Posts in Courts

Judge Cooper Denies Injunction But Keeps Newman Case Alive on Key Counts

On February 12, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied a motion for preliminary injunction filed by Circuit Judge Pauline Newman, who has been at the center of a controversial inquiry into her current fitness to continue serving as a federal appellate judge. Despite acknowledging that all of the recent complaints against Judge 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.

CAFC Says Dialogue with Intended Audience Establishes Publication for Prior Art Purposes

On February 8, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Weber, Inc. v. Provisur Technologies, Inc. that vacated rulings by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) nixing validity challenges by American grill maker Weber against Provisur’s commercial food slicer patent claims. The Federal Circuit reversed the PTAB on claim construction and also found that the Board misapplied CAFC precedent on the level of public dissemination required before printed publications can qualify as prior art.

Fourth Circuit Finds No Transformative or Noncommercial Use of Ted Nugent Photo in Online Article

On February 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued an opinion in Philpot v. Independent Journal Review reversing a ruling that an online reproduction of a photograph of singer-songwriter Ted Nugent constituted fair use. The Fourth Circuit further found that professional photographer Larry Philpot was entitled to summary judgment on the validity of his copyright registration, vacating the Eastern District of Virginia’s determination that a genuine dispute of material fact existed as to the accuracy of Philpot’s registration application.

Patent Filings Roundup: Spike in PTAB Filings and Decisions; Continued Filings in Previous NPE Campaigns; First NPE Lawsuits Filed in UPC

It was a busy week at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) with 40 new filings—all inter partes review (IPR)—and an average week in the district courts with 51 new filings. The bulk of new PTAB filings can be attributed to a few petitioners challenging multiple patents held by one patent owner (and all asserted in parallel district court litigations). For example, Apple continued its filings against Carbyne Biometrics LLC [associated with Bjorn Markus Jakobsson] patents, adding another five petitions against four patents to the two filed earlier this month

‘A Terrible Precedent to Set’: Newman Suspension Upheld on Appeal

The Judicial Conference of the United States’ Committee on Judicial Conduct (Conference) and Disability issued its decision today in Judge Pauline Newman’s appeal of the Judicial Council of the U.S. Court of Appeals’ (Council) September 2023 decision to suspend her from all cases. Federal Circuit Chief Judge Kimberly Moore first identified a complaint against Newman in April 2023. IPWatchdog was the first to break the news, and the court soon published a statement responding to media reports and making previously sealed documents public…. Today’s decision denied Newman’s petition for review of the Council’s decision, holding that the Council did not abuse its discretion in refusing to transfer the proceedings to a different circuit, that Newman has not shown good cause for her failure to cooperate, and that the sanction did not exceed the Judicial Council’s authority.

CAFC Clarifies Determination of ‘Implicit’ Claim Constructions

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today issued a precedential decision vacating and remanding a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decision that a patent for a climate control system was not proven unpatentable by Google LLC and Ecobee, Inc. In so doing, the court clarified how to determine when a court or the PTAB has implicitly construed a claim.

LKQ En Banc Argument Suggests CAFC Could Soften Test for Design Patent Obviousness

An en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today heard arguments from LKQ Corporation, the U.S. government and GM Global Technology Operations in a case that could change the test for assessing design patent obviousness. The judges seemed interested in tweaking the existing “Rosen-Durling” test but struggled with getting the parties to clearly articulate a replacement approach that wouldn’t be potentially just as bad. The so-called Rosen-Durling test for design patent obviousness requires that, first, under In re Rosen (C.C.P.A., 1982), courts identify a prior art reference “the design characteristics of which are basically the same as the claimed design.” Next, under Durling v. Spectrum Furniture Co., 101 F.3d 100, 103 (Fed. Cir., 1996)), if such a reference is identified, the court must consider whether it can be modified based on other references to come up with “the same overall visual appearance as the claimed design.”

Failure to Construe Claims ‘As a Whole’: A Hole in Our Strategy?

For decades, patent litigators have followed what can best be described as a forced march seeking to construe patent terms and thereafter litigate infringement and/or validity issues based on those constructions. We all know the drill: exchange contentions; flag contested claim terms; brief their constructions; apply the facts to the court’s constructions; and grind out infringement and validity evidence like so much sausage. Rarely do litigants ask courts to take a step back and construe an asserted claim “as a whole,” and rarely do courts do so if they have not been asked. But sometimes the lack of a holistic claim analysis can lead to a shock to the system at trial, at which time one narrowly construed term can steamroller another broader construed term. The result can be the loss of an infringement claim or an invalidity defense. Such losses may or may not be avoidable, but facing the music earlier can save everyone a great deal of time and resources.

G+ Communications v. Samsung: Splitting the FRAND Baby

A recent decision out of the Eastern District of Texas sheds further light on Judge Rodney Gilstrap’s interpretation of a patent owner’s commitment to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) pursuant to ETSI’s Intellectual Property Rights Information Statement and Licensing Declaration (“the ETSI Licensing Declaration”). The decision, however, also raises some questions for SEP owners. A little over a year ago, we considered how French and California law would interpret a patent owner ‘s commitment to ETSI pursuant to the ETSI Licensing Declaration. The in depth analysis can be found here, while a summary version published on IPWatchdog can be found here. At a high level, we considered the issue both from the perspective of performance being possible without implementer engagement, and from the perspective of performance requiring implementer cooperation.

Biden Admin and U.S. Chamber Clash Over IRA Drug Pricing Impact

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made its initial offers to pharmaceutical companies pursuant to the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), which allows the U.S. Government to “negotiate” Medicare drug prices under a set framework based upon the amount of time a drug has spent on the market. Opponents of the program, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is suing the government over the plan, argue it cannot be characterized as a voluntary negotiation since the affected companies would be subject to onerous excise taxes for refusing to participate and because it would have devastating consequences for patients if companies were to actually pull the affected drugs. The amounts of today’s initial offers were not revealed.

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.

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