Posts Tagged: "patent infringement"

2015 Supreme Court Term: Cert Petitions to Watch

Since the start of the Supreme Court’s term in October, the Court has already agreed to hear two patent cases, Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc. and Stryker Corp. v. Zimmer, Inc. Both cases address the issue of willful infringement and when it is appropriate for a court to award enhanced damages under 35 U.S.C. § 284. The only question that remains is whether the Court will continue its recent trend of taking three or more patent cases a term, or whether it will revert to its longer term average of accepting only one to two patent cases. Against the wider backdrop of the Supreme Court’s shrinking merits docket, it is notable that patent law consistently draws the attention of the Court under Chief Justice Roberts. Here we take a look at four cert petitions raising patent law issues, and handicap the odds of being granted.

History Repeating Itself at the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court recently decided to review a pair of cases that challenge the Federal Circuit’s willful infringement test. The two cases, Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc, (14-1513) and Stryker Corporation v. Zimmer, Inc. (14-1520), are drawing comparisons from commentators to the Court’s Octane Fitness, LLC v. ICON Health and Fitness, Inc. ruling last term based on the similar structure of the tests and statutory language reviewed in both cases. However, another recent SCOTUS case dealing with induced infringement, Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Systems, Inc., may also shed some light on how the Court will think about willful infringement, since both doctrines center around the defendant’s intent.

SCOTUS takes case on awarding enhanced damages for patent infringement

The United States Supreme Court accepted certiorari in two patent cases, which will require the court to determine whether district court judges should have discretion to award victorious patentees with enhanced damages under 35 U.S.C. § 284. While predicting the outcome of a Supreme Court decision is always speculative, this case should be one of the easiest outcomes to predict ever. Unless the Supreme Court fundamentally alters its statutory interpretation from the Octane Fitness case, arbitrarily creating a distinction without a difference, the Supreme Court will grant district courts the same broad discretion on enhanced damages that they have been given with respect to awarding attorneys fees.

Tackling the Intellectual Property Battle

The ownership of ideas and creations are among the most valuable assets to any company. Businesses invest in these ideas and rights and use the value they create to help promote and grow business for years to come. Printer manufacturers, for example, invest heavily in new ink and toner technologies and realize a return over the life of the device through the sale of supplies and consumables. When third-party supplies manufacturers, particularly manufacturers of new build ‘cloned products’, violate IP rights and take products to market, they are effectively stealing from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) – reducing the ability of the OEM to realize the full potential of their investment and, through their sale, securing financial benefit from the OEM who receives no compensation for this lost revenue. These organizations effectively take a ‘free ride’.

Mark Cuban: “Get rid of all software patents”

A dim view of software patents does not make Mark Cuban unique, but his latest foray into the patent debate does provide interesting insights into his arbitrary views on innovation. Like your technophobic grandfather, Cuban seems to believe that innovators are entitled to patent rights as long as the innovations are tangible. When those innovations manifest themselves in the form of intangible software the underlying innovation is for some reason no longer entitled to patent protection. Surely Cuban has to realize that this self balancing scooter could accomplish the same exact functionality if the control logic were software based, right?

CAFC: Reasonable royalty in design infringement only if greater than infringer’s total profits

Damages for infringement of a design patent can be recovered for the greater of: (1) total profits from the infringer’s sales under 35 U.S.C. § 289, (2) damages in the form of the patentee’s lost profits or a reasonable royalty under § 284, or (3) $250 in statutory damages under § 289. Here, the Court held that the district court incorrectly instructed the jury to choose between awarding damages under § 284 or § 289. According to the Court, “[o]nly where § 289 damages are not sought, or are less than would be recoverable under § 284, is an award of § 284 damages appropriate.”

Federal Circuit en banc rules Laches Remains Defense in a Patent Infringement Suit

Despite the Supreme Court ruling that laches is no defense to a copyright infringement action brought during the statute of limitations, the Federal Circuit ruled laches can bar recovery of legal remedies in patent infringement. The Federal Circuit explained that the 1952 Patent Act codified the common law rule, meaning that laches was codified as a defense under 35 U.S.C. 282.
The Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, followed the common law principle that, ”[w]hen a statute covers an issue previously governed by the common law, [the Court] must presume that Congress intended to retain the substance of the common law.” The Federal Circuit also ruled that laches does not preclude an ongoing royalty.

Federal Circuit Affirms $15 Million Damages Award Against Samsung

Summit 6 LLC (“Summit”) sued Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC (collectively “Samsung”) and others alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,765,482 (“the ’482 patent”), which relates to the processing of digital photos and other digital content before being transmitted over a network by client devices (e.g., cell phones). Summit’s expert testimony and the license resulting in settlement for another defendant, RIM, supported the damages verdict. The RIM license was comparable because both RIM and Samsung sell camera phones having the accused MMS functionality.

Patent owner must seek remedy in Federal Court of Claims for alleged TSA infringement

Astornet sued NCR Government Systems, MorphoTrust, and BAE Systems Inc., alleging that they supplied the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”) with certain boarding pass scanning systems, and that TSA’s use of the equipment infringed or would infringe its patent. The complaints alleged that the defendants “induced (and contributed to) direct infringement by TSA by virtue of TSA’s use of equipment supplied by the defendants.” The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal based on 28 U.S.C. § 1498 barring the suits by limiting Astornet’s remedy to an action against the United States in the Court of Federal Claims.

Patent Fee Shifting Stops Not Only Patent Trolls But Industry Bullies Too

What may be less well known is that Octane was not itself a “patent troll” case. Rather, Octane involved another kind of abusive patent litigation; namely, a large company asserting a patent it pulled “off the shelf” against a small start-up competitor. While patent trolls gain economic advantage through economies of scale, large companies have economic advantages over smaller competitors by virtue of their size and resources, and can similarly abuse the system. They can use the high cost to defend patent litigation as a competitive weapon, either to force the smaller competitor to exit the market, discontinue a product line, or pay an unwarranted royalty (thereby hindering the competitor in the marketplace). On remand, the District Court in the Octane case recognized just this sort of economic coercion, and found the case exceptional warranting a fee award. And last week, the District Court awarded almost $2 million in fees and costs to Octane, the prevailing accused infringer.

Inline Plastics v. EasyPak: CAFC rules asserted claims not limited to a specific embodiment

Since the preferred embodiment did not have patentable characteristics that are distinct from other disclosed embodiments, the Court held that “the patentee [was] entitled to claim scope commensurate with the invention that [was] described in the specification.” The Court also held that the doctrine of claim differentiation was applicable here, since the “two severable score lines” limitation only appeared in a dependent claim but not in any independent claims. In other words, the presence of the “two severable score lines” limitation in a dependent claim gave rise to a presumption that such a limitation was not present in the independent claim.

Eli Lilly prevails in divided infringement Alimta® patent case

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana ruled in favor of Eli Lilly (NASDAQ: LLY), issuing a final judgment in the Hatch-Waxman infringement litigation relating to U.S. Patent No. 7,772,209. This matter arose as the result of the defendants’ filing of Abbreviated New Drug Applications (ANDAs) with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The ‘209 patent, covering a method of use, protects the co-administration of pemetrexed disodium with two nutrients – folic acid and vitamin B12, which protects against the side effects of the drug Alimta®. The district court found direct infringement by administering physicians under § 271(a), and thus inducement of infringement by Defendants under § 271(b).

Federal Circuit affirms finding of no indirect infringement software provider

JVC is a member of two licensing pools for optical disc technology, one for DVD and one for Blu-ray. The asserted patents are included in both pools. The district court adopted JVC’s position that the asserted patents are essential to the licensed DVD and Blu-ray optical discs. Given the patent pool and licensing program, which covers any and all optical disc structures and uses that are essential under the patents, only the use of unlicensed optical discs would be an infringement – regardless of any third-party software used to manipulate the discs. JVC did not argue, and no evidence of record established, that unlicensed discs should be attributed to Nero, or the patent pool license should not encompass discs and end-users that implemented the Nero software.

Akamai v. Limelight: Defendant may directly infringe where steps performed by a third party

The en banc Court reversed the previous panel, and expanded the circumstances under which an alleged infringer may be liable under §271(a). In addition to circumstances identified by the panel, liability may arise if “an alleged infringer conditions participation in an activity or the receipt of a benefit upon performance of a step or steps of the patented method, and establishes the manner or timing of that performance.” When that standard is satisfied, the actions of a third party may be attributed to the alleged infringer, who thereby directly infringes under §271(a), even though there was no “mastermind” acting though a formal agent.

Federal Circuit Review – Issue 58 – July 10, 2015

In this issue of the Federal Circuit Review: (1) Damages for Lost Profits May Not Be Based On Extraterritorial Services Performed by an Infringer’s Customers Under § 271(f); (2) Federal Circuit Invalidates Claims Under the On-Sale Bar for Commercial Exploitation of the Invention Before the Critical Date; and (3) The PTO’s 180-Day Filing Deadline of the Optional Interim Procedure for PTA Reconsideration Request Is Not Arbitrary and Capricious.

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