ID solutions company Avery Dennison filed a reply brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of its petition for writ of certiorari to appeal the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s decision last December affirming the validity of patent claims owned by ADASA. Of the cert petitions currently before the Supreme Court involving issues of patent subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101, Avery Dennison contends that its appeal provides the most useful vehicle for clarifying Section 101 invalidity in information management and technology, a field where the Federal Circuit’s division on patent eligibility “is especially stark and recurrent.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential decision Monday affirming a district court’s ruling that denied attorney fees and sanctions to Pure Hemp Collective, Inc. over a patent infringement suit brought against it by United Cannabis Corporation. The patent at issue, U.S. Patent No. 9730911, covers “Cannabis Extracts and Methods of Preparing and Using Same.” United Cannabis sued Pure Hemp for infringement in July 2018, but, following United Cannabis’ bankruptcy proceedings, the parties stipulated to the dismissal of the patent case. United Cannabis’ infringement claims were dismissed with prejudice while Pure Hemp’s invalidity and inequitable conduct counterclaims were dismissed without prejudice.
How much damage is Chief Judge Moore doing to the institution that is the Federal Circuit? That question is hard to answer in the present, but there is no doubt that she is causing the type of damage that will linger and perhaps ultimately lead to the downfall of the court itself. Even before the latest episode in which Chief Judge Moore has taken it upon herself to impeach Judge Newman, acting as complainant, investigator, witness and decider, it had become common for many in the industry to ask openly whether the Federal Circuit had outlived its usefulness.