Posts in Courts

NYIPLA Tells Supremes IP Lawyers Need Attorney-Client Privilege for Dual-Purpose Communications

The New York Intellectual Property Law Association (NYIPLA) filed an amicus brief last Thursday in the U.S. Supreme Court in In re Grand Jury. The petition was filed in April this year, presenting the Supreme Court with the question of whether communication involving both legal and non-legal advice should be protected by attorney-client privilege. The question has broad implications for attorney-client privileges, especially for intellectual property lawyers, says the NYIPLA brief. NYIPLA  makes the case that the Supreme Court should adopt “a rule which protects a dual-purpose communication if a significant purpose of the communication is to obtain or provide legal advice.” Currently, the appeals courts are divided as to whether this rule should be adopted versus one that protects communications only if legal advice was the dominant purpose behind the communication.

Jack Daniel’s Will Get Its Shot at SCOTUS Review Against Dog Toy Maker

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday granted a petition filed in August this year by Jack Daniel’s Properties, Inc. seeking clarification on whether the First Amendment protects VIP Products, LLC, a maker of dog toys that made humorous use of Jack Daniel’s trademarks for commercial purposes, against claims of infringement and dilution. The High Court previously denied Jack Daniel’s petition in January of 2021, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit “summarily affirmed” the district court’s summary judgment ruling for VIP on remand. In its ruling in 2020, the Ninth Circuit said VIP’s dog toy mimicking a Jack Daniel’s whiskey bottle was an expressive work entitled to First Amendment protection, reversing the district court’s initial holding that the toy infringed and diluted Jack Daniel’s marks and remanding the case back to the district court for a determination on the merits of the infringement claim.

SEPs in Europe: From Huawei/ZTE to Apple/Optis, Europe Has Become a Friend to Patentees

During IPWatchdog’s Standards, Patents & Competition Masters 2022 program last week, one panel examined the standard essential patent (SEP) landscape in Europe, which has become decidedly more patent owner friendly than that of the United States in recent years. Beginning with the landmark 2015 decision by the European Court of Justice in Huawei v. ZTE, ([2015] EUECJ C-170/13), European courts have held SEP holders and implementers to account by applying the framework set forth in that ruling, which panelist Inna Dahlin of Valea AB summarized for attendees.

A Guide to Disclosures in Delaware Patent Litigation in the Face of Pending Federal Circuit Review

Heightened mandatory initial disclosures in patent litigation may affect a client’s decision to pursue litigation in a forum, especially if there is a risk (real or perceived) of having to disclose sensitive company information from the outset of litigation. In the District of Delaware, there has been much attention on recent requirements for transparency regarding litigation funding and company and/or patent ownership issued by Chief Judge Colm Connolly. The Chief Judge’s fervent enforcement of those requirements has prompted a writ of mandamus and potential review by the Federal Circuit. Although the propriety of the third-party litigation funding order may be reviewed by the Federal Circuit, best practices for complying with both the third-party litigation funding and Rule 7.1 Standing Orders will be discussed, along with potential impact of those orders on patent litigation in the long term, and considerations of whether certain information could be sealed.

CAFC Expressly States Patentee Disclaimers During IPR are Not Binding on the PTAB’s Patentability Analysis

Earlier today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential decision in CUPP Computing AS v. Trend Micro Inc. affirming final written decisions from a trio of inter partes review (IPR) proceedings invalidating CUPP Computing’s patent claims covering methods for performing security operations on a mobile device. The CAFC’s decision makes clear to patent owners defending their rights at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that the Board is not required to consider a disclaimer entered during IPR as binding on the proceedings before it.

Court Throws Out Trade Secrets Lawsuit Filed Against IBM China

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York last week dismissed a trade secrets lawsuit against International Business Machines Corp (IBM) and IBM China by Beijing Neu Cloud Oriental System Technology Co. The Chinese firm alleged that IBM stole trade secrets from its joint venture in order to sell IBM products to the Chinese market. IBM China and Beijing Teamsun Technology Co. originally formed Beijing Neu Cloud in 2014 as a joint venture to distribute IBM technology in China. But in a 2021 complaint, Beijing Neu Cloud alleged that IBM induced “Neu Cloud and its majority owner through later-breached contracts to expend resources and provide IBM with access to sensitive, confidential customer information, which IBM then secretly used to create competing ventures in China.”

Partial Win for VLSI Against Intel as CAFC Reverses PTAB on One Claim of Integrated Circuit Patent

In a precedential opinion issued yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) ruled partially in favor of VLSI Technology, Inc. in its case with Intel, reversing the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB’s) holding that one claim of U.S. Patent No. 7,247,552 was unpatentable. The court upheld the PTAB’s unpatentability findings on the three other challenged claims. Intel filed three separate inter partes review (IPR) petitions against VLSI challenging the validity of claims 1, 2, 11, and 20 of the ‘552 patent, which is directed to “’[a] technique for alleviating the problems of defects caused by stress applied to bond pads’ of an integrated circuit.”

Ninth Circuit Affirms Validity of Unicolors’ Copyright Registration on Remand, But H&M Scores Big on Remittitur Calculations

On November 10, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in Unicolors, Inc. v. H&M Hennes & Mauritz, L.P. following remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, which clarified the knowledge standard required for invalidating copyright registrations based on inaccuracies in the registration application. In light of that ruling, the Ninth Circuit upheld Unicolors’ ability to maintain its copyright infringement action against H&M because the plaintiff did not have the requisite knowledge of the legal inaccuracy on its registration application to invalidate the registration. While the Ninth Circuit dismissed most of H&M’s arguments on remand, the appellate court did agree with H&M that the district court’s post-remittitur damages were improperly calculated, leading to a significant reduction in the amount awarded to Unicolors in the case.

Federal Circuit Affirms PTAB’s Mixed Decision on Air Mattress Patents

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today issued a precedential decision affirming the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) on two mixed inter partes review (IPR) decisions involving American National Manufacturing and Sleep Number Corp. that found some, but not all, of the challenged claims not unpatentable. The IPRs on appeal involve U.S. Patent Nos. 8,769,747 and 9,737,154. They “describe systems and methods that purport to adjust the pressure in an air mattress ‘in less time and with greater accuracy’ than previously known.” American National filed IPR petitions challenging many claims of both patents and asserting that most of the challenged claims would have been obvious over various prior art references.

SCOTUS Takes on Scope of Enablement Inquiry in Amgen v. Sanofi: Implications for Pharma/ Biotech and Beyond

On November 4, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Amgen’s petition for certiorari against the advice of the U.S. government – taking up Amgen’s challenge to the Federal Circuit’s enablement review of its PCSK9 antibody patents covering evolocumab (Repatha®). In its petition, Amgen asserts that the Federal Circuit has gone too far in invalidating its PCSK9 antibody patents by imposing a disclosure burden beyond the requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 112. Notably, the Supreme Court, albeit with a different composition, recently declined to hear several other similar cases raising issues with the Federal Circuit’s enablement precedent.

Tillis Bill Would Restore Needed Clarity and Predictability in Patent Eligibility Law

Over the last 15 years, the United States Supreme Court has mutated patent eligibility into an impossibly complex and confusing mess. The Court’s current eligibility test strays far from Congress’s original intent, erodes trust in predictability, and has left many remarking that innovation in the United States is falling behind due to uncertainty of patent eligibility law. Even more troubling, the resulting uncertainty of patent ineligibility for large swaths of innovation in critical technology areas, including artificial intelligence, poses significant risks to U.S. competitiveness, economic growth and national security. The Court has had opportunities to rectify its patent sinkhole but recently declined another chance to mend the chaos. When the Court denied certiorari in American Axle v. Neapco—despite the Solicitor General’s plea to hear the case—it became clear that Congress must step in to rescue U.S. innovation.

Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal in Museum Trademark Dispute

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Tuesday affirmed the dismissal of Metamorfoza’s trademark infringement and unfair competition claims against Big Funny over a trademark that included the disclaimed phrase “Museum of Illusions.” Big Funny also cross-appealed the district court’s denial of its motion for attorneys’ fees, but the Court of Appeals agreed with the district court, finding that it had acted within its discretion in denying fees under 15 U.S.C. § 1117(a) because the case was not “exceptional.” Big Funny and Metamorfoza both operate multiple museums called “Museum of Illusions” in the United States. Big Funny operates museums in California and Florida, while Metamorfoza has museums in New York, Missouri and Texas.

Federal Circuit Affirms Preliminary Injunction for CPAP Company

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today issued a precedential decision affirming the grant of a narrowly-tailored preliminary injunction to SoClean, Inc., a medical device company that makes CPAP machines, based on trademark infringement claims against Sunset Healthcare Solutions, Inc. SoClean alleged in 2021 that Sunset infringed its U.S. Trademark Registration No. 6,080,195. The registration covers the configuration of replacement filters for its sanitizing devices.

Supreme Court’s Denial of Juno Therapeutics is Another Blow to the Life Science Patent Industry

On November 7, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order list showing that it had denied the petition for writ of certiorari filed in Juno Therapeutics, Inc. v. Kite Pharma, Inc. In denying the petition, the Court refused yet again to clarify the Federal Circuit’s questionable interpretation of U.S. patent code, this time within the context of the written description requirement of 35 U.S.C. § 112, and leaves in place an appellate court ruling that many believe will be very damaging to the United States’ life sciences innovation sector.

Federal Circuit Reins in Albright Again, Orders Quick Ruling on Apple’s Venue Transfer Motion

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today said in a precedential order that Judge Alan Albright’s Scheduling Order in a case between Aire Technology Limited and Apple, Inc. went too far in mandating additional substantive discovery and re-briefing that would result in nearly a year passing before the court rules on Apple’s venue transfer motion. Apple asked the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in April 2022 to transfer Aire’s patent infringement case against it to the Northern District of California. Apple filed declarations during venue discovery to support the need for transfer, including a request to supplement its motion with additional declarants just prior to the close of venue discovery, and offered to make the declarants available for deposition and to extend the transfer proceedings for a “reasonable” amount of time.