Posts Tagged: "Federal Circuit Review"

Federal Circuit Rejects ‘Swearing Behind’ as Insufficient Under Rule 131

The issue on appeal was whether Applicants antedated the ‘560 reference in accordance with Rule 131. A patent applicant bears the burden of establishing “reduction to practice prior to the effective date of the reference, or conception of the invention prior to the effective date of the reference coupled with due diligence from prior to said date to a subsequent reduction to practice or to the filing of the application.” 37 C.F.R. 1.131(b). The Court concluded that substantial evidence supported a finding that Applicants failed to establish conception and continuing diligence, or actual reduction to practice, before the effective date of the ‘560 reference.

CAFC: Reasonable royalty in design infringement only if greater than infringer’s total profits

Damages for infringement of a design patent can be recovered for the greater of: (1) total profits from the infringer’s sales under 35 U.S.C. § 289, (2) damages in the form of the patentee’s lost profits or a reasonable royalty under § 284, or (3) $250 in statutory damages under § 289. Here, the Court held that the district court incorrectly instructed the jury to choose between awarding damages under § 284 or § 289. According to the Court, “[o]nly where § 289 damages are not sought, or are less than would be recoverable under § 284, is an award of § 284 damages appropriate.”

Federal Circuit en banc rules Laches Remains Defense in a Patent Infringement Suit

Despite the Supreme Court ruling that laches is no defense to a copyright infringement action brought during the statute of limitations, the Federal Circuit ruled laches can bar recovery of legal remedies in patent infringement. The Federal Circuit explained that the 1952 Patent Act codified the common law rule, meaning that laches was codified as a defense under 35 U.S.C. 282.
The Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, followed the common law principle that, ”[w]hen a statute covers an issue previously governed by the common law, [the Court] must presume that Congress intended to retain the substance of the common law.” The Federal Circuit also ruled that laches does not preclude an ongoing royalty.

Federal Circuit Affirms $15 Million Damages Award Against Samsung

Summit 6 LLC (“Summit”) sued Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC (collectively “Samsung”) and others alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,765,482 (“the ’482 patent”), which relates to the processing of digital photos and other digital content before being transmitted over a network by client devices (e.g., cell phones). Summit’s expert testimony and the license resulting in settlement for another defendant, RIM, supported the damages verdict. The RIM license was comparable because both RIM and Samsung sell camera phones having the accused MMS functionality.

Patent owner must seek remedy in Federal Court of Claims for alleged TSA infringement

Astornet sued NCR Government Systems, MorphoTrust, and BAE Systems Inc., alleging that they supplied the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”) with certain boarding pass scanning systems, and that TSA’s use of the equipment infringed or would infringe its patent. The complaints alleged that the defendants “induced (and contributed to) direct infringement by TSA by virtue of TSA’s use of equipment supplied by the defendants.” The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal based on 28 U.S.C. § 1498 barring the suits by limiting Astornet’s remedy to an action against the United States in the Court of Federal Claims.

IPR Petitioner Has Burden of Proving Prior Art Patent Entitled to Filing Date of Its Provisional

The Federal Circuit held that the Board correctly placed the burden on Dynamic to prove that Raymond was entitled to the filing date of its provisional application under § 119(e)(1). As the petitioner, Dynamic had the ultimate burden of persuasion to prove unpatentability by a preponderance of the evidence. As for the burden of production, Dynamic satisfied its initial burden by arguing that the claims were anticipated by Raymond under § 102(e)(2). However, this burden then shifted back to Dynamic when the patent owner provided evidence that the claimed invention was reduced to practice before Raymond’s filing date. The burden was then on Dynamic to prove that Raymond was entitled to an earlier effective date.

Teaching Away Insufficient to Overcome Motivation to Combine References

While Dome’s argument against obviousness based on Tanaka teaching away was plausible, it was not sufficient to overcome the district court’s factual findings that a person of ordinary skill would have been motivated to combine the identified prior art to arrive at the claimed invention. Accordingly, the Federal Circuit affirmed.

USPTO Decision to Disclose Unpublished Patent Application is Judicially Reviewable

The Federal Circuit held that the structure and language of §122(a) indicate that Congress intended the exceptions to confidentiality to be narrow and reviewable. §122(a) contains two portions: a mandatory clause follows by two exceptions. The word ‘shall’ in the first portion of the provision made it mandatory for the PTO to maintain the confidentiality of patent applications. In addition, the word ‘necessary’ in the first exception indicated a narrow exception and afforded the agency no discretion. In light of this, coupled with the language of the second exception, the Court concluded that the PTO’s determination of “special circumstances” in the second exception is reviewable.

CAFC overturns jury verdict, patent obvious because prior art would yield a predictable result

Applying KSR, the Federal Circuit concluded that combining elements from the cited prior art would have yielded a predictable result, namely the system fan would activate periodically following the end of a heating or cooling cycle as claimed in the ‘017 patent. The Court further found motivation or rationale for combining the references in the nature of the problem addressed. The Federal Circuit also rejected ABT’s arguments regarding the objective evidence of nonobviousness, namely commercial success and long felt need.

Third-Party Use of Similar Marks Relevant to Strength of Opposer’s Trademark

The Federal Circuit explained that evidence of third-party use bears on the strength or weakness of an opposer’s mark. In this case, which arose as an appeal from the TTAB, the evidence demonstrated“ubiquitous use of paw prints on clothing as source identifiers. According to the Federal Circuit, given the widespread use of paw prints, consumers would know to look for additional indicia of origin rather than just the paw designs. The evidence, therefore, demonstrated that consumers are not as likely confused by different, albeit similar looking, paw prints.

ITC Has Jurisdiction Over Allegations of Induced Infringement of Method Claims

Reversing the panel en banc, the Federal Circuit found that the ITC does have jurisdiction to issue an exclusion order predicated on induced infringement. Under Chevron step two, the Court deemed that the ITC’s interpretation of Section 337 was reasonable because it was “consistent with the statutory text, policy, and legislative history of Section 337,” as “Section 337 contemplates that infringement may occur after importation.” Further, the panel’s interpretation of Section 337 would unnecessarily “eliminate relief for the unfair trade act and induced infringement” by allowing foreign entities “to circumvent Section 337 by importing articles in a state requiring post-importation combination or modification before direct infringement could be shown.”

PTAB must evaluate district court claim construction to determine whether it is consistent with BRI

Even though the Board is generally not bound by the district court’s construction of claim terms, it does not mean that “it has no obligation to acknowledge that interpretation or to assess whether it is consistent with the broadest reasonable construction of the term.” Here, given that PI’s main argument was the proper interpretation of the term “coupled,” which was construed by the district court, the Board had an obligation “to evaluate that construction and to determine whether it was consistent with the broadest reasonable construction of the term.” Because the Board failed to address the district court’s interpretation of the term “coupled” and failed to provide adequate explanation for its decision to reject the claims as anticipated, the Court reversed and remanded.

Federal Circuit affirms rejection of trademark for refusal to disclaim descriptive term

The Federal Circuit affirmed the TTAB, noting that substantial evidence supported the TTAB’s findings. Where, as here, the disputed term is highly descriptive, the TTAB acted within its discretion in refusing to accept evidence of five years’ use as prima facie evidence of distinctiveness.

Federal Circuit affirms finding of no indirect infringement software provider

JVC is a member of two licensing pools for optical disc technology, one for DVD and one for Blu-ray. The asserted patents are included in both pools. The district court adopted JVC’s position that the asserted patents are essential to the licensed DVD and Blu-ray optical discs. Given the patent pool and licensing program, which covers any and all optical disc structures and uses that are essential under the patents, only the use of unlicensed optical discs would be an infringement – regardless of any third-party software used to manipulate the discs. JVC did not argue, and no evidence of record established, that unlicensed discs should be attributed to Nero, or the patent pool license should not encompass discs and end-users that implemented the Nero software.

Akamai v. Limelight: Defendant may directly infringe where steps performed by a third party

The en banc Court reversed the previous panel, and expanded the circumstances under which an alleged infringer may be liable under §271(a). In addition to circumstances identified by the panel, liability may arise if “an alleged infringer conditions participation in an activity or the receipt of a benefit upon performance of a step or steps of the patented method, and establishes the manner or timing of that performance.” When that standard is satisfied, the actions of a third party may be attributed to the alleged infringer, who thereby directly infringes under §271(a), even though there was no “mastermind” acting though a formal agent.


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