Posts in Courts

Patent Filings Roundup: ‘Schedule A’ Filings Continue; Uptick in Discretionary Denials

It was an average week for patent filings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and a slightly above-average week in district courts, with 62 district court complaints filed and 21 new PTAB petitions—one petition for Post Grant Review (PGR), and 20 for Inter Partes Review (IPR). The PTAB instituted 13 cases; iInstitution was denied in 12 cases and 15 cases settled. In district courts, 62 new cases were filed and 12 cases were terminated.

Battle Between Newspaper Giant and Generative AI Boils Down to Definition of Fair Use

The training of artificial intelligence models using copyrighted material continues to stir debate and prompt litigation. In the latest salvo, the New York Times Company sued Microsoft and OpenAI – the creator of ChatGPT – for infringement under the federal Copyright Act. As often is the case with claims like these, the merits will center on the fair-use doctrine, a well-recognized legal principle in copyright law that aims to balance the interests of copyright holders with the public benefit of free speech and creative works. Fair use is a defense to a claim of copyright infringement that must be affirmatively invoked by the accused infringer.

The Federal Circuit Could Make the ITC a More Appealing Forum

In a pending case, the Federal Circuit is primed to provide much-needed clarity on the economic prong of the domestic industry requirement at the United States International Trade Commission (ITC). In ruling, the court will likely resolve a long-running dispute between individual commissioners regarding how to apply the so-called “mere importer” test when determining whether the domestic industry requirement is met. If the complainant, Lashify, prevails, it could make the ITC a more appealing forum for patent infringement suits involving entities that have under-utilized the ITC, including inventors, universities, and start-ups. The case at issue is Lashify, Inc. v. ITC, No. 23-1245.

Liquidia Urges SCOTUS to Restore Preclusive Effect to PTAB Final Written Decisions

Last week, biopharmaceutical company Liquidia Technologies filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court to appeal a Federal Circuit ruling that affirmed induced infringement findings against Liquidia following the patent at issue being invalidated at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). In the petition, Liquidia argues that two previous Supreme Court rulings lead to a result contrary to the Federal Circuit’s determination that the invalidation of patent claims at the PTAB do not have preclusive effect on infringement litigation pending an appeal of the PTAB’s decision.

Richard Prince Effectively Settles, Dodging Post-Warhol Fair Use Ruling

On Thursday, final judgments were issued in a pair of copyright infringement cases that arose from a now infamous 2014/2015 project New Portraits, where appropriations artist Richard Prince displayed Instagram photos and user comments as a purported commentary on social media and art. The two nearly identical final judgments were entered in favor of the photographer plaintiffs’ claims that Prince and the exhibiting galleries willfully infringed on their photographs, and the court dismissed all the defenses raised – including the fair use defense – with prejudice.

Patent Filings Roundup: End to the New Year Lull; Torchlight Patent IPRs Instituted

Filings began picking up again this week after a slow start in the new year in both the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and district courts. The PTAB had a busy week with 31 new filings—one Post Grant Review (PGR) and the rest Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs). Nearly half of all new PTAB filings came from just two entities: Apple and Neurent Medical…. The PTAB was also busy issuing 27 institution decisions (21 instituted and 6 not instituted).

Mistreatment of Judge Pauline Newman, Hon. William C. Conner Inn 16th Annual Reception and Dinner, and Some Thoughts

First, my advice is that everyone should go to this upcoming William C. Conner Inn Annual Dinner and, for that matter, all the Inn’s annual dinners. I have enjoyed them on many levels. One of those is that you get to see and meet people you ordinarily would not, including judges, even if you often see judges. But this one on January 24 is special, because it has a background we hopefully won’t see again. When I received the Dinner announcement, I was shocked that the primary honoree is Chief Judge Moore of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Why? Because of the way she has misled the public about her mistreatment of Judge Pauline Newman. The Inn states that the “Mission of the Hon. William C. Conner Inn is to promote excellence in professionalism, ethics (and) civility.” This is truly admirable, but one which must have been lost, overlooked, or ignored this year.

CAFC Denies APPLE JAZZ Mark Owner’s Mandamus Bid But Tells TTAB it Expects Cancellation Decision ‘Promptly’

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today denied Charles Bertini’s petition for a writ of mandamus asking the court to order the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to decide his trademark cancellation case against Apple, Inc. According to Bertini, the cancellation case has been in limbo at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) for more than three years, “despite [the TTAB’s] policy and frequent public statements by top USPTO officials that it decides cases after trial in approximately ten weeks.” Furthermore, a Petition to the USPTO Director filed on May 4, 2023, has yet to be decided, “despite the fact that most Petitions to the Director are decided in approximately two months.”

SCOTUS Grants Solicitor General’s Bid to Argue in Case About Retrospective Relief Under Copyright Act

The U.S. Supreme Court today granted a request by the U.S. Solicitor General to participate in oral argument as an amicus in Warner Chappell Music v. Nealy, which challenges a circuit court ruling that, under the discovery accrual rule, monetary damages for infringement under the Copyright Act are available for acts occurring outside of the Copyright Act’s three-year statute of limitations. The Solicitor General is urging the Supreme Court to affirm the lower ruling and uphold the Eleventh Circuit’s interpretation of the High Court’s ruling in Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (2013) over competing interpretations in the Second Circuit.

Supreme Court Skips Case on Individual Liability for Willful Trademark Infringement

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied certiorari to Diamond J Wholesale, LLC, who petitioned the Court in December 2023 to clarify how individual liability for willful trademark infringement by a corporation should be assessed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in August 2023 backed a Georgia district court’s finding that Diamond and its owner, Raj Solomon, willfully infringed trademarks owned by Top Tobacco, L.P., Republic Technologies (NA), LLC, and Republic Tobacco, L.P. (Top Tobacco) for cigarette rolling papers. The ruling upheld an $11 million verdict in favor of the tobacco companies.

The UK Supreme Court DABUS Decision: The End or Just a Bump in the Road for AI Inventors?

As reported on IPWatchdog, the UK Supreme court recently ruled that a trained neural network (an Artificial Intelligence known as DABUS) could not be listed as the inventor on two patent applications filed by Dr. Stephen Thaler at the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO). As a result, the two applications were treated as withdrawn for failing to comply with the requirements of the UK Patents Act 1977. This not a surprising decision for reasons that will be set out below, and it is consistent both with the earlier UK court decisions, and with the decisions of other jurisdictions around the world where Dr. Thaler has argued his case. The decision has, however, sparked interest in the questions of artificial intelligence and its ability both to “autonomously” devise inventions and to subsequently own them.

On the Rocks and in the Courts: Aged Disputes in Whiskey Trademark Litigations

In the spirited world of whiskey, legal battles ferment in the form of trademark litigation. In the vast realm of whiskey production, where brands are as carefully crafted as the spirits themselves, clashes over trademarks have become common. The legal complexities swirling within the whiskey industry encapsulate the struggles of renowned manufacturers to protect the unique identities they have painstakingly cultivated for their whiskey brands. From the nuances of trade-dress like labelling and branding, to shape marks for detailed bottle designs, whiskey companies engage in multifaceted litigations to safeguard their trademarks.

CAFC Says Prohibition Against New Issues After Joinder Doesn’t Apply to Motions to Amend

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential decision in CyWee Group Ltd. v. ZTE (USA), Inc. affirming the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) invalidation of CyWee’s 3D pointing device patent claims. In affirming the final written decision, the appellate court found that ZTE’s lack of adversarial nature in inter partes review (IPR) proceedings allowed LG Electronics, a joined party that was otherwise time-barred, to properly oppose CyWee’s motion to amend patent claims.

Justices Seem Split Down Party Lines as Chevron Nears Chopping Block

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in two cases that are challenging the so-called Chevron deference doctrine, which says courts should defer to administrative agencies’ interpretation of the statutes delegated to them when there is an ambiguity. While the conservative justices’ questioning largely leaned in favor of scrapping the doctrine, Justices Kagan, Sotomayor and Jackson pushed back on the petitioners’ arguments, predicting chaos, and the U.S. Solicitor General said overruling such a foundational doctrine would result in “endless litigation.”

Chinese Court’s Global SEP Royalties Decision Signals Broader Threat to Western Tech Innovation

Reasonable compensation for standard essential patent (SEP) holders is crucial to create the incentives for adequate investments in standards. In particular, high-quality standards have underlain the development and proliferation of the global wireless technologies that have played such a central role in the innovation-driven growth of the internet economy. (For the key role of strong standards in technological innovation, see, for example, here, here, here, and here). It follows that the discriminatory reduction of compensation for SEP holders would reduce their incentives to participate and invest in standard setting. This in turn would reduce quality of future standards that will be key to economic growth and vitality.