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.
Patent Term Adjustment (PTA) was designed to serve an important purpose – to compensate patentees for time lost during examination due to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) delays. Most industries rely heavily on their patent portfolios to drive business strategies that ultimately impact their bottom line. The impact of patent term is especially acute in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, where companies spend billions of dollars to develop new drugs. For these companies, every day that their patent is in force matters, generating millions in additional revenue. With so much at stake, companies strive to accrue all the patent term they are entitled to under the current statutory regime, including by way of PTA.
The American Bar Association (ABA) filed an amicus brief on February 3 with the U.S. Supreme Court asking the Court to clarify issues related to the application of the Lanham Act to trademark disputes that cross international borders. The ABA filed the brief in the Abitron Austria GmbH v. Hetronic International, Inc. trademark case, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed a $90 million damages award for trademark infringement based on infringement that occurred almost entirely outside of the United States.
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has a well-earned and perfectly appropriate problem with perception, and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal seems to be doing her level best to make that problem of perception even worse. It isn’t bad enough that petitioners do not owe the PTAB or the Office itself a duty of candor, but now they can stay in a case as a petitioner even if they are found to have engaged in extortion. There has long been a systemic bias against patent owners, who have for many years suffered through lengthy examinations of their innovations. But ever since former PTAB Chief Judge James Smith embraced the moniker of “patent death squad” as a badge of honor, the PTAB has suffered from a perception problem, and really now lacks all credibility.
In February 2020, ParkerVision filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Intel in Judge Alan Albright’s Waco, Texas, courthouse in the Western District of Texas. Only three years later, and through the pandemic, today, the case settled all pending matters. ParkerVision still has remaining patent infringement cases in process against TCL, LG, MediaTek and RealTek in Judge Albright’s court. A settled case is the best way to close a patent infringement dispute. It not only reduces costs for the parties, but it also reduces the court’s burden of a trial. When the parties agree to settle, everyone goes home happy.
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.”
Case law has defined prosecution laches as an affirmative defense against an infringement assertion. Specifically, the case law indicates a patent that is being asserted is unenforceable when the patentee caused an unreasonable and unexplained delay in prosecution of the patent. Symbol Tech v Lemelson Medical, No. 04-1451 (Fed. Cir. 2005). There is relatively little case law on the specifics of laches. However, in 2021, the Federal Circuit said: “we now hold that, in the context of a § 145 action, the PTO must generally prove intervening rights to establish prejudice, but an unreasonable and unexplained prosecution delay of six years or more raises a presumption of prejudice”. Gil Hyatt v. Hirshfeld (Fed. Cir. 2021). What does this – or might this – mean beyond the Hyatt case?
This week in Washington IP news, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations discusses U.S.-China relations after a tense weekend, a house committee holds a hearing on removing barriers to capital for small businesses, and the AEI talks to experts about the growing industry of metascience and its importance to U.S. innovation.
In June 2020, a few months into the pandemic, a group of four large publishing houses—Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, John Wiley & Sons, and Penguin Random House (collectively, the Publishers)—sued Internet Archive (IA) in the Southern District of New York for “willful mass copyright infringement.” The spat centers around IA’s Open Library project, which scans millions of physical books and delivers them digitally across the globe for free to anyone with an internet connection. IA proclaims that the “ultimate goal of the Open Library is to make all the published works of humankind available to everyone in the world,” but it conspicuously fails to mention that its utopian vision doesn’t include getting permission from copyright owners before offering their works on its virtual bookshelves. IA argues before the court that it doesn’t need permission because its actions qualify as fair use under the dubious new theory of controlled digital lending (CDL), which it claims to be “fundamentally the same as traditional library lending” since it “poses no new harm to authors or the publishing industry.”
Following an incredibly contentious vote for Speaker of the House, it has taken some time for Congressional subcommittees to take shape. However, at least the Republican membership of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet has taken shape in recent days, featuring a couple of well-known politicians whose efforts on patent system reforms have represented the interests of either end of the world of IP system stakeholders. The House IP Subcommittee during the 118th Congress also contains several incoming Representatives, including a few that have had some engagement with IP matters prior to joining the subcommittee.
Scroll through social media and you’re certain to find countless posts of images generated by artificial intelligence, or “AI.” Tools such as DALL-E 2, Starry AI, Jasper, and the like have exploded in popularity, allowing users to do everything from creating stylized versions of the user’s own photographs, to inputting silly, incongruous prompts like “red headed cow with John Lennon sunglasses,” and receiving almost instantaneous results with no further effort by the user. Users have taken to such websites in droves because they are easy to use, free, and most importantly, fun. The problem: in most if not all cases, the AI obtains its images by “scraping” the internet, obtaining and using massive amounts of copyrighted images to train itself in the meaning of certain words and in the stylistic choices employed in those images.
The 2023 top 100 innovators have been revealed in the second annual Innovation Momentum Report, once again uncovering forward-thinking patent development and showcasing some of the most innovative companies—both big and small. In an increasingly fast-paced and complex modern technological landscape, the report sheds light on the most promising and active players by looking at the dynamics of technology development over the past two years. This year, the list has 27 new entries, highlighting the constant evolution of the innovation landscape and the speed at which technology advances.
This week in Other Barks & Bites: President Trump sues Bob Woodward for $49 million and alleges copyright infringement; Federal Circuit Judge Schall splits from majority finding that PTAB obvious analysis was correct; a new EUIPO report finds IP infringement is threatening many small businesses; and Nike files another patent infringement lawsuit against a burgeoning competitor.
Recently, Netflix released a documentary titled, “The Most Hated Man on the Internet,” which is about anti-revenge porn activists and their efforts to take down the website, IsAnyoneUp.com. The site was founded by Hunter Moore and allowed anyone to anonymously upload nude photos with social media handles or to submit sexually explicit photos of others without their consent. The documentary follows Charlotte Laws, whose daughter’s photos were shared on the site, as she launches a campaign to shut it down.
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.