Ohio Willow Wood v. Alps South

By Jason Rantanen

The Ohio Willow Wood Company v. Alps South, LLC (Fed. Cir. 2013) Download 12-1642.Opinion.11-13-2013.1
Panel: Dyk, Bryson, and Reyna (author)

There are three main isues addressed in this opinion:

1) Collateral Estoppel based on similar claims in a different patent;

2) Obviousness involving the addition of numerical limitations in dependent claims; and

3) Inequitable conduct: reversal of SJ of no IC.

Background: The Ohio Willow Wood Company (OWW) asserted Patent No. 5,820,237 against Alps South.  The '237 patent relates to directed to cushioning devices that go over the residual stumps of amputated limbs to make the use of prosthetics more comfortable.  The district court granted summary judgment that OWW was collaterally estopped from challenging the invalidity of set of claims in the '237 patent, that the second set of asserted claims was invalid for obviousness, and that there was no inequitable conduct.  OWW appealed the collateral estoppel and obviousness issues while Alps cross-appealed the inequitable conduct issue. 
Collateral Estoppel: The collateral estoppel issue in this case is notable because it involves a separate (albeit related) patent.  OWW sued Thermo-Ply, Inc. for infringement of Patent No. 7,291,182, which issued from a continuation of the '237 patent, in a separate proceeding.  The court in that litigation held the claims of the '182 patent invalid for obviousness, a ruling that was affirmed on appeal.  Based on this previous disposition, the district court in the OWW v. Alps litigation ruled that a set of claims from the '237 were invalid due to collateral estoppel. 

The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that collateral estoppel can apply across patents.  "Our precedent does not limit collateral estoppel to patent claims that are identical. Rather, it is the identity of the issues that were litigated that determines whether collateral estoppel should apply….If the differences between the unadjudicated patent claims and adjudicated patent claims do not materially alter the question of invalidity, collateral estoppel applies."  Slip Op. at 11.

Here, the differences between the patent claims did not materially alter the question of invalidity: 

As reflected in the claim language above, these patents use slightly different language to describe substantially the same invention. For example, where the ’237 patent recites a “tube sock-shaped covering,” an “amputation stump being a residual limb,” and “fabric in the shape of a tube sock,” the ’182 patent analogously recites the same claim scope in the form of a “cushion liner for enclosing an amputation stump, said liner comprising a fabric covering having an open end for introduction of said stump and a closed end opposite said open end.”  Thus, the mere use of different words in these portions of the claims does not create a new issue of invalidity. 

Id. at 12.

Obviousness – Exercise of Ordinary Skill: OWW also challenged the district court's summary determination that a second set of claims was invalid for obviousness. The crux of OWW's argument was based on the addition of numerical limits on certain characteristics of the "gel composition" and "fabric" elements in dependent claims.  The CAFC agreed with the district court that the addition of these numerical limits was nothing more than the exercise of ordinary skill in the art:

[N]othing in the record indicates that confining the otherwise obvious “gel composition” and “fabric” limitations to the recited numerical limits in the disputed dependent claims was anything other than the exercise of routine skill. Each of these features were well-known in the prior art and their use would have been predictable by one of ordinary skill in the art.

Slip Op. at 15.  Nor did the analysis fo secondary indicia of non-obviousness change the outcome.  OWW failed to show the requisite nexus between the secondary indicia and the patented invention (which in this case was specifically the claimed invention with the numerical limitations as distinguished from the invention minus the numerical limitations).  Furthermore, "where a claimed invention represents no more than the predictable use of prior art elements according to established functions, as here, evidence of secondary indicia are frequently deemed inadequate to establish non-obviousness."

Inequitable Conduct: While the litigation was pending, Alps initiated two ex parte reexaminations of the '237 patent.  Alps supported its second ex parte reexam request with the testimony of a Mr. Comtesse, who had been affiliated with the company that produced the prior art product that Alps relied upon.  The examiner accepted this testimony as evidence that the prior art possessed certain characteristics, resulting in the rejection of all of the claims of the '237 patent. 

In its appeal to the BPAI, OWW argued "that the examiner’s rejection was improper because it relied on the uncorroborated testimony of Mr. Comtesse, whom OWW characterized as a highly interested party." Slip Op. at 7.  OWW denied the existence of any other evidence that would support the relevant testimonty of Comtesse.  The BPAI subsequently reversed the examiner, finding that Comtesse was an interested third party and that his testimony was uncorroborated.

During the district court proceeding, Alps argued that there was contrary evidence that became known to OWW during the course of the litigation and should have disclosed to the PTO.  Applying Therasense, however, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of OWW. 

On appeal, the Federal Circuit reversed, finding that when viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to Alps, genuine issues of material fact remained.  Here, the allegedly material information went to the issue of whether disclosure would have led the BPAI to credit Comtesse's testimony.  The CAFC concluded that there was at least a genuine issue of fact.  Furthermore, the CAFC concluded that viewing the facts in a light most favorable to Alps, OWW's (allegedly false and unfounded) assertions regarding the interested nature of Mr. Comtesse "would be tantamount to the filing of an unmistakably false affidavit."  

Litigation Screen Fails to Avoid Inequitable Conduct (But Almost Succeeded)

Ohio Willow Wood Company v. Alps South (Fed. Cir. 2016)

Professor Rantanen wrote about the 2013 Federal Circuit OWW v. Alps decision that, inter alia, reversed the lower court’s determination of no inequitable conduct by the patentee OWW.  (U.S. Patent No. 5,830,237, covering a gel-cushion used for prosthetics).  The setup involves two ex parte reexaminations initiated by Alps.  On remand, the district court found no inequitable conduct during the first reexamination but that OWW did commit inequitable conduct during the second reexamination. On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed both findings.

Starting from the end, the aforementioned second reexamination was based upon a competitor’s prior art advertisement for a different product along with testimony from the competitor’s engineer (Comtesse) who explained in his submitted testimony how the product worked (in the same way as OWW’s claimed invention).  However, the Board found Comtesse’s testimony unreliable based upon OWW’s statements that he was a “highly interested” and receiving royalties from the competing product. During the reexamination, OWW also told the USPTO that there was  “no other evidence of any sort” corroborating Comtesse’s statements.  Following these arguments, the USPTO Board confirmed patentability of the claims.  It turns out that OWWs statements were untrue and that at least one person involved in the reexamination for OWW (Colvin) was aware of evidence from the parallel litigation that corroborated Comtesse’s statements.

The court found (1) that Mr. Colvin was aware that OWW’s reexamination counsel had represented to the Board that Mr. Comtesse’s testimony was entirely uncorroborated; (2) that Mr. Colvin was aware of materials that corroborated Mr. Comtesse’s testimony; and (3) that Mr. Colvin failed to correct his counsel’s misrepresentations.

All these conclusions came together to confirm a finding that Colvin had intent-to-defraud the USPTO.

Faulty Screen: The key to all of this here was that information from the litigation seeped into the reexamination prosecution.  Interestingly, it was the same law firm handling both litigation and the reexamination. However, the firm had established an “ethical screen to separate the attorney handling OWW’s reexamination proceedings from the attorneys handling OWW’s litigation matters.”  The Federal Circuit seemingly found no inequitable conduct problem with use of a screen that results in keeping relevant documents from the hands of patent prosecutors.  Rather the problem for OWW occurred because one of OWW’s employees was deeply involved with both the litigation and the reexamination prosecution.

Attorney Fees and Mootness: Although the courts had already found the patents unenforceable due to inequitable conduct in the second reexamination, ALPS asked that the Federal Circuit find them doubly unenforceable based upon misconduct in the first reexamination.  That seems like a moot point – unenforceable is unenforceable.  However, the Federal Circuit chose to rule on the issue (ultimately finding no inequitable conduct) because of the potential fee award under 35 U.S.C. 285.

A judgment of unenforceability based on both the first and second reexaminations would expose OWW to a larger attorney fee award than a judgment based on the second reexamination alone. It was therefore proper for Alps to press its argument as to the first reexamination by way of a cross-appeal.

This is a fairly substantial ruling and may end up offering additional power to defendants who wish to continue to pursue non-infringement and invalidity claims even after winning the case.  If broadly applied in this manner, then the ruling is also probably wrong.

 

Pending Supreme Court Patent Cases 2016 (March 17 Update)

by Dennis Crouch

President Obama has announced his nomination of Merrick Garland to become the next Supreme Court Justice. Garland is Chief Judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and would bring tremendous intellectual firepower to the Court and is clearly more moderate many potential nominees. All indications indicate that President Obama is correct in his appraisal of Garland as “widely recognized not only as one of America’s sharpest legal minds, but someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness and excellence.”  That said, there is little chance that Garland will be confirmed except perhaps after the election (assuming that a Democratic contender wins).

Samsung’s design patent case is looking like a strong contender for grant of certiorari. The court will again consider the case this week.  We continue to await the views of the solicitor general in Life Tech v. Promega (whether an entity can “induce itself” under 271(f)(1)) (CVSG requested in October 2015).

The key new petition this fortnight is Versata v. SAP.  Versata raises four questions stemming from the USPTO’s covered business method (CBM) review of its “hierarchical pricing engine” patents.

  1. Whether the phrase “covered business method patent”—and “financial product or service”—encompasses any patent claim that is “incidental to” or “complementary to a financial activity and relates to monetary matters.”
  2. Whether the Federal Circuit’s standard for identifying patents falling within the “technological inventions” exception departs from statutory text by looking to whether the patent is valid, as opposed to whether it is “technological.”
  3. Whether a software-related invention that improves the performance of computer operations is patent eligible subject matter.
  4. Whether, as this Court will decide in Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Lee, No. 15-446, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board should give claim terms their broadest reasonable construction in post-grant adjudicatory proceedings, or should instead give them their best construction.

Jeff Lamkin and his MoloLamkin team filed the brief.  [Versata Cert Petition].  SAP is on the hook for a $300+ million verdict if Versata is able to win this appeal.

The second new case is Tas v. Beach (written description requirement for new drug treatments).  Tas is a Turkish researcher representing himself pro se in the interference case against Johns Hopkins.  Interesting issues, but the case has no chance.  No cases have been dismissed or denied.

I pulled up MPHJ’s response to Vermont’s petition (filed by Bryan Farney). The opening paragraph spells out the case:

This “groundbreaking” case, as Petitioner describes it, has been going on, unjustifiably and unconstitutionally, for nearly three years now – all because Petitioner has refused to admit or accept that its state law claims against MPHJ are preempted by federal law, barred by the First Amendment “right to petition” clause, and that Congress has decided that federal preemption questions involving the patent laws must be decided by the federal court system.
 The big list:

1. Petitions Granted:

2. Petitions Granted with immediate Vacatur and Remand (GVR)

3. Petitions for Writ of Certiorari Pending:

  • Infringement by Joint EnterpriseLimelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Technologies, Inc., et al., No. 15-993 (can a defendant be held liable for the collective performance of method steps by multiple independent parties?)
  • Post Grant Admin: Versata v. SAP, No. 15-1145 (scope of CBM review)
  • Post Grant AdminCooper v. Lee, No. 15-955 (whether IPRs violate Separation of Powers; two amici now filed in support).
  • Post Grant AdminClick-to-Call Tech, LP v. Oracale Corp., No. 15-1014 (Same questions as Cuozzo and now-dismissed Achates v. Apple)
  • Post Grant Admin: GEA Process Engineering, Inc. v. Steuben Foods, Inc., No. 15-1075 (Flip-side of Cuozzo: Can there be no appeal when the PTAB exceeds its authority by terminating an instituted IPR proceeding?)
  • Post Grant AdminInterval Licensing LLC v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-716 (Can the Patent and Trademark Office appropriately apply the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard in construing patent claims in post-grant validity challenges?)
  • LachesMedinol Ltd. v. Cordis Corporation, et al., No. 15-998
  • LachesSCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag, et al. v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC, et al., No. 15-927 (three amici filed in support)
  • Biologics Notice of Commercial Marketing: Sandoz Inc. v. Amgen Inc., et al., No. 15-1039 (Does the notice requirement of the BPCIA create an effective six-month exclusivity post-FDA approval?)
  • Design PatentsSamsung Electronics Co. v. Apple Inc., No 15-777 (design patent scope and damages calculation)
  • Design Patents: Systems, Inc. v. Nordock, Inc., No. 15-978 (design patent damage calculations – similar issues as Samsung v. Apple). []
  • InducementLife Technologies Corporation, et al. v. Promega Corporation, No. 14-1538 (whether an entity can “induce itself” under 271(f)(1))(CVSG, awaiting government brief)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: BriarTek IP, Inc. v. DeLorme Publishing Company, Inc., et al., No. 15-1025 (Preclusive impact of ITC consent judgment).
  • Preclusion or JurisdictionVermont v. MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC, No. 15-838 (Federal court jurisdiction in anti-troll consumer protection case)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: Biogen MA, Inc. v. Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, et al., No. 15-607 (Whether AIA eliminated federal district courts’ jurisdiction over patent interference actions under 35 U.S.C. § 146.)
  • Eligibility ChallengesRetirement Capital Access Management Company, LLC v. U.S. Bancorp, et al., No. 15-591 (Whether subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 is a ground specified as a condition for patentability under 35 U.S.C. § 282(b)(2))
  • Eligibility Challenges: Hemopet v. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., No. 15-1062 (natural phenom case of tailoring a diet to a pet’s genomic characteristics)
  • Eligibility ChallengesJoao Bock Transaction Systems, LLC v. Jack Henry & Associates, Inc., No. 15-974 (defining an abstract idea)
  • Patent Term Adjustment Dispute: Daiichi Sankyo Company, Ltd. v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-652 (Patent Term Adjustment – whether the 180 day deadline applies; could bleed into admin law issues)
  • Damages: Innovention Toys, LLC v. MGA Entertainment, Inc., et al., No. 15-635 (Stryker/Halo follow-on – potential wait-and-see)
  • DamagesWesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corporation, No. 15-1085 (consequential lost-profit damages for infringement under Section 271(f))
  • Jury RoleParkervision, Inc. v. Qualcomm Incorporated, No. 15-1092 (“Whether and under what circumstances an inconsistency in expert testimony permits a court to set aside a jury verdict and grant the losing party judgment as a matter of law.”)
  • Written DescriptionTas v. Beach, No. 15-1089 (written description requirement for new drug treatments).
  • Low Quality BriefMorales v. Square, No. 15-896 (eligibility under Alice)

4. Petitions for Writ of Certiorari Denied or Dismissed:

  • ePlus, Inc. v. Lawson Software, Inc., No. 15-639 (what happens with a finally-determined permanent injunction after PTO cancels the patent claim?)
  • Media Rights Technologies, Inc. v. Capital One Financial Corporation, et al., No. 15-725 (Claim Construction: whether there a strong presumption against construing terms as subject to 35 U.S.C. § 112p6 that do not recite the term “means.”)
  • Alexsam, Inc. v. The Gap, Inc., No. 15-736 (appellate jurisdiction over patents that were dropped from case pre-trial)
  • Universal Lighting Technologies, Inc., v. Lighting Ballast Control LLC, No. 15-893 (intrinsic vs extrinsic evidence for claim construction).
  • STC, Inc. v. Global Traffic Technologies, No. 15-592 (Whether marking the packaging of a patented article with patent notification satisfies the marking provision of 35 U.S.C. § 287(a) where the patented article itself is undisputedly capable of being marked.)
  • Achates Reference Publishing, Inc. v. Apple Inc., et al., No. 15-842 (IPR institution decisions unreviewable, even when addressed in a final written decision by PTAB) [Note – This case was dismissed after being settled by the parties]
  • Alps South, LLC v. The Ohio Willow Wood Company, No. 15-567
  • Allvoice Developments US, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., No. 15-538
  • OIP Technologies, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 15-642
  • Fivetech Technology Inc. v. Southco, Inc., No. 15-381
  • Tyco Healthcare Group LP, et al. v. Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc., No. 15-115
  • Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., No. 15-561
  • Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd., et al. v. Eidos Display, LLC, et al., No. 15-288
  • Kenneth Butler, Sr. v. Balkamp Inc., et al., No. 15-273
  • Arthrex, Inc. v. KFx Medical Corporation, No. 15-291
  • Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., et al., No. 15-559 (Commil re-hash – if actions were “not objectively unreasonable” can they constitute inducement?)
  • Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., et al. v. Apotex Inc., No. 15-281
  • Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Apotex Inc., No. 15-307
  • Luv N’ Care, Ltd. v. Munchkin, Inc., No. 15-242
  • Automated Merchandising Systems, Inc. v. Michelle K. Lee, Director, United States Patent and Trademark Office, No. 15-326
  • I/P Engine, Inc. v. AOL Inc., et al., No. 14-1358
  • Interval Licensing LLC v. AOL Inc., et al., No. 14-1362
  • Content Extraction and Transmission LLC v. Wells Fargo Bank, National Association, et al., No. 14-1473
  • L. Gore & Associates, Inc. v. Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc., et al., No. 15-41
  • NetAirus Technologies, LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 14-1353
  • Muffin Faye Anderson v. Kimberly-Clark Corporation, No. 14-10337
  • MobileMedia Ideas LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 15-206
  • SpeedTrack, Inc. v. Office Depot, Inc. et al., No. 15-461 (Kessler doctrine)
  • Rodney K. Morgan, et al. v. Global Traffic Technologies LLC, No. 15-602
  • Lakshmi Arunachalam v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., No. 15-691

5. Prior versions of this report:

Supreme Court Patent Report: End of 2015 Term

by Dennis Crouch

The Supreme Court has completed its patent law business for the 2015 term and will re-open decision making in September 2016.  Briefing and new filings will, however, continue throughout the summer.

Two Decisions: The Supreme Court has decided its two major patent cases – Halo/Stryker and Cuozzo.  In Halo, the court re-opened the door to more treble-damage awards for willful patent infringement.  The decision rejects the objective-recklessness standard of Seagate (Fed. Cir. 2007)(en banc) and instead places substantial discretion in the hands of district court judges for determining the appropriate sactions “egregious infringement behavior.”  In Cuozzo, the court affirmed the Federal Circuit’s pro-PTO decision.  The decisions confirms the PTO’s authority construe claims according to their broadest-reasonable-construction (BRI) even during post-issuance review proceedings and also confirms the Federal Circuit ruling that the PTO’s initiation of an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding is not appealable (even after final decision).  A major caveat of this appealability issue is that the court limited its holding to run-of-the-mill IPR patent issues.  The court did not determine when other issues arising from institution, such as constitutional due process challenges, might be appealable.

Both decisions are important. Halo adds at least a gentle breeze to the would-be patent infringement armada.  I heard many discussions of pendulum’s swinging in the days following the case, although I would not go quite so far.  Cuozzo was a full affirmance of the PTO position and will operate to continue to raise the statute and importance of the agency.

Three Pending Cases Set the Stage for Next Term: With the certiorari writ grant in Life Tech v. Promega, we now have three patent cases set for review and judgment next term.  The issue in Life Tech is fairly narrow and involves export of of a component of a patented invention for combination in a would-be-infringing manner abroad.  The statute requires export of a “substantial portion of the components” and the question in the case is whether export of one component can legally constitute that “substantial portion.”  In the case, the component (Taq) is a commodity but is also an admitted critical aspect of the invention.  Life Tech may be most interesting for those generally interested in international U.S. law (i.e., extraterritorial application of U.S. law).  The other two pending cases are Samsung v. Apple (special damages in design patent cases) and SCA Hygiene (laches defense in patent cases).

None of these three pending cases are overwhelmingly important in the grand scheme of the patent system, although Samsung is fundamental to the sub-genre of design patents.  This week, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in Sequenom v. Ariosa – a case that some thought might serve to rationalize patent eligibility doctrine in a way that favors patentees.  For now, the Mayo, Alice, _____ trilogy remains open-ended. This leaves the Federal Circuit in its nadir.

Following Cuozzo, the only AIA post-issue review cases still ongoing are Cooper and MCM.  These cases raise US Constitutional issues that were expressly not decided in Cuozzo.  Briefing is ongoing in MCM and one scenario is that the court will sit on Cooper and then grant/deny the pair together.  A new petition was filed by Trading Technologies just before Cuozzo was released – the case focuses on a mandamus (rather than appeal) of a CBM institution decision for a patent covering a GUI tool. (Full disclosure – while in practice I represented TT and litigated the patent at issue).  Of minor interest, the court issued a GVR order (Grant-Vacate-Remand) in Click-to-Call Tech. v. Oracle Corp (15-1014) with instructions to the Federal Circuit to reconsider its prior decision in light of the recently decided Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Lee, 579 U. S. ___ (2016).  It will be interesting to see whether the patentee can develop a new hook for the Federal Circuit.

The end-of-term clean sweep leaves only two-more briefed-cases with potential for certiorari: Impression Prod. v. Lexmark Int’l. (post-sale restrictions); and Sandoz v. Amgen (BPCIA patent dance).  In both cases the court called for the views of the Solicitor General (CVSG). DOJ briefs should be filed around the end of the year – although the election may shift some of the timing.  SG Donald Verrilli has stepped down with former deputy Ian Gershengorn now serving as Acting SG.

The big list:

(more…)

Supreme Court Patent Update: 271(e) Safe Harbor

by Dennis Crouch

Look for opinions in Halo/Stryker and Cuozzo by the end June 2016.

Post Grant Admin: While we await Cuozzo, a set of follow-on cases continue to pile-up.  My speculation is that the Supreme Court will delay any decision in those cases until it finalizes the outcome of Cuozzo. With a host of new friend-of-the-court briefs and interesting constitutional questions, MCM v. HP is perhaps best positioned for certiorari.  Additional pending cases include Versata v. SAP (scope of CBM review); Cooper v. Lee (whether IPRs violate Separation of Powers); Click-to-Call Tech, LP v. Oracle Corp., (Same questions as Cuozzo and now-dismissed Achates v. Apple); GEA Process Engineering, Inc. v. Steuben Foods, Inc. (Flip-side of Cuozzo: Appeal when PTAB exceeds its authority by terminating an instituted IPR proceeding?); Interval Licensing LLC v. Lee (Same as Cuozzo); and Stephenson v. Game Show Network, LLC (Same as Cuozzo)

Design Patent Damages: Samsung has filed its opening merits briefs in the design patent damages case against Apple.  Design patent infringement leads to profit disgorgment, but the question is what profits? [More from Patently-O].

Versus Cisco: There are a couple of newly filed petitions. Interestingly, both filed by Michael Heim’s firm with Miranda Jones on both briefs representing plaintiff-petitioners.  In both cases Cisco is respondent.

  • CSIRO v. CISCO (fact-law divide in proving infringement damages under 35 U.S.C. § 284).
  • COMMIL v. CISCO (appellate disregard of factual evidence).

Of course, Commil was the subject to a 2015 Supreme Court decision that rejected the Federal Circuit’s original opinion favoring Cisco.  On remand, the Federal Circuit completely changed its decision but again sided with Cisco and rejected the jury verdict — holding “that substantial evidence does not support the jury’s finding that Cisco’s devices, when used, perform the “running” step of the asserted claims.”

Safe Harbor for Federal Submissions: In the newly filed Amphastar Pharma case, the Supreme Court has already requested a response from Momenta. The question presented focuses on the safe-harbor provision of 35 U.S.C. § 271(e)(1) and asks: Whether the safe harbor protects a generic drug manufacturer’s bioequivalence testing that is performed only as a condition of maintaining FDA approval and is documented in records that must be submitted to the FDA upon request.  The federal circuit held that Amphastar’s activity in this case was not protected by the safe harbor because it involved information “routinely reported” to the FDA post-approval. [Amphastar Petition]

The big list:

(more…)

Pending Supreme Court Patent Cases 2016 (May 18 Update)

by Dennis Crouch

It is now time to begin looking for an opinion in the Halo/Stryker regarding whether the Federal Circuit’s test for willful infringement is too rigid. Those cases were argued in February 2016.  We can also expect a decision in Cuozzo prior to the end June 2016.

Supplying Components Abroad: The Solicitor General has finally filed its brief in Life Tech v. Promega. The brief supports certiorari — but only for one of the two questions presented: namely,

whether a supplier can be held liable for providing ‘all or a substantial portion of the components of a patented invention’ from the United States when the supplier ships for combination abroad only a single commodity component of a multi-component invention

The patent in the case involves a DNA amplification kit used for personal identification.  And, although the allegedly infringing kids were made in the UK, one commodity-component (the Taq polymerase) was supplied from the U.S.  Focusing on the language of the statute, the Solicitor Generals argues that liability for export of a single component of a multi-component invention “is contrary to Section 271(f)’s text and structure, and it is inconsistent with the presumption against extraterritoriality.”  Separately, the brief argues that the Federal Circuit was correct in its holding that a party can actively induce itself – thus 271(f)(1) inducement does not require a third party to be induced. [USPromega CVSG Petition].

Post Grant Admin: I previously discussed GEA Process Engineering. That case involves the Flip-side of Cuozzo and asks whether an appeal can follow when the PTAB exceeds its authority by terminating an already instituted IPR proceeding?  The respondent (Steuben Foods) had previously waived its right to respond, but the Supreme Court has now requested a response.  That move makes certiorari more likely, but the result will depend upon the outcome in Cuozzo.

Attorney Fees: Newegg Inc. v. MacroSolve, Inc., No. 15-1369.  Professor Mark Lemley’s brief on behalf of Newegg asks that the attorney-fee framework of Octane Fitness actually be implemented. [NewEggPetition].  Although Octane Fitness gives district courts discretion in determining whether to award fees, Newegg argues that the E.D. Texas court improperly applied “a special, heightened burden of proof.”  The Supreme Court is currently considering the Kirtsaeng attorney fee case for copyright law. That decision may shed some light on the patent cases as well.

A new petition in Automotive Body Parts, No. 15-1314,  focuses on a question of civil procedure regarding a clerk’s transfer of a design patent case out of E.D.Tx in a manner that violated the local rules.  Here, the clerk transferred the case immediately after the judge ordered transfer even though the local rules call for a 21 day delay.  The case is rising through a petition for mandamus, but my view is that the petition fails to show why transfer is so harmful (except for the reality that patent plaintiffs are usually given more respect in E.D.Tx.).

The court was scheduled to discuss Cooper v. Lee at its May 12 conference. No action was taken following that conference – lightly suggesting to me that the court is holding judgment until it resolves Cuozzo.  Apart from the AIA Trial challenges, most potential life changing case on the docket for patent attorneys is Cubist v. Hospira that focuses on the role of secondary indicia of non-obviousness. As with most Supreme Court patent cases over the past decade, Cubist argues that the Federal Circuit’s rules are too restrictive and should instead follow a looser factor-based analysis when considering the issue.  In the next couple of weeks, the court will consider the Cubist petition as well as that of Dow v. NOVA  (appellate review standard); Vehicle Intelligence (abstract idea); and WesternGeco (damages calculation for 271(f) infringement by exporting components).

Secret Offers to Sell: The Federal Circuit is not slowing down its patent jurisprudence in any way – except for the rash of R.36 affirmances. An important case is Helsinn that focuses on whether the AIA abrogated the rule in Metallizing Engineering.

The big list: (more…)

Pending Supreme Court Patent Cases 2016 (May 3 Update)

by Dennis Crouch

Laches: The Supreme Court granted SCA’s writ of certiorari on the question of whether laches defense applies to block back-damages in patent cases. The Federal Circuit says “yes” while the Supreme Court recently said “no” in a parallel copyright case (Patrella).  The Supreme Court decided Patrella 6-3 with Justice Scalia in the majority offering the potential of a tight-split in this case.  The court looks to be sitting-on the parallel case of Medinol v. Cordis until SCA is decided.

CheerCopyrightCopyright on Useful Articles: Although not a patent case, the court also decided to hear a “useful article” copyright case.  Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands.  The case asks whether the stripes and chevrons found in a cheerleader uniform are sufficiently “separable” from the uniform in order to be copyrightable.  The useful article doctrine is generally considered to be setting up a boundary line between the domains of copyright and patent.

More Challenges to USPTO Authority: MCM filed its petition for writ of certiorari directly challenging USPTO authority to conduct inter partes review proceedings with two easy questions:

  1. Does IPR violate Article III of the Constitution?
  2. Does IPR violate the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution?

[MCM Petition and Appendix] MCM’s brief was filed Tom Goldstein along with Ned Heller.  The question for the Supreme Court is whether to extend or contract from its position in Stern v. Marshall, 131 S. Ct. 2594 (2011) where the court held that Article III of the U.S. Constitution prohibits Congress from withdrawing “from judicial
cognizance any matter which, from its nature, is the subject of a suit at the common law, or in equity, or admiralty.” Quoting Murray’s Lessee v. Hoboken Land & Improvement Co., 59 U.S. 272  (1856)).

The brief raises a set of interesting old cases focusing both on the separation of powers and the tradition that patent-revocation for invalidity requires a jury to decide disputed facts.

  • Ex Parte Wood & Brundage, 22 U.S. 603 (1824)
  • McCormick Harvesting Mach. Co. v. C. Aultman & Co., 169 U.S. 606 (1898)
  • Mowry v. Whitney, 81 U.S. 434 (1871)
  • Murray’s Lessee v. Hoboken Land & Improvement Co., 59 U.S. 272 (1856)
  • Neilson v. Harford, Webster’s Patent Cases 295 (1841)
  • Pennock v. Dialogue, 27 U.S. 1 (1829)
  • United States v. Am. Bell Tel. Co., 128 U.S. 315 (1888)

Cooper v. Lee raises some parallel issues. Its petition will be considered by the Court in its May 12. [Update: The court has “rescheduled” consideration of Cooper’s brief – perhaps awaiting its own determination in Cuozzo.]

Hereby Assign Future Inventions: In Shukh v. Seagate, the petitioner raises the long-brewing question involving the Federal Circuit’s interpretation of patent assignments.  In particular, the Federal Circuit has ruled – as a matter of federal patent law – that patent rights are assignable before their invention is even contemplated. The petition asks:

[W]hether FilmTec’s “automatic assignment” rule should be overruled because it extinguishes inventors’ constitutional and statutory rights to inventorship and ownership.

In Stanford v. Roche, Justices Breyer, Ginsburg and Sotomayor criticized the Federal Circuit’s rule and suggested that the issue should be presented in a future case. The majority expressly noted that its opinion did not decide the issue. [Shukh v. Seagate – Redacted Public Petition]

Disparaging Trademarks: A pair of disparaging trademark cases have also been petitioned: Lee v. Tam (“Slants”) and  Pro-Football v. Blackhorse (“Redskins”).   The Federal Circuit previously held the limit on registering disparaging marks to be an unconstitutional abrogation of the freedom of speech.

The big list: (more…)

Pending Supreme Court Patent Cases 2016 (April 18 Update)

by Dennis Crouch

Cuozzo: Prof Mann provides his preview of the April 25 oral arguments in Cuozzo v. Lee; and Cuozzo has filed its reply brief. Neither document address my the mootness concern regarding Cuozzo’s demand for an ordinary construction of claim terms rather than their broadest reasonable interpretation.  As far as I have seen, nothing in the record suggests that a change in claim interpretation standard would alter the PTO’s determination.

Following its April 15 Conference, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in a set of cases, including Vermont v. MPHJLimelight v. Akamai; Hemopet v. Hill’s Pet Nutrition; and Tas v. Beachy. In its April 1 Conference, the Court denied cert in Retirement Capital v. US Bancorp. That case had questioned whether subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 is a ground specified as a condition for patentability under 35 U.S.C. § 282(b)(2).

The only patent cases surviving the April 15 conference are (1) Interval Licensing v. Lee that asks the same question as Cuozzo: Can the Patent and Trademark Office appropriately apply the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard in construing patent claims in post-grant validity challenges?; and (2) Medinol v. Cordis that focuses on whether “the equitable defense of laches [may be used to] bar legal claims for damages that are timely under the express terms of the Patent Act.”   Medinol is conceptually linked to the SCA Hygiene case that also raises the laches issue. The court will consider both cases in its April 22 conference and may likely couple the decision to grant/deny.  The court is also scheduled to consider Cloud Satchel (abstract idea eligibility) and Globus Medical (appellate jurisdiction) at Friday’s conference. Neither of these cases offer much hope for the respective petitioner.

In Cooper v. Lee, the US Government filed its brief opposing certiorari. The government argues that Cooper’s Article III challenge to the IPR system “lack’s merit.”

[P]atents are quintessential “public rights” whose issuance and cancellation Congress may permissible entrust to a non-Article III tribunal. . . . Pursuant to its constitutional authority to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” by establishing a patent system, Congress created the PTO – an agency with “special expertise in evaluating patent applications.” Kappos v. Hyatt, 132 S. Ct. 1690 (2012). It directed that agency to issue a patent if “it appears that the applicant is entitled to a patent” under standards set by federal law, 35 U.S.C. 131. Patents are accordingly rights that “exist only by virtue of statute.” Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Stiffel Co., 376 U.S. 225, 229 n.5 (1964). They “dispose of public rights held by the government on behalf of the people.” Teva Pharm. USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 831, 849 n.2 (2015) (Thomas, J., dissenting).

The government also argues that the posture of the case lacks merits – in particular that Cooper’s collateral challenge to the procedures doesn’t work.  Cooper has argued that “inter partes review violates Article III of the Constitution by authorizing an Executive Branch agency, rather than a court, to invalidate a previously issued patent.”

Daniel Bohnen has filed a brief on behalf of UK’s Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) in support of the Sequenom v. Ariosa petition.   The brief argues that the court should look to “maintain international harmonisation in the law of patent-eligibility.”[AriosaCIPA].  More briefs in support of the petitioner are expected this week as is Ariosa’s opposition brief (if any).

Finally, Nova has filed its opposition in Dow v. Nova and is attempting to refocus attention on the merits of the indefiniteness decision rather than the procedure for reaching that decision.  The difference in question presented is interesting:

Dow: Whether factual findings underlying a district court’s determination on the definiteness of a patent claim under the Patent Act, 35 U.S.C. 112, like a district court’s factual findings underlying construction of a patent claim, are subject to appellate review only for clear error or substantial evidence rather than de novo review.

Nova: Whether the court of appeals correctly invalidated Dow’s patent claims as indefinite under 35 U.S.C. § 112.

Explaining its shift of the question, Nova argues that “Dow’s petition rests on a false premise that the Federal Circuit refuses to give deference to factual findings” that underlie the definiteness determination.  Nova is correct as to the Federal Circuit’s position — the only question here is whether the Supreme Court will order the appellate court to follow its own law in this case. [DowPetition][NovaOpposition]

The big list: (more…)

Pending Supreme Court Patent Cases 2016 (April 1 Update)

by Dennis Crouch

Design Patent Damages: The Supreme Court has granted Samsung’s petition for writ of certiorari on the issue of design patent damages under 35 U.S.C. 289.  The statute allows for disgorgment of the infringer’s “total profit,” but the question is total-profit-as-to-what? Certainly not the entire company. The Federal Circuit has ruled that the total profit applies to the article of manufacture (here a mobile phone) while Samsung argues that the profit should be reduced to the profits associated with the component at issue (the screen). The Supreme Court rejected the second proposed issue of design patent scope.

No Standing for Cuozzo?: I wrote some about the standing and appellate jurisdiction issue in Cuozzo earlier this week.  [Link].  Up to now, Cuozzo has not explained how a Phillips claim construction would impact the outcome of its inter partes review.  Cuozzo’s reply brief may address that issue – either way they almost have to come-up at oral arguments under questioning from Justice Breyer or Justice Sotomayor.

Post Sale Restraints: A key new petition was filed in Impression Products v. Lexmark on the issue of patent exhaustion and the extent that a manufacturer can rely upon patent rights to create post-sale use requirements and restrictions and limits on international trade. [Link]. In Sequenom, v. Ariosa, the court is subtly asked to reconsider and scale-back the language of Mayo v. Prometheus.  The petition actually asks the court to stop mis-interpreting Mayo. [Link].  Vehicle Intelligence and Safety as well as Cloud Satchel also raise Section 101 challenges, but those cases are battling long odds.

Reviewing a Jury Verdict of Definiteness: New petition Dow v. Nova raises the interesting question regarding the standard for appellate review of factual findings that serve as the underlying basis for a definiteness determination. Based upon a logical extension of Teva v. Sandoz, those factual findings should be given deference even though the ultimate determination of definiteness is a question of law.  An important distinction from pure claim construction is that (as here) juries may be tasked with the job of ruling whether a claim is indefinite.  In that situation, the juries do not separate their factual conclusions from legal conclusions creating some amount of confusion.  The original Federal Circuit opinion cited to Teva, but not for its holding regarding deference. I would not be surprised by a GVR order from the Supreme Court asking the Federal Circuit to reconsider based upon that holding. [DowPetition].

Flexible Obviousness Test Does Not Apply to Secondary Indicia of Nonobviousness: In Cubist Pharma v. Hospira, the petitioner-patentee challenges the Federal Circuit’s increasingly bright line limits on secondary indicia of nonobviousness.  How do those limits mesh with the flexible doctrine outlined in Section 103 and explained by Deere and KSR.  [CubistPetition].

Did the AIA Shrink Federal Circuit Appellate Jurisdiction?: Finally, in Globus Medical, the question focuses on Federal Circuit jurisdiction over appeals in former-patent-cases, but where the only issue appealed is a non-patent issue.  This same issue was previously decided in favor of Federal Circuit jurisdiction. However, the AIA modified the language of the Federal Circuit appellate jurisdiction statute and opened the door to a re-visitation.  28 U.S.C. 1292.  However, the argument barely carries the weight of its linguistics if that.

Previously, the Federal Circuit had appellate jurisdiction over cases if the district court’s jurisdiction could at least in-part be traced to 28 U.S.C. 1338 (giving district court’s jurisdiction over patent cases). The AIA amended the statute to give appellate jurisdiction to the Federal Circuit in any “civil action arising under” the patent laws.  Since appellate jurisdiction ordinarily attaches at the notice-of-appeal filing stage, Globus Medical argues that former patent cases no longer “arise under” the patent laws once final judgment is issued and no patent questions are appealed.

Denials: Cert was denied in Daiichi Sankyo v Lee (term adjustment); ParkerVision (standard for setting aside jury verdict based upon errors in expert testimony); Biogen (district court jurisdiction over interferences post-AIA); Morales v. Square (eligibility); Joao Bock v. Jack Henry (eligibility); and BriarTek v. DeLorme (USITC preclusion issue).

The big list:

1. Petitions Granted:

2. Petitions Granted with immediate Vacatur and Remand (GVR)

3. Petitions for Writ of Certiorari Pending:

  • IndefinitenessThe Dow Chemical Company v. Nova Chemicals Corporation (Canada), et al., No. 15-1160 (standard for appellate review of jury verdict of definiteness that is inherently based upon the jury’s factual findings) [DowPetition]
  • Exhaustion: Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc., No. 15-1189 (unreasonable restraints on downstream uses)
  • Obviousness: Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Hospira, Inc., No. 15-1210 (bright line limits on secondary indicia of nonobviousness) [CubistPetition]
  • Infringement by Joint EnterpriseLimelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Technologies, Inc., et al., No. 15-993 (can a defendant be held liable for the collective performance of method steps by multiple independent parties?)
  • Post Grant Admin: Versata v. SAP, No. 15-1145 (scope of CBM review)
  • Post Grant AdminCooper v. Lee, No. 15-955 (whether IPRs violate Separation of Powers; two amici now filed in support)
  • Post Grant AdminClick-to-Call Tech, LP v. Oracale Corp., No. 15-1014 (Same questions as Cuozzo and now-dismissed Achates v. Apple)
  • Post Grant Admin: GEA Process Engineering, Inc. v. Steuben Foods, Inc., No. 15-1075 (Flip-side of Cuozzo: Can there be no appeal when the PTAB exceeds its authority by terminating an instituted IPR proceeding?)
  • Post Grant AdminInterval Licensing LLC v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-716 (Can the Patent and Trademark Office appropriately apply the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard in construing patent claims in post-grant validity challenges?)
  • Post Grant Admin: Stephenson v. Game Show Network, LLC, et al., No. 15-1187 (is BRI proper for IPR validity challenges?; Same as Cuozzo) [GameShowNetworkPetition]
  • LachesMedinol Ltd. v. Cordis Corporation, et al., No. 15-998
  • LachesSCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag, et al. v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC, et al., No. 15-927 (three amici filed in support)
  • Biologics Notice of Commercial Marketing: Sandoz Inc. v. Amgen Inc., et al., No. 15-1039 (Does the notice requirement of the BPCIA create an effective six-month exclusivity post-FDA approval?) (cross-petition asks for recourse on failure to dance).
  • Design Patents: Systems, Inc. v. Nordock, Inc., No. 15-978 (design patent damage calculations – similar issues as Samsung v. Apple)
  • InducementLife Technologies Corporation, et al. v. Promega Corporation, No. 14-1538 (whether an entity can “induce itself” under 271(f)(1))(CVSG, awaiting government brief)
  • Preclusion or JurisdictionVermont v. MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC, No. 15-838 (Federal court jurisdiction in anti-troll consumer protection case)
  • Preclusion or JurisdictionGlobus Medical, Inc. v. Sabatino Bianco, No. 15-1203 (Appellate jurisdiction of the Federal Circuit) [GlobusMedicalPetition]
  • Eligibility Challenges: Sequenom, Inc. v. Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc., et al., No. 15-1182 (scope of the natural phenomenon eligibility exclusion)
  • Eligibility ChallengesRetirement Capital Access Management Company, LLC v. U.S. Bancorp, et al., No. 15-591 (Whether subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 is a ground specified as a condition for patentability under 35 U.S.C. § 282(b)(2))
  • Eligibility Challenges: Hemopet v. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., No. 15-1062 (natural phenom case of tailoring a diet to a pet’s genomic characteristics)
  • Eligibility Challenges: Cloud Satchel, LLC v. Barnes & Noble, Inc., et al., No. 15-1161 (abstract idea eligibility) [CloudSatchelPetition]
  • Eligibility Challenges: Vehicle Intelligence and Safety LLC v. Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC, et al., No. 15-1201 (abstract idea eligibility) [VehicleIntelligencePetition]
  • Damages: Innovention Toys, LLC v. MGA Entertainment, Inc., et al., No. 15-635 (Stryker/Halo follow-on – potential wait-and-see)
  • DamagesWesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corporation, No. 15-1085 (consequential lost-profit damages for infringement under Section 271(f))
  • Written DescriptionTas v. Beach, No. 15-1089 (written description requirement for new drug treatments)

4. Petitions for Writ of Certiorari Denied or Dismissed:

  • Daiichi Sankyo Company, Ltd. v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-652 (Patent Term Adjustment – whether the 180 day deadline applies; could bleed into admin law issues)
  • Parkervision, Inc. v. Qualcomm Incorporated, No. 15-1092 (“Whether and under what circumstances an inconsistency in expert testimony permits a court to set aside a jury verdict and grant the losing party judgment as a matter of law.”)
  • Joao Bock Transaction Systems, LLC v. Jack Henry & Associates, Inc., No. 15-974 (defining an abstract idea)
  • Biogen MA, Inc. v. Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, et al., No. 15-607 (Whether AIA eliminated federal district courts’ jurisdiction over patent interference actions under 35 U.S.C. § 146.)
  • BriarTek IP, Inc. v. DeLorme Publishing Company, Inc., et al., No. 15-1025 (Preclusive impact of ITC consent judgment).
  • Morales v. Square, No. 15-896 (eligibility under Alice)
  • ePlus, Inc. v. Lawson Software, Inc., No. 15-639 (what happens with a finally-determined permanent injunction after PTO cancels the patent claim?)
  • Media Rights Technologies, Inc. v. Capital One Financial Corporation, et al., No. 15-725 (Claim Construction: whether there a strong presumption against construing terms as subject to 35 U.S.C. § 112p6 that do not recite the term “means.”)
  • Alexsam, Inc. v. The Gap, Inc., No. 15-736 (appellate jurisdiction over patents that were dropped from case pre-trial)
  • Universal Lighting Technologies, Inc., v. Lighting Ballast Control LLC, No. 15-893 (intrinsic vs extrinsic evidence for claim construction).
  • STC, Inc. v. Global Traffic Technologies, No. 15-592 (Whether marking the packaging of a patented article with patent notification satisfies the marking provision of 35 U.S.C. § 287(a) where the patented article itself is undisputedly capable of being marked.)
  • Achates Reference Publishing, Inc. v. Apple Inc., et al., No. 15-842 (IPR institution decisions unreviewable, even when addressed in a final written decision by PTAB) [Note – This case was dismissed after being settled by the parties]
  • Alps South, LLC v. The Ohio Willow Wood Company, No. 15-567
  • Allvoice Developments US, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., No. 15-538
  • OIP Technologies, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 15-642
  • Fivetech Technology Inc. v. Southco, Inc., No. 15-381
  • Tyco Healthcare Group LP, et al. v. Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc., No. 15-115
  • Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., No. 15-561
  • Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd., et al. v. Eidos Display, LLC, et al., No. 15-288
  • Kenneth Butler, Sr. v. Balkamp Inc., et al., No. 15-273
  • Arthrex, Inc. v. KFx Medical Corporation, No. 15-291
  • Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., et al., No. 15-559 (Commil re-hash – if actions were “not objectively unreasonable” can they constitute inducement?)
  • Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., et al. v. Apotex Inc., No. 15-281
  • Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Apotex Inc., No. 15-307
  • Luv N’ Care, Ltd. v. Munchkin, Inc., No. 15-242
  • Automated Merchandising Systems, Inc. v. Michelle K. Lee, Director, United States Patent and Trademark Office, No. 15-326
  • I/P Engine, Inc. v. AOL Inc., et al., No. 14-1358
  • Interval Licensing LLC v. AOL Inc., et al., No. 14-1362
  • Content Extraction and Transmission LLC v. Wells Fargo Bank, National Association, et al., No. 14-1473
  • L. Gore & Associates, Inc. v. Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc., et al., No. 15-41
  • NetAirus Technologies, LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 14-1353
  • Muffin Faye Anderson v. Kimberly-Clark Corporation, No. 14-10337
  • MobileMedia Ideas LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 15-206
  • SpeedTrack, Inc. v. Office Depot, Inc. et al., No. 15-461 (Kessler doctrine)
  • Rodney K. Morgan, et al. v. Global Traffic Technologies LLC, No. 15-602
  • Lakshmi Arunachalam v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., No. 15-691

5. Prior versions of this report:

Pending Supreme Court Patent Cases 2016 (March 4 Update)

by Dennis Crouch

Earlier this week, the University of Missouri Law Review held its annual symposium – this year focusing on the Future of the Administrative State.  That future is a primary front of challenge in the patent system.  Arguments in Cuozzo v. Lee are now scheduled for April 25.  Jeffrey Wall of Sullivan & Cromwell (who also argued Stryker/Halo two weeks ago) is representing Cuozzo along with his colleague Garrard Beeney. On that same day, the Supreme Court will also hear the copyright attorney fee case Kirtsaeng.

Following Justice Scalia’s death, the Supreme Court simplified its docket by denying certiorari to a set of patent cases, including: Arthrex v. Smith & Nephew; STC v. Global Traffic Technologies; ePlus v. Lawson Software, Inc.; Media Rights Technologies v. Capitol One; Alexsam v. The Gap; and ULT v. Lighting Ballast Control.  Achates v. Apple was dismissed after being settled by the parties.

New petitions include Sandoz v. Amgen (BCPIA’s inherent six-month delay following commercial marketing notice); Hemopet v. Hill’s Pet (eligibility of claim directed to tailoring of a pet’s diet based upon genomic characteristics and expression); GEA Process v. Steuben Foods (after instituting, is the PTAB’s termination reviewable?); ParkerVision v. Qualcomm (when should a court reject a jury’s determination that an expert is credible); and WesternGeco v. ION Geophysical (foreign lost profit damages).

  • Petitions Granted:
  1. Petitions Granted with immediate Vacatur and Remand (GVR)
  1. Petitions for Writ of Certiorari Pending:
  • Infringement by Joint EnterpriseLimelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Technologies, Inc., et al., No. 15-993 (can a defendant be held liable for the collective performance of method steps by multiple independent parties?)
  • Post Grant AdminCooper v. Lee, No. 15-955 (whether IPRs violate Separation of Powers; two amici now filed in support).
  • Post Grant AdminClick-to-Call Tech, LP v. Oracale Corp., No. 15-1014 (Same questions as Cuozzo and now-dismissed Achates v. Apple)
  • Post Grant Admin: GEA Process Engineering, Inc. v. Steuben Foods, Inc., No. 15-1075 (Flip-side of Cuozzo: Can there be no appeal when the PTAB exceeds its authority by terminating an instituted IPR proceeding?)
  • Post Grant AdminInterval Licensing LLC v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-716 (Can the Patent and Trademark Office appropriately apply the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard in construing patent claims in post-grant validity challenges?)
  • LachesMedinol Ltd. v. Cordis Corporation, et al., No. 15-998
  • LachesSCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag, et al. v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC, et al., No. 15-927 (three amici filed in support)
  • Biologics Notice of Commercial Marketing: Sandoz Inc. v. Amgen Inc., et al., No. 15-1039 (Does the notice requirement of the BPCIA create an effective six-month exclusivity post-FDA approval?)
  • Design PatentsSamsung Electronics Co. v. Apple Inc., No 15-777 (design patent scope and damages calculation)
  • Design Patents: Systems, Inc. v. Nordock, Inc., No. 15-978 (design patent damage calculations – similar issues as Samsung v. Apple). []
  • InducementLife Technologies Corporation, et al. v. Promega Corporation, No. 14-1538 (whether an entity can “induce itself” under 271(f)(1))(CVSG, awaiting government brief)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: BriarTek IP, Inc. v. DeLorme Publishing Company, Inc., et al., No. 15-1025 (Preclusive impact of ITC consent judgment).
  • Preclusion or JurisdictionVermont v. MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC, No. 15-838 (Federal court jurisdiction in anti-troll consumer protection case)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: Biogen MA, Inc. v. Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, et al., No. 15-607 (Whether AIA eliminated federal district courts’ jurisdiction over patent interference actions under 35 U.S.C. § 146.)
  • Eligibility ChallengesRetirement Capital Access Management Company, LLC v. U.S. Bancorp, et al., No. 15-591 (Whether subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 is a ground specified as a condition for patentability under 35 U.S.C. § 282(b)(2))
  • Eligibility Challenges: Hemopet v. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., No. 15-1062 (natural phenom case of tailoring a diet to a pet’s genomic characteristics).
  • Eligibility ChallengesJoao Bock Transaction Systems, LLC v. Jack Henry & Associates, Inc., No. 15-974 (defining an abstract idea)
  • Patent Term Adjustment Dispute: Daiichi Sankyo Company, Ltd. v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-652 (Patent Term Adjustment – whether the 180 day deadline applies; could bleed into admin law issues)
  • Damages: Innovention Toys, LLC v. MGA Entertainment, Inc., et al., No. 15-635 (Stryker/Halo follow-on – potential wait-and-see)
  • DamagesWesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corporation, No. 15-1085 (consequential lost-profit damages for infringement under Section 271(f))
  • Jury RoleParkervision, Inc. v. Qualcomm Incorporated, No. 15-1092 (“Whether and under what circumstances an inconsistency in expert testimony permits a court to set aside a jury verdict and grant the losing party judgment as a matter of law.”)
  • Low Quality BriefMorales v. Square, No. 15-896 (eligibility under Alice)
  1. Petitions for Writ of Certiorari Denied or Dismissed:
  • ePlus, Inc. v. Lawson Software, Inc., No. 15-639 (what happens with a finally-determined permanent injunction after PTO cancels the patent claim?)
  • Media Rights Technologies, Inc. v. Capital One Financial Corporation, et al., No. 15-725 (Claim Construction: whether there a strong presumption against construing terms as subject to 35 U.S.C. § 112p6 that do not recite the term “means.”)
  • Alexsam, Inc. v. The Gap, Inc., No. 15-736 (appellate jurisdiction over patents that were dropped from case pre-trial)
  • Universal Lighting Technologies, Inc., v. Lighting Ballast Control LLC, No. 15-893 (intrinsic vs extrinsic evidence for claim construction).
  • STC, Inc. v. Global Traffic Technologies, No. 15-592 (Whether marking the packaging of a patented article with patent notification satisfies the marking provision of 35 U.S.C. § 287(a) where the patented article itself is undisputedly capable of being marked.)
  • Achates Reference Publishing, Inc. v. Apple Inc., et al., No. 15-842 (IPR institution decisions unreviewable, even when addressed in a final written decision by PTAB) [Note – This case was dismissed after being settled by the parties]
  • Alps South, LLC v. The Ohio Willow Wood Company, No. 15-567
  • Allvoice Developments US, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., No. 15-538
  • OIP Technologies, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 15-642
  • Fivetech Technology Inc. v. Southco, Inc., No. 15-381
  • Tyco Healthcare Group LP, et al. v. Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc., No. 15-115
  • Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., No. 15-561
  • Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd., et al. v. Eidos Display, LLC, et al., No. 15-288
  • Kenneth Butler, Sr. v. Balkamp Inc., et al., No. 15-273
  • Arthrex, Inc. v. KFx Medical Corporation, No. 15-291
  • Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., et al., No. 15-559 (Commil re-hash – if actions were “not objectively unreasonable” can they constitute inducement?)
  • Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., et al. v. Apotex Inc., No. 15-281
  • Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Apotex Inc., No. 15-307
  • Luv N’ Care, Ltd. v. Munchkin, Inc., No. 15-242
  • Automated Merchandising Systems, Inc. v. Michelle K. Lee, Director, United States Patent and Trademark Office, No. 15-326
  • I/P Engine, Inc. v. AOL Inc., et al., No. 14-1358
  • Interval Licensing LLC v. AOL Inc., et al., No. 14-1362
  • Content Extraction and Transmission LLC v. Wells Fargo Bank, National Association, et al., No. 14-1473
  • L. Gore & Associates, Inc. v. Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc., et al., No. 15-41
  • NetAirus Technologies, LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 14-1353
  • Muffin Faye Anderson v. Kimberly-Clark Corporation, No. 14-10337
  • MobileMedia Ideas LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 15-206
  • SpeedTrack, Inc. v. Office Depot, Inc. et al., No. 15-461 (Kessler doctrine)
  • Rodney K. Morgan, et al. v. Global Traffic Technologies LLC, No. 15-602
  • Lakshmi Arunachalam v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., No. 15-691
  1. Prior versions of this report:

 

 

Pending Supreme Court Patent Cases 2016 (February 17 Update)

by Dennis Crouch

Justice Scalia died this week. May he rest in peace. Although he (as well as Justice Kagan) had left the University of Chicago before I arrived, their influence continues to be felt in that institution.  (Posner, Obama, Sunstein, Meltzer & Epstein, etc. were all still around). On her blog, Professor Ouellette (Stanford) has a nice post about the mixed bag of Justice Scalia’s IP scholarship legacy.  Most recently, Justice Scalia may be best remembered for calling-out Federal Circuit jurisprudence on obviousness as “gobbledygook.”  In many cases, I would expect that his ‘vote’ was less important than the ideas he brought to the table and the way he changed the debates.

I don’t see Scalia’s death having any impact on Halo/Stryker — where I predict the Federal Circuit will be reversed.  Cuozzo is perhaps a different story where I expect a divided court to affirm in a situation where Justice Scalia may have voted to reverse.  Oral arguments are still set for February 23, 2016 in Halo and Stryker. Tony Mauro has an interesting article on the case titled “Coin toss decides which advocate will argue key patent case.”  Professor Mann provides an argument preview on SCOTUSblog.

New petitions this week include the reappearance of Limelight v. Akamai.  The Supreme Court previously shot-down the Federal Circuit’s expanded definition of inducing infringement, but on remand the Federal Circuit expanded its definition of direct infringement (to include joint enterprise liability).  The case is interesting and I hope that the court grants certiorari, but I would side with the patentee here.

In Medinol v. Cordis, the patentee questions whether the laches doctrine still applies in patent cases. This case parallels SCA Hygiene and comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s Petrella decision which eliminated the laches defense for back-damages in copyright cases.

Briartek IP v. DeLorme, delves into interesting separation of powers and jurisdiction issues, asking: Whether a binding consent order, entered between the federal government, the ITC, and an ITC respondent, deprives federal district courts of jurisdiction over a declaratory judgment action, seeking to invalidate the patent at issue, filed by the ITC respondent … against the patent holder: a non-party to the consent order.  The Federal Circuit had affirmed without substantive opinion.

Finally, last but not least, is Click-to-Call Tech v. Oracle Corp. who has copied the questions from Cuozzo and the recently denied Achates v. Apple.  These questions challenge the seeming the absolute bar on judicial review of Patent Trial & Appeal Board’s power to institute IPR proceedings.  Although this particular petition is unlikely to be granted. It lends additional credence to the other two.  The petition is also a mechanism for the patentee here to keep the issue alive.

1. Petitions Granted:

2. Petitions Granted with immediate Vacatur and Remand (GVR)

3. Petitions for Writ of Certiorari Pending:

  • Infringement by Joint EnterpriseLimelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Technologies, Inc., et al., No. 15-993 (can a defendant be held liable for the collective performance of method steps by multiple independent parties?)
  • Post Grant AdminCooper v. Lee, No. 15-955 (whether IPRs violate Separation of Powers).
  • Post Grant AdminClick-to-Call Tech, LP v. Oracale Corp., No. 15-1014 (Same questions as Achates v. Apple and Cuozo)
  • LachesMedinol Ltd. v. Cordis Corporation, et al., No. 15-998
  • Laches: SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag, et al. v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC, et al., No. 15-927
  • Post Grant AdminInterval Licensing LLC v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-716 (Can the Patent and Trademark Office appropriately apply the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard in construing patent claims in post-grant validity challenges?)
  • Design Patents: Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple Inc., No 15-777 (design patent scope and damages calculation)
  • Design Patents: Systems, Inc. v. Nordock, Inc., No. 15-978 (design patent damage calculations – similar issues as Samsung v. Apple). []
  • InducementLife Technologies Corporation, et al. v. Promega Corporation, No. 14-1538 (whether an entity can “induce itself” under 271(f)(1))(CVSG, awaiting government brief)
  • Inducement: Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., et al., No. 15-559 (Commil re-hash – if actions were “not objectively unreasonable” can they constitute inducement?)
  • Claim Construction: Universal Lighting Technologies, Inc., v. Lighting Ballast Control LLC, No. 15-893 (intrinsic vs extrinsic evidence for claim construction).
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction:  BriarTek IP, Inc. v. DeLorme Publishing Company, Inc., et al., No. 15-1025 (Preclusive impact of ITC consent judgment).
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: Vermont v. MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC, No. 15-838 (Federal court jurisdiction in anti-troll consumer protection case)
  • Preclusion or JurisdictionAlexsam, Inc. v. The Gap, Inc., No. 15-736 (appellate jurisdiction over patents that were dropped from case pre-trial)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: ePlus, Inc. v. Lawson Software, Inc., No. 15-639 (what happens with a finally-determined permanent injunction after PTO cancels the patent claim?)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: Biogen MA, Inc. v. Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, et al., No. 15-607 (Whether AIA eliminated federal district courts’ jurisdiction over patent interference actions under 35 U.S.C. § 146.)
  • Eligibility Challenges: Retirement Capital Access Management Company, LLC v. U.S. Bancorp, et al., No. 15-591 (Whether subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 is a ground specified as a condition for patentability under 35 U.S.C. § 282(b)(2))
  • Eligibility ChallengesJoao Bock Transaction Systems, LLC v. Jack Henry & Associates, Inc., No. 15-974 (defining an abstract idea)
  • Claim Construction: Media Rights Technologies, Inc. v. Capital One Financial Corporation, et al., No. 15-725 (Claim Construction: whether there a strong presumption against construing terms as subject to 35 U.S.C. § 112p6 that do not recite the term “means.”)
  • Patent Term Adjustment Dispute: Daiichi Sankyo Company, Ltd. v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-652 (Patent Term Adjustment – whether the 180 day deadline applies; could bleed into admin law issues)
  • Damages: STC, Inc. v. Global Traffic Technologies, No. 15-592 (Whether marking the packaging of a patented article with patent notification satisfies the marking provision of 35 U.S.C. § 287(a) where the patented article itself is undisputedly capable of being marked.)
  • Damages: Innovention Toys, LLC v. MGA Entertainment, Inc., et al., No. 15-635 (Stryker/Halo follow-on – potential wait-and-see)
  • Low Quality Brief: Morales v. Square, No. 15-896 (eligibility under Alice)

3. Petitions for Writ of Certiorari Denied:

  • Achates Reference Publishing, Inc. v. Apple Inc., et al., No. 15-842 (IPR institution decisions unreviewable, even when addressed in a final written decision by PTAB)
  • Alps South, LLC v. The Ohio Willow Wood Company, No. 15-567
  • Allvoice Developments US, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., No. 15-538
  • OIP Technologies, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 15-642
  • Fivetech Technology Inc. v. Southco, Inc., No. 15-381
  • Tyco Healthcare Group LP, et al. v. Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc., No. 15-115
  • Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., No. 15-561
  • Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd., et al. v. Eidos Display, LLC, et al., No. 15-288
  • Kenneth Butler, Sr. v. Balkamp Inc., et al., No. 15-273
  • Arthrex, Inc. v. KFx Medical Corporation, No. 15-291
  • Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., et al. v. Apotex Inc., No. 15-281
  • Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Apotex Inc., No. 15-307
  • Luv N’ Care, Ltd. v. Munchkin, Inc., No. 15-242
  • Automated Merchandising Systems, Inc. v. Michelle K. Lee, Director, United States Patent and Trademark Office, No. 15-326
  • I/P Engine, Inc. v. AOL Inc., et al., No. 14-1358
  • Interval Licensing LLC v. AOL Inc., et al., No. 14-1362
  • Content Extraction and Transmission LLC v. Wells Fargo Bank, National Association, et al., No. 14-1473
  • W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc. v. Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc., et al., No. 15-41
  • NetAirus Technologies, LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 14-1353
  • Muffin Faye Anderson v. Kimberly-Clark Corporation, No. 14-10337
  • MobileMedia Ideas LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 15-206
  • SpeedTrack, Inc. v. Office Depot, Inc. et al., No. 15-461 (Kessler doctrine)
  • Rodney K. Morgan, et al. v. Global Traffic Technologies LLC, No. 15-602
  • Lakshmi Arunachalam v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., No. 15-691

4. Prior versions of this report:

 

 

Pending Supreme Court Patent Cases 2016 (February 3 Update)

by Dennis Crouch

With Washington DC snowed-in, action within the Supreme Court has also been somewhat slow.  Briefing is now complete in ePlus v. Lawson. In that case, a district court originally held an adjudged infringer in contempt-of-court for refusing to comply with its injunction order. Following the contempt order, the USPTO independently cancelled the patent claims and, at that point, the Federal Circuit vacated both the injunction and the contempt order. ePlus presents the following questions:

1. Whether civil contempt of a permanent injunction order that has been affirmed on appeal and is binding on the litigants under the law of judgments, may be set aside based on a legal development that came after both the permanent injunction and the contumacious conduct, and that did not call into question the correctness of the injunction when it was entered.
2. Whether, under Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm, 514 U.S. 211 (1995), the PTO, an administrative agency, may issue an order that retroactively overrides a federal court’s judgment on a question of law that is not subject to further judicial review, so long as some other part of the litigation is pending.

BIO/PhRMA filed a brief in support of the petition.  The ePlus case is one of several challenging the structure of administrative review proceedings running in parallel with court litigation.  William Jay (Goodwin Proctor) is representing ePlus with Mark Perry (Gibson Dunn)  on the other side.

Oral arguments for the parallel willfulness cases of Halo and Stryker are set for February 23, 2016.  The cases are consolidated to a single one-hour hearing. The attorneys for Halo/Stryker will chose a representative who gets 20-minutes; the US Department of Justice (who generally supports the Halo/Stryker position) will have 10-minutes of oral arguments; and Pulse/Zimmer will choose an attorney for a 30-minute opposition.  For those attending, the other case being heard that day is the criminal case of Taylor v. US involving the Hobbs Act that creates federal criminal liability for “interference with commerce by threats of violence.” 18 U.S.C. 1951.  The question is whether the required element of interstate commerce must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a criminal conviction.

A new petition for certiorari has been filed in Cooper v. Lee, No. 15-955 (whether IPRs violate Separation of Powers).  The petition by Robert Greenspoon links itself with the Cuozzo challenge — noting that Cuozzo raises the “smaller issue” while Cooper raises “larger issues.”

Other new petitions include a filing from Joao Bock Transaction Systems, LLC v. Jack Henry & Associates, Inc., No. 15-974 (defining an abstract idea) and Systems, Inc. v. Nordock, Inc., No. 15-978 (design patent damage calculations).  The Federal Circuit decided Joao Bock with a R.36 affirmance (without opinion affirming that claim 30, et. al, of U.S. Patent No. 7,096,003 are invalid as effectively claiming abstract ideas).  Regarding Nordock, although it is not as high profile, its simplicity may make it a better vehicle than Samsung v. Apple for challenging design patent damage calculations. In any event Nordock’s timing is good and I would expect that the court will at least withhold judgment until it decides whether to grant certiorari in Samsung v. Apple.

1. Petitions Granted:

2. Petitions Granted with immediate Vacatur and Remand (GVR)

3. Petitions for Writ of Certiorari Pending:

  • Post Grant AdminCooper v. Lee, No. 15-955 (whether IPRs violate Separation of Powers).
  • Post Grant AdminAchates Reference Publishing, Inc. v. Apple, Inc., et al., No. 15-842 (IPR institution decisions unreviewable, even when addressed in a final written decision by PTAB)
  • Post Grant AdminInterval Licensing LLC v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-716 (Can the Patent and Trademark Office appropriately apply the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard in construing patent claims in post-grant validity challenges?)
  • Design Patents: Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple Inc., No 15-777 (design patent scope and damages calculation)
  • Design Patents: Systems, Inc. v. Nordock, Inc., No. 15-978 (design patent damage calculations – similar issues as Samsung v. Apple).
  • InducementLife Technologies Corporation, et al. v. Promega Corporation, No. 14-1538 (whether an entity can “induce itself” under 271(f)(1))(CVSG, awaiting government brief)
  • Inducement: Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., et al., No. 15-559 (Commil re-hash – if actions were “not objectively unreasonable” can they constitute inducement?)
  • Claim Construction: Universal Lighting Technologies, Inc., v. Lighting Ballast Control LLC, No. 15-893 (intrinsic vs extrinsic evidence for claim construction).
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: Vermont v. MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC, No. 15-838 (Federal court jurisdiction in anti-troll consumer protection case)
  • Preclusion or JurisdictionAlexsam, Inc. v. The Gap, Inc., No. 15-736 (appellate jurisdiction over patents that were dropped from case pre-trial)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction:
    ePlus, Inc. v. Lawson Software, Inc., No. 15-639 (what happens with a finally-determined permanent injunction after PTO cancels the patent claim?)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: Biogen MA, Inc. v. Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, et al., No. 15-607 (Whether AIA eliminated federal district courts’ jurisdiction over patent interference actions under 35 U.S.C. § 146.)
  • Eligibility Challenges: Retirement Capital Access Management Company, LLC v. U.S. Bancorp, et al., No. 15-591 (Whether subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 is a ground specified as a condition for patentability under 35 U.S.C. § 282(b)(2))
  • Eligibility ChallengesJoao Bock Transaction Systems, LLC v. Jack Henry & Associates, Inc., No. 15-974 (defining an abstract idea)
  • Claim Construction: Media Rights Technologies, Inc. v. Capital One Financial Corporation, et al., No. 15-725 (Claim Construction: whether there a strong presumption against construing terms as subject to 35 U.S.C. § 112p6 that do not recite the term “means.”)
  • Patent Term Adjustment Dispute: Daiichi Sankyo Company, Ltd. v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-652 (Patent Term Adjustment – whether the 180 day deadline applies; could bleed into admin law issues)
  • Damages: STC, Inc. v. Global Traffic Technologies, No. 15-592 (Whether marking the packaging of a patented article with patent notification satisfies the marking provision of 35 U.S.C. § 287(a) where the patented article itself is undisputedly capable of being marked.)
  • Damages: Innovention Toys, LLC v. MGA Entertainment, Inc., et al., No. 15-635 (Stryker/Halo follow-on – potential wait-and-see)
  • Low Quality Brief: Morales v. Square, No. 15-896 (eligibility under Alice)

3. Petitions for Writ of Certiorari Denied:

  • Alps South, LLC v. The Ohio Willow Wood Company, No. 15-567
  • Allvoice Developments US, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., No. 15-538
  • OIP Technologies, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 15-642
  • Fivetech Technology Inc. v. Southco, Inc., No. 15-381
  • Tyco Healthcare Group LP, et al. v. Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc., No. 15-115
  • Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., No. 15-561
  • Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd., et al. v. Eidos Display, LLC, et al., No. 15-288
  • Kenneth Butler, Sr. v. Balkamp Inc., et al., No. 15-273
  • Arthrex, Inc. v. KFx Medical Corporation, No. 15-291
  • Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., et al. v. Apotex Inc., No. 15-281
  • Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Apotex Inc., No. 15-307
  • Luv N’ Care, Ltd. v. Munchkin, Inc., No. 15-242
  • Automated Merchandising Systems, Inc. v. Michelle K. Lee, Director, United States Patent and Trademark Office, No. 15-326
  • I/P Engine, Inc. v. AOL Inc., et al., No. 14-1358
  • Interval Licensing LLC v. AOL Inc., et al., No. 14-1362
  • Content Extraction and Transmission LLC v. Wells Fargo Bank, National Association, et al., No. 14-1473
  • W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc. v. Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc., et al., No. 15-41
  • NetAirus Technologies, LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 14-1353
  • Muffin Faye Anderson v. Kimberly-Clark Corporation, No. 14-10337
  • MobileMedia Ideas LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 15-206
  • SpeedTrack, Inc. v. Office Depot, Inc. et al., No. 15-461 (Kessler doctrine)
  • Rodney K. Morgan, et al. v. Global Traffic Technologies LLC, No. 15-602
  • Lakshmi Arunachalam v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., No. 15-691

4. Prior versions of this report:

Pending Supreme Court Patent Cases 2016 (January 20 Update)

by Dennis Crouch

This week, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in the administrative patent review case of Cuozzo v. Lee. Cuozzo raises the following two questions: (1) Whether the court of appeals erred in holding that, in inter partes review (IPR) proceedings, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board may construe claims in an issued patent according to their broadest reasonable interpretation rather than their plain and ordinary meaning; and (2) whether the court of appeals erred in holding that, even if the Board exceeds its statutory authority in instituting an IPR proceeding, the Board’s decision whether to institute an IPR proceeding is judicially unreviewable. The petitioner (Cuozzo) now has forty-five days to file its opening merits brief with amici briefs due one week later.

The other major patent issue before the court this term involves the enhanced damages questions raised in the parallel cases of Halo and Stryker. Oral arguments are set for those cases for February 23, 2016. Although not a party, the Solicitor General has requested permission to participate in oral argument as amicus curiae and for divided argument filed. The US Government generally supported the petitioners’ position that the Federal Circuit has unduly limited the availability of enhanced damages for willful infringement and other egregious acts by an adjudged infringer.

This week, the Supreme Court also issued a GVR in Medtronic v. NuVasive – ordering the Federal Circuit to reconsider whether the mens rea evidence presented was sufficient to prove active inducement under Commil.

1. Petitions Granted:

2. Petitions Granted with immediate Vacatur and Remand (GVR)

3. Petitions for Writ of Certiorari Pending:

  • Design Patents: Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple Inc., No 15-777 (design patent scope and damages calculation)
  • InducementLife Technologies Corporation, et al. v. Promega Corporation, No. 14-1538 (whether an entity can “induce itself” under 271(f)(1))(CVSG, awaiting government brief)
  • Inducement: Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., et al., No. 15-559 (Commil re-hash – if actions were “not objectively unreasonable” can they constitute inducement?)
  • Post Grant AdminAchates Reference Publishing, Inc. v. Apple, Inc., et al., No. 15-842 (IPR institution decisions unreviewable, even when addressed in a final written decision by PTAB)
  • Post Grant AdminInterval Licensing LLC v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-716 (Can the Patent and Trademark Office appropriately apply the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard in construing patent claims in post-grant validity challenges?)
  • Claim Construction: Universal Lighting Technologies, Inc., v. Lighting Ballast Control LLC, No. 15-893 (intrinsic vs extrinsic evidence for claim construction).
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: Vermont v. MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC, No. 15-838 (Federal court jurisdiction in anti-troll consumer protection case)
  • Preclusion or JurisdictionAlexsam, Inc. v. The Gap, Inc., No. 15-736 (appellate jurisdiction over patents that were dropped from case pre-trial) (New Petition)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction:
    ePlus, Inc. v. Lawson Software, Inc., No. 15-639 (what happens with a finally-determined permanent injunction after PTO cancels the patent claim?)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: Biogen MA, Inc. v. Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, et al., No. 15-607 (Whether AIA eliminated federal district courts’ jurisdiction over patent interference actions under 35 U.S.C. § 146.)
  • Eligibility Challenges: Retirement Capital Access Management Company, LLC v. U.S. Bancorp, et al., No. 15-591 (Whether subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 is a ground specified as a condition for patentability under 35 U.S.C. § 282(b)(2))
  • Claim Construction: Media Rights Technologies, Inc. v. Capital One Financial Corporation, et al., No. 15-725 (Claim Construction: whether there a strong presumption against construing terms as subject to 35 U.S.C. § 112p6 that do not recite the term “means.”)
  • Patent Term Adjustment Dispute: Daiichi Sankyo Company, Ltd. v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-652 (Patent Term Adjustment – whether the 180 day deadline applies; could bleed into admin law issues)
  • Damages: STC, Inc. v. Global Traffic Technologies, No. 15-592 (Whether marking the packaging of a patented article with patent notification satisfies the marking provision of 35 U.S.C. § 287(a) where the patented article itself is undisputedly capable of being marked.)
  • Damages: Innovention Toys, LLC v. MGA Entertainment, Inc., et al., No. 15-635 (Stryker/Halo follow-on – potential wait-and-see)

3. Petitions for Writ of Certiorari Denied:

  • Alps South, LLC v. The Ohio Willow Wood Company, No. 15-567
  • Allvoice Developments US, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., No. 15-538
  • OIP Technologies, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 15-642
  • Fivetech Technology Inc. v. Southco, Inc., No. 15-381
  • Tyco Healthcare Group LP, et al. v. Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc., No. 15-115
  • Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., No. 15-561
  • Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd., et al. v. Eidos Display, LLC, et al., No. 15-288
  • Kenneth Butler, Sr. v. Balkamp Inc., et al., No. 15-273    
  • Arthrex, Inc. v. KFx Medical Corporation, No. 15-291
  • Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., et al. v. Apotex Inc., No. 15-281
  • Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Apotex Inc., No. 15-307
  • Luv N’ Care, Ltd. v. Munchkin, Inc., No. 15-242
  • Automated Merchandising Systems, Inc. v. Michelle K. Lee, Director, United States Patent and Trademark Office, No. 15-326
  • I/P Engine, Inc. v. AOL Inc., et al., No. 14-1358
  • Interval Licensing LLC v. AOL Inc., et al., No. 14-1362
  • Content Extraction and Transmission LLC v. Wells Fargo Bank, National Association, et al., No. 14-1473
  • W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc. v. Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc., et al., No. 15-41
  • NetAirus Technologies, LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 14-1353
  • Muffin Faye Anderson v. Kimberly-Clark Corporation, No. 14-10337
  • MobileMedia Ideas LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 15-206
  • SpeedTrack, Inc. v. Office Depot, Inc. et al., No. 15-461 (Kessler doctrine)
  • Rodney K. Morgan, et al. v. Global Traffic Technologies LLC, No. 15-602
  • Lakshmi Arunachalam v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., No. 15-691

4. Prior versions of this report:

 
 

Pending Supreme Court Patent Cases 2016 (January 12 Update)

by Dennis Crouch

As of January 12, the Supreme Court has granted two petitions for certiorari for this term. Both Halo and Stryker cover the same topic of enhanced damages, a.k.a. willfulness. Another 17 petitions remain pending. Following its latest conference, the Court denied two low-quality petitions (Arunachalam and Morgan) and also the SpeedTrack case which had focused on interesting but esoteric preclusion issues involving the “Kessler doctrine.”

The important inter partes review case Cuozzo survived its first conference and is up on the blocks for a second round this week. This type of immediate “relisting” occurs in almost all cases where certiorari is granted and raises the odds of grant to >50%. Because the US Patent Office is a party in the case, there would be no call for the views of the Solicitor General before granting / denying certiorari. Nine amici briefs were also filed at the petition stage – a factor that also raises the likelihood that certiorari will be granted.

1. Petitions Granted:

2. Petitions for Writ of Certiorari Pending:

  • Design Patents: Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple Inc., No 15-777 (design patent scope and damages calculation)
  • InducementLife Technologies Corporation, et al. v. Promega Corporation, No. 14-1538 (whether an entity can “induce itself” under 271(f)(1))(CVSG, awaiting government brief)
  • InducementMedtronic Sofamor Danek USA, Inc., et al. v. NuVasive, Inc., No. 15-85 (Commil re-hash – mens rea requirement for inducement)
  • Inducement: Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., et al., No. 15-559 (Commil re-hash – if actions were “not objectively unreasonable” can they constitute inducement?)
  • Post Grant AdminCuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-446 (BRI construction in IPRs; institution decisions unreviewable)
  • Post Grant AdminAchates Reference Publishing, Inc. v. Apple, Inc., et al., No. 15-842 (IPR institution decisions unreviewable, even when addressed in a final written decision by PTAB)
  • Post Grant AdminInterval Licensing LLC v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-716 (Can the Patent and Trademark Office appropriately apply the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard in construing patent claims in post-grant validity challenges?)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: Vermont v. MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC, No. 15-838 (Federal court jurisdiction in anti-troll consumer protection case)
  • Preclusion or JurisdictionAlexsam, Inc. v. The Gap, Inc., No. 15-736 (appellate jurisdiction over patents that were dropped from case pre-trial) (New Petition)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction:
    ePlus, Inc. v. Lawson Software, Inc., No. 15-639 (what happens with a finally-determined permanent injunction after PTO cancels the patent claim?)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: Alps South, LLC v. The Ohio Willow Wood Company, No. 15-567 (If patent ownership is fixed after the filing of a complaint, can jurisdiction be cured by a supplemental complaint)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: Biogen MA, Inc. v. Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, et al., No. 15-607 (Whether AIA eliminated federal district courts’ jurisdiction over patent interference actions under 35 U.S.C. § 146.)
  • Eligibility Challenges: Retirement Capital Access Management Company, LLC v. U.S. Bancorp, et al., No. 15-591 (Whether subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 is a ground specified as a condition for patentability under 35 U.S.C. § 282(b)(2))
  • Claim Construction: Media Rights Technologies, Inc. v. Capitol One Financial Corporation, et al., No. 15-725 (Claim Construction: whether there a strong presumption against construing terms as subject to 35 U.S.C. § 112p6 that do not recite the term “means.”)
  • Patent Term Adjustment Dispute: Daiichi Sankyo Company, Ltd. v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-652 (Patent Term Adjustment – whether the 180 day deadline applies; could bleed into admin law issues)
  • Damages: STC, Inc. v. Global Traffic Technologies, No. 15-592 (Whether marking the packaging of a patented article with patent notification satisfies the marking provision of 35 U.S.C. § 287(a) where the patented article itself is undisputedly capable of being marked.)
  • Damages: Innovention Toys, LLC v. MGA Entertainment, Inc., et al., No. 15-635 (Stryker/Halo follow-on)

3. Petitions for Writ of Certiorari Denied:

  • Allvoice Developments US, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., No. 15-538
  • OIP Technologies, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 15-642
  • Fivetech Technology Inc. v. Southco, Inc., No. 15-381
  • Tyco Healthcare Group LP, et al. v. Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc., No. 15-115
  • Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., No. 15-561
  • Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd., et al. v. Eidos Display, LLC, et al., No. 15-288
  • Kenneth Butler, Sr. v. Balkamp Inc., et al., No. 15-273    
  • Arthrex, Inc. v. KFx Medical Corporation, No. 15-291
  • Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., et al. v. Apotex Inc., No. 15-281
  • Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Apotex Inc., No. 15-307
  • Luv N’ Care, Ltd. v. Munchkin, Inc., No. 15-242
  • Automated Merchandising Systems, Inc. v. Michelle K. Lee, Director, United States Patent and Trademark Office, No. 15-326
  • I/P Engine, Inc. v. AOL Inc., et al., No. 14-1358
  • Interval Licensing LLC v. AOL Inc., et al., No. 14-1362
  • Content Extraction and Transmission LLC v. Wells Fargo Bank, National Association, et al., No. 14-1473
  • W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc. v. Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc., et al., No. 15-41
  • NetAirus Technologies, LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 14-1353
  • Muffin Faye Anderson v. Kimberly-Clark Corporation, No. 14-10337
  • MobileMedia Ideas LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 15-206
  • SpeedTrack, Inc. v. Office Depot, Inc. et al., No. 15-461 (Kessler doctrine)
  • Rodney K. Morgan, et al. v. Global Traffic Technologies LLC, No. 15-602
  • Lakshmi Arunachalam v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., No. 15-691

4. Prior versions of this report:

 

Pending Supreme Court Patent Cases for 2016

by Dennis Crouch

Welcome to 2016! As of January 1, only two petitions for certiorari have been granted this term — both covering the same topic of enhanced damages, a.k.a. willfulness. Another 20 petitions remain pending, a few of which may have legs.

New petitions from the past fortnight include Achates v. Apple (reviewability of IPR institution decision) and Vermont v. MPHJ (federal court jurisdiction in anti-troll consumer protection case).

1. Petitions Granted:

2. Petitions for Writ of Certiorari Pending:

  • Design Patents: Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple Inc., No 15-777 (design patent scope and damages calculation)
  • InducementLife Technologies Corporation, et al. v. Promega Corporation, No. 14-1538 (whether an entity can “induce itself” under 271(f)(1))(CVSG, awaiting government brief)
  • InducementMedtronic Sofamor Danek USA, Inc., et al. v. NuVasive, Inc., No. 15-85 (Commil re-hash – mens rea requirement for inducement)
  • Inducement: Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., et al., No. 15-559 (Commil re-hash – if actions were “not objectively unreasonable” can they constitute inducement?)
  • Post Grant AdminCuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-446 (BRI construction in IPRs; institution decisions unreviewable)
  • Post Grant AdminAchates Reference Publishing, Inc. v. Apple, Inc., et al., No. 15-842 (IPR institution decisions unreviewable, even when addressed in a final written decision by PTAB)
  • Post Grant AdminInterval Licensing LLC v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-716 (Can the Patent and Trademark Office appropriately apply the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard in construing patent claims in post-grant validity challenges?)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: Vermont v. MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC, No. 15-838 (Federal court jurisdiction in anti-troll consumer protection case)
  • Preclusion or JurisdictionAlexsam, Inc. v. The Gap, Inc., No. 15-736 (appellate jurisdiction over patents that were dropped from case pre-trial) (New Petition)
  • Preclusion or JurisdictionSpeedTrack, Inc. v. Office Depot, Inc. et al., No. 15-461 (Kesslerdoctrine – enhanced preclusion)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction:
    ePlus, Inc. v. Lawson Software, Inc., No. 15-639 (what happens with a finally-determined permanent injunction after PTO cancels the patent claim?)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: Alps South, LLC v. The Ohio Willow Wood Company, No. 15-567 (If patent ownership is fixed after the filing of a complaint, can jurisdiction be cured by a supplemental complaint)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: Biogen MA, Inc. v. Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, et al., No. 15-607 (Whether AIA eliminated federal district courts’ jurisdiction over patent interference actions under 35 U.S.C. § 146.)
  • Eligibility Challenges: Retirement Capital Access Management Company, LLC v. U.S. Bancorp, et al., No. 15-591 (Whether subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 is a ground specified as a condition for patentability under 35 U.S.C. § 282(b)(2))
  • Claim Construction: Media Rights Technologies, Inc. v. Capitol One Financial Corporation, et al., No. 15-725 (Claim Construction: whether there a strong presumption against construing terms as subject to 35 U.S.C. § 112p6 that do not recite the term “means.”)
  • Patent Term Adjustment Dispute: Daiichi Sankyo Company, Ltd. v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-652 (Patent Term Adjustment – whether the 180 day deadline applies; could bleed into admin law issues)
  • Damages: STC, Inc. v. Global Traffic Technologies, No. 15-592 (Whether marking the packaging of a patented article with patent notification satisfies the marking provision of 35 U.S.C. § 287(a) where the patented article itself is undisputedly capable of being marked.)
  • Damages: Innovention Toys, LLC v. MGA Entertainment, Inc., et al., No. 15-635 (Stryker/Halo follow-on)
  • Soon to be DeniedArunachalam v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., No. 15-691 (unclear)
  • Soon to be DeniedMorgan, et al. v. Global Traffic Technologies LLC, No. 15-602 (unclear)

3. Petitions for Writ of Certiorari Denied:

  • Allvoice Developments US, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., No. 15-538
  • OIP Technologies, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 15-642
  • Fivetech Technology Inc. v. Southco, Inc., No. 15-381
  • Tyco Healthcare Group LP, et al. v. Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc., No. 15-115
  • Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., No. 15-561
  • Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd., et al. v. Eidos Display, LLC, et al., No. 15-288
  • Arthrex, Inc. v. KFx Medical Corporation, No. 15-291
  • Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., et al. v. Apotex Inc., No. 15-281
  • Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Apotex Inc., No. 15-307
  • Luv N’ Care, Ltd. v. Munchkin, Inc., No. 15-242
  • Automated Merchandising Systems, Inc. v. Michelle K. Lee, Director, United States Patent and Trademark Office, No. 15-326
  • I/P Engine, Inc. v. AOL Inc., et al., No. 14-1358
  • Interval Licensing LLC v. AOL Inc., et al., No. 14-1362
  • Content Extraction and Transmission LLC v. Wells Fargo Bank, National Association, et al., No. 14-1473
  • W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc. v. Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc., et al., No. 15-41
  • NetAirus Technologies, LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 14-1353
  • Muffin Faye Anderson v. Kimberly-Clark Corporation, No. 14-10337
  • MobileMedia Ideas LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 15-206

Pending Supreme Court Patent Cases (Update)

by Dennis Crouch

As of December 14, two petitions for certiorari have been granted — both covering the same topic of enhanced damages, a.k.a. willfulness. Another 17 petitions remain pending, a few of which have potential.

  1. Petition Granted:
  1. Petition for Writ of Certiorari Pending:
  • Design Patents: Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple Inc., No 15-___ (design patent scope and damages calculation)(New Petition)
  • InducementLife Technologies Corporation, et al. v. Promega Corporation, No. 14-1538 (whether an entity can “induce itself” under 271(f)(1))(CVSG)
  • InducementMedtronic Sofamor Danek USA, Inc., et al. v. NuVasive, Inc., No. 15-85 (Commilre-hash – mens rea requirement for inducement)
  • Inducement: Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., et al., No. 15-559 (Commilre-hash – if actions were “not objectively unreasonable” can they constitute inducement?)
  • Post Grant AdminCuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-446 (BRI construction in IPRs; institution decisions unreviewable)
  • Post Grant AdminInterval Licensing LLC v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-716 (Can the Patent and Trademark Office appropriately apply the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard in construing patent claims in post-grant validity challenges?)
  • Preclusion or JurisdictionAlexsam, Inc. v. The Gap, Inc., No. 15-736 (appellate jurisdiction over patents that were dropped from case pre-trial) (New Petition)
  • Preclusion or JurisdictionSpeedTrack, Inc. v. Office Depot, Inc. et al., No. 15-461 (Kesslerdoctrine – enhanced preclusion)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: ePlus, Inc. v. Lawson Software, Inc., No. 15-639 (what happens with a finally-determined permanent injunction after PTO cancels the patent claim?)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: Alps South, LLC v. The Ohio Willow Wood Company, No. 15-567 (If patent ownership is fixed after the filing of a complaint, can jurisdiction be cured by a supplemental complaint)
  • Preclusion or Jurisdiction: Biogen MA, Inc. v. Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, et al., No. 15-607 (Whether AIA eliminated federal district courts’ jurisdiction over patent interference actions under 35 U.S.C. § 146.)
  • Eligibility Challenges: Retirement Capital Access Management Company, LLC v. U.S. Bancorp, et al., No. 15-591 (Whether subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 is a ground specified as a condition for patentability under 35 U.S.C. § 282(b)(2))
  • Claim Construction: Media Rights Technologies, Inc. v. Capitol One Financial Corporation, et al., No. 15-725 (Claim Construction: whether there a strong presumption against construing terms as subject to 35 U.S.C. § 112p6 that do not recite the term “means.”)
  • Patent Term Adjustment Dispute: Daiichi Sankyo Company, Ltd. v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-652 (Patent Term Adjustment – whether the 180 day deadline applies; could bleed into admin law issues)
  • Damages: STC, Inc. v. Global Traffic Technologies, No. 15-592 (Whether marking the packaging of a patented article with patent notification satisfies the marking provision of 35 U.S.C. § 287(a) where the patented article itself is undisputedly capable of being marked.)
  • Damages: Innovention Toys, LLC v. MGA Entertainment, Inc., et al., No. 15-635 (Stryker/Halo follow-on)
  • Soon to be DeniedArunachalam v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., No. 15-691 (unclear)
  • Soon to be DeniedMorgan, et al. v. Global Traffic Technologies LLC, No. 15-602 (unclear)

Pending Supreme Court Patent Cases

by Dennis Crouch

1.   Petition Granted:

2.   Petition for Writ of Certiorari Pending:

  • Life Technologies Corporation, et al. v. Promega Corporation, No. 14-1538 (Can an entity “induce itself” under 271(f)(1)?)(CVSG)
  • Allvoice Developments US, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., No. 15-538 (“Do patent claims addressed directly to software that is inherently in a computer-readable medium qualify as a ‘manufacture’ under 35 U.S.C. § 101 without express recitation of the medium?”)
  • OIP Technologies, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. 15-642 (Do the rules of civil procedure apply when defendant raises a Section 101 eligibility “defense” in a motion-to-dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted?)
  • Fivetech Technology Inc. v. Southco, Inc., No. 15-381 (What is the proper role of intrinsic evidence in claim construction?)
  • Medtronic Sofamor Danek USA, Inc., et al. v. NuVasive, Inc., No. 15-85 (Commil re-hash – mens rea requirement for inducement)
  • SpeedTrack, Inc. v. Office Depot, Inc. et al., No. 15-461 (Kessler doctrine – enhanced preclusion)
  • Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-446 (BRI construction in IPRs; institution decisions unreviewable).
  • Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., et al., No. 15-559 (Commil re-hash – if actions were “not objectively unreasonable” can they constitute inducement?)
  • Alps South, LLC v. The Ohio Willow Wood Company, No. 15-567 (If patent ownership is fixed after the filing of a complaint, can jurisdiction be cured by a supplemental complaint)
  • STC, Inc. v. Global Traffic Technologies, No. 15-592 (Whether marking the packaging of a patented article with patent notification satisfies the marking provision of 35 U.S.C. § 287(a) where the patented article itself is undisputedly capable of being marked.)
  • Retirement Capital Access Management Company, LLC v. U.S. Bancorp, et al., No. 15-591 (Whether subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 is a ground specified as a condition for patentability under 35 U.S.C. § 282(b)(2))
  • Biogen MA, Inc. v. Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, et al., No. 15-607 (Whether AIA eliminated federal district courts’ jurisdiction over patent interference actions under 35 U.S.C. § 146.)
  • ePlus, Inc. v. Lawson Software, Inc., No. 15-639 (what happens with a finally-determined permanent injunction after PTO cancels the patent claim?)
  • Interval Licensing LLC v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-716 (Can the Patent and Trademark Office appropriately apply the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard in construing patent claims in post-grant validity challenges?)
  • Media Rights Technologies, Inc. v. Capitol One Financial Corporation, et al., No. 15-725 (Claim Construction: whether there a strong presumption against construing terms as subject to 35 U.S.C. § 112p6 that do not recite the term “means.”)
  • Daiichi Sankyo Company, Ltd. v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-652 (Patent Term Adjustment – whether the 180 day deadline applies)
  • Innovention Toys, LLC v. MGA Entertainment, Inc., et al., No. 15-635 (Stryker/Halo follow-on)
  • Morgan, et al. v. Global Traffic Technologies LLC, No. 15-602 (unclear)
  • Arunachalam v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., No. 15-691 (unclear)

Mayo v. Prometheus: the Patentee’s Section 101 Argument

Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Labs., Inc. (Supreme Court 2011)

The briefing continues in this patentable subject matter case pending before the US Supreme Court. (Read Professor Golden's discussion of the first round of merits briefs).  In its newly filed merits brief, Prometheus attempts to refocus attention on the "concreteness" of its patented method of personalizing the dosage of a particular drug treatment. The refocus begins with the statement of the question presented.  Download 2011-10-31_Prometheus Merits Brief

Mayo, the petitioner challenging the patent, opened briefing with a question of whether a patent that "covers observed correlations between blood test results and patient health, so that the patent effectively preempts use of the naturally occurring correlations, simply because well-known methods used to administer prescription drugs and test blood may involve "transformations" of body chemistry."  This language of Mayo's question is directly suggestive of the decisions of Benson and Flook — both of which held claimed methods to be unpatentable.

In its brief, Prometheus restates the question in a way that instead highlights the concrete and practical application language found in Diehr and Brenner v. Manson. Prometheus asks: "Whether the Federal Circuit correctly held that concrete methods for improving the treatment of patients suffering from autoimmune diseases by using individualized metabolite measurements to inform the calibration of the patient's dosages of synthetic thiopurines are patentable processes under 35 U.S.C. §101."

Prometheus describes its challenged invention as follows:

First, most of the claims begin with the administration of a thiopurine compound to a patient with an autoimmune disorder. As noted, the thiopurine converts within the body into metabolites that do not otherwise exist in nature.

Second, the patient's metabolite levels are determined. Because "metabolite levels are not detectable in raw human tissue," all methods for measuring their concentration require "significant chemical and physical alteration of blood or human tissue" and sophisticated laboratory equipment and machines. Some of the dependant claims, for example, specify the use of high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), which entails an intricate series of operations on the blood (including heating, centrifuging, separating, and adding various reagents), running the resulting solution through a computer-controlled chromatography instrument, calculating the peak height or peak area, and feeding those figures into an equation, which finally outputs the metabolite levels.

Third, the metabolite measurements are compared to the patents' reference levels, "warning" the physician about the potential efficacy or toxicity of the patient's dosage.

Several important points are hidden by the patentee's statement of its invention: First, although most of the patented claims do require administration of thiopurine some claims do not include that particular step.  Second, although current technological methods of measuring metabolite levels apparently require the extraction of human tissue and the use of "sophisticated laboratory equipment," the broadest claims only require "determining" of the metabolite levels.  Finally, it is likely important to recognize that the claimed method is about tweaking the dosage of thiopurine and at the time of the invention most of the individual elements of the claim were already well known: It was well known that thiopurine could be used to treat IBD; it was well known that that the body converted thiopurine to the claimed metabolite; it was known that individuals had varying responses to thiopurine; and it was known that dosage should be adjusted so that it would be both effective and nontoxic.

Summary of the Prometheus argument:

First, to be patent-eligible, a process must really be a process—a series of steps that involve physical action in the real world, as opposed to merely an idea or principle stated in the abstract. Second, that process must be described at a narrow and specific enough level of generality that it does not preempt abstract ideas or basic building blocks of science that go far beyond what the patentee actually invented: A process for using a telegraph is patentable; the basic idea that information might be transmitted at a distance by exploiting laws of electromagnetism is not.

A. Prometheus's patented methods describe concrete methods for improving treatment of seriously ill patients with specific synthetic drugs. These patents do not claim the "correlations" they employ in the abstract, but as part of specific physical processes employing drugs and machines. . . . As the Federal Circuit recognized, the patents-in-suit pass [the machine-or-transformation] test with flying colors and easily satisfy the requirements of §101. Mayo attempts to avoid that conclusion in three ways, none of which has merit. First, Mayo invites this Court to discard the two initial steps (administering the thiopurines and determining the resulting metabolite levels) because they were "well known" in the art. But this Court rejected that "point-of-novelty" approach over 30 years ago in Diehr and again recently in Bilski. Second, Mayo argues that those same two initial steps should be disregarded because, according to Mayo, they are not "central" to the patents' purpose. Mayo does this only by ignoring the Federal Circuit's settled construction that the claims are limited to patient treatment (a question not presented here) and that those two steps are essential to that purpose. Third, Mayo invites this Court to invent, out of whole cloth, a categorical rule that processes ending with the provision of useful information cannot be patentable—even if preceding steps involve machines and physical transformations. That argument also is inconsistent with Bilski, and it would impose an arbitrary and (in the information age) absurd limitation on patentability.

B. The patents-in-suit do not preempt natural phenomena in any relevant sense. Their "correlations" concern certain properties attending certain uses of non-natural thiopurine compounds, which would not exist but for the handiwork of man. A patent system that recognizes thiopurine compounds themselves as potentially patentable subject matter, allowing preemption of all uses of these compounds, cannot be concerned that a process patent may preempt some of their uses. . . .

C. Prometheus agrees with the United States that the Patent Act's express statutory criteria for patentability—under 35 U.S.C. §§102, 103, and 112—make expansive judicial lawmaking under §101, of the sort invited by Mayo's arguments, unnecessary. But the application of those provisions is not before the Court in this case, and presents difficult and fact-bound questions that the lower courts should address in the first instance on remand.

II. Mayo proposes to transform §101 into an invitation for ad hoc, case-by-case evaluation of whether granting a particular patent will promote or retard the progress of the useful arts. That would create an unadministrable morass for courts and patent examiners, doom any hope for consistent administration of the patent laws, and usurp Congress's authority to determine the appropriate scope of the patent laws.

III. Any change in the Court's §101 jurisprudence that permitted a ruling in Mayo's favor, on whatever grounds, would have drastic and unfortunate consequences. It would upend settled expectations by invalidating thousands of diagnostic and personalized treatment patents. And it would stifle investment and innovation in the nascent field of personalized medicine. Contrary to Mayo's understanding, government funding does not translate pure academic research into practical products that benefit patients, and doctors themselves cannot bring to bear the resources necessary to fuel innovation and commercialize inventions on a large scale. Mayo's contention that patents like these hinder medical care is also unpersuasive. The United States is the world leader in biotechnology and personalized medicine, in part because investors have committed billions of dollars in capital in reliance on the prospect of patents like these. Thousands have been issued, including many to Mayo itself. Mayo's short-sighted view would exchange long-term innovation (including cost reductions) for ephemeral savings. In any event, Congress already considered Mayo's invitation to broadly restrict patent protection for medical diagnostic and treatment methods—and chose to adopt a limited personal immunity for doctors instead.

Issue Preclusion: Claim Construction in Prior Lawsuit

US5428933-1by Dennis Crouch

Phil-Insul Corp. (IntegraSpec) v. Airlite Plastics (Fed. Cir. 2017) [IntegraSpec].

IntegraSpec’s U.S. Patent No. 5,428,933 covers an insulated concrete form (Styrofoam molds) used in building construction.

Back in 2011, IntegraSpec sued Reward Wall and Nudura Corp. for infringing the ‘933 patent. In that case, the district court sided with the defendants – finding no infringement. That decision was affirmed in 2014 by the CAFC without opinion.  During the interim, the USPTO also confirmed the patentability of several claims of the patent.

Meanwhile, IntegraSpec sued Airlite in May 2012 alleging infringement, but the district court dismissed the case in 2014 (after a two year stay) finding them precluded based upon the common law doctrine of collateral estoppel (these days usually called issue preclusion).  Here, we might term this non-mutual defensive collateral estoppel.

Basically, IntegraSpec was asking for a different claim construction in the second case than what was awarded in the first case.  The district court saw the problem with this since accused products were virtually identical and the narrow claim construction in the original case was critical to the non-infringement outcome.

Collateral estoppel kicks-in to prevent a party from re-litigating an already decided issue when:

(1) Same Party: the party being precluded was a party (or in privity with a party) in the prior action.

(2) Same Issue: the issue being precluded is the same as the issue in the prior action;

(3) Actually Litigated: the issue being precluded was actually litigated in the prior action;

(4) Final Judgment: the issue being precluded was determined by a valid final judgment; and

(5) Essential: the determination of the issue in the prior action must have been essential to the prior judgment.

The list above is 8th Circuit law, but is fairly standard.  The Federal Circuit has created some additional patent-specific rules regarding issue preclusion – For infringement, two infringement claims are “the same” if the accused products are “essentially the same,” i.e., differences are either “merely colorable” or else unrelated to the limitations of the asserted patent claims. Roche Palo Alto LLC v. Apotex, Inc., 531 F.3d 1372 (Fed. Cir. 2008)

On appeal, the Federal Circuit has affirmed – specifically holding that its prior R.36 Judgment may be used in support of an issue preclusion conclusion so long as only a single dispositive issue was appealed in that prior appeal.

The second issue – in the first case claim 1 was asserted. Meanwhile, claim 1 was cancelled in a reexam and formerly dependent claim 2 rewritten to include all of the prior limitations.  In this new action, claim 2 is asserted.  In the appeal, the Federal Circuit confirmed that collateral estoppel applies even though the original court interpreted claim 1.  The court based this upon its bare statement that “It is well-established, however, that claim terms are to be construed consistently throughout a patent.”

 

Post-Bilski BPAI Approves of Beauregard Claims

Ex parte Bo Li, Appeal 2008-1213 (BPAI 2008)

Li’s patent application claims a computer program product stored on a computer readable memory adapted be executed to implement a report generation method. The computer program product is a typical Beauregard claim. In what appears to be the first decision to cite the new Bilski machine-or-transformation test of patentable subject matter, the BPAI overturned the examiner’s Section 101 rejection – finding that the product claim includes statutory subject matter.

Here, the examiner argued that the claimed computer program product could not be patentable because it did not produce “a useful, concrete and tangible result.” On appeal, the BPAI held that Bilski expressly rejected that statement from State Street. However, because Li’s claim was for a product, the BPAI did not apply the Bilski machine-or-transformation test to determine patentability. Rather, the court merely relied on the notion of that claimed products – even when written as Beauregard claims – are patentable.

“It has been the practice for a number of years that a “Beauregard Claim” of this nature be considered statutory at the USPTO as a product claim. (MPEP 2105.01, I). Though not finally adjudicated, this practice is not inconsistent with In re Nuijten. Further, the instant claim presents a number of software components, such as the claimed logic processing module, configuration file processing module, data organization module, and data display organization module, that are embodied upon a computer readable medium. This combination has been found statutory under the teachings of In re Lowry, 32 F.3d 1579 (Fed. Cir. 1994). In view of the totality of these precedents, we decline to support the rejection under 35 U.S.C. § 101.”

Li won the Section 101 battle, but still lost the war – the BPAI affirmed the examiner’s contention that the claim was also unpatentable as obvious.

Notes:

  • Thanks to Amber Rovney of Weil’s Austin office for first noting the opinion.  
  • Assignee is IBM, but originally filed as a Korean Application.
  • The approved-of claim is drafted as follows:

42. A computer program product, comprising a computer usable medium having a computer readable program code embodied therein, said computer readable program code adapted to be executed to implement a method for generating a report, said method comprising:

  • providing a system, wherein the system comprises distinct software modules, and wherein the distinct software modules comprise a logic processing module, a configuration file processing module, a data organization module, and a data display organization module;
  • parsing a configuration file into definition data that specifies: a data organization of the report, a display organization of the report, and at least one data source comprising report data to be used for generating the report, and wherein said parsing is performed by the configuration file processing module in response to being called by the logic processing module;
  • extracting the report data from the at least one data source, wherein said extracting is performed by the data organization module in response to being called by the logic processing module;
  • receiving, by the logic processing module, the definition data from the configuration file processing module and the extracted report data from the data organization module; and
  • organizing, by the data display organization module in respone to being called by the logic processing module, a data display organization of the report, wherein said organizing comprises utilizing the definition data received by the logic processing module and the extracted report data received by the logic processing module.