The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) ruled on March 1 that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) erred in its analysis of an inter partes review (IPR) filed by streaming giants Netflix and Hulu. The CAFC vacated and remanded the case, ordering the PTAB to once again review the patent dispute filed against DivX. “Because the Board legally erred in its obviousness analysis, and the error cannot be regarded as harmless, we vacate and remand,” wrote the CAFC judges in their ruling. Netflix and Hulu petitioned the PTAB to carry out an IPR in February 2020 of DivX’s U.S. Patent No. 10,225,588. The petition claimed the ‘588 patent was unpatentable due to obviousness.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today issued a precedential decision affirming a California district court’s award of attorneys’ fees in part to Netflix, Inc. for Realtime Adaptive Streaming LLC’s “improper” litigation conduct. The CAFC said that Realtime’s use of forum-shopping to blatantly avoid an adverse ruling amounted to “gamesmanship” that “constitutes a willful action for an improper purpose, tantamount to bad faith, and therefore [is] within the bounds of activities sanctionable under a court’s inherent power in view of the Ninth Circuit’s standard.” The opinion was authored by Judge Chen and Judge Reyna concurred-in-part and dissented-in-part.
Last week, U.S. District Judge James Donato of the Northern District of California issued a judgment on the pleadings invalidating claims from one of 12 patents asserted by semiconductor and software developer Broadcom against streaming video provider Netflix. The ruling is the latest setback for Broadcom in its enforcement campaign against Netflix’s use of patented server technologies to support streaming media services that are cutting into Broadcom’s market for semiconductors developed for use in set-top boxes.
A new crime drama, The Billion Dollar Code, is a fascinating breakthrough mini-series that illustrates the legal challenges of inventions and inventors in a world where technology giants can refuse to acknowledge the source of ideas they do not control. The popular four-part Netflix mini-series achieves uncanny success not only in depicting an epic legal battle but doing it over four plus hours in German with subtitles and an abundance of algorithm detail and trial preparation. It is reminiscent of Chernobyl, HBO’s award-winning series that turned the complex series of events and failures, both technical and human, leading to a nuclear core meltdown into award-winning entertainment.
Part I of this article provided an overview of the Federal Circuit’s understanding of the patent venue statute after the Supreme Court’s decision in TC Heartland, and especially the meaning of In re: Google LLC, 949 F.3 1338 (Fed. Cir. 2020) (“SIT”) in this analysis. Part II of the article will address the impact that “machines” may be considered a factor in the analysis of whether venue in a patent infringement can be asserted in a particular location, as raised by the court in Personalized Media Communications LLC v. Google, Netflix, 2:19-CV-00090-JRG (Lead Case). As more and more companies move at least part of their operations online, especially now in response to the COVID-19 crisis, companies, as part of this process, should consider whether this will increase the chances that they will be sued in a district that they regard as unfavorable.
On March 13, American semiconductor developer Broadcom Corporation filed a lawsuit in the Central District of California alleging claims of patent infringement against streaming media producer and provider Netflix, Inc. At a moment in history when streaming services are going to be in higher demand than ever for some time due to social distancing mandates, the complaint marks the first chapter in what could become an interesting legal battle involving dynamic networking and video encoding patent claims. If Netflix is found to infringe, the streaming video giant could ultimately be facing a large verdict. Broadcom is asserting claims from nine U.S. patents and accuses Netflix of directly infringing the patent claims through its Internet video streaming technology and indirectly infringing by inducing end users to infringe through their use of the Netflix software application
This week in Other Barks & Bites: the Federal Circuit strikes down a district court’s finding of design patent infringement on summary judgment; the USPTO advises trademark attorneys to monitor filings to prevent against the unauthorized use of their names; the U.S. Copyright Office issues final rules eliminating options for physical material submissions for newspaper and serial registrations; the U.S. Supreme Court will take up Booking.com’s appeal of the rejection of its trademark application by the USPTO; AG Barr supports the FCC’s plan to restrict Huawei and ZTE equipment purchases through the Universal Service Fund; Nirvana’s copyright case against Marc Jacobs moves past a motion to dismiss; Biogen loses $3 billion in market value after PTAB hearing; and Amazon seeks an injunction against a patent owner asserting infringement claims against Amazon Fire product retailers.
This week in Other Barks & Bites: Senators Rubio and Cornyn introduce a bill to prevent Huawei from buying and selling U.S. patents; the CASE Act to create a small claims system for copyright claims is voted onto the Senate floor; the USPTO releases an updated trial practice guide for America Invents Act trials at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board; IBM increases its blockchain patent filings, while carbon mitigation patent filings have dropped around the world; Google faces patent lawsuit for “brazen” infringement; a settlement in a trademark case allows historic Yosemite sites to resume use of their names; and Microsoft boost in cloud sales in the latest quarter leads to a big beat on revenue.
Last week at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), 23 institution decisions were issued based on petitions to challenge the validity of patents via inter partes review (IPR) proceedings. Only four petitions were denied institution last week, while four petitions that were instituted were joined to other IPR proceedings already ongoing at the PTAB. Qualcomm faced two institution decisions, adding to the legal troubles the company has faced in recent years in enforcing its intellectual property. Apple secured three successful decisions to institute, including two IPRs that are joined to other proceedings brought by HTC Corporation. Visa, Netflix and Guest Tek Interactive Entertainment also saw successes with their IPR petitions, while ResMed had two petitions instituted and two denied by the PTAB.
On March 21, Personalized Media Communications, LLC (PMC), owner of 98 patents covering networked equipment technologies, filed patent lawsuits in the Eastern District of Texas against major tech firms Netflix, Google, and Akamai. The lawsuits claim that the defendants infringed upon intellectual property that covers a major part of the adaptive streaming capabilities for each of the three businesses. In the lawsuits, PMC is asserting claims from six patents it has earned between 2010 and 2017, each titled Signal Processing Apparatus and Methods.
Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Representative Bill Foster (D-IL) introduced the Support Technology & Research for Our Nation’s Growth and Economic Resilience (STRONGER) Patents Act, which would in part restore injunctive relief as a remedy for patent infringement, in the U.S. House of Representatives in March of last year. While there has been much talk about closed-door discussions taking place on Capitol Hill recently around fixing Section 101 law, the House has not yet re-introduced the STRONGER Patents Act, and has thus far been focused on other issues this term. But Rep. Stivers seems confident that the Act has a chance this term, and says that this could be the consensus legislation the House needs. Read below for more on Rep. Stivers’ thoughts about patent reform in the 116th Congress, where the America Invents Act went wrong, and how we ensure the U.S. patent system is restored to number one.
Trademark protection has never been more important than in today’s increasingly global economy. A company’s name, trademark or service mark, trade dress and website domain name are often its most important and valuable assets, and this applies as well to companies with lesser-known brands since social media has provided them with a platform to reach a worldwide audience. But even companies with well-known brands use social media as a tool to manage their brands’ image and engage with customers directly. In a borderless world economy, brands simply must utilize social media to remain competitive.
This particular Rule 36 patent eligibility loss for the patent owner came in Digital Media Technologies, Inc. v. Netflix, Inc., et al., affirmed the district court’s finding that patent claims asserted by Digital Media against Netflix, Amazon and Hulu were invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 because they were directed to an abstract idea… Using Rule 36 in an area of the law as unstable, chaotic and unpredictable as patent eligibility is irresponsible. Whether the decision would be the same or not, the parties and the public have a right to have the Federal Circuit make sense ‘this § 101 conundrum.’
On August 1st, Fort Myers, FL-based over-the-top (OTT) Internet television provider WhereverTV filed a suit alleging patent infringement against Philadephia, PA-based telecommunications conglomerate Comcast Corporation. Despite the fact that Comcast is headquartered in Pennsylvania and the inventor listed on WhereverTV’s patent resides in Pennsylvania, the complaint was filed in the Middle District of Florida, a district which has been growing more attractive for parties filing patent infringement suits.
Congresswoman Lofgren seems quick to forget that she was one of the original co-sponsors of the Innovation Act when it was introduced into the House back in February 2015. Had the Innovation Act passed, it would have required patents challenged in IPR proceedings to be construed in the exact same manner that a district court would have required in a civil action to invalidate the patent. So, it seems Lofgren was for the Phillips standard and eliminating BRI before she was against it.