The case will ask the highest court in the nation to determine whether the federal government is a person who may petition the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to institute patent validity review proceedings under the terms of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA).
Hindsight bias, the phenomenon that things seem more predictable and obvious after they have occurred, is one of the most widely-studied “decision traps” in psychology… Patent litigation plays right into such human limitations, which affect judges and jurors alike. Patents are often litigated many years after the invention was made, and very often those who are accused of patent infringement will argue that the invention was obvious at the time it was made and a patent was applied for… And we accept a surprising amount of other conjecture in this analysis. For example, judges and jurors are told about a contemporaneous hypothetical person that – despite having only ordinary skill in the relevant technology – would have had super-human knowledge of all then-existing technical information, was fluent in every language under the sun, and would have done insane things to access information sources.
The Federal Circuit reversed the District of Delaware’s decision to invalidate Orexo’s opioid treatment patent as obvious because obviousness was not proved by clear and convincing evidence. Specifically, the Court pointed to the absence of a teaching in the prior art that citric acid could serve as a carrier particle for the drug agonist. The Court also noted that the lower court improperly discounted evidence of objective indicia of nonobviousness.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently issued a ruling affirming a district court’s finding that certain pharmaceutical patent claims owned by Acorda were invalid due to obviousness over the prior art. The patents’ claims covered a species of a genus taught by the prior art. The invalidity determination hinged on (1) whether claiming the same concentrations as the prior art, but for a different indication would be obvious to a person having skill in the art; and (2) whether secondary considerations such as solving a long-felt need demonstrated nonobviousness… Strong objective indicia such as solving a long-felt need may be insufficient to prove nonobviousness when a blocking patent deters others from an improvement.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
But did Judge Reyna really fail to understand the importance that a web page and the page server are not the same thing as the Federal Circuit adjourned to deliberate? Did he and the other judges on the panel continue to have this important, yet fundamental misconception during deliberations? Did the reality that a web page and a page server are not the same thing become appreciated and understood by the Federal Circuit panel, or did this fundamental misconception perpetuate itself up to and through the decision making process? Did counsel for IBM managed to mislead the panel? Did the panel even realize that IBM had made the exact opposite argument about WebSphere technology at the district court? The sad, and rather inexplicable reality is it is impossible to know whether the Federal Circuit was mislead, simply didn’t understand the technology, or was even hoodwinked.
On Wednesday, June 30th, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision in Royal Crown Company, Inc., et. al. v. The Coca-Cola Company which vacated and remanded an earlier decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) regarding the use of “ZERO” trademarks on soft drink beverages marketed by Coca-Cola. The Federal Circuit panel, consisting of Circuit Judges Pauline Newman, Kathleen O’Malley and Richard Taranto, found that the TTAB had erred in its legal framing of the question regarding the claimed genericness of Coca-Cola’s mark and failed to determine whether the mark was at least highly descriptive if not generic.
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.
On Friday, June 15th, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit denied a petition for panel rehearing and rehearing en banc in Xitronix Corporation v. KLA-Tencor Corporation. The petition for rehearing was filed by KLA-Tencor after the Federal Circuit first decided Xitronix back in February of this year, where the appellate court held that it didn’t have jurisdiction to hear an appeal in a patent case which only involved claims of monopolization under U.S. Supreme Court standards set in 1965’s Walker Process Equipment v. Food Machinery & Chemical Corp.
Ericsson petitioned for inter partes review of the ’408 patent, and the PTAB upheld its validity. Without separately analyzing the challenged dependent claims, the PTAB held that claim 1 was not anticipated or obvious. On appeal, the Federal Circuit reversed with respect to claim 1 and vacated and remanded as to the remaining claims. Judge Wallach dissented, saying he thought the majority improperly substituted its own factual findings for those of the PTAB.
In Praxair Distribution v. Mallinckrodt Hospital Products, Praxair petitioned for inter partes review of claims 1-19 of the ’112 patent, which the Board instituted. The Board held that claims 1-8 and 10-19 would have been obvious over four prior art references. However, claim 9 survived. Praxair appealed from the Board’s decision regarding claim 9, and Mallinckrodt cross-appealed regarding claims 1-8 and 10-11. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Board’s decision holding claims 1-8 and 10 unpatentable as obvious. Judge Newman concurred in judgment of unpatentability of claims 1-11, but disagreed with the Court’s view of the “printed matter doctrine” and its application to “information” and “mental steps.”