Posts in Litigation

Federal Circuit Says District Court Erred in Assessing Inequitable Conduct in Toddler Dining Mat Patent Case

In a precedential decision issued Friday by Judge Leonard Stark, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed a district court’s judgment that Luv n’ care, Ltd. and Nouri E. Hakim (LNC) succeeded in proving Lindsey Laurain and Eazy-PZ, LLC (EZPZ) were barred from relief due to unclean hands but vacated the court’s judgment for EZPZ of no inequitable conduct. The CAFC also vacated a grant of partial summary judgment of invalidity and vacated orders denying LNC attorney fees and costs.

Lidl v. Tesco: Supermarket Wars in Court

Supermarkets compete aggressively for our custom. The entry of upstart discount supermarkets Lidl and Aldi into the market has created new pressures on the established brands, including Tesco— ironically, the original “pile it high and sell it cheap” operation. Supermarkets benchmark their prices against those charged by their competitors and offer loyal customers benefits, including, extremely attractive special offers when customers use their loyalty cards. They are no less aggressive when it comes to using and protecting their trademarks.

CAFC Panel Splits on Reasonable Expectation of Success Analysis

In a precedential decision authored by Judge Lourie, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court’s final judgment that certain claims of several patents owned by Salix Pharmaceuticals for a drug used to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other ailments were invalid as obvious. The CAFC also affirmed an order of the district court that instructed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the effective approval date of generic company Norwich’s Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) may not precede the expiration dates of the claims of three other Salix patents that were found to be valid and infringed by Norwich. Norwich cross-appealed from that order and also from the denial of its motion to modify the district court’s final judgment.

The Licensing Vector: A Fair Approach to Content Use in LLMs

A spate of recent lawsuits is shining light on how some generative AI (GenAI) companies are using copyrighted materials, without permission, as a core part of their products. Among the most recent examples is the New York Times Company’s’ lawsuit against OpenAI, which alleges a variety of copyright-related claims. For their part, some GenAI companies like OpenAI argue that there is no infringement, either because there is no “copying” of protected materials or that the copyright principle of fair use uniformly applies to generative AI activities. These arguments are deeply flawed and gloss over crucial technical and legal issues. They also divert attention from the fact that it is not only possible but practical to be pro-copyright and pro-AI.

Heirs to Author of Article That Inspired Top Gun Crash and Burn in California District Court

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled on Friday that Shosh Yonay and Yuval Yonay, the widow and son of Ehud Yonay, who authored a 1983 magazine article that inspired the renowned film, Top Gun, were not entitled to damages for copyright infringement related to the 2022 sequel to the film. Yonay authored a magazine article titled “Top Guns,” published in California Magazine on April 21, 1983, that was an account of the experiences of F-14 pilots in training at Navy’s Fighter Weapons School, known as “Top Gun.”

Federal Circuit Upholds Mixed ITC Determination Authorizing Google Redesigns

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Monday affirmed an International Trade Commission (ITC) final determination that said Google infringed five of Sonos, Inc.’s patents but which also found three proposed redesigns did not infringe. Sonos owns U.S. Patent Nos. 10,439,896 (“’896 patent”), 9,195,258 (“’258 patent”), 9,219,959 (“’959 patent”), 10,209,953 (“’953 patent”), and 8,588,949 (“’949 patent”). Sonos filed a complaint with the ITC alleging certain Google audio players and controllers infringed the patents and the ITC agreed, issuing a limited exclusion order and a cease-and-desist order (CDO) preventing Google from marketing the infringing products in the United States.

Vidal Vacates Board’s Denial of IPR Institution on Auto Part Patent

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal vacated and remanded a decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) on Friday that had denied institution of an inter partes review (IPR) requested by auto parts manufacturer, Mahle Behr Charleston, Inc. U.S. Patent No. RE47,494 E is owned by inventor Frank Amidio Catalano and covers “a device to prevent corrosion [in motor vehicle radiators] caused by electrolysis.” Mahle Behr requested IPR of the patent, arguing that a prior art reference called Godefroy anticipates and renders obvious certain claims.

Return to Assertion Value Series: The 1% Patent

“Many believe the root cause of the patent system’s dysfunction is that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office [USPTO] is issuing too many invalid patents that unnecessarily drain consumer welfare, stunt productive research, and unreasonably extract rents from innovators.” That quote from Professors Michael Frakes and Melissa F. Wasserman echoes a common complaint in patent policy conversations. The USPTO is widely perceived as issuing too many bad patents.

A Case Study on the ‘Crime-Fraud’ Exception to Attorney-Client Privilege

The protection of privilege in communications between clients and lawyers is a very important one under U.S. law. The basic rule is that when a client seeks legal advice from a lawyer, the communication between the client and the lawyer is confidential and cannot be discovered during litigation. An important purpose of this rule is to encourage clients to communicate fully and freely with lawyers in the process of seeking legal help. The lawyers here include both external lawyers and in-house lawyers.

CAFC Precedential Decision on Rule 12(b)(6) Affirms Patent Ineligibility of Medical Scan Visualization Claims

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential decision decision authored by Judge Reyna today affirming a district court’s grant of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion alleging that AI Visualize’s patent claims were ineligible under Section 101. AI Visualize owns U.S. Patent Nos. 8,701,167 (’167 patent), 9,106,609 (’609 patent), 9,438,667 (’667 patent), and 10,930,397 (’397 patent), which all relate to visualization of medical scans. AI Visualize sued Nuance Communications, Inc. and Mach7 Technologies, Inc. for patent infringement. Nuance filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, arguing the claims were directed to patent ineligible subject matter. Since AI Visualize’s Amended Complaint provided no further information about the eligibility of the claims and neither party asked for claim construction, the district court reviewed the eligibility of the claims and concluded they were all ineligible.

CAFC Affirms District Court Dismissal of Pro Se Inventor’s Procedural and Patent Claims

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Wednesday affirmed a number of district court orders against inventor Urvashi Bhagat, whose patent application  was rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Bhagat’s U.S. patent application No. 13/877,847 covers orally-delivered nutritional formulations containing omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidants. The application was filed in 2013 and the USPTO examiner rejected all claims as obvious, two claims as lacking written description, several other claims as indefinite and others for improper dependency. On appeal to the PTAB, the Board summarily affirmed the dependency and indefiniteness rejections, affirmed the obviousness rejection on the merits and reversed the written description rejection. Bhagat then appealed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, claiming the USPTO erroneously rejected her patent claims and asking for damages due to the Office’s bad faith and for taking her property.

Patent Filings Roundup: Financed IP Edge Patents Back From the Dead; Toyota Challenges InfoGation Patents at PTAB

In a nod to Mark Twain’s famous quote, the rumors of the death of IP Edge are greatly exaggerated. It appears the prolific NPE aggregator has either sold or transferred at least one portfolio (and potentially up to 40) to a new entity, Inferential Capital, LLC, which after hiring, has begun asserting again—more below.  On the stats, it was a slightly below average week at both the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and in the district courts. At the PTAB, there were 25 new patent filings, with one post-grant review and 24 inter partes reviews (IPR). 

Boom in Brazil’s Medical Device Market Creates Patent Infringement Issue

Did you know that Brazil’s medical device market is experiencing a surge, attracting billions in imports annually? This boom, however, is attracting not only legitimate businesses but also those looking to exploit loopholes. On average, more than US$6.7 billion worth of products are imported annually, with around 14,000 new products being introduced every year. One example is the increase in sales of equipment for endoscopic surgeries, given the rise in the number of bariatric surgeries, which already exceeds 70,000 procedures per year.

Ninth Circuit Says District Court Properly Canceled Cannabis Trademark Applications for Lack of Bona Fide Intent to Use

On April 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling in BBK Tobacco & Foods LLP v. Central Coast Agriculture, Inc. affirming a lower court’s ruling that canceled trademark applications pending at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The Ninth Circuit panel majority determined that the district court had statutory authority to invalidate a trademark application for no bona fide intent to use over a dissent authored by U.S. Circuit Judge Patrick Bumatay, who argued that district courts lacked the authority to cancel trademarks before registration by the USPTO.

Women at the ITC in 2023: What This Year’s Data Show

For the second year in a row, we pulled and analyzed data on the number of women who appeared in International Trade Commission (ITC) investigations. This year’s data confirms what we saw last year: that women are underrepresented at the ITC. While research shows women make up about 50% of the population, 50% of associates, and 39% of the profession generally, they only made up 27% of the ITC advocates in both 2022 and 2023. The difference in years of experience between male and female advocates is even starker, with men having on average nearly 7 more years of experience than women. This year’s statistics are examined in detail below and compared to what we found in our article published last year.

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