Posts Tagged: "Federal Circuit Review"

VirnetX Scores Partial Win in Its Latest Federal Circuit Case with Apple

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit last week affirmed-in-part, vacated-in-part, and remanded a decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in the long-running case of VirnetX Inc. v. Apple Inc., Cisco Systems, Inc. The case relates to three inter partes reexaminations maintained by Apple and Cisco. The PTAB found that Apple could proceed with its reexaminations under the America Invents Act (AIA) and held that claims of VirnetX’s patent numbers 7,418,504 (“the ’504 patent”) and 7,921,211 (“the ’211 patent”) were unpatentable as anticipated/obvious. These patents were directed to methods for “establishing a secure communication link between [computers] over a computer network, such as the Internet” and are “built on top of the existing Internet protocol.” Basically, the patents claim a way to create secure communication links via domain name service (DNS) systems.

Federal Circuit Vacates and Remands PTAB Decision on Public Accessibility

The Federal Circuit recently vacated and remanded a decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), finding that the PTAB applied the wrong legal standard for determining whether a reference was publicly accessible before the critical date of the challenged patent. The Court found that the asserted reference was publicly accessible because a person of ordinary skill in the art could, through the exercise of reasonable diligence, access the reference. The decision, authored by Judge O’Malley, held that a patent challenger does not have to establish that the asserted reference was actually accessed or received or available to a significant portion of those skilled in the art to show that the work was publicly accessible. 

Federal Circuit Issues Precedential Decisions On Who Can Petition for and Who Can Be Subject to Inter Partes Review

Late last week, the Federal Circuit issued Power Integrations, Inc. v. Semiconductor Components Indus., LLC and Regents of the Univ. of Minnesota v. LSI Corp. These two precedential decisions bring further clarity to who is subject to the time bar for filing petitions for inter partes review (IPR) and whether sovereign immunity protects patents from being subject to IPR challenges. The key takeaways are: (1) Consider the impact of mergers and acquisitions on IPR petitions, including those that have already been filed; and (2) Patents owned by states (including, state universities and research institutions) can be challenged in an IPR.

Federal Circuit Affirms Validity of Endo Pharmaceuticals Patent for Morphinan Pain Relief Compounds

The Federal Circuit recently affirmed a district court ruling finding patent infringement after holding that Actavis LLC, Actavis South Atlantic LLC, and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. (collectively, “Actavis”) failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the claims asserted by Endo Pharmaceuticals and Mallinckrodt LLC (collectively, “Endo”) were invalid. See Endo Pharms., Inc. v. Actavis LLC, No. 2018-1054, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 13348 (Fed. Cir. May 3, 2019) (Before Wallach, Clevenger, and Stoll J.) (Opinion for the Court, Wallach, J.) (Dissenting opinion, Stoll, J.). However, the decision was not a unanimous one, with Judge Stoll authoring a dissent that would have reversed the district court. The patent at issue, U.S. Patent No 8,871,779 (the “‘779 patent”), is directed generally to compounds known as “morphinan alkaloids,” which are used for pain relief. More specifically, the ‘779 patent concerned processes for making “highly pure” morphinan products in the form of hydrochloride salts. Actavis claimed that the ‘779 patent was invalid, citing three key references as prior art. The first reference was a scientific article from 1957 by Ulrich Weiss (the “Weiss reference”) discussing a method for producing oxymorphone, a compound within the scope of the asserted claims. The second reference was U.S. Patent Application No. 2005/0222188 (the “Chapman reference”), which disclosed a purification process related to the asserted claims. Finally, the third reference was another article from 1967 by Henry Rapoport et al. (the “Rapoport reference”), which disclosed another purification process for oxycodone. The district court found that none of these references rendered the asserted claims obvious, and Actavis appealed.

Federal Circuit Affirms PTAB Ruling That Prior Art and FDA Skepticism Supports Non-Obviousness Finding

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB’s) decision upholding the patentability of Eli Lilly & Co.’s patent claims directed to reducing toxicity of a chemotherapy agent. In so holding, the Federal Circuit cited the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) skepticism of the efficacy of the methods as evidence supporting non-obviousness. See Neptune Generics, LLC v. Eli Lilly & Co., Nos. 2018-1288, 2018-1290, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 12492 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 26, 2019) (Before Moore, Wallach, and Hughes, J.) (Opinion for the Court, Moore, J.) Neptune Generics, LLC, Fresenius Kabi USA, LLC, and Mylan Laboratories Ltd. (collectively, the Petitioners) filed three petitions for inter partes review (IPR) against claims 1-22 of U.S. Patent No. 7,772,209 (the ?209 patent) owned by Eli Lilly & Co. The ?209 patent generally relates to methods of administering folic acid and a methylmalonic acid (MMA) lowering agent, such as vitamin B12, before administering pemetrexed disodium, a chemotherapy agent, to reduce the toxic effects of pemetrexed. The Board found that the ?209 patent was not unpatentable as obvious because it was not known in the art to pretreat pemetrexed with vitamin B12 along with folic acid and the skepticism of others, specifically the FDA, supported a conclusion of non-obviousness. The Federal Circuit found that substantial evidence supported the PTAB’s findings and affirmed.

Federal Circuit Affirms PTAB Ruling Finding Graphical User Interface Claims Patent Ineligible

In Trading Technologies International, Inc. v. IBG LLC, Interactive Brokers LLC (2018-1063), the Federal Circuit agreed with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that the contested claims of Trading Technologies International, Inc’s patents for graphical user interfaces (GUI) for electronic trading, numbers 7,533,056, 7,212,999, and 7,904,374, were eligible for covered business method (CBM) review and also patent ineligible. The claims at issue were claims 1–15 of the ’056 patent, claims 1–35 of the ’999 patent, and claims 1–36 of the ’374 patent. To be eligible for CBM review, a patent must claim “a method or corresponding apparatus for performing data processing or other operations used in the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service, except that the term does not include patents for technological inventions.” In previous Federal Circuit cases, Trading Technologies (TT) patents had been determined not eligible for CBM review as they were technological inventions or were found patent eligible. The court rejected the argument that this weighed in favor of finding similarly in the present case. “We are not bound by non-precedential decisions at all, much less ones to different patents, different specifications, or different claims,” wrote the Court.

Federal Circuit Vacates and Remands District Court’s Infringement and Willfulness Findings in Omega Patents v. CalAmp

On April 8, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Omega Patents, LLC v. CalAmp Corp. that reversed and vacated a district court’s ruling that CalAmp had directly infringed certain patent claims asserted by Omega. While the Federal Circuit did affirm that CalAmp directly infringed one of the asserted claims, it vacated and remanded on a number of the district court’s other findings. The decision was issued by a panel including Chief Judge Sharon Prost and Circuit Judges Timothy Dyk and Evan Wallach. Omega’s allegations of patent infringement centered on CalAmp’s sale of Location Messaging Unit (LMU) products that assist businesses and government entities by tracking fleets of vehicles and retrieving vehicle information such as battery health and speed for remote monitoring. A jury verdict in the Middle District of Florida held that all asserted claims were not invalid, were infringed, and that CalAmp had committed willful patent infringement. The jury awarded compensatory damages of $2.98 million and the judge trebled that damages award and added attorney’s fees, damages for sales subsequent to the jury verdict and pre-judgment interest, increasing the monetary award to about $15 million with an ongoing royalty rate of $12.76 per sale of infringing unit by CalAmp.

Patent Eligibility of Medical Diagnostic Inventions: Where Are We Now, and Where Are We Headed?

In each of the recent Federal Circuit decisions on medical diagnostics inventions, Athena Diagnostics v. Mayo Collaborative Services, 2017-2508, (Fed. Cir. Feb. 6, 2019) (“Athena”) and Cleveland Clinic Found. v. True Health Diagnostics LLC, 2018-1218 (Fed. Cir. April 1, 2019; non-precedential) (“Cleveland Clinic II”), the court affirmed a district court ruling that found a medical diagnostic or a related patent invalid for being directed to ineligible subject matter. Athena and Cleveland Clinic II follow the hard stance taken by the Federal Circuit against medical diagnostics inventions, first in Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc. v. Sequenom, Inc., 788 F.3d 1371, 1376 (Fed. Cir. 2015) (“Ariosa”) and next in Cleveland Clinic Found. v. True Health Diagnostics LLC, 859 F.3d 1352, 1361 (Fed. Cir. 2017) (“Cleveland Clinic I”). In Athena, the patent covered a method for diagnosing a disease in a subpopulation of affected individuals based on the discovery of a correlation between the disease and certain autoantibodies found only in that subpopulation. In Cleveland Clinic I, the patent claims were directed to diagnosing the risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD) based on the correlation between elevated levels of a protein found in the blood and occurrence of atherosclerotic CVD. In Cleveland Clinic II, the claims were directed to methods of identifying elevated levels of the protein but did not include any recitation of the correlation…. The requirement for an improvement to the technology involved in carrying out the claimed method is a steep hurdle for the eligibility of most medical diagnosis inventions, since the essence of such inventions is applying a newly discovered correlation to deliver a practical benefit—not improving the technology used to provide the diagnosis. In this regard, medical diagnostic inventions are unique. This point was highlighted by the Athena dissent through reference to the amici curiae Five Life Sciences Patent Practitioners’ brief, which stated, “[medical] diagnostic methods . . . are so tightly bound to underlying natural laws and phenomen[a], they are especially susceptible to undue expansion of the eligibility standards…” Athena Dissenting opinion at 13.

Federal Circuit Reverses Patent Ineligibility Finding at Pleading Stage in Natural Alternatives

In Natural Alternatives Int’l, Inc. v. Creative Compounds, LLC, the Federal Circuit reversed the decision of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, which had held that a series of patents owned by Natural Alternatives International, Inc. (“Natural Alternatives”) were directed to laws of nature and lacked an inventive concept sufficient to render them patent eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Natural Alternatives Int’l, Inc. v. Creative Compounds, LLC, No. 18-1295, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 7647 (Fed Cir. March 15, 2019) (Before Moore, Reyna, and Wallach, Circuit Judges) (Opinion for the Court, Moore, Circuit Judge) (Concurring-in-part and dissenting in part, Reyna, Circuit Judge). The patents at issue were directed to the use of beta-alanine in dietary supplements to “increas[e] the anaerobic working capacity of muscle and other tissue.” After Natural Alternatives asserted the patents in multiple lawsuits in California, Creative Compounds, LLC (“Creative Compounds”) moved for judgment on the pleadings. The district court granted the motion. In performing its eligibility analysis, the district court accepted Natural Alternatives’ proposed claim construction and held that the asserted claims were patent ineligible. Natural Alternatives appealed, and the Federal Circuit reversed and remanded.

Federal Circuit Again Reverses PTAB’s Finding of Unpatentability in Apple IPR Challenge

The Federal Circuit recently reversed a decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board) finding claims of a patent owned by PersonalWeb Technologies, LLC to be invalid.  Apple, Inc. (Apple) petitioned for inter partes review (IPR), and the Board found certain claims of the patent to be invalid as obvious in light of two references.  The Federal Circuit reversed, holding the Board provided insufficient evidence to support a finding of inherency.  Pers. Web Techs., LLC v. Apple, Inc., No. 2018-1599, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 6919 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 8, 2019) (Before Moore, Taranto, and Chen, Circuit Judges) (Opinion for the Court, Chen, Circuit Judge).

Federal Circuit Says Correction of Inventorship Claims Were Plausible, Vacates District Court Dismissal in Coda v. Goodyear

The Federal Circuit recently vacated a district court’s decision dismissing a complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Coda Development S.R.O. v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., No. 2018-1028, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 5144 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 22, 2019) (Before Prost, C.J., Wallach, Hughes, J.) (Opinion for the Court, Prost, C.J.) Coda Development and Frantisek Hrabal (collectively “Coda”) sued Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company for trade secret misappropriation and correction of inventorship of 12 Goodyear patents directed to self-inflating tire (SIT) technology. Coda alleged that, during several confidential meetings held between the parties, Goodyear copied Coda’s inventions and filed patent applications based on those inventions without naming Coda as an inventor or co-inventor. The district court dismissed the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and denied the Plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend the complaint.

Federal Circuit Deems Written Description Requirement Satisfied if Specification Identifies the Claimed Invention in a Definite Way

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently issued a ruling reversing a district court’s grant of summary judgment of non-infringement and invalidity for failure to satisfy the written description requirement. See CenTrak, Inc. v. Sonitor Techs., Inc., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4442 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 14, 2019) (Before Reyna, Taranto, and Chen, Circuit Judges) (Opinion for the Court, Chen, Circuit Judge). The Court said the written description requirement does not require that the specification provide either examples or an actual reduction to practice. Instead, a constructive reduction to practice may be sufficient if the specification identifies the claimed invention in a definite way.

Federal Circuit Corrects District Court’s Claim Construction

The United Stated Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently held that a district court erred in its claim construction and vacated the district court’s judgment of noninfringement, which the parties stipulated to based on the erroneous construction. See Continental Circuits LLC v. Intel Corp., No. 2018-1076, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3920, 2019 WL 489069 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 8, 2019) (Before Lourie, Linn, and Taranto, J.) (Opinion for the court, Lourie, J.). The Court highlighted that the first step in claim construction should always be to determine the plain and ordinary meaning of the claims. Further, the specification should serve to limit the plain and ordinary meaning only when it includes a definition for a claim term or a clear disclaimer or disavowal of claim scope.

Mandamus Relief Denied: Federal Circuit Avoids Clarifying TC Heartland in In re Google LLC

The Federal Circuit recently elected not to decide en banc “whether servers are a regular and established place of business, such that venue is proper under 35 U.S.C. § 1400(b). In re: Google LLC, No. 2018-152 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 5, 2019) (Before Prost, Chief Judge, Newman, Lourie, Dyk, Moore, O’Malley, Reyna, Wallach, Taranto, Chen, Hughes, and Stoll, Circuit Judges) (Dissent by Reyna, Circuit Judge, joined by Newman and Lourie, Circuit Judges). SEVEN Networks, LLC’s (SEVEN) patent infringement suit against Google arose in the Eastern District of Texas. SEVEN alleged Google’s servers, stored in a third-party ISP’s facility, where the allegedly infringing activities occurred, were a regular and established place of business, such that venue is proper under 35 U.S.C. § 1400(b). The district court denied Google’s motion to dismiss for improper venue. As a result, Google petitioned the Federal Circuit for a writ of mandamus directing the district court to dismiss or transfer the case for improper venue. On appeal, the panel majority found mandamus relief inappropriate because “it is not known if the district court’s ruling involves the kind of broad and fundamental legal questions relevant to § 1400(b),” and “it would be appropriate to allow the issue to percolate in the district courts so as to more clearly define the importance, scope, and nature of the issue for us to review.”

Federal Circuit Addresses Whether Anticipating Prior Art Reference is ‘By Another’ as Described in 35 U.S.C. § 102(e)

The Federal Circuit recently overturned a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board) inter partes review decision finding that an IPS Group (IPS) patent was not unpatentable as anticipated, holding that the Board erred when determining the inventive entities of the asserted IPS patent and the asserted prior art, which was a different IPS patent that shared an inventor with the other IPS patent. See Duncan Parking Techs. v. IPS Group, Inc., Nos. 2018-1205, 2018-1360, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3137 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 31, 2019) (Before Lourie, Dyk, and Taranto, J.) (Opinion for the Court, Lourie, J.). The claims at issue related to parking meter technology. IPS has two relevant patents for this technology, the ’310 patent and the ’054 patent. The ’054 patent issued in 2013 from a 2006 Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application. It named the Founder of IPS, Dave King, and the Chief Technical Officer of IPS, Alexander Schwarz, as inventors. The ’310 patent was issued in 2010 and based on an application filed in 2008. The ’310 patent named King, along with three other engineers, as inventors. The ’310 patent, however, did not disclose Schwarz as an inventor.


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