Earlier today the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in Microsoft Corporation v. i4i Limited Partnership, with Chief Justice John Roberts taking no part in the decision or petition. This comes only days after the United States Patent and Trademark Office refused to grant reexamination of the patent in question. Given Microsoft doesn’t even have strong enough prior art to provoke a reexamination by the USPTO it seems absurd to think they could have been victorious even if the district court reviewed the patent claims de novo and without any presumption.
Last week, on November 18, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit granted a stay to HemCon, Inc., which will prevent implementation of the injunction issued against it and in favor of Marine Polymer Technologies, Inc. The stay will remain in effect during the pendency of HemCon’s appeal to the Federal Circuit. The stay issued by the Federal Circuit will allow the adjudicated infringing bandages sold by HemCon to continue to be supplied to the United States Military.
On Tuesday, November 9, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard oral arguments in TiVo, Inc. v. EchoStar Corp. The case pits TiVo versus Dish, and any ruling from the Federal Circuit will necessarily define the extent to which a district court judge can rely on contempt proceedings to enforce an injunction rather than simply order a full blown new trial. In process the en banc oral argument in this case at the Federal Circuit did not substantially differ from the oral argument held at the Supreme Court the day earlier in the Costco copyright case, where the Supreme Court was struggling with the meaning of the phrase “lawfully made under this Title.” There are two phrases that will be at the center of resolving the TiVo case. The first is “fair ground of doubt,” and the second is “merely colorably different.”
On Thursday, November 4, 2010, I attended the 15th Annual Inventors Conference at the USPTO. In my article Reporting from the 15th Annual USPTO Inventors Conference I discussed the morning sessions and lunch speaker, for day one of the conference. After lunch, and a panel discussion of the morning speakers, the attendees of the conference went into two sets of…
The dispute arose because Omega, S.A., sought to prevent the petitioner, Costco Wholesale Corporation, from reselling genuine watches originally sold by Omega to authorized foreign distributors. Omega, a Swiss company that manufactures watches in Switzerland, did not authorize the importation of the watches by Costco, despite the fact that Costco legally purchased the watches abroad. Thus, the question in this case will be whether copyrighted materials made abroad and legally purchased abroad can be imported without the express permission of the copyright owner. In other words, does the first sale doctrine extinguish the rights of the copyright holder when the goods are made abroad and sold abroad.
Like it or not, the patent system is a great motivator, and used appropriately to incentivize the type of behavior we want to encourage it is a powerful tool in the government arsenal. To fundamentally alter what is considered patentable subject matter will not only negatively impact cutting edge biotechnology research, but it will also have a chilling effect. Uncertainty causes business paralysis and forces investors to the sidelines. The uncertainty that would be created by the curtailing of patentability would not be isolated to the biotechnology sector, and is exactly the opposite of what our economy presently needs.
On Friday, October 29, 2010, practically on the eve of a national election that will in all certainty be an enormous rebuke of the Obama Administration and the Democrats’ agenda in general, the Department of Justice filed an amicus brief at the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that would destroy the U.S. biotechnology sector. In an astonishing and irresponsible policy shift that directly contradicts the long-standing policy of the United States federal government and a variety of agencies, the Department of Justice is promoting the dialing back of what is considered patentable subject matter and is urging the Federal Circuit to rule that “isolated but otherwise unaltered genomic DNA is not patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.”
The Executive Director of the AIPLA, Q. Todd Dickinson, then took the stage to introduce a video that was dedicated to this year’s AIPLA Board of Directors’ Excellence Award. This year the award was given to the Honorable Chief Justice Paul R. Michel, who retired earlier this year. Dickinson explained the award was being given to him “in recognition of his extraordinary leadership and service to the United States Government and in particular his leadership of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit as Chief Judge while having a distinguished career marked by intellect, integrity, and an unwavering commitment to the administration of justice.”
I am in beautiful San Diego, California today, enjoying the beach and near perfect weather. Last night I spoke at the San Diego Intellectual Property Lawyers Association monthly meeting. The topic was “The Perils and Profits of Patent Blogging: How to stay out of trouble while still being read and still generating clients and connections.” Look for more on that next week when I get back to the office and into full swing. In the meantime, in the latest edition of News, Notes & Announcements, IBM enters the blogosphere with an IP blog, Myriad Genetics files it appeal brief and Patent Docs have some excellent early analysis, UCLA Professor Doug Lichtman interviews Chief Judge Randall Rader and the USPTO will host the 15th Annual Independent Inventors Conference at the end of next week. Two more days out of the Office for me attending, speaking at and reporting live from the USPTO Conference. A busy week no doubt.
Chief Judge Michel graciously agreed to a second interview, which took place on September 24, 2010. In part 1 of this interview sequel, we discussed fee diversion at the USPTO, he gave an insiders view of the Senate confirmation process, discussed the confirmation process of Robert Bork and a federal judiciary that seems almost ignored by Congress. In part 2, which appears below, Chief Judge Michel and I talk about the Federal Circuit, focusing on the good decisions during his tenure on the Court, as well as a few he thought the Court got wrong, including a nearly unanimous en banc decision. We discuss inequitable conduct, his thoughts regarding the Supreme Court should be meddling with patent law so much, and what he tried to do as Chief Judge to bring the Court together and build a collegial working environment.
On Tuesday, October 19, 2010, I attended the retirement dinner and reception of the Honorable Chief Judge Paul R. Michel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Washington DC. As fate would have it, I got lost on my way to the party. Even though I thought I gave myself plenty of time to get there, I arrived right before dinner. After dinner the celebration began with a video featuring numerous speakers and a toast. What follows is a recap of the evening’s events, as well as some quotes on the record from several distinguished guests that were at the event to celebrate with Chief Judge Michel.
In July 2010 I had the privilege of interviewing Chief Judge Paul Michel of the Federal Circuit, who had just recently retired from the Court effective May 31, 2010. Chief Judge Michel spoke with me on the record for over 1 hour and 40 minutes, and even then I only was able to get to a fraction of the topics that the Chief Judge agreed to discuss on the record. Chief Judge Michel agreed to go back on the record with me to address those additional topics, such as the confirmation process to become a judge, the state of the federal judiciary, funding for the Patent Office, Federal Circuit decisions over his tenure on the Court and more. We had our second interview on September 24, 2010, again at the University Club in Washington, DC.
On Friday, September 17, 2010, I had the opportunity to chat with Professor Mark Lemley, who is the William H. Neukom Professor at Stanford Law School and partner in the San Francisco law firm Durie Tangri LLP. Lemley is well known both in the academic community and the practice community. In fact, he is one of only a select few that have managed to simultaneously have a stellar career both in academia and in private practice. I chat with Lemley via e-mail from time to time on various matters, and we have talked about an interview for some time. Then a draft of a amicus brief Lemly filed today with the United States Supreme Court arrived in my inbox and I knew this was the issue that would make for an excellent interview. Lemley is leading the charge of law professors who are asking the Supreme Court to review i4i v. Microsoft and address the presumption of validity enjoyed by an issued patent, pegging the presumption to those references considered by the patent examiner during prosecution.
Several weeks ago TiVo filed its brief in the matter of Tivo, Inc. v. EchoStar Corp., which will be heard en banc by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Tuesday, November 9, 2010. The dispute between TiVo and EchoStar dates back to 2004 when TiVo sued EchoStar in the United States District Court for the…
I would also like to take issue with Judge Dyk’s statement that it would simply be easier, and better, to say that anything in the preamble is limiting. Yes, that would certainly be easier and probably a better approach than the nebulous standard presently in place, but I doubt that would be to the Supreme Court’s liking given they seem to detest bright line rules, even when they make sense. I also protest such an approach because that has, as far as I can tell, never been the law, or at least not at any time during my practice career. So regardless of whether it is a better test it absolutely should not be applied retroactively to affect those rights obtained under the belief that what is in the preamble is not limiting.