Posts Tagged: "Federal Circuit Review"

District court must consider whether functional elements contributed to ornamentation of design

The Court held that the district court must review the design disclosed in the patent as a whole, and consider whether functional elements contributed to the ornamentation of the design. Although a design patent protects ornamental features rather than functional features, the claims are not limited solely to ornamental elements. The combination of form and function to achieve an ornamental result is within the scope of a design patent. This is particularly true given that design patents are statutorily permitted to cover “articles of manufacture” which almost always serve a functional purpose. Because design patents “protect the overall ornamentation of a design, not an aggregation of separable elements,” eliminating individual elements of the design from consideration was found to be improper, and the Court remanded for further proceedings.

Federal Circuit Affirms Obviousness Based on Evidence from Reexamination

The Court affirmed the obviousness rejection, noting that even under the proper claim construction, substantial evidence supported the Board’s factual findings underlying its obviousness determination. The examiner properly relied on evidence from the request for reexamination showing a motivation to combine prior art, by combining a base system combined with a known improvement. , Man Machine did not introduce any objective indicia of nonobviousness. Thus, the Court affirmed the finding of obviousness.

Federal Circuit Grants New Trial in Light of False Expert Testimony

The records revealed that Dr. Bielawski repeatedly testified that he personally conducted laboratory testing on J&J’s accused lenses when, in fact, the testing was conducted by Dr. Bielawski’s graduate students and various lab supervisors. Further, evidence suggested that Dr. Bielawski overstated his qualifications and experience with the relevant testing methods, and in fact had no experience whatsoever. There was also evidence that Dr. Bielawski withheld test results and data analysis that would have undermined his opinions and trial testimony.

Federal Circuit rules willfulness a prerequisite for disgorgement of trademark infringer’s profits

The Federal Circuit affirmed. Undertaking an extensive analysis of the legislative history of Lanham Act damages, the Court attempted to explain a 1999 amendment inserting language regarding willfulness. Because the “willful violation” language appears to modify violations of § 1125(c) regarding dilution, Romag argued that the amendment negated any preexisting willfulness requirement for causes of action other than dilution. Relying heavily on Second Circuit precedent, which governed the district court decision, the Court disagreed.

Federal Circuit reverses PTAB claim construction in IPR appeal

Pride Mobility appealed, and noted that the Board construed claim 7 as requiring a “substantially planar” mounting plate “oriented perpendicular” to the axis of the wheelchair’s drive wheel, which the Board found in Goertzen. The Court found that the Board had misconstrued Claim 7, because the claim language made clear that the surface which rendered the mounting plate “substantially planar” must be perpendicular to the drive axis, not some other geometric feature of the mounting plate.

Judgment With Prejudice is Res Judicata and not Vacated Even if Mooted by Later Reexamination

Cardpool, Inc., v. Plastic Jungle, Inc., NKA Cardflo Inc. (Fed. Cir. Apr. 5, 2016) (Before Newman, Reyna, and Wallach, J.) (Opinion for the court, Newman, J.)(Federal Circuit held dismissal with prejudice operates as res judicata for the same cause of action even if a subsequent reexamination amends claims.).

CAFC: Claim construction is appropriate even where term has a plain and ordinary meaning

Clare sued Chrysler for infringement of two patents on hidden storage boxes for pick-up trucks. Clare argued that the limitations do not need a construction because the meaning is plain to a lay person. The Court disagreed, holding that even where a term has a plain and ordinary meaning, claim construction is appropriate where there is a dispute over the scope of the terms. Here, Clare argued that a storage box with a fluorescent orange external panel on a white pickup truck, and labeled “STORAGE” would meet the limitations, so long as the inside of the storage box was not visible from the outside. Chrysler argued that the external appearance limitations should take into account the external hinged panel used to access the storage box. In view of this dispute, the district court correctly resolved it construing the claim.

PTAB IPR Ruling on Redundancy and One-Year Time Bar are Not Appealable

ACS challenged the Board’s decision that Shaw was not barred from bringing the second IPR because the petition was filed more than one year after a complaint for infringement was served on Shaw. It argued that the decision of the Board not to apply the one-year bar was a matter of statutory interpretation reviewable by the Federal Circuit, and not a decision whether to institute an IPR. The court disagreed, and held that it had no authority to review the Board’s application of the one-year bar. In dicta, the Court suggested that while voluntary dismissal without prejudice may undo the effect of the lawsuit, it may not undo the effect of service of a complaint, which triggers the one-year time bar. But the issue was not properly before the court.

Federal Circuit Affirms District Court on Finding of Assignor Estoppel

The Court affirmed that B/E could not challenge the validity of MAG’s patents, because of assignor estoppel. In this case, MAG acquired the patents by assignment from a third party, who in turn acquired the patents from the inventors. After this assignment, one of the inventors went to work for B/E. The district court held that this inventor was as assignor of MAC’s patents and was barred from challenging the validity of the patents under the doctrine of assignor estoppel. Further, B/E was held to be in privity with its current employee (and past inventor/assignor of the patents). The assignor estoppel therefore attached to B/E, which was barred from attacking the validity of the patents.

Appending Conventional Steps to Abstract Idea an Insufficient Inventive Concept

The Court held that dealing “physical playing cards” did not constitute patent eligible territory. This constituted a “purely conventional” activity, like the conventional computer implementation that fell short in Alice. The Court found there was no inventive concept sufficient to transform the subject matter into a patent-eligible application of an abstract idea.

Forum non conveniens not appropriate because foreign courts cannot adjudicate US infringement

Halo sued Comptoir for infringing a large number of U.S. design patents, copyrights, and one common-law trademark relating to a number of Halo’s furniture designs. Both companies manufacture and sell furniture. Comptoir is a Canadian company that manufactures furniture in China, Vietnam, and India, and then imports that furniture into the United States for sale. Comptoir moved to dismiss the suit on forum non conveniens grounds, alleging that the Federal Court of Canada would be the appropriate forum for the dispute.

Federal Circuit Remands Reexaminations Based on Erroneous Claim Constructions

On March 10, 2016 the Federal Circuit sent two Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB” or “Board”) reexaminations back to the Patent Office. In proceedings initiated by IBM and SAS Institute Inc., the PTAB rejected claims for analyzing investment data in two patents owned by InvestPic LLC. The Board’s ruling turned upon two claim terms: (1) a “bias parameter” that determines a degree of randomness in sample selection in a resampling process”; and (2) “a statistical analysis request corresponding to two or more selected investments.”

Federal Circuit: Interference Party Can’t Support Copied Claims Described as Undesirable in Spec

Bamberg’s specification stated that plastics must not melt at ironing temperatures (up to above 220 degrees Celsius) because the effects would be undesired. Bamberg argued that while this was in the specification, the written description requirement was satisfied because one skilled in the art would understand that one could have a layer that melted above and below 220 degrees Celsius, but both may not be desired. The Court held there was insufficient evidence on the record to support the conclusion that Bamberg possessed a white layer that melted below 220 degrees Celsius because it specifically distinguished this as an undesired result.

Federal Circuit says PTAB decision on redundancy of asserted IPR grounds not appealable

The Federal Circuit held, pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 314(d), that it does not have jurisdiction to review an institution decision, because a “determination by the Director whether to institute an inter partes review under this section shall be final and nonappealable.” The PTAB’s decision on the redundancy of Harmonic’s asserted grounds for review constituted a portion of the Institution Decision and was therefore unappealable, absent some other appealable question.

CAFC overturns $18 million verdict because jury improperly left to determine claim scope

Following a five-day trial, the jury found the asserted claims valid and infringed, and awarded Eon $18,800,000. In determining only that the terms should be given their plain and ordinary meaning, the district court left the ultimate question of claim scope unanswered, and improperly left it for the jury to decide. Instead of remanding, the Court independently found that, when read in their appropriate context, the terms “portable” and “mobile” could not be construed as covering the accused products at issue. The jury’s infringement finding was reversed.