Posts in Courts

No Presents for Gift Card Patent Owner from Federal Circuit

AlexSam, Inc. lost its patent infringement cases against Simon Property Group/Blackhawk Network and Cigna Corporation in two separate decisions issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Monday, April 1. AlexSam owns U.S. Patent No. 6,000,608, which discloses a “multifunction card system.” Essentially, the invention is a type of gift card that “can serve a number of functions, thus allowing the consumer to have one card which may act as their card for financial transactions, long-distance telephone calls, loyalty information, and medical information.”

VLSI-PQA Saga Continues in Virginia County/ Federal Courts

After VLSI Technology filed a complaint against Patent Quality Assurance (PQA) and its representative, Joseph Uradnik, in the Circuit Court of the City of Alexandria in late January this year, Uradnik recently filed a Notice of Removal with the U.S. District Court for the District of Alexandria, Alexandria Division, arguing the case should be tried there instead. VLSI’s complaint alleged abuse of the inter partes review (IPR) system and is seeking approximately $3.2 million in legal fees from Uradnik, according to the March Notice of Removal.

Rader’s Ruminations – Patent Eligibility III: Seven Times the Federal Circuit Has Struck Out

The U.S. Supreme Court’s flimsy eligibility jurisprudence offers the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) several “softball pitches” to avoid a patent bloodbath. To date, the Federal Circuit has struck out at preserving the patent system — at least twice without really even taking a swing! The first softball pitch appears in the High Court’s initial decision to exalt judge-made “exceptions” over the 200-year-old statutory rule, namely, Mayo v. Prometheus.

Patent Suit Over Gemstone Authentication Blockchain Fizzles Out at CAFC Under Section 101

On March 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a decision in Rady v. The Boston Consulting Group affirming a lower court’s invalidation of patent claims covering improvements to physical asset provenance via blockchain. The ruling, though marked non-precedential, arguably expands the application of the abstract idea exception to patentability under 35 U.S.C. § 101 for blockchain technologies even when those patents are claiming the use of specialized, non-generic computer hardware.

Federal Circuit Clarifies WesternGeco Approach to Foreign Damages

In a lengthy, precedential opinion authored by Judge Taranto, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Wednesday, March 27, affirmed a district court’s decision invalidating the claims of two of Trading Technologies’ (TT’s) patents as being patent ineligible under Section 101 and also clarified the application of a 2018 Supreme Court ruling on foreign damages. Harris Brumfield, as Trustee for Ascent Trust, is the successor to TT, which sued IBG LLC in 2010 for infringement of four patents: U.S. Patent Nos. 6,766,304; 6,772,132; 7,676,411; and 7,813,996. All of the patents’ specifications describe “assertedly improved graphical user interfaces for commodity trading and methods for placing trade orders using those interfaces.”

CAFC: Jury Instructions Must Address Each Objective Indicia of Nonobviousness Raised by Patent Owner

On March 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential ruling in Inline Plastics Corp. v. Lacerta Group, LLC, on appeal from the District of Massachusetts. Judge Richard Taranto authored the opinion and held that an improper jury instruction given at trial by the district court required vacatur of the court’s final judgment that Inline’s patent claims were invalid for obviousness. The Federal Circuit remanded that portion of the case for a new trial so that the jury can properly consider each objective indicia of nonobviousness raised by Inline at trial.

Victory for Virtek Patent as CAFC Schools PTAB on Proper Motivation to Combine Analysis

In a precedential decision authored by Chief Judge Moore, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Wednesday partially reversed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) ruling that certain claims of Virtek Vision International’s patent on a method for aligning a laser projector were unpatentable, finding the Board erred as a matter of law in its analysis. The court also affirmed the PTAB’s finding that other claims were not proven unpatentable. Aligned Vision challenged various claims of Virtek’s U.S. Patent No. 10,052,734, which is titled “Laser Projector with Flash Alignment,” arguing claims 1, 2, 5, 7, and 10–13 would have been obvious over prior art references titled Keitler and Briggs (Ground 1), and over Briggs and another reference, Bridges (Ground 3). It also argued claims 3–6 and 8–12 would have been obvious over Keitler, Briggs, and  ‘094 Rueb (Ground 2), and over Briggs, Bridges, and ‘094 Rueb (Ground 4).

Consumers Target Apple Following DOJ Antitrust Suit

A number of individual consumers have filed suit against Apple, Inc. in California and New Jersey courts, piggybacking on the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) March 21 complaint accusing Apple of “broad-based, exclusionary conduct” amounting to monopolization of the smartphone market. The DOJ’s sweeping complaint included a number of U.S. states as plaintiffs and charged Apple with “thwart[ing] innovation” and throttle[ing] competitive alternatives via its practices around the iPhone platform.

Second Circuit Okays Hard Seltzer Sales in Blow to Modelo

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Monday, March 25, affirmed a district court’s denial of summary judgment to beer company Modelo, owned by AB InBev, which alleged that sublicensee, Constellation Brands, had violated the terms of a licensing agreement to sell Modelo beer products in the United States. Modelo argued that Constellation violated the sublicense, which defined “Beer” as “beer, ale, porter, stout, malt beverages, and any other versions or combinations of the foregoing, including non-alcoholic versions of any of the foregoing,” by selling hard seltzer products under Modelo’s MODELO and CORONA trademarks.

Lourie Dissents from CAFC View that Heart Valve Transport was Not Infringing

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today held in a precedential split decision authored by Judge Stoll that the safe harbor provision of 35 U.S.C.§ 271(e)(1) applied to Meril Life Sciences’ importation of two demonstration samples of its transcatheter heart valves to a medical conference. Judge Lourie dissented, explaining that both the district court and the Federal Circuit have erred in interpreting the statute, specifically by failing to adequately consider the word “solely,” under which interpretation it could be reasonably held that Meril “at least partially” imported the valves for commercial reasons.

Rader’s Ruminations – Patent Eligibility II: How the Supreme Court Ignored Statute and Revived Its Innovation-Killing Two-Step

The Supreme Court has never quite grasped the distinction between patent eligibility and patentability. Eligibility involves entire subject matter categories or fields of inventive enterprise, like the categories “process, machine, [article of] manufacture, or composition of matter.” 35 U.S.C. 101. Ascertaining eligibility should therefore require little more than checking the patent title and ensuring that, in the words of the venerable Judge Giles Rich, “[the invention] produces a useful, concrete and tangible result.”  State Street Bank v. Signature Fin. Group, 149 F. 3d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 1998). In simple terms, Section 101 requires little more for eligibility than a showing that an invention has applied natural principles to achieve a concrete purpose within the expansive categories articulated by Thomas Jefferson in 1793. Patentability, on the other hand, proceeds as a detailed claim-by-claim, feature-by-feature examination of “the conditions and requirements of this title.” 35 U.S.C. 101. Ironically this fundamental distinction that eludes the Supreme Court is explicit in the statutory language of 35 U.S.C. 101 itself.

‘Tic Tac Fruit’ Gaming System Claims Fail CAFC’s Eligibility Analysis

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Thursday, March 21, affirmed a district court’s grant of summary judgment that claims of a patent for an electronic gaming system were ineligible under Section 101. U.S. Patent No. 7,736,223 is owned by Savvy Dog Systems and POM of Pennsylvania (Savvy Dog) and is directed to a “more skill-based and less chance-based” version of a popular electronic game called “Tic Tac Fruit.” Savvy Dog sued Pennsylvania Coin and PA Coin Holdings (Pennsylvania Coin) for infringement in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Coin moved to dismiss the case, in part because it said the claims constituted patent ineligible subject matter.

Patent Filings Roundup: Mixed Results in DraftKings IPRs; Key Patent Innovations Entity Launches First Campaign Asserting Former BlackBerry Patents; Pointwise Ventures Aims for Numerous Targets

It was a below-average week in both the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and in district courts this week for new patent filings, with only 27—all inter partes review (IPR)—at the PTAB and 47 new filings in district court…. The PTAB issued institution  decisions in 16 proceedings this week, denying institution in two IPRs (both on the merits) and ordering institution in 12 IPRs and two post-grant reviews (PGR). Instituted proceedings include two IPRs filed by Palo Alto Networks and Keysight Technologies challenging one Centripetal Networks patent; two IPRs filed by Samsung Electronics Co., challenging two Headwater Research Patents; and two IPRs filed by Motorola Solutions Inc., challenging two Sta Group LLC patents.

Law Professors Say Judicial Conference’s Guidance on Case Assignment Practices is ‘Toothless’

Last week, the Judicial Conference of the United States issued guidance on recently announced changes to case assignment policies designed to prevent gamesmanship in litigation filed in U.S. district court. While the Conference’s guidance clarifies that the amendments are intended to impact patent lawsuits, where claims of judge-shopping have been rife, commentary from legal scholars highlights several issues with implementing these policy changes in the patent infringement context.

CAFC Denies Apple Transfer Out of Albright’s Court

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today denied Apple’s petition for a writ of mandamus asking the court to compel Judge Alan Albright of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas to transfer its case to the Northern District of California. Carbyne Biometrics sued Apple for infringement of six patents via Apple’s “Secure Enclave” and Apple Cash platform features. Apple moved for transfer in July 2023, the motion was briefed in November 2023 and the district court denied the motion in December 2023 and said it would soon issue a decision. Apple filed the petition for writ of mandamus when no decision had issued by January 31, 2024 asking the CAFC to either stay the proceedings until a decision had issued or to compel transfer.

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