Posts in Federal Circuit

CAFC Schools TTAB on Likelihood of Confusion Analysis

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential decision on Thursday vacating the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s (TTAB’s) denial of a petition to cancel a trademark for a medicated tea product to treat colic in babies. Naterra International, Inc. petitioned the TTAB to cancel the mark BABIES’ MAGIC TEA based on likely confusion in the market with its own registrations for the mark BABY MAGIC, which cover “numerous toiletry goods.” The Board found that Naterra failed to prove confusion under the 13 DuPont Factors.

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).

CAFC Okays USPTO Process for Promulgating Domicile Address Requirement

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today said in a precedential decision that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) did not need to engage in notice-and-comment rulemaking to require trademark applicants and registrants to provide a physical street address with their trademark applications. The court took the case as an opportunity to directly address “when a rule is procedural and excepted from notice-and-comment rulemaking as a ‘rule[] of agency organization, procedure, or practice.’”

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.

CAFC Says Dialogue with Intended Audience Establishes Publication for Prior Art Purposes

On February 8, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Weber, Inc. v. Provisur Technologies, Inc. that vacated rulings by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) nixing validity challenges by American grill maker Weber against Provisur’s commercial food slicer patent claims. The Federal Circuit reversed the PTAB on claim construction and also found that the Board misapplied CAFC precedent on the level of public dissemination required before printed publications can qualify as prior art.

‘A Terrible Precedent to Set’: Newman Suspension Upheld on Appeal

The Judicial Conference of the United States’ Committee on Judicial Conduct (Conference) and Disability issued its decision today in Judge Pauline Newman’s appeal of the Judicial Council of the U.S. Court of Appeals’ (Council) September 2023 decision to suspend her from all cases. Federal Circuit Chief Judge Kimberly Moore first identified a complaint against Newman in April 2023. IPWatchdog was the first to break the news, and the court soon published a statement responding to media reports and making previously sealed documents public…. Today’s decision denied Newman’s petition for review of the Council’s decision, holding that the Council did not abuse its discretion in refusing to transfer the proceedings to a different circuit, that Newman has not shown good cause for her failure to cooperate, and that the sanction did not exceed the Judicial Council’s authority.

CAFC Clarifies Determination of ‘Implicit’ Claim Constructions

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today issued a precedential decision vacating and remanding a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decision that a patent for a climate control system was not proven unpatentable by Google LLC and Ecobee, Inc. In so doing, the court clarified how to determine when a court or the PTAB has implicitly construed a claim.

LKQ En Banc Argument Suggests CAFC Could Soften Test for Design Patent Obviousness

An en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today heard arguments from LKQ Corporation, the U.S. government and GM Global Technology Operations in a case that could change the test for assessing design patent obviousness. The judges seemed interested in tweaking the existing “Rosen-Durling” test but struggled with getting the parties to clearly articulate a replacement approach that wouldn’t be potentially just as bad. The so-called Rosen-Durling test for design patent obviousness requires that, first, under In re Rosen (C.C.P.A., 1982), courts identify a prior art reference “the design characteristics of which are basically the same as the claimed design.” Next, under Durling v. Spectrum Furniture Co., 101 F.3d 100, 103 (Fed. Cir., 1996)), if such a reference is identified, the court must consider whether it can be modified based on other references to come up with “the same overall visual appearance as the claimed design.”

Failure to Construe Claims ‘As a Whole’: A Hole in Our Strategy?

For decades, patent litigators have followed what can best be described as a forced march seeking to construe patent terms and thereafter litigate infringement and/or validity issues based on those constructions. We all know the drill: exchange contentions; flag contested claim terms; brief their constructions; apply the facts to the court’s constructions; and grind out infringement and validity evidence like so much sausage. Rarely do litigants ask courts to take a step back and construe an asserted claim “as a whole,” and rarely do courts do so if they have not been asked. But sometimes the lack of a holistic claim analysis can lead to a shock to the system at trial, at which time one narrowly construed term can steamroller another broader construed term. The result can be the loss of an infringement claim or an invalidity defense. Such losses may or may not be avoidable, but facing the music earlier can save everyone a great deal of time and resources.

The Federal Circuit Could Make the ITC a More Appealing Forum

In a pending case, the Federal Circuit is primed to provide much-needed clarity on the economic prong of the domestic industry requirement at the United States International Trade Commission (ITC). In ruling, the court will likely resolve a long-running dispute between individual commissioners regarding how to apply the so-called “mere importer” test when determining whether the domestic industry requirement is met. If the complainant, Lashify, prevails, it could make the ITC a more appealing forum for patent infringement suits involving entities that have under-utilized the ITC, including inventors, universities, and start-ups. The case at issue is Lashify, Inc. v. ITC, No. 23-1245.

Liquidia Urges SCOTUS to Restore Preclusive Effect to PTAB Final Written Decisions

Last week, biopharmaceutical company Liquidia Technologies filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court to appeal a Federal Circuit ruling that affirmed induced infringement findings against Liquidia following the patent at issue being invalidated at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). In the petition, Liquidia argues that two previous Supreme Court rulings lead to a result contrary to the Federal Circuit’s determination that the invalidation of patent claims at the PTAB do not have preclusive effect on infringement litigation pending an appeal of the PTAB’s decision.

Mistreatment of Judge Pauline Newman, Hon. William C. Conner Inn 16th Annual Reception and Dinner, and Some Thoughts

First, my advice is that everyone should go to this upcoming William C. Conner Inn Annual Dinner and, for that matter, all the Inn’s annual dinners. I have enjoyed them on many levels. One of those is that you get to see and meet people you ordinarily would not, including judges, even if you often see judges. But this one on January 24 is special, because it has a background we hopefully won’t see again. When I received the Dinner announcement, I was shocked that the primary honoree is Chief Judge Moore of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Why? Because of the way she has misled the public about her mistreatment of Judge Pauline Newman. The Inn states that the “Mission of the Hon. William C. Conner Inn is to promote excellence in professionalism, ethics (and) civility.” This is truly admirable, but one which must have been lost, overlooked, or ignored this year.

CAFC Denies APPLE JAZZ Mark Owner’s Mandamus Bid But Tells TTAB it Expects Cancellation Decision ‘Promptly’

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today denied Charles Bertini’s petition for a writ of mandamus asking the court to order the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to decide his trademark cancellation case against Apple, Inc. According to Bertini, the cancellation case has been in limbo at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) for more than three years, “despite [the TTAB’s] policy and frequent public statements by top USPTO officials that it decides cases after trial in approximately ten weeks.” Furthermore, a Petition to the USPTO Director filed on May 4, 2023, has yet to be decided, “despite the fact that most Petitions to the Director are decided in approximately two months.”

CAFC Says Prohibition Against New Issues After Joinder Doesn’t Apply to Motions to Amend

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential decision in CyWee Group Ltd. v. ZTE (USA), Inc. affirming the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) invalidation of CyWee’s 3D pointing device patent claims. In affirming the final written decision, the appellate court found that ZTE’s lack of adversarial nature in inter partes review (IPR) proceedings allowed LG Electronics, a joined party that was otherwise time-barred, to properly oppose CyWee’s motion to amend patent claims.

Masimo tells CAFC that CBP Ruling for Apple Removes Danger of Irreparable Harm

Masimo’s legal team told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in a January 15 filing that the Exclusion Order Enforcement Branch (EOE) of U.S. Customs and Border Protection has cleared a redesigned version of the Apple watches that were banned by the International Trade Commission (ITC) in late October. The CBP’s decision has not been made public. According to the filing, the redesigned watches do not contain pulse oximetry technology, which was the subject of the ITC exclusion order. The decision, which has not been made public, removes any danger of irreparable harm alleged by Apple, according to the filing.