Posts in Litigation

New York Court Finds Playlist Patent Ineligible as Abstract

On January 24, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held EscapeX IP LLC’s U.S. Patent No. 9,009,113 patent ineligible as being directed to an abstract idea. The patent covers a process for allowing users to upload “dynamic albums” to be stored on their devices. The district court granted Block, Inc.’s (better known as music streaming platform Tidal) motion to dismiss the patent infringement suit pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. According to the district court opinion, the patent’s specification states that “the patent seeks to remedy certain problems that currently exist with music streaming, including artists’ inability to effectively monetize their music, their lack of control over content once users have downloaded it, and the disconnect between streaming services and artists’ social media pages.”

Bristol Myers Says AstraZeneca’s Imjudo Infringes Yervoy Patent

Bristol Myers filed a lawsuit Monday claiming AstraZeneca has infringed on a patent related to its Yervoy cancer drug. The pharmaceutical company launched the suit in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. Bristol Myers claimed AstraZeneca’s Imjudo cancer treatment infringes on its patent and that AstraZeneca failed to first obtain a license or permission. The cancer treatment in question is known as cancer immunotherapy, which according to the lawsuit “represents a scientific breakthrough that has revolutionized cancer treatment by manipulating a patient’s immune system to eliminate cancer cells.” Yervoy has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, colorectal cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), malignant pleural mesothelioma, and esophageal cancer, either alone or in combination with the company’s drug, Opdivo.

‘Shenanigans’ Gone ‘Off the Rails’: PQA Asks CAFC to Step in on Vidal Director Review Sanctions

Following United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal’s December 2022 precedential decision that Patent Quality Assurance (PQA) abused the inter partes review (IPR) process in its case against VLSI Technology, PQA has filed a petition seeking mandamus relief in the matter with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). Vidal ruled in December that PQA abused the IPR process by filing an IPR and threatening to join a separate IPR against VLSI in order to receive a payout from the technology firm. Vidal also found that PQA misrepresented an “exclusive engagement” with a witness, Dr. Adit Singh, who was involved in another IPR petition against VLSI from OpenSky. She wrote in the decision dismissing PQA from the IPR that, “though the behavior here may not be as egregious as that of OpenSky… I find that PQA’s behavior, nonetheless, amounts to an abuse of process.”

DOJ and Attorneys General Say Google’s Tactics Have ‘Broken’ Ad Tech Competition

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Attorneys General of eight U.S. states on Tuesday announced they are suing Google for antitrust violations of the Sherman Act with respect to the tech company’s monopoly on digital advertising technology. The Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Virginia joined the suit. In a 155-page complaint filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, the DOJ and Attorneys General explained that Google “has corrupted legitimate competition in the ad tech industry by engaging in a systematic campaign to seize control of the wide swath of high-tech tools used by publishers, advertisers, and brokers, to facilitate digital advertising.”

Novartis Asks SCOTUS to Rein in CAFC and Ninth Circuit Approach to Panel Rehearing Decisions

Last week, Novartis Pharmaceuticals followed through on its  September 2022 promise that it would appeal the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s (CAFC’s) June 2022 decision invalidating its patent for a dosing regimen for its multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya to the U.S. Supreme Court, after the CAFC denied its request to rehear the case.

Federal Circuit Upholds Albright’s Ruling on Denial of Transfer for GM

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today denied General Motors’ petition for a writ of mandamus seeking to compel Judge Alan Albright to transfer a patent infringement case brought against GM by Intellectual Ventures (IV) to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. IV sued GM in Albright’s Western District of Texas court for infringing 12 patents covering services and products installed in GM cars, including certain features of GM’s OnStar service. GM moved to transfer the case to Michigan, arguing that “the employees most knowledgeable about the design and development of the accused products and certain third-party component suppliers” are based there. IV countered that GM has “an IT Innovation Center” in Austin, Texas, where employees knowledgeable about the accused technology work.

Amici Urge SCOTUS to Reverse Overly Broad Definition of ‘Expressive Work’ in Jack Daniel’s v. VIP Products

Last November, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a petition for writ of certiorari filed by famed whiskey brand owner Jack Daniel’s Properties. The petition filed by Jack Daniel’s appealed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s March 2020 ruling that a “Bad Spaniels” dog toy marketed by VIP Products was an expressive work entitled to First Amendment protections against trademark infringement liability under the Rogers test. On January 18, a series of 16 amicus briefs were filed with the Supreme Court, the vast majority of which urged the nation’s highest court to reverse the Ninth Circuit’s ruling and limit the application of the Rogers test to clearly artistic works and exclude consumer products that happened to have some humorous expression. Several amici also pushed back on the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that VIP Products’ use of Jack Daniel’s marks was noncommercial.

Apple Scores Win at CAFC in Split Ruling on Prosecution Laches

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) ruled today in a split precedential decision authored by Judge Reyna that a district court properly found Personalized Media Communications’ (PMC) patent unenforceable due to prosecution laches. Judge Stark dissented, arguing that, although he agreed PMC’s delay in prosecuting its patent was “unreasonable and inexcusable,” Apple failed to establish that it suffered prejudice during the period of delay. PMC sued Apple in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in 2015, alleging that Apple’s digital rights management software, FairPlay, infringed claim 13 of PMC’s U.S. Patent No. 8,191,091. A jury found that Apple infringed at least one of claims 13-16, but in a subsequent bench trial the district court found that the patent was unenforceable due to prosecution laches under Hyatt v. Hirshfeld.

High Court Asks for SG Views on Apple’s Petition Challenging Federal Circuit Approach to IPR Estoppel

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday invited the U.S. Solicitor General to provide its views on Apple’s petition asking the High Court to clarify the proper application of estoppel in inter partes review (IPR) proceedings. The case stems from a February, 2022, decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in which the court issued a mixed precedential decision that affirmed, vacated, and remanded in part a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. That ruling related to a patent infringement suit filed by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) against Broadcom Limited, Broadcom Corporation, and Avago Technologies (collectively “Broadcom) and Apple Inc.

The Adidas v. Thom Browne Saga: Stripes May Be ‘Earned’ But They Cannot Be Owned

Engagement in proactive IP litigation by global companies is the bedrock of trademark enforcement, and Adidas is no stranger to this strategy. Since 2008, this athleisure accessories manufacturer has consistently protected its intellectual property by signing over 200 settlement agreements and fighting more than 90 court battles. Most recently, on  January 12, 2023, Adidas’s efforts to sue Thom Browne Inc., a Zegna subsidiary, for trademark infringement of its ‘three-stripes logo’ was foiled. The damages claim of around $7.8 million, or £6.4 million, backfired on the German sportswear giant when it was denied by an eight-person Manhattan jury.

Federal Circuit Upholds Two Courts’ Findings that Remote Training Patents are Ineligible

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today affirmed one district court decision and dismissed another as moot, finding that Riggs Technology Holdings, Inc.’s U.S. Patent No. 7,299,067 for remote education and training systems is patent ineligible as it is “plainly drawn to an abstract idea.” Judge Chen authored both opinions. Riggs sued Cengage Learning, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts for infringement of the ‘067 patent, but the district court granted Cengage’s Motion to Dismiss based on patent ineligibility. The court held that the patent “is plainly drawn to an abstract idea,” and that “the concept underlying the claims of the ’067 patent—providing, managing, and/or documenting training completed remotely on a handheld device—is akin to those found in claims the Federal Circuit has deemed abstract and ineligible.”

Albright Gets OK from CAFC on Denial of Transfer for Amazon

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) earlier this week shot down a petition for writ of mandamus filed by Amazon.com, Inc. asking the court to vacate an Order by Judge Alan Albright of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas denying Amazon transfer of a case to the Northern District of California. VoIP-Pal sued Amazon in the Western District of Texas, alleging infringement of its patents through the sale of Amazon’s “’communications platform,’ including the server structure, Alexa calling devices, and Alexa software applications running on those devices.” Amazon sought transfer to California, claiming that the middleware of the accused products was developed by employees based there. In its opposition, VoIP-Pal submitted evidence that “[t]echnical documentation relating to the work of the DeviceOS and Echo Platform Software teams is maintained at the Austin offices.”

Federal Circuit Says Texas Court Erred in Finding Viscometer Patent Claim Indefinite

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today ruled in a precedential decision that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas incorrectly found the term “enlarged chamber” indefinite, but affirmed the court’s construction of another claim term. The case stems from Grace Instrument Industries, LLC’s May 19, 2020, suit against Chandler Instruments Company, LLC for infringement of its U.S. Patent No. 7,412,877 through the sale of Chandler’s Model 7600 viscometer. The ‘877 patent is titled “High Pressure Viscometer with Chamber Preventing Sample Contamination.”

Federal Circuit Says Gilstrap’s Grant of CA Transfer to Chinese Company was Improper

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in a precedential order yesterday granted a petition for writ of mandamus vacating Judge Rodney Gilstrap’s transfer of two cases out of the Eastern District of Texas to California. The petition was brought by Stingray IP Solutions, LLP and was opposed by TP-Link Technologies, a Chinese company, which Stingray accused of patent infringement. Stingray first filed the patent infringement suits in the Eastern District of Texas and TP-Link moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction or to transfer the cases to the Central District of California pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406. After the Texas court granted transfer under Section 1406, Stingray petitioned the Federal Circuit for mandamus “solely on the issue of whether TP-Link’s unilateral, post-suit consent to personal jurisdiction in another state (California) defeated application of Rule 4(k)(2).”

CAFC Says USPTO Arguments for Rejecting Google Patent Application Lack Support in Record

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in a precedential decision today vacated a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) finding that certain claims of Google, LLC’s U.S. Patent Application No. 14/628,093 were obvious. The CAFC opinion, authored by Chief Judge Moore, said the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) arguments on appeal “cannot sustain the Board’s decision below because they do not reflect the reasoning or findings the Board actually invoked.” Google’s patent application has to do with methods for filtering the results of an internet search query such that only age-appropriate results for a user are displayed. At issue were two prior art references: Parthasarathy, which “discloses methods of filtering search results by comparing a “search-query-intent score” to a predetermined safety threshold” and Rose, which is titled “System and Method for Improving the Ranking of Information Retrieval Results for Short Queries.”