The STRONG Patents Act appears to be overwhelmingly favorable to innovators and patent owners. This legislation stands in stark contrast with the Innovation Act submitted in the House by Congressman Bob Goodlatte (D-Va) and shows a very different, alternative vision for the patent system.
Infringers should not be able to arrogantly and recklessly violate patents for years but ultimately pay only the same amount they would have paid the patent owner for a license in the first place. Currently, however, that is the situation that exists, because an infringer can avoid being stuck with enhanced damages if the infringer’s attorneys, for the first time in the litigation, raise a newly-devised (but ultimately incorrect) argument that the patent is invalid or not infringed, even if this was not the actual reason why the infringer refused to take a license years earlier.
While there are several facets of willful infringement law that the Halo concurrence would have the full court reconsider, the one that could have the greatest impact, and potentially unwind the patent reform gains made by Seagate, is the substantive test for award of enhanced damages under 35 U.S.C. § 284 for willful infringement.
In a decision barely reaching 11 pages, a unanimous Supreme Court in Limelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Technologies reversed and remanded the Federal Circuit’s per curiam majority ruling in Akamai Technologies and McKesson Technologies. That the Supreme Court overturned the Federal Circuit’s per curiam majority ruling is not a surprise. But what is truly shocking are the factually inaccurate statements, as well as the problematical reasoning that appears in Justice Alito’s opinion for this unanimous Supreme Court. With all due respect, Alito’s opinion is an abysmal ”comedy of errors.”
There are some who are questioning the wisdom and correctness of the Supreme Court’s recent decision, authored by Justice Alito for a unanimous Court, in Limelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Technologies, Inc. One particular point of criticism seems to be centered around the fact that the Supreme Court failed to take into consideration the existence of 35 U.S.C. § 271(f). . . Arguing that the Supreme Court erred up by misinterpreting, or failing to apply, 271(f) misses the point entirely. The question presented in the appeal to the Supreme Court was whether there can be infringement under 271(b) if there is no direct infringement under 271(a). Infringement under 271(f)(1) was not at issue in the case, and 271(f)(1) was not relied upon by the Federal Circuit below.
According to data from Lex Machina, in 2013, average patent infringement awards increased 28% and median patent infringement awards increased 22% when compared with infringement damages awards during 2012. The question for in-house attorneys, as well as for plaintiffs attorneys, is whether this trend will continue in 2014 and beyond.
Akamai argued Limelight ”provides instructions and offers technical assistance” to its customers regarding how to tag. The Federal Circuit dodged the question about whether there was direct infringement under 35 U.S.C. 271(a), but instead found that there was induced infringement under 35 U.S.C. 271(b). The problem with this ruling was that it was a legal impossibility. Well settled law had long stood for the proposition that there can be no induced infringement if there is not indirect infringement. Thus, this bizarre ruling by the Federal Circuit had those in the patent community scratching their head. It was easy to predict a Supreme Court reversal.
RealD Inc. (NYSE: RLD) filed separate patent lawsuits in the United States District Court for the Central District of California against MasterImage 3D and Volfoni. The lawsuits allege that both the MasterImage 3D MI-Horizon3D products and the Volfoni SmartCrystal Diamond product infringes four patents owned by RealD. The lawsuits seek monetary damages as well as preliminary and permanent injunctive relief. While the intellectual property dates back to 2006, the RealD XL Cinema System was introduced in 2008 and today is the world’s most widely used 3D cinema projection technology with more than 15,000 units installed around the world.
AIPLA believes that the so-called “single entity” rule for deciding method claim infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(a), where multiple actors perform the claim steps, as set out in recent Federal Circuit panel decisions as well as in the instant case, is based both on an incorrect construction of Section 271(a) and of the statutory structure of Section 271 as a whole. In concluding that only principles of agency law determine the ambit of such infringement liability, the Federal Circuit has mistakenly strayed from the traditional tort law basis of patent infringement and has created loopholes for method claim infringement that drastically reduce the exclusive rights conferred by validly issued patents – it has, in effect, reduced the scope of method patents until they have little relevancy… Direct infringement should not be limited only to an agency-type relationship between parties…
And the game goes on, with sophisticated tactics and subterfuges. Some patent holders obfuscate their patent ownerships behind shell companies, including some large technology companies who find it useful to play the part of the NPE to harass competitors. Others use negotiations as fishing expeditions with the intent to prepare stronger cases in the court room – making escalations go even faster. Complaints are prepared before a first contact is made. Even those who would prefer to negotiate rather than sue are forced to sue to capture the attention of the accused infringer, many of whom simply refuse to discuss licensing or settlement unless they are sued. The IP game becomes a race to the courtroom. There are no obvious winners (except for the attorneys representing the parties) as legal fees keep escalating. Litigation could be avoided in many circumstances, but the IP game fosters a power struggle in which each party assumes the worst from the other and defends itself, at high legal expenses, against imaginary threats. Both sides, the users and owners of patented technologies, are antagonized.
Mylan Inc. (NASDAQ: MYL) recently prevailed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia in a patent dispute involving Perforomist® (formoterol fumarate) Inhalation Solution, which has as the active ingredient a bronchodialating compound. The district court confirmed the validity of all patents asserted by Mylan. At issue were U.S. Patent Nos. 6,667,344; 6,814,953; 7,348,362; and 7,462,645, which cover Perforomist through June 2021.
According to data collected from Lex Machina, there has been a sharp decline in the number of patent litigation case filings so far in 2014. During the first two months of 2013 a total of 1,038 patent cases were filed, according to Lex Machina data, while the number of patent cases filed during the first to months of 2014 was just 778. This represents a decline of 25%.
First, look at the merits of the infringement claim. They may be stronger than you think, and you can thank a 2008 ruling for that. That year, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit unanimously ruled en banc in Egyptian Goddess, Inc. v. Swisa, Inc. that a design patent is infringed if an ordinary observer would think that the accused design is substantially the same as the patented design when the two designs are compared in the context of the prior art. The court removed the “point of novelty” and “non-trivial advance” standards that previously seemed to constitute a second set of criteria to prove design patent infringement. That ruling has made life much easier for plaintiff attorneys and it helped Apple in its lawsuit against Samsung.
The Main Street Patent Coalition may be the entity with the single most misleading name in the history of misleading organization names…. According to the LA Time, White Castle has 9,600 employees. How exactly is that a small business? … The corporate members of the National Restaurant Association, and the members of the National Retail Federation are some of the largest corporations in the United States. The American Gaming Association membership likewise includes some of the largest corporations in America, including several of the largest banks in the world, including Goldman, Sachs and Morgan Stanley.
The Supreme Court on November 5, 2013, heard oral argument on whether the burden of proof in an action for a declaratory judgment of non-infringement falls on the plaintiff licensee or on the defendant patentee. The debate centered around whether a patentee/defendant sued for a declaratory judgment of non-infringement is required to prove a case of infringement that was neither alleged nor arguably possible where the DJ plaintiff is a licensee. The Petitioner argued that the burden that would be on the patentee as infringement plaintiff does not change when it is a DJ defendant. The Respondent argued that, because the patentee cannot assert an infringement counterclaim against its licensee in good standing, the normal default rule places the burden on the party that initiates the action.