Posts in Courts

Brooks Convinces Indiana Court to Transfer Dispute with Puma to Washington

Brooks Sports, a sports apparel company that was sued by Puma SE and Puma North America, Inc. (for patent and trademark infringement in Indiana, won its motion to transfer the case to a new district court on January 20. Judge Richard L. Young of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana ruled Friday that the case will be transferred to the Western District of Washington. Brooks Sports’ headquarters is based in Seattle, Washington. Brooks argued that moving the case closer to its base would be convenient for both parties as well as witnesses. Judge Young agreed and cited Puma’s lack of presence in Indiana as another supporting reason to move the case to Washington.

Federal Circuit Upholds Albright’s Ruling on Denial of Transfer for GM

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today denied General Motors’ petition for a writ of mandamus seeking to compel Judge Alan Albright to transfer a patent infringement case brought against GM by Intellectual Ventures (IV) to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. IV sued GM in Albright’s Western District of Texas court for infringing 12 patents covering services and products installed in GM cars, including certain features of GM’s OnStar service. GM moved to transfer the case to Michigan, arguing that “the employees most knowledgeable about the design and development of the accused products and certain third-party component suppliers” are based there. IV countered that GM has “an IT Innovation Center” in Austin, Texas, where employees knowledgeable about the accused technology work.

Amici Urge SCOTUS to Reverse Overly Broad Definition of ‘Expressive Work’ in Jack Daniel’s v. VIP Products

Last November, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a petition for writ of certiorari filed by famed whiskey brand owner Jack Daniel’s Properties. The petition filed by Jack Daniel’s appealed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s March 2020 ruling that a “Bad Spaniels” dog toy marketed by VIP Products was an expressive work entitled to First Amendment protections against trademark infringement liability under the Rogers test. On January 18, a series of 16 amicus briefs were filed with the Supreme Court, the vast majority of which urged the nation’s highest court to reverse the Ninth Circuit’s ruling and limit the application of the Rogers test to clearly artistic works and exclude consumer products that happened to have some humorous expression. Several amici also pushed back on the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that VIP Products’ use of Jack Daniel’s marks was noncommercial.

Apple Scores Win at CAFC in Split Ruling on Prosecution Laches

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) ruled today in a split precedential decision authored by Judge Reyna that a district court properly found Personalized Media Communications’ (PMC) patent unenforceable due to prosecution laches. Judge Stark dissented, arguing that, although he agreed PMC’s delay in prosecuting its patent was “unreasonable and inexcusable,” Apple failed to establish that it suffered prejudice during the period of delay. PMC sued Apple in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in 2015, alleging that Apple’s digital rights management software, FairPlay, infringed claim 13 of PMC’s U.S. Patent No. 8,191,091. A jury found that Apple infringed at least one of claims 13-16, but in a subsequent bench trial the district court found that the patent was unenforceable due to prosecution laches under Hyatt v. Hirshfeld.

New Vision Gaming Tells CAFC Final GAO Findings Warrant Dismissal of CBM Institution

Earlier this month, patent owner and casino game innovator New Vision Gaming & Development filed a reply brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in its latest bid to challenge the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) institution of covered business method (CBM) review proceedings brought by gambling product company SG Gaming. New  Vision alleged violation of a forum selection clause in an agreement between the two parties and now also points to a final report of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) as further support for dismissal. New Vision’s most recent brief comes nearly two months after appellee SG Gaming and intervenor USPTO Director Kathi Vidal both filed briefs in the Federal Circuit backing the PTAB’s institution of CBM review proceedings.

High Court Asks for SG Views on Apple’s Petition Challenging Federal Circuit Approach to IPR Estoppel

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday invited the U.S. Solicitor General to provide its views on Apple’s petition asking the High Court to clarify the proper application of estoppel in inter partes review (IPR) proceedings. The case stems from a February, 2022, decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in which the court issued a mixed precedential decision that affirmed, vacated, and remanded in part a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. That ruling related to a patent infringement suit filed by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) against Broadcom Limited, Broadcom Corporation, and Avago Technologies (collectively “Broadcom) and Apple Inc.

The Adidas v. Thom Browne Saga: Stripes May Be ‘Earned’ But They Cannot Be Owned

Engagement in proactive IP litigation by global companies is the bedrock of trademark enforcement, and Adidas is no stranger to this strategy. Since 2008, this athleisure accessories manufacturer has consistently protected its intellectual property by signing over 200 settlement agreements and fighting more than 90 court battles. Most recently, on  January 12, 2023, Adidas’s efforts to sue Thom Browne Inc., a Zegna subsidiary, for trademark infringement of its ‘three-stripes logo’ was foiled. The damages claim of around $7.8 million, or £6.4 million, backfired on the German sportswear giant when it was denied by an eight-person Manhattan jury.

Federal Circuit Upholds Two Courts’ Findings that Remote Training Patents are Ineligible

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today affirmed one district court decision and dismissed another as moot, finding that Riggs Technology Holdings, Inc.’s U.S. Patent No. 7,299,067 for remote education and training systems is patent ineligible as it is “plainly drawn to an abstract idea.” Judge Chen authored both opinions. Riggs sued Cengage Learning, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts for infringement of the ‘067 patent, but the district court granted Cengage’s Motion to Dismiss based on patent ineligibility. The court held that the patent “is plainly drawn to an abstract idea,” and that “the concept underlying the claims of the ’067 patent—providing, managing, and/or documenting training completed remotely on a handheld device—is akin to those found in claims the Federal Circuit has deemed abstract and ineligible.”

ITC Puts Complainants on Notice that Pleading Requirements are Not Mere Suggestions

A recent policy change at the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) provides a lesson in how to properly draft a key requirement in a Section 337 complaint. The ITC is a popular forum for companies facing unfair competition from imported goods that infringe intellectual property rights. Companies alleging unfair competition can file a complaint asking the ITC to institute what is called a Section 337 investigation and issue exclusion orders barring entry into the United States of the offending goods. To prevail in a Section 337 investigation, the complainant must show, among other things, it has made investments in the US to exploit its intellectual property—the “domestic industry” requirement.

Thaler Files Motion for Summary Judgment in Latest Bid to Argue AI-Authored Works Should Be Copyrightable

Last week, artificial intelligence (AI) systems developer Dr. Stephen Thaler filed a motion for summary judgment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in a lawsuit over copyright eligibility for artwork created by AI systems. Thaler’s motion for summary judgment argues that AI-generated works are copyrightable under U.S. federal law and that the copyright should vest in Thaler under common law property principles and the work made for hire doctrine.

Albright Gets OK from CAFC on Denial of Transfer for Amazon

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) earlier this week shot down a petition for writ of mandamus filed by Amazon.com, Inc. asking the court to vacate an Order by Judge Alan Albright of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas denying Amazon transfer of a case to the Northern District of California. VoIP-Pal sued Amazon in the Western District of Texas, alleging infringement of its patents through the sale of Amazon’s “’communications platform,’ including the server structure, Alexa calling devices, and Alexa software applications running on those devices.” Amazon sought transfer to California, claiming that the middleware of the accused products was developed by employees based there. In its opposition, VoIP-Pal submitted evidence that “[t]echnical documentation relating to the work of the DeviceOS and Echo Platform Software teams is maintained at the Austin offices.”

Federal Circuit Says Texas Court Erred in Finding Viscometer Patent Claim Indefinite

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today ruled in a precedential decision that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas incorrectly found the term “enlarged chamber” indefinite, but affirmed the court’s construction of another claim term. The case stems from Grace Instrument Industries, LLC’s May 19, 2020, suit against Chandler Instruments Company, LLC for infringement of its U.S. Patent No. 7,412,877 through the sale of Chandler’s Model 7600 viscometer. The ‘877 patent is titled “High Pressure Viscometer with Chamber Preventing Sample Contamination.”

Patent Eligibility and the Life Sciences Industry – The Impact of Law on Innovation in the Industry

One of the panels at last year’s IPWatchdog’s Life Sciences MastersTM Series addressed the thorny problem of patent eligibility.  I moderated the panel, titled Patent Eligibility and the Life Sciences Industry–What Next?, where the speakers, with input from passionate audience members, discussed the impact of section 101 jurisprudence on innovation in the life sciences industry. Do the limits on what is patent-eligible subject matter created by the courts strike the proper balance or do unpredictable court decisions harm investment and research in the life sciences? While the majority view appeared to be that patent-eligibility reform is necessary, both to provide clarity and to incentivize certain type of inventions, the panel also expressed the idea that some form of section 101 jurisprudence is necessary to prevent “discoveries” from being monopolized, which could also harm innovation.

Apple Loses ITC Battle to Masimo Over Pulse Oximeter Technology

The U.S. International Trade Commission on Tuesday issued a Notice of Final Initial Determination (FID) finding that Apple violated Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 by importing and selling in the United States Apple Watches with light-based pulse oximetry technology that infringed claims 24 and 30 of Masimo’s U.S. Patent No. 10,945,648. According to a Masimo press release, Apple first started selling the Apple Watch with a pulse oximeter sensor in 2020 and has continued to use it in subsequent versions of the product since then. The ITC Notice said it found no violation of the asserted claims of four other patents named in Masimo’s complaint.

Federal Circuit Says Gilstrap’s Grant of CA Transfer to Chinese Company was Improper

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in a precedential order yesterday granted a petition for writ of mandamus vacating Judge Rodney Gilstrap’s transfer of two cases out of the Eastern District of Texas to California. The petition was brought by Stingray IP Solutions, LLP and was opposed by TP-Link Technologies, a Chinese company, which Stingray accused of patent infringement. Stingray first filed the patent infringement suits in the Eastern District of Texas and TP-Link moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction or to transfer the cases to the Central District of California pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406. After the Texas court granted transfer under Section 1406, Stingray petitioned the Federal Circuit for mandamus “solely on the issue of whether TP-Link’s unilateral, post-suit consent to personal jurisdiction in another state (California) defeated application of Rule 4(k)(2).”