Posts Tagged: "Federal Circuit Review"

Patents Directed to Database Organization of Information Affirmed Invalid

The Federal Circuit continues to focus on the distinction between an improvement in computer capabilities and an abstract idea for which computers are invoked merely as a tool.  Here, in the context of a database, the Court distinguished between “an improvement to the information stored by a database” and “an improvement in the database’s function”—the former being what the patent covered and also patent-ineligible subject matter.  The Court also rejected multiple arguments related to the breadth of the patents, finding that a narrowed application or scope was not sufficient to meet either step of Alice. 

IPR Time-Bar Applies Even If Patent Infringement Suit Voluntarily Dismissed

In Click-To-Call Technologies v. Ingenio, Inc., Yellowpages.com, LLC, the Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, held §315(b) precludes IPR institution when the IPR petitioner was served with a complaint for patent infringement more than one year before filing its petition, even if the district court action in which the petitioner was so served was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice.  

LED Patent Invalid for Lack of Enabling Disclosure for All Claimed Permutations

Trustees of Boston University (“BU”) sued Everlight Electronics Co., Ltd., and others (collectively, “Everlight”) for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 5,686,738 (the “738 Patent”). The Federal Circuit reversed the district court ruling that Everlight infringed the ‘738 Patent and failed to prove the patent was invalid, finding that the ‘738 Patent was invalid for lack of enablement… BU argued that the ‘738 Patent did not have to enable growing a monocrystalline layer directly on an amorphous layer so long as the patent enabled the five other permutations in the specification. The Court disagreed, noting that “the specification must enable the full scope of the claimed invention.” While the specification does not have to “expressly spell out every possible iteration of every claim,” it must provide at least a “basic enabling disclosure” for the claimed invention.

CAFC Affirms Invalidation of Water Recreation Device Patent Over Newman Dissent

In Zup v. Nash Manufacturing, ZUP filed suit, alleging contributory infringement and induced infringement of the patent-at-issue, trade secret misappropriation under Virginia law, and breach of contract.  Nash counterclaimed, seeking declaratory judgment as to non-infringement and invalidity… Prior art references aiming to overcome problems similar to those addressed by a patent can support a motivation to combine invalidating references, and for evidence of a long-felt but unresolved need to be considered, the need must be solved by an invention that is more than minimally different from the prior art… Judge Newman dissented, finding that the majority applied an incorrect analysis of the obviousness factors. In her view, the prior art provides no suggestion to make the specific modifications made by the patent-at-issue, and the only source of those modifications is judicial hindsight.

En banc CAFC: Patent applicant Not required to pay PTO attorney fees in District Court appeal

NantKwest filed suit in district court under 35 U.S.C. § 145 to contest the PTO’s rejection of its patent application. The USPTO prevailed and filed a motion for reimbursement of all of its litigation expenses, including attorney’s fees. 35 U.S.C. § 145 requires that “all expenses of the proceeding be paid by the applicant,” which the USPTO claimed included their fees and costs… While Congress can create fee-shifting statutes, 35 U.S.C. § 145 did not reflect explicit congressional authorization for fee-shifting that would displace the American Rule.

PTAB Judgment for Patent Owner Reversed, GoPro Catalog is Prior Art

On Friday, July 27th, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential opinion in GoPro, Inc. v. Contour IP Holdings, vacating a final written decision coming from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that had upheld patent claims in the face of a validity challenge petitioned by action camera company GoPro. The Federal Circuit panel of Circuit Judges Jimmie Reyna (author of the opinion), Evan Wallach and Todd Hughes found that the PTAB had erred in finding that a 2009 GoPro catalog did not qualify as a prior art printed publication for rendering the challenged claims invalid for obviousness.

Claim reciting results achieved by general computer technology directed to unpatentable abstract idea

In Interval Licensing LLC v. AOL, Inc., the Federal Circuit affirmed a judgment finding patent claims asserted by Interval Licensing LLC failed to recite patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. In dissent, Judge Plager criticized the “abstract idea” framework under Alice. He argued first that the concept of an “abstract idea” is extremely difficult to apply in patent cases because the term is by definition “abstract,” meaning “difficult to understand,” and an “idea,” which is “something that lives in the interstices of someone’s brain, a psychophysiological area not fully understood to this day.”

Federal Circuit Affirms District Court’s Finding of Validity of Claims Directed to Aveed®

When relying on scientific guidelines to support an obviousness rationale, practitioners should offer evidence for why contradictory guidelines should be discounted. A claimed constituent is not “necessarily present” if the prior art reference lists several alternative constituents and a skilled artisan could not reasonably deduce that the authors of the prior art reference used the claimed constituent.

The Broadest Reasonable Claim Interpretation Cannot Exceed the Specification

TF3’s patent-in-suit is for a “hair styling device” that automated the curling of hair. TF3 appealed the decision of the Board in an IPR requested by Tre Milano. Based upon its broad construction of certain claim terms, the Board held that two prior art references made the challenged patent claims invalid for anticipation. TF3 appealed. The Federal Circuit reversed the Board’s decision because it imposed a claim construction that was broader than the description in the patent specification. This enlarged the claims beyond their correct scope, even under a “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard. The Federal Circuit noted that “[a]bove all, the broadest reasonable interpretation must be reasonable in light of the claims and specification.”

Prescription Tracking Patents Confirmed as Unpatentable After IPR Appeal

The Federal Circuit reviewed whether certain prior art was “publicly accessible,” because Jazz alleged the material was not a “printed publication” under Section 102(b). Jazz argued that the material, meeting minutes, transcripts, and slides pertinent to an FDA advisory meeting scheduled during the review process for a particular “sensitive drug” (Xyrem), failed to meet a “searchability or indexing” requirement and that the Board erred by “equating the constructive notice provided by the Federal Register with the legal standard for prior art.” The Court rejected both arguments, relying on three precedents, MIT, Klopfenstein, and Medtronic, to analogize and proceed on a “case-by-case” analysis of the facts and circumstances surrounding the disclosure to the public – the proper inquiry for determining if a reference is a “printed publication.” The Court looked at three factors: the breadth of the dissemination; the amount of time the materials were available before the critical date; and, the presence or absence of an expectation of confidentiality. Comparing the facts to its three precedents, the Court found that each of the three factors supported the conclusion that the materials were printed publications and thus prior art.

Entire Market Value Rule Inappropriate When Patented Feature Not Sole Driver of Customer Demand

Power Integrations, Inc. owns U.S. Patent Nos. 6,212,079 (“the ‘079 patent”) and 6,538,908 (“the ‘908 patent”). Power Integrations sued Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation and Fairchild (Taiwan) Corporation (collectively “Fairchild”) for infringement. A jury found Fairchild literally infringed the ‘079 patent and infringed the ‘908 patent under the doctrine of equivalents. The jury subsequently awarded damages of $140 million, applying the entire market value rule in calculating damages. Fairchild appealed. The Federal Circuit affirmed the judgments of infringement, but concluded that the entire market value rule was inappropriately used in this case to calculate damages.

Nasal Spray Patents Covering Migraine Drug Zomig Not Invalid As Obvious

The sole question on appeal was whether it would have been obvious to make zolmitriptan into a nasal spray. The Federal Circuit agreed with the district court that the prior art taught away from formulating zolmitriptan for intranasal administration.

Supreme Court Holds Patent Owners May Recover Lost Profits for Infringement Abroad

In WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp., the U.S. Supreme Court held that patent owners may recover lost foreign profits under §271(f)(2) when the infringing party exports parts from the United States for assembly in foreign countries, so long as the relevant infringing conduct occurred in the United States.

Burden to Prove Patentability of Proposed Amended Claims Improperly Shifted to Patent Owner in IPR

The Federal Circuit found that substantial evidence supports the Board’s conclusion that a person of ordinary skill in the art would have been motivated to combine the references… Regarding Sirona’s contingent motion to amend, the Board’s final written opinion, which issued prior to the Court’s en banc Aqua Products decision, improperly placed the burden on Sirona to demonstrate that the proposed substitute claims were patentable. Accordingly, the Federal Circuti vacated the Board’s denial of the motion and remanded for reconsideration in light of Aqua Products.

Federal Circuit Vacates TTAB’s Findings That ZERO Is Not Generic And Acquired Distinctiveness

In Royal Crown Co. v. Coca-Cola Co, the USPTO approved The Coca-Cola Company’s combination marks including the term ZERO, to be used on a variety of beverages, without requiring a disclaimer of the term ZERO. The Royal Crown Company, Inc. and Dr. Pepper/Seven Up, Inc. filed oppositions to the “ZERO” marks. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board dismissed the oppositions, holding that ZERO was not generic for the relevant goods and had acquired distinctiveness. Royal Crown appealed. The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded for further proceedings.


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