Posts Tagged: "Federal Circuit Review"

Federal Circuit Vacates District Court’s Determination on Personal Jurisdiction

Polar argued on appeal that the district court erred in finding that Suunto did not have sufficient contacts in Delaware. The Court agreed with Polar. The Court held that there were sufficient contacts, because there was evidence Suunto purposefully shipped at least ninety-four accused products to Delaware retailers and fully expected that its products would then be sold in Delaware. The record also showed that Suunto entered into a distribution agreement with ASWO to market and distribute its products in the United States. It was Suunto who physically fulfilled orders, packaged products, and prepared shipments intended for Delaware. Suunto did not simply leave the products on a dock in Finland. Because Suunto purposefully availed itself of the Delaware market, the Court concluded that Suunto had sufficient minimum contacts with Delaware.

Biologics Applicant Must Give Post-Approval Notice to Reference Product Sponsor

The Federal Circuit held that there was no statutory language that made section (8)(A) non-mandatory. Further, Amgen v. Sandoz disposed of Apotex’s argument that (8)(A) would extend the 12-year exclusivity period given to a sponsor by 180 days (six additional months). Even when market entry is delayed under (8)(A) by 12 years plus 180 days, the result is the same, because the 12-year date is established as the earliest date, not the latest date, on which a biosimilar license can take effect. The Court affirmed that section (8)(A) covers applicants that filed (2)(A) notices as well as those that did not. This is to ensure that the necessary decision-making regarding further patent litigation starts from when the applicant’s product, uses, and processes are fixed by the FDA license. The 180-day period gives the sponsor essential time to assess its infringement position for the final FDA approved product and the as to yet-to-be-litigated patents. This is confirmed by the legislative history of the Biologics Act. Thus, an applicant must provide a reference product sponsor with the 180-day notice under 8(A), after approval and before commercial marketing begins, whether or not the applicant previously provided a (2)(A) notice of the FDA review.

No On-Sale Bar From Manufacturing Agreement Without An Actual Sale of the Invention

The Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, unanimously reversed the prior panel, holding that MedCo was not barred from seeking its patents due to a commercial sale under § 102(b). The sale of manufacturing services by a contract manufacturer to an inventor to create an embodiment of a patented product for the inventor does not constitute a “commercial sale” of the invention. Further, “stockpiling” a product prior to the bar date is not a “commercialization” that would trigger § 102(b). Instead, the transaction must be one in which the product is “on sale” in the sense that it is commercially marketed.

CAFC: References need not be physically combinable for obviousness rejection

Allied Erecting & Dismantling Co. v. Genesis Attachments, LLC (Fed. Cir. June 15, 2016) (Before Dyk, Wallach, and Newman, J.) (Opinion for the court, Wallach, J.). The test for obviousness is not whether the devices disclosed in various references are physically combinable, but whether a person of ordinary skill, in possession of teachings of the references, could arrive at the claimed invention. Further, the modification of Caterpillar would be minimal, as it would simply require replicating the mechanism for moving the first jaw to move the second jaw.

Board Cannot Adopt New Claim Construction Without Giving Notice to the Parties

The Federal Circuit held that the Board’s changed claim construction of “data flow,” violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), even if it was correct. In particular, it deprived the petitioner of the procedural protections of the APA, which prohibits an agency from changing legal theories during a proceeding without giving respondents notice of the change and the opportunity respond to the new theory. Because the Board changed its construction of the term “data flow” absent any suggestion from the parties, and without any notice, there was no meaningful opportunity to respond to the unanticipated change. Therefore, the Court vacated the decision of the Board to afford the parties an opportunity to present arguments on the Board’s newly-adopted construction of “data flow.”

Objectively Unreasonable Claim Construction does not Avoid Induced Infringement

In light of Commil, the Supreme Court granted certiorari, vacated the judgment, and remanded the case to the Federal Circuit… First, the Court concluded that Warsaw’s non-infringement theory was objectively unreasonable. Second, the Court concluded that NuVasive had presented sufficient evidence such that a jury could conclude that Warsaw knew it was inducing doctors to infringe NuVasive’s patent. In a concurrence, Judge Reyna expressed several concerns about the court’s reasoning in reaching this conclusion.

Court Affirms Claim Construction of ‘Alias’ was Limited by Specification to Mean Text

The Court agreed with Facebook in that these claim terms had no accepted meaning in the art, which meant that they cannot be construed broader than the specification disclosuses. The Court noted that the prosecution history also provided support for the district court’s construction. Further, because the other evidence was persuasive, there was no need to determine whether certain statements made by the patentees during prosecution rose to clear and unmistakable disclaimer, which is what Facebook argued in the alternative.

Patent’s Non-Standard Use of “Fractionation” Limits Scope of the Claims

The Court found that “fractionation” referred only to distillation-based techniques. The specification’s use of the term “fractionation” controlled even if the definition was idiosyncratic. By that standard, the Court found that “fractionation” did not encompass solubility-based techniques. The specification identified the limits of “conventional fractionation” which were only limits of “conventional distillation,” and no other fractionation techniques known in the art were mentioned. Therefore, the specification equated “conventional fractionation” and “conventional distillation.” More broadly, this demonstrated that the specification equated the terms “fractionation” and “distillation.” This finding was further supported by the repeated and consistent use of the term “fractionation” in discussion of processes to separate mixtures by distillation.

Federal Circuit Affirms Non-Infringement and Untimely Assertion of DOE Infringement

The Federal Circuit found that the specification explicitly supported the district court’s claim construction, which precluded a finding of infringement. Two passages specified the meaning of, and provided context for, a claim term that referred to the relative location among certain claim elements. A “relative location” claim term is often read in light of, and by relying on, the written description. Because the district court’s claim construction was proper, the Court found the grant of summary judgment of non infringement was proper.

Federal Circuit Affirms TTAB Refusal to Register ‘CHURRASCOS’

In a May 13, 2016 decision, the Federal Circuit affirmed a Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) decision upholding an Examiner’s denial of registration based on a finding that the term CHURRASCOS was generic as used for a restaurant, because the word “refer[s] to beef or grilled meat more generally” and that the term “identifies a key characteristic or feature of the restaurant services, namely, the type of restaurant.”

An Offer For Sale Under § 102(b) is Made When a Communication Creates a Power of Acceptance

The district court held that the patent was not invalid because those communications did not constitute an offer for sale that would trigger the on-sale bar. Watson appealed. The Federal Circuit reversed, holding that the communications did constitute an offer to sell. Applying basic tenets of contract law, the Court held that an offer must be complete, such that acceptance creates a binding contract. Merck’s communications were a complete offer because they were solicited and contained prices, terms of payment, and terms of delivery.

Federal Circuit Affirms Doctrine of Equivalents Analysis Using Appropriate Hypothetical Claim

The Federal Circuit held that it is not the case that a patent must spell out a claim element’s function, way, and result, for the doctrine of equivalents to apply. It looked to what the claim element’s function in the claimed composition is to one of skill in the art, which it held may be determined by looking at extrinsic evidence. The Court found no error in the district court’s finding of infringement under the doctrine of equivalents. In applying the two part test (constructing a hypothetical claim that covers the accused device and comparing that claim to the prior art), the district court correctly determined that the hypothetical claim properly included the disputed excipients, i.e. Glenmark’s excipient.

Patents For Self-referential Computer Database Are Not Categorically Unpatentable as Abstract

Where the claims are directed to an improvement to computer functionality, they are not abstract under the first step of Alice, and thus no step-two analysis is necessary. Here, the Federal Circuit found that Enfish’s self-referential table was directed to a specific improvement in computer capabilities, unlike Alice, where the claimed technology only added a computer to a traditional business practice. For this reason, the Court held that Enfish’s claims were not abstract under the first step of Alice, and therefore did not warrant the application of step two.

PTAB’s Factual Findings Were Sufficient, Standard Was Improper

The Court noted that decisions related to compliance with the Board’s procedures are reviewed for abuse of discretion. As far as the “reasonable expectation of success” requirement, the Court noted that the Board improperly looked to whether one would reasonably expect the references to operate as those references intended once combined. The Court held that this was the incorrect standard, and instead one must have the motivation to combine with the expectation of achieving what is claimed in the patent-at-issue. The Court held, however, that while the Board conflated the reasonable expectation of success standard and motivation to combine, it nonetheless made sufficient factual findings to support its judgment that the claims at issue were not invalid.

CAFC Vacates Judgment on Pleadings in Light of Revised Standard for Divided Infringement

The Court vacated the judgment against Mankes and remanded the case for further consideration. Because the law was in a state of flux, the Plaintiff pled facts that arguably would have supported an infringement theory under the law applicable when it was filed. The plaintiff could not have known the facts necessary to support a complaint under the law as it exists now. Because of this, the Court declined to affirm or reverse, and instead remanded the case to the district court for reconsideration under the new standards. Presumably, this would also give the Plaintiff an opportunity to amend the complaint.