Posts in Federal Circuit

The Risk of Sleeping on Your Patent Rights

While this patent statute of limitations is an extraordinarily long statute of limitations by legal standards there is another very important piece to the puzzle that needs to be appreciated by those who would choose not to pursue infringers; namely the doctrine of laches, which can prevent recovery against a defendant even if infringement is conclusively proven. So those who are patent owners don’t usually have to worry too much about the statute of limitations, but they should be mindful of the 6 year limitation period. Now one also needs to be mindful of estoppel, but don’t forget laches either. Laches and estoppel are both equitable remedies, which are related, but at least somewhat different.

Time Bomb: CAFC Says Threat + Waiting 3 Years = Estoppel

After first “threatening,” then being “silent” for over three years, the patentee in Aspex Eyewear was barred by the defense of equitable estoppel from getting any relief for patent infringement. What’s even worse, after the initial “threat” of infringement the patentee in Aspex Eyewear created this ticking estoppel time bomb by failing to mention (in follow up exchanges) the two patents for which suit was filed, while mentioning three other patents which were not involved in the suit that was filed.

Newman Says Obviousness is Matter of Foresight Not Hindsight

For most of us patent prosecutors, Judge Newman is our hero. She is one of us. On some occasions the patent planets even align and Judge Newman gets to write the majority opinion in a Federal Circuit case. And fortunately for us patent prosecutors, In re Vaidyanathan is one of those cases where Newman waxed very eloquent in saying: “Obviousness is determined as a matter of foresight, not hindsight.” More importantly for us prosecutors, she provided us with useful case law precedent to challenge rejections which are long on conjecture and speculation, but extremely short on facts, evidence, logic, or reasoning. In short, Judge Newman flattened a factually unsupported and badly reasoned obviousness rejection under 35 U.S.C. § 103 in Vaidyanathan.

CAFC Grants En Banc Rehearing of Tivo, Dish Patent Dispute

The Federal Circuit yesterday announced that they would take up the matter of Tivo, Inc. v. EchoStar Corp. en banc. The earlier panel decision, which was issued on March 4, 2010, is now vacated and the appeal is reinstated. While en banc rehearings are rare, it seems that the Federal Circuit is showing increased willingness to take high profile cases en banc. Recently the Federal Circuit agreeded to hear Hyatt v. Doll en banc, which relates to whether new evidence can be submitted in an appeal of a decision of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences to the United States Federal District Court for the District of Columbia. Just weeks ago the Federal Circuit also agreed to hear important matters of inequitable conduct en banc, taking up Therasence, Inc. v. Becton Dickinson and Co.

CAFC: Bad Actor Makes Bad Inequitable Conduct Law

Intent to deceive was admitted, if you can believe that, but as it turns out the prior art withheld, a prior sale, was not invalidating and would not have lead to an appropriate rejection by the Patent Office. Nevertheless, the prior sale of an earlier version of the invention in question was the closest prior art and the Federal Circuit, per Judge Prost, explained that materiality does not require that the the withheld prior art lead to a good rejection. So Judge Prost applied the Patent Office law relative to materiality as it existed prior to the 1992 revision of 37 CFR 1.56.

Federal Circuit to Consider Inequitable Conduct En Banc

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit earlier today decided to take up important issues relating to inequitable conduct en banc, vacating the earlier panel decision in Therasence, Inc. v. Becton Dickinson and Co., which issued January 25, 2010. Hopefully the entire Federal Circuit will be able to put to rest the nonsense that has become inequitable conduct, and if the questions presented are any indication we might be in store for a major re-write and settling of the law of inequitable conduct.

Foaming at the Mouth II: My Alternative to the New But Inane Becerra Bill

I do have a suggested alternative on the patenting of gene sequences that is far more sensible (and won’t kill our biotech sector) than the “all or nothing” approach of the new Becerra bill. Instead of banning the patenting of gene sequences, why not provide the U.S. government with something similar to the “march-in-rights” provision that currently exists in Bayh-Dole for patented technology developed through federally-sponsored research that is underutilized? Admittedly, this “march-in-rights” provision would have to be carefully structured so it isn’t abused by the federal government, as well as those who would push for its too frequent use because they feel “entitled.”

An On the Record Interview with CAFC Judge Randall Rader

On April 2, 2010, I had the privilege of conducting an on the record Interview with Judge Randall Rader, the soon to be Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Some weeks earlier I wrote to Judge Rader requesting the opportunity to conduct an interview. I explained that leading up to his becoming Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit there would likely be increased interest in the Federal Circuit and in him in particular. In my letter I explained I would not ask about specific issues or cases, and that my objective was to discuss his experiences on the Federal Circuit, how cases are handled and what, if any, preparations are underway for him to become Chief Judge. Judge Rader granted my request, and what appears below is a transcript of my conversation with him.

Pressure Products v. Greatbatch: Why Another 5 Judge Panel?

Nothing in the appealed issues in Pressure Products (claim construction, denial of motion for JMOL, leave to amend answer) even remotely hints at or suggests the basis for this five judge panel. In fact, Pressure Products has all the markings of a fairly ordinary, garden variety patent infringement case. So why not the standard three judge panel? Not a word of explanation.

Not Losing the Forest for the Trees: Newman Concurs in Ariad

Coming as no surprise, a majority of the en banc Federal Circuit just ruled in Ariad Pharmaceuticals v. Eli Lilly &Co. that there is there is a separate and distinct “written description” requirement in the first paragraph of 35 U.S.C. § 112. Also not surprisingly, there were multiple concurring (and dissenting) opinions. Judge Lourie (writing the majority opinion) has now won the on-going debate that has raged between him and Judge Rader (who has strenuously argued there is no written description requirement separate and distinct from the “enablement” requirement) since the 1997 case of Regents of the University of California v. Eli Lilly & Co.

Best Mode Patent-Raptor Devours Another Victim in Ajinomoto

In the end, Ajinomoto, and especially the ‘698 and ‘160 patents, were unable to outrun the “best mode” patentraptor. And like the sequels to Jurassic Park, there are likely to be future instances where this patentivour devours other U.S. patents, including those of foreign applicants who may even be ignorant of this patent monster. But ignorance of the “best mode” patentraptor is equivalent to not being aware that the bioengineered dinosaurs were multiplying in dangerous numbers in Jurassic Park. The message is now clear in the Ajinomoto case: be aware or be eaten by the “best mode” patentraptor.

A Discussion of SEB v. Montgomery Ward—Developments in the Law of Inducement and Direct Infringement

The Federal Circuit’s recent decision in SEB S.A. v. Montgomery Ward & Co., Inc. (Fed. Cir. Feb. 5, 2010) (“SEB”) addresses a defendant’s liability for inducement as well as for direct infringement. It is significant in that it may expand the scope of infringement liability, particularly for foreign defendants, in multiple respects.  What follows is an Executive Summary of SEB…

TiVo Stock Surges Over 50% on Patent Decision in EchoStar Case

TiVo, Inc. (NASDAQ: TIVO), owner of U.S. Patent 6,233,389, titled “Multimedia Time Warping System,” was a big winner today at the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit when the CAFC handed down its decision in Tivo, Inc. v. EchoStar Corp. A majority of the 3 judge panel hearing the case agreed with the district court and ratified the contempt order against EchoStar (NASDAQ: SATS) and Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH). On news of the Federal Circuit ruling TiVo stock immediately surged ahead well over $5, up over 50%. Within less than 1 hour TiVo stock when from trading just over $10 a share, trading at $10.31 at 11:06 am EST, to trading at $16.07 at 11:42 am EST.

Judge Rader Doth Protest Too Much in Media Technologies

Normally, I find Judge Rader, the heir apparent for Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit, to write cogently and persuasively, even in dissent. Witness his withering blast in In re Bilski where he rightly takes the majority to task for the nonsensical “machine or transformation” test. But unfortunately, like the line from Hamlet, Judge Rader “doth protest too much, methinks” without case law support in his dissent in Media Technologies.

CAFC Grants En Banc Review of BPAI to District Court Appeal

On February 17, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued an order in Hyatt v. Kappos vacating the previous decision issued by a 3 judge panel on August 11, 2009, when the case was then styled Hyatt v. Doll. Hyatt’s petition for rehearing was denied. After polling the judges of the Federal Circuit, however, rehearing en banc was granted on whether 35 USC 145 requires de novo review and the submission of new evidence.