Posts in Litigation

Federal Circuit Highlights Differences in Statutory and Article III Standing in Patent Cases

On May 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Intellectual Tech LLC v. Zebra Technologies Corp. reversing a Western District of Texas ruling that dismissed patent infringement claims for lack of constitutional standing. In so doing, the Federal Circuit found that Article III standing was not extinguished by the plaintiff’s default on a patent security agreement that granted a secured third party the right to assign the patents at issue in the appeal.

CAFC Vacates Enhanced Damages Judgment Due to Preclusive Effect of Intervening PTAB Decisions

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential decision today vacating and remanding with instructions to dismiss as moot a district court final judgment that granted enhanced damages for willful infringement to Packet Intelligence LLC. The appeal was brought by NetScout Systems, Inc. against Packet and relates to a co-pending case in which the CAFC today affirmed several decisions of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) holding all challenged claims of four of Packet’s patents unpatentable as obvious.

CAFC Affirms TTAB’s Refusal to Register Hair Products Mark Due to Opposer’s Prior Use

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today issued a precedential trademark decision affirming a Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) ruling that sustained Framboise Holdings, Inc.’s opposition and refused registration of Jalmar Araujo’s mark #TODECACHO. Framboise alleged ownership of the pictured design mark (left) based on prior use of the mark in the United States in connection with hair products, including shampoo, conditioner, hair mask treatments, hair cream, curly hair activator, hair jelly, etc. When Araujo applied to register U.S. Trademark Application Serial No. 88/712823 #TODECACHO as a standard character mark for hair combs, Framboise opposed.

GSK Says Pfizer Infringed Five Patents Relating to Comirnaty COVID Vaccine

GlaxoSmithKline filed a four-count civil action for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware late last week seeking damages for Pfizer and BioNTech’s infringing manufacture, use, sale and marketing of both the original “monovalent” and “bivalent” Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccine was quickly rolled out compared to other vaccines in the past and many pharmaceutical companies benefited financially. However, GSK contends their competitors, Pfizer Inc. and Pharmacia & Upjohn Co. LLC (collectively Pfizer) and BioNTech SE, BioNTech Manufacturing GMBH and BioNTech US Inc. (collectively BioNTech) developed their vaccines with GSK’s patented inventions created about a decade earlier.

Apple Watch Patent Wars Create a Defensive Roadmap for ITC Respondents

Late last year, , the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) announced that it would issue a limited exclusion order (LEO) and cease and desist order (CDO) against Apple, Inc. prohibiting Apple from importing and selling its Apple Watch (Series 6 and 7) products in the United States. The case was Certain Light-Based Physiological Measurement Devices and Components Thereof, Investigation No. 337-TA-1276 (“Light-Based Physiological Measurement Devices”), a “Section 337” patent infringement investigation before the ITC that was initiated by Masimo Corporation. Adding insult to injury, the ITC refused to stay these remedial orders pending appeal, putting at immediate risk continued sales of the Apple Watch in the United States. These decisions sent shock waves across both the tech industry and the legal community.

The Rise of IP Lawsuits When Posting Images: How to Navigate and Avoid Copyright Infringement Issues

Picture this: You own a women’s swimwear business. You engage your customers by curating eye-popping images on social media that exude athleticism and style. While browsing online, you find a photo posted by someone else of a woman in one of your pink swimsuits diving into a pool. You instantly know that this woman is exactly who your customers want to be! You share it on your profile with the caption, “Making waves wherever I go” and link to your swimsuit for purchase. Within hours the post racks up 50,000 likes and 2,000 swimsuit orders. But the excitement quickly wears off when you receive an email from a law firm representing the photographer, claiming you infringed her copyright.

Vidal Says PTAB Improperly Expanded Discretionary Denial Principles

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal on April 19 vacated a decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that had denied institution of an inter partes review (IPR) for a lighting system patent owned by Rotolight Limited. Videndum Production Solutions challenged claims 1–19 of U.S. Patent No. 10,845,044 B2 via IPR and Rotolight argued the petition should be discretionarily denied under the factors set forth in General Plastic Industries Co., Ltd. v. Canon Kabushiki Kaisha.

Tenth Circuit Reworks Opinion on Extraterritorial Reach of Lanham Act as Per SCOTUS

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued a revised opinion on Tuesday in the case of Abitron v. Hetronic, which was on remand from the Supreme Court’s June 2023 decision vacating a $96 million damages award for Hetronic. The Court ruled last year that Sections 1114(1)(a) and 1125(a)(1) of the Lanham Act are not extraterritorial in nature and that “‘use in commerce’ provides the dividing line between foreign and domestic applications of these provisions.” The underlying case involved Hetronic’s radio remote controls, which are used to operate heavy-duty construction equipment, such as cranes. Abitron et. al. began manufacturing and selling the products primarily in Europe under the Hetronic brand and continued to do so following the termination of their distribution agreements with Hetronic.

Thoughts on the USPTO’s NPRM: Not Bad But the Big Challenges Remain

Times are changing at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)! Not only are there rumors that the Senate IP Subcommittee may be a matter of several weeks away from marking up the PREVAIL Act and voting it out of committee, but the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has finally issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) relating to several changes to the Code of Federal Regulations as they pertain to patent challenges at the PTAB.

Stay on Top of Hot Topics in Patent Damages Litigation

In patent litigation, damages issues are sometimes treated as an afterthought when compared to the issues of infringement and invalidity. However, achieving a client’s goals requires an attorney to place damages at the center of the litigation strategy from the very beginning. Damages, quite simply, can make or break a case. And it is a quickly evolving field, rife with inconsistent judicial decisions, vague standards, and new techniques for measuring damages. Below are some of the current hot topics in patent litigation—and tips for practitioners on both sides of the “v” on how to handle them.

Patent Filings Roundup: Slow Week in PTAB and District Court, Ideahub Subsidiary Challenges Instituted; Patent Armory Continues the Offensive

It was a slow week for new patent filings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and in the district courts. This week saw only 18 new filings at the PTAB—one of which was a Post Grant Review, while the remaining were inter partes reviews (IPRs). Texas Instruments, Inc. continued challenging Greenthread LLC patents, filing four IPRs against  four patents (bringing the total number of IPRs Texas Instruments has filed up to seven). Amazon filed two IPRs against one Nokia Technologies Oy [associated with Nokia Corporation] patents; Apple filed five IPRs against three Resonant Systems Inc. (d/b/a RevelHMI) patents; and Micron filed two IPRs against two Yangtze memory Technologies Company Ltd.

Timberland Loses Fourth Circuit Bid to Protect Trade Dress for Iconic Boots

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Monday rejected Timberland’s bid to protect its popular boot design. The court explained that the district court did not err in finding that the company failed to prove the design had acquired distinctive meaning…. According to Monday’s ruling, the boot’s design lacks “a distinctive meaning” that identifies them as Timberlands. While the brand’s distinct tree logo remains protected under the Lanham Act, the boot’s design falls short of being “distinguishable” enough to earn the same protection.

Newman’s Counsel Says Supreme Court’s Agreement with Her Dissent Proves Mental Fitness

The U.S. Supreme Court today reversed an en banc decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in which Judge Pauline Newman dissented, a development Newman’s lawyers say belies CAFC Chief Judge Moore’s opinion that Newman is mentally unfit to serve on the court. The en banc decision was an appeal from the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in which Judges Newman and Reyna each separately dissented.

SCOTUS Won’t Review District Courts’ Authority to Award Sanctions

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied a petition that challenged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s decision that found a district court had authority to impose $36 million in sanctions for abusive litigation practices in a trademark case. The underlying case relates to AECOM Energy & Construction, Inc.’s (AECOM) suit against Gary Topolewski, who owned a clothing business called Metal Jeans, Inc., for infringing use of trademarks associated with AECOM’s predecessor, Morrison Knudsen Corporation.

Thaler, Copyright Office Fight Over Human-Authorship Requirement for AI-Created Artwork Continues

On April 10, Dr. Stephen Thaler filed a reply brief  at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, continuing the artificial intelligence (AI) technologist’s legal challenge to the U.S. Copyright Office’s refusal to register copyright to an artwork generated by Thaler’s Creativity Machine. The reply brief argues that there is no human authorship requirement under the U.S. Copyright Act preventing Thaler from claiming copyright in the AI-generated work, and that standard principles of property law enables ownership of the work to vest in Thaler, who created the AI system at issue in the case.

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