Posts in Courts

SCOTUS Denies Petition to Review CAFC Precedent on Justification for Primary Reference Selection

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, March 18, denied a petition filed by patent owner Jodi A. Schwendimann asking the Court to review a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) that affirmed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) determination that Schwendimann’s patents were obvious. The petition specifically asked the Court to review the CAFC’s holding that Schwendimann’s argument that “justification for selection of a primary reference is a necessary step to guard against hindsight bias for the motivation to combine references” was unsupported by Federal Circuit case law.

CAFC Affirms District Court’s Inventorship Analysis

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Friday affirmed a district court finding that two inventors should be added as co-inventors to a patent for a method of transporting gaseous fluids. The CAFC concluded that the record “does not leave us with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made” in finding the inventors contributed significantly to the invention.

CAFC Affirms PTAB Finding that Reasonable Pertinence Proves Analogous Art

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a brief opinion authored by Judge Chen today that rejected Daedalus Blue LLC’s appeal of a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decision finding certain claims of its patent on a data management system unpatentable. The PTAB held that U.S. Patent No. 8,671,132 was unpatentable as obvious over combinations of three prior art references: “Gelb”, “Tivoli”, and “Callaghan.” Daedalus in part argued on appeal that the Board incorrectly found that Gelb is analogous art because Gelb “is not reasonably pertinent to the problems identified in the ’132 patent.”

Judicial Conference Policy on Random Case Assignments Prompted by Tillis/Roberts Complaints About Waco

The Judicial Conference of the United States announced yesterday that it is strengthening its policy on random case assignments in order to limit the practice of judge shopping in U.S. district courts. According to the press release, the policy would assign judges via a district-wide random selection process in “all civil actions that seek to bar or mandate state or federal actions, ‘whether by declaratory judgment and/or any form of injunctive relief.’”

New York Times Hits Back at OpenAI’s Hacking Claims

In an opposition brief filed Monday, The New York Times Company (The Times) told a New York district court that OpenAI’s late February claim that The Times “paid someone to hack OpenAI’s products” in order to prove OpenAI infringed its copyrights amounts to little more than “grandstanding.” In late December 2023, the Times became the latest of many complainants to accuse OpenAI’s Large Language Model, ChatGPT, as well as Microsoft’s GPT-4-powered Bing Chat, of widespread copyright infringement. The Times alleged that Microsoft and OpenAI reproduce Times content verbatim and also often attribute false information to the Times. The Times’ opposition brief filed yesterday responds to OpenAI’s recent motion to dismiss, which alleged that The Times paid someone to target and exploit “a bug (which OpenAI has committed to addressing) by using deceptive prompts that blatantly violate OpenAI’s terms of use.”

Federal Circuit Council Tells District Court to Scrap Surviving Challenges in Newman Case

The Judicial Council of the Federal Circuit told the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday that it should dismiss Judge Pauline Newman’s remaining challenges to the Council’s decision to suspend Newman indefinitely from the court because all of Newman’s claims “fail as a matter of law.” Most recently, on February 12, the District of Columbia court denied a motion for preliminary injunction filed by Judge Newman. Despite acknowledging that all of the recent complaints against 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.

Federal Circuit Reverses PTAB Claim Construction, Reviving Cooling Patent

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Thursday, March 7, vacated a decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that had held unpatentable certain claims to CoolIT Systems, Inc.’s patent. U.S. Patent 9,057,567 is titled “Fluid Heat Exchange Systems” and is directed to a system for fluid heat transfer to cool electronic devices. On appeal to the CAFC, CoolIT argued that the PTAB erred in construing one of the claim terms, “matingly engaged” and that even under the PTAB’s construction, the asserted prior art did not meet the matingly engaged limitation.

After Weber v. Provisur, Confidentiality Provisions May Not Be Sufficient to Protect Your Documents from Being Prior Art

On February 8, 2024, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Weber, Inc. v. Provisur Technologies, Inc., reversing the finding of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that certain operating manuals with limited dissemination and confidentiality restrictions did not qualify as prior art. The Federal Circuit’s decision concluded that the Board misapplied the analysis for meeting the public accessibility standard for a printed publication to qualify as prior art.

Federal Circuit Says Narrowing Limitation Does Not Create a Contradiction Leading to Indefiniteness

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential decision today reversing the Western District of Texas district court’s indefiniteness analysis and explaining that it improperly found a contradiction between two claim limitations to arrive at its indefiniteness holding. Amperex Technology Limited filed an action seeking declaratory judgment of noninfringement and challenged the validity of certain claims of Maxell, Ltd.’s U.S. Patent No. 9,077,035 for a rechargeable lithium battery and Maxell asserted infringement of the patent in a separate action. The two actions were consolidated in the Western District of Texas and the court ultimately held that two of the “wherein” clauses of the sole independent claim 1 of the ‘035 patent contradicted one another.

CAFC: PHOSITA Can Bridge Gaps with Reasonable Success Under Result-Effective Variable Doctrine

On March 5, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential decision in Pfizer Inc. v. Sanofi Pasteur Inc. affirming lower rulings by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that invalidated Pfizer’s patent claims and denied motions to amend (MTA). Although the Federal Circuit vacated the PTAB’s MTA denials with respect to two patent claims, the ruling adds new contours to the appellate court’s case law on obviousness in ways that could affect companies that are patenting chemical inventions with claimed numerical ranges.

CAFC Partially Reverses Noninfringement Judgment But Scraps IBM Web Advertising Claims as Ineligible

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in a precedential decision today mostly upheld a district court ruling that found Chewy, Inc. did not infringe several claims of one IBM web advertising patent and that granted summary judgment of patent ineligibility on certain claims of another. However, the decision, authored by Chief Judge Kimberly Moore, reversed the district court’s finding of noninfringement on one of the five asserted claims of one patent, remanding the case for further proceedings on that issue.

UK Decision Provides Guidance on Takedown Notices and Unjustified Threats

A large number of businesses trade through online platforms and marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay. Consumers may believe that because goods are listed on a well-known trusted platform, they are authentic, and the sellers have been approved in some way by the service provider. Unfortunately, as too many business owners are aware, e-commerce platforms offer counterfeiters and infringers a relatively easy way of offering their infringing goods for sale. A balance must be struck between forcing online marketplace providers to police intellectual property disputes themselves and allowing businesses to protect their intellectual property rights effectively when they are being exploited via online platforms.

Rader’s Ruminations – Patent Eligibility, Part 1: The Judge-Made ‘Exceptions’ are Both Unnecessary and Misconstrued

In supreme irony, the U.S. Supreme Court lists the three exceptions to statutory patent eligibility in Chakrabarty, Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. 303 (1980) — the case most famous for the observation that Thomas Jefferson’s statutory language from the 1793 Act (still in place today) covers “anything under the sun made by man.” Id. at 309. While construing Jefferson’s “broad” statutory language in 35 U.S.C. 101 with “wide scope,” the Court noted: “The laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas have been held not patentable.” Id. The Court tries to support this listing with a string citation to several cases — each standing for something different than an exception from statutory language. Still, to ensure clarity, the Court gives examples: “a new mineral discovered in the earth or a new plant found in the wild is not patentable subject matter.” Likewise, Einstein could not patent his celebrated law that E=mc2, nor could Newton have patented the law of gravity.”  Id. So far so good, but this classic example of the Court trying to sound informed and competent out of its comfort zone reemerges 30 years later to replace (and effectively overrule) the statutory rule that governed for over 200 years and remains in Title 35.

Sanctions Imperative When False Statements are the Basis for a Lawsuit

For better or worse, anyone can be sued for any reason—even reasons that are completely fictitious and based on allegations that are entirely false. Several cases have recently caused me to ask a simple question: Can something actually be evidence if it is false? I’ve had a few people respond, some thoughtful and others intentionally dense. “Of course, something that is false is evidence,” one person recently told me. “It is up to the trier of fact to determine what is false, and that which is false is clearly evidence to be considered.”

USPTO Issues Updated Obviousness Guidance Tracing 15 Years of Case Law Following KSR

On February 27, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a notice in the Federal Register providing updated guidance for agency decision-makers on making proper determinations of obviousness under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling in KSR International Co. V. Teleflex Inc. While the USPTO’s examiner guidance doesn’t constitute substantive rulemaking, it traces 15 years of case law from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to clarify several areas of confusion stemming from the Supreme Court’s calls for a flexible approach to the obviousness analysis for patent validity.

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