Posts Tagged: "patent infringement"

Announcements on Withdrawal of SEP Policy Statements Lack Clarity and Leave Patent Owners Guessing

As was recently reported by IPWatchdog (here and here), the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST), and the U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division (DOJ) issued a statement on June 8 withdrawing the December 19, 2019 Policy Statement on Remedies for Standards-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments (2019 Policy Statement). A footnote to the statement further provides that “the agencies do not reinstate the January 8, 2013, Policy Statement on Remedies for Standards-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments issued by the DOJ and the USPTO.” Curiously, this statement makes no mention of the 2021 Draft Policy Statement on Remedies for Standards-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments (2021 Draft Policy Statement), which draft statement was criticized by a broad cross-section of industry participants for a variety of different reasons. Regardless, our question is simply this: why did the 2019 Policy Statement need to be withdrawn instead of simply not proceeding with the 2021 Draft Policy Statement or, alternatively, modifying those portions of the 2019 Policy Statement that the agencies did not agree with? By throwing the baby out with the bath water, patent owners are now left to guess where the agencies stand on such issues.

WTO Conference Could End with Agreement on COVID Vaccine IP Waiver This Week

The World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) 12th Ministerial Conference is set to take place this week, June 12-15, at WTO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. As part of the four-day meeting, discussions around the latest text of the proposal to waive intellectual property (IP) rights under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) for COVID-19 vaccine technology will take place around the clock, and it is expected that some agreement will be reached. TRIPS Council Chair, Ambassador Lansana Gberie of Sierra Leone, said on June 7 that “delegations have entered into real negotiation mode in the last 24 hours,” and that she is “feeling cautiously optimistic now that we will get this text ready for adoption by ministers in time for the coming weekend.”

The Biden Administration’s Neutrality Position on SEP Remedies is a Good Move

On June 8, the Biden Administration announced a detente on the issue of standard essential patents (SEPs) through coordinated statements made by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Department of Justice Antitrust Division, and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The casual reader, or reader who only quickly glanced at the headlines, might be mistaken into believing the Biden Administration had declared war on SEP owners due to the Administration rescinding the 2019 Joint Policy Statement between the USPTO, DOJ and NIST that was biased in favor of the possibility of SEPs being like any other patent, with remedies for infringement possibly including injunctive relief. Those familiar with Administration’s efforts on SEPs will recall that a 2021 draft policy statement had been published, which swung heavily against patent owners and resurrected the debunked myth that patent owners engage in hold-up activities.

Another Peculiar Anti-Patent Court Decision in ParkerVision v. Qualcomm

Infringing patented inventions feels like stealing, from the innovator’s perspective, much like a smash and grab at a jewelry store. Politicians refuse to fix the gutted patent system so it can protect U.S. startups and small inventors. The American Dream is slipping away, as it consolidates into the hands of just a few tech giants and sending whatever is left to China. Case in point, ParkerVision v. Qualcomm, which illustrates just how anti-patent some courts have become. In this case the importance of ParkerVision’s seminal semiconductor chip technology that helped to transform cellphones into smartphones is at issue. ParkerVision invested tens of millions in R&D, but the courts have allowed it to be taken from them and transferred to a multinational corporation free of charge.

‘I Shall Be Released’: A Favorite Song Among SEP Implementers

As we have previously explained, many implementers wish to require patent owners to establish (1) the need for licenses, and (2) that any terms offered are in fact fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND), but without having to make any commitment to accepting FRAND licenses, and without ever losing entitlement to the same. With respect to the latter, recall, for example, Apple’s position it its case with PanOptis, namely that PanOptis had “no legal right under U.S. law to impose on Apple an obligation to negotiate a license to Plaintiffs’ portfolios of declared-essential patents or forfeit any defenses for failing to do so” (Apple Inc.’s Motion to Dismiss Count VIII for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Optis Wireless Technology, LLC, Optis Cellular Technology, LLC, Unwired Planet, LLC, Unwired Planet International Limited, and PanOptis Patent Management, LLC v. Apple Inc., Civil Action No. 2:19-cv-00066-JRG (E.D. Texas, June 22, 2020)) [hereinafter Optis v. Apple]. Basically, such implementers want the option of capping their exposure at FRAND rates if ever found to infringe. We refer to this as an implementer wanting to have its FRAND cake and eat it too.

Protecting Intellectual Property in Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (“AR”), along with Virtual Reality (“VR”), is rapidly growing in prominence and will be transformative to the way we live, work, learn and play. Both AR and VR will undoubtedly bring a whole set of novel IP issues for individuals, companies, IP practitioners and the courts. Like any new technological area, such as cyber law for the nascent internet technology in the early 1990s, many legal issues need to be addressed and many more are yet to be discovered as this area evolves.  

SEP Licensing is Not a Promise, It’s a Two-Way Street

“For 200 years, the world was getting along just fine without a policy statement on SEPs [standard essential patents],” said Andrei Iancu earlier this week at Patent Litigation Masters™ 2022, discussing Biden Administration attempts to revisit the 2019 SEP policy agreement among the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Department of Justice (DOJ). “Standard essential patents are patents too… the regular rule of law should apply.” Iancu, former USPTO Director, and current partner at Irell & Manella, went on to say that the real goal of those constantly chipping away at patent rights is simple: “Weaken patents so that the big entities can have freer reign to get bigger, to infringe patents in a less encumbered way.”

More Mandamus Maneuvering at the CAFC in Latest Venue Transfer Win for Apple

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) today granted Apple’s petition for a writ of mandamus asking the court to direct the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas to transfer a case brought by BillJCo, LLC to the Northern District of California. BillJCo owns six patents directed to beacon technology, with Bill Johnson and his son Jason Johnson, who lives in Waco, Texas, named as inventors or co-inventors. The suit was brought against Apple for infringement based on its iBeacon protocol. Apple argued that it “researched, designed, and developed the accused technology from its headquarters within the [Northern District of California]; that evidence and witnesses would likely be in Northern California; and that neither BillJCo nor this litigation had any meaningful connection to Western Texas.”

Day One of Patent Litigation Masters: We Must Become Ambassadors for the U.S. Patent System Again

Speakers on day one of IPWatchdog’s Patent Litigation Masters program acknowledged that it’s easy for patent owners to become frustrated and disconsolate about how far the pendulum has swung away from encouraging effective patent protection but urged attendees to continue speaking up. As program sponsor and co-chair David Henry of Gray Reed put it, “I think we all have to become ambassadors for the patent system.” Henry spoke Monday on a panel about the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s recent habit of granting petitions for writ of mandamus to order Judge Alan Albright of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas to transfer cases out of his court, largely to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Panelists speculated about the motivation for this focus on both the Eastern and Western Districts of Texas, with several agreeing that at least part of the trend is rooted in anti-patent sentiment. “Every time there’s a favorable forum for patentees, it gets harder to get into,” Wendy Verlander of Verlander LLP said.

Mossoff-Barnett Comment on EU Commission’s Call for SEP Evidence Spotlights Misconceptions About FRAND Obligations

On May 9, a comment signed by a coalition of 25 law professors, economists and former U.S. government officials, and co-written by Adam Mossoff, Law Professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, and Jonathan Barnett, the Torrey H. Webb Professor of Law at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law, was submitted to the European Commission as a response to the EU governing body’s call for evidence on standard-essential patents. Like another recent response to the EU Commission by a group of scholars with the International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE), the Mossoff-Barnett comment attempts to dispel several misconceptions about the impact that SEPs have on the commercialization of new technologies, especially major communications technologies like 4G/LTE and WiFi that have been widely commercialized to the benefit of the vast majority of global consumers, thanks in large part to the patent rights that help to structure commercialization efforts.

Opinion: Growing Misuse of Patent Protections Threatens U.S. Competitiveness and Security

The chaotic state of the world today makes it increasingly difficult for American companies to compete. Russian hostility has the democratic world on edge, U.S. inflation is at a 40-year high and hitting consumers hard, and China continues its aggressive push for economic and technological dominance.  To stay on top, the United States must out-innovate our competitors. America needs to lead the world in cutting-edge products and new technologies, and those are made possible by policies that support the innovation economy. The Ukraine crisis makes it clear that energy and cyber policy is crucial. Recently, the U.S. Trade Representative told Congress that supporting and protecting the full range of our innovators from China’s distortive practices is critical to our nation’s future.

CAFC Clarifies Infringement Analysis and Vacates a Finding of Noninfringement for Hulu

On May 11, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed the claim construction and decision of the United States District Court for the Central District of California to exclude evidence relating to damages but vacated its infringement determination and remanded a case alleging that Hulu, Inc. infringed Sound View Innovations, Inc.’s patent for data streaming technology. Sound View is the owner of expired U.S. Patent No. 6,708,213 (the ‘213 patent), which discloses “methods which improve the caching and streaming of multimedia data (e.g., audio and video data) from a content provider over a network to a client’s computer.” In June 2017, Sound View sued Hulu, alleging that its “Hulu Streaming Video on Demand products” infringed six Sound View patents, though only claim 16 of the ‘213 patent remained at issue on appeal.

Mailer’s Remorse: Notice Letters and Personal Jurisdiction for Declaratory Judgment Lawsuits

There are many reasons why patent holders might want to put potential infringers on notice of their rights. Such communications can serve the salutary goal of encouraging settlement of disputes without resort to lawsuits. And under some circumstances, notice may be legally necessary under 35 U.S.C. § 287 to enable a patent holder to recover damages for infringement. But a patent holder might be reluctant to do this if providing such notice can subject it to personal jurisdiction for a declaratory judgment suit in a remote and inconvenient forum.

Scholars Warn EU Commission Not to Upend Delicate SEP Balance

Four scholars with the International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE) have sent comments to the European Commission urging against any changes to the EU’s legal framework for licensing of standard-essential patents (SEPs) that would limit SEP holders’ ability to seek injunctions against alleged infringers. The ICLE scholars write: “It is simply not helpful for a regulatory body to impose a particular vision of licensing negotiations if the goal is more innovation and greater ultimate returns to consumers.” The comments come in response to the Commission’s February 2022 Call for evidence, which explained that “some users have found that the system for licensing SEPs is not transparent, predictable or efficient. This initiative seeks to create a fair and balanced licensing framework and may combine legislative and non-legislative action.” The feedback period ended May 9 and asked stakeholders to submit their views on: “(i) transparency; (ii) the concept of licensing on FRAND terms and conditions, including the level of licensing; and (iii) effective enforcement.”

Doing Business in Russia After the Ukraine Invasion—Justifications and Risks

As horrifying images continue to flow from Ukraine, politicians in the United States and Europe find themselves increasingly pressured to expand economic sanctions against Russia. On April 6, 2022, the White House announced a prohibition on new investment in Russia by any U.S. person. This move has undoubtedly been a factor in the stunning exodus of U.S. companies from the region, as it leaves management teams in legal limbo as to whether maintaining current facilities—or even repairing equipment—could be considered a prohibited “investment.”