Eileen McDermott is the Editor-in-Chief of IPWatchdog.com. Eileen is a veteran IP and legal journalist, and no stranger to the intellectual property world, having held editorial and managerial positions at several publications and industry organizations. She has acted as editorial consultant for the International Trademark Association (INTA), chiefly overseeing the editorial process for the Association’s twice-monthly newsletter, the INTA Bulletin. Eileen has also served as a freelance editor for the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); as senior consulting editor for the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) from 2015 to 2017; as Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief at INTA from 2013 to 2016; and was Americas Editor for Managing Intellectual Property magazine from 2007 to 2013.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today upheld in a precedential decision the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) denial of Director rehearing for two inter partes review (IPR) decisions in which the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) found CyWee Group Ltd.’s U.S. Patent Nos. 8,441,438 and 8,552,978 unpatentable. The IPRs were brought by Google in 2018 challenging certain claims of the two patents, which cover 3D pointing devices. The PTAB instituted the two IPRs within three months of CyWee’s preliminary responses to the petitions, and following institution, the IPRs were joined by other parties, including Samsung, LG and Huawei. Because of the joinders, the PTAB extended the deadline for its response by one month beyond the statutory deadline of one year from institution, to January 10, 2020. The Board issued final written decisions (FWDs) in both IPRs on January 9, 2020, finding all claims unpatentable for obviousness.
On Friday, February 3, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal issued an order in the ongoing Director Review of OpenSky v. VLSI, restoring OpenSky as a party to the inter partes review (IPR) and awarding reasonable attorney fees to VLSI as sanctions against OpenSky. Vidal had dismissed OpenSky from the proceedings in December after first merely relegating OpenSky to be a “silent understudy” to the proceedings. In Friday’s order, following briefing from OpenSky and VLSI on her order to show cause as to why OpenSky shouldn’t have to pay compensatory damages to VLSI, Vidal held that VLSI was entitled to attorney fees for the time it spent addressing OpenSky’s abusive behavior, “including the Director Review process in its entirety.”
Yesterday, February 1, was the deadline for submissions to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on its call for responses to a number of questions purportedly aimed at making U.S. patents more “robust and reliable.” But many commenters have weighed in to question why the Office is relying on data driven by advocacy groups to explore potentially major adjustments to the U.S. patent system when, as the expert agency on patents, it has not yet undertaken a data-driven study itself to confirm the need for such changes. The key data being questioned is that of the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge (I-MAK), an advocacy organization that has become a “principal, go-to source” for data on the number of patents and patent applications covering pharmaceutical innovations. Some of the questions raised in the USPTO’s Request for Comments (RFC) seem to be based on many of the premises of the I-MAK data.
During the PTAB Masters 2023 program, which was held this week on Tuesday and Wednesday at IPWatchdog’s headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia, former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director David Kappos explained on a panel about potential reform of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that the PTAB was meant to be an alternative to district court, but “that hasn’t worked out.” Kappos was Director during the enactment and implementation of the America Invents Act (AIA), which established the PTAB.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.