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.
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.
This case arrived at the Federal Circuit on an appeal brought by BASCOM from the district court’s decision to grant a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). In the majority opinion Chen made much of the civil procedure aspects of a 12(b)(6) motion, as well he should. Frankly, it is about time that the Federal Circuit notice that these patent eligibility cases are reaching them on motions to dismiss. This should be overwhelmingly significant in virtually all cases given that a motion to dismiss is an extraordinary remedy in practically every situation throughout the law. Simply put, judges are loath to dismiss cases on a motion to dismiss before there has been any discovery or any issues are considered on their merits. That is, of course, except when a patent owner sues an alleged infringer.
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.”
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.
The Federal Circuit held that Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Mylan”), a generic drug manufacturer, was subject to specific personal jurisdiction in Delaware because Mylan had filed an abbreviated new drug application (“ANDA”) and “contemplate[d] plans to engage in marketing of the proposed generic drugs” in the state. The ruling affirmed two different decisions by judges in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware that Mylan was subject to specific jurisdiction in Delaware. However, as noted below, it looks like Mylan intends to seek panel or en banc rehearing and possibly pursue a petition for certiorari if the Federal Circuit does not grant the rehearing or re-hears the case and continues to find personal jurisdiction.
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.).
We along with several other attorneys represent ParkerVision, the plaintiff, which secured a $173 million infringement verdict that the courts subsequently threw out based on their own assessment of the evidence. In this case, the roles of courts and juries are front and center. The Federal Circuit has been dismissive of jury findings. As Judge Newman has observed, the Federal Circuit frequently “reweigh[s] the evidence to reach [the court’s] preferred result, rather than considering whether substantial evidence as presented at the trial supports the verdict that was reached by the jury.” Other judges and scholars have concurred in this view.
On February 10, 2016, a divided Federal Circuit panel reaffirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB) authority to institute trial and provide a final written decision on only a subset of the challenged claims in an AIA post-grant proceeding. At issue on appeal was the PTAB’s final decision not to address all claims that were challenged in the underlying inter partes review (IPR) Petition.
The Federal Circuit took the case en banc to review the applicability of the patent exhaustion doctrine under Mallinckrodt and Jazz Photo, in view of the Supreme Court’s decisions in Quanta and Kirtsaeng. The Federal Circuit affirmed the holdings in Mallinckrodt and Jazz Photo, and distinguished them from the Supreme Court’s decisions. In Quanta, the Supreme Court was reviewing whether a patentee’s rights in a product were exhausted by a licensee’s sale of a product.
In a painfully long decision that at one point analyzed a 1628 statement of Lord Coke as relating to British common-law principles and what light that might shed on modern day patent exhaustion, the Federal Circuit held that when a patentee sells a patented article under otherwise-proper restrictions on resale and reuse communicated to the buyer at the time of sale, the patentee does not confer authority on the buyer to engage in the prohibited resale or reuse. The patentee does not exhaust its rights to charge the buyer who engages in those acts—or downstream buyers having knowledge of the restrictions—with patent infringement. The Federal Circuit also held that a foreign sale of a U.S. patented article, when made by or with the approval of the U.S. patentee, does not exhaust the patentee’s U.S. patent rights in the article sold, even when no reservation of rights accompanies the sale. Loss of U.S. patent rights based on a foreign sale remains a matter of express or implied license.
Pfizer argued that the original restriction requirement, because it was incomplete, created a delay by failing to provide Pfizer with adequate notice of the basis for rejecting its claims. The District Court ruled that the initial restriction requirement, while arguably incomplete, did in fact place Pfizer on notice of grounds for rejecting its claims, therefore satisfying § 132 and justifying denial of additional term adjustments. The Federal Circuit affirmed.
The Federal Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Dyk who was joined by Judge Taranto, first held that 35 U.S.C. § 314(d) did not preclude the Court from hearing Ethicon’s challenge to the authority of the Board to render a final decision. On the merits the panel held that neither the statute nor the Constitution precludes the same panel of the PTAB that made the decision to institute inter partes review from making the final determination. The Federal Circuit also found no error in the Board’s determination that the ’070 patent claims would have been obvious over the prior art. Judge Newman dissented, concluding that in order to restore confidence in the reliability of patents as “investment incentives” the USPTO must conform the inter partes review process to the statute.
The Federal Circuit affirmed a patentee’s burden included showing patentability over prior art from the patent’s original prosecution history. Prolitec failed to show that its amended claim would still be patentable (non-obvious) over the combination of an original prior art reference and Benalikhoudja. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the Board’s finding of anticipation and obviousness. In her dissent, Judge Newman argued that the PTAB erred in denying Prolitec’s motion to amend, explaining the motion should have been granted because refusing to enter a proposed amendment that would resolve a dispositive aspect of claim breadth contradicted the America Invents Act.
The law of patent eligibility is created by the nine least qualified people to make such a determination; the Justices of Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court arbitrarily chooses which of its own prior decisions to follow and ignore, refuses to read and enforce the laws passed by Congress even when the statue is but a single sentence (as is 101), and they openly legislates from the bench by creating judicial exceptions to patent eligibility where no such statutory prerogative exists. If the Federal Circuit will not step up and do the right thing and limit the lawless Mayo decision, which instructs lower courts to ignore the patent statute and drive 100% of the analysis into 101, the U.S. will forfeit our lead in the biotechnology and medical device industries. That will be bad for the economy, but far worse for public health.