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:
- Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc., No. 14-1513 (enhanced damages) (February 23 Oral Arguments linked with Stryker)
- Stryker Corporation, et al. v. Zimmer, Inc., No. 14-1520 (enhanced damages) (linked to Halo)
- Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Michelle K. Lee, No. 15-446 (BRI construction in IPRs; institution decisions unreviewable)
2. Petitions Granted with immediate Vacatur and Remand (GVR)
- Medtronic Sofamor Danek USA, Inc., et al. v. NuVasive, Inc., No. 15-85 (Commil re-hash – mens rea requirement for inducement)
3. Petitions for Writ of Certiorari Pending:
- Post Grant Admin: Cooper v. Lee, No. 15-955 (whether IPRs violate Separation of Powers).
- Post Grant Admin: 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)
- Post Grant Admin: 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?)
- 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).
- Inducement: Life 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 Jurisdiction: Alexsam, 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 Challenges: Joao 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: