Posts in Litigation

Michael Bynum Names New Defendants in Proposed Amended Complaint to 12th Man Copyright Lawsuit

On November 23, sportswriter Michael Bynum and his publishing label Epic Sports filed a motion for leave  to file a second amended complaint and a proposed second amended complaint in the Southern District of Texas. The filings seek to revive copyright infringement claims filed by Bynum against employees at Texas A&M University for their roles in unauthorized distributions of Bynum’s biography of E. King Gill, a former Texas A&M student who inspired the 12th Man tradition at Texas A&M, by adding several new defendants who were actually responsible for the unauthorized copying at issue in the case.

Federal Circuit: District Court Properly Struck Expert Testimony that Failed to Apply Agreed-Upon Claim Construction

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today issued a precedential opinion affirming a district court order that struck parts of an infringement expert report and also granted summary judgment of non-infringement to Valve Corporation. The CAFC held that it is proper to strike expert testimony that did not rely on the agreed upon claim construction adopted by the district court. Treehouse Avatar, LLC owns U.S. Patent 8,180,858, which relates to a method of presenting data based on choices made by users with respect to characters in a network site, such as choosing clothing and hairstyles for the characters. The case turned on the meaning of “character-enabled (CE) network sites” (“CE limitation”) in the claims, which the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) had construed in an earlier inter partes review (IPR) proceeding to mean “a network location, other than a user device, operating under control of a site program to present a character, object, or scene to a user interface.”

SCOTUS to Consider Granting Centripetal’s Cert Petition in Patent Infringement Qua Judicial Recusal Case

The U.S. Supreme Court will this Friday, December 2, consider whether to grant certiorari in the case of Centripetal Networks Inc. v. Cisco Systems Inc. What began as a patent infringement case has swerved into judicial ethics waters, due to the ruling of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. The cert decision holds significant consequences, particularly for patent owners and inventors who find themselves the target of patent infringement, sue to assert their patent rights, and whom patent infringers then pull into a litigation vortex between federal courts and administrative tribunals at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Juno Asks Supreme Court to Reconsider Denial of Petition on Section 112 Question in Light of Amgen Review

Following the denial of Juno Therapeutics’ petition to the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month, Juno last week petitioned the High Court for rehearing, arguing that the grant of certiorari in Amgen v. Sanofi warrants reconsideration. Juno explained that the issues presented in the Amgen case “are tightly related, and the outcome in Amgen is likely to at least affect, if not be outcome-determinative of, this case.” Juno is asking that the Court grant the petition for rehearing, vacate the denial of certiorari, and hold the case pending the outcome in Amgen.

CAFC Says Burden of Reexamination Following Denied IPR Does Not Warrant Mandamus Relief

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) last week denied a petition requesting mandamus relief to vacate the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) grant of a request for ex parte reexamination of Sound View Innovations’ U.S. Patent No. 6,708,213 by DISH Network LLC. The ‘213 patent covers a “Method for Streaming Multimedia Information Over Public Networks.” DISH originally petitioned the USPTO for inter partes review (IPR) of claim 16 of the ‘213 patent on the ground that it was anticipated and/or obvious based on two prior art references called Sen and Geagen.

How French and California Contract Law Would Interpret SEP Patent Owner Obligations Under the ETSI Licensing Declaration

In the United States, the issue of whether or not one has complied with a licensing-related commitment made to a standards setting organization is often treated as a matter of contract. As we have written about before (here and here), some implementers wish to interpret such commitments so as not to lose entitlement to fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licenses despite not negotiating in good faith or, as we like to say, to have their FRAND cake and eat it too. In a recently prepared article, we explore how such an interpretation lines up with basic contract law principles, particularly having reference to the language of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s (ETSI) Intellectual Property Rights Information Statement and Licensing Declaration [“the ETSI Licensing Declaration”].

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.

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.

Patent Filings Roundup: IP Edge Hearings in Delaware Launch Fireworks; Qualcomm Claims Confirmed Unpatentable in AAPA Decision on Remand

It was a light week for patent filings, with 18 Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and 38 district court complaints; last week saw the first Fintiv denials in months in a tranche of cases very close to trial; this week there were five more discretionary denials under Section 325(d), where the parties failed to point out any material error in earlier proceedings analyzing similar art under Advanced Bionics. And obviously, the third Fortress/VLSi trial resulting in another near-billion-dollar award splashed the headlines. The District of Delaware was busy uncovering the story behind IP Edge/Mavexar LLC and how they run and control their subsidiaries, and it’s even more interesting than I thought it was; though of course, it hasn’t stopped entities like those run by Jeffrey Gross from continuing to roll out filings. More below.

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.”

Disruptive Startups Cannot Survive in a Post-AIA Patent Landscape

I founded Netlist in Irvine, California, over 20 years ago to develop the most sophisticated memory module technology in the world. We succeeded, shipping over a billion dollars of product and partnering with top companies, such as IBM, HP and Dell, to power their high performance computers. Netlist continues to invest heavily in R&D in the U.S. We hold more than 130 patents, many of which have been designated as standards-essential. Our memory technology has benefited consumers, businesses and the U.S. military as it is now an integral part of advanced computers deployed in a variety of industries. When we began the company, we were under the impression that securing a U.S. patent was the high-water mark of innovation and that this would protect our inventions against infringement. A patent, we believed, would allow small innovators like Netlist to compete with large incumbents that wield enormous market power.

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.