Skip to content
Photo of James Wodarski

James Wodarski is a Member in the firm and is based in the Boston office. He focuses on patent disputes in the International Trade Commission, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and Federal District Courts. A patent litigator with extensive experience, James has handled disputes involving many technologies, including smartphones, core processor circuits, digital imaging software, telecommunications devices, and LED lighting systems. He has also represented clients in cases involving complex business litigation, white collar crime, insurance coverage, federal securities actions, trademark ownership of mass media and literary titles, complex insurance coverage, and the First Amendment.

The public version of ALJ Shaw’s Initial Determination (ID) in U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) investigation Certain Magnetic Data Storage Tapes and Cartridges Containing the Same, Inv. No. 337-TA-1012 (1012 Investigation), provides important guidance on enforcement of standard-essential patents (SEPs) in the ITC.  Respondent and accused infringer Sony argued that several of the patents asserted by patentee Fujifilm wereessential to the LTO-7 standard (relating to “linear tape open” magnetic media) and therefore that Fujifilm had waived its right to injunctive relief and was obligated to license its patents on FRAND terms.  ALJ Shaw ultimately found that Sony had not met its burden of demonstrating essentiality, but he nevertheless provided helpful instructions on the quantum of proof necessary to make out such a claim, as well as other factors relevant to ITC enforcement of SEPs, all of which affirmed that the ITC is a viable forum for enforcement of SEPs.  In sum he ruled that:

  • The party arguing that a patent is essential bears the burden of proof on that point;
  • Unless a patent is, in fact, essential to a given standard, there can be no breach of the standard-setting organization (SSO) agreement(s) giving rise to the FRAND obligation at issue;
  • Breach of an SSO agreement and of forum selection clauses are not valid defenses in ITC investigations; and
  • Respondents bear the burden of proving that a complainant/patentee relinquished its rights to equitable relief by joining the SSO in question.

Continue Reading ALJ Shaw: ITC is a Viable Forum for Enforcement of SEPs

The decision in U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) investigation Certain Magnetic Data Storage Tapes and Cartridges Containing the Same, Inv. No. 337-TA-1012 (“1012 Investigation”), is still confidential, but the ITC has issued a notice stating that ALJ Shaw has ruled in favor of patentee Fujifilm against Sony and recommended that an exclusion order be issued.  This is important because it is the first time the ITC has issued an exclusion order on standard-essential patents (SEPs), and may be the first time any U.S. tribunal has issued exclusionary or injunctive relief on patents which were declared standard essential.   In the opinion, which should become public in a few weeks, ALJ Shaw, who presided over the case, is expected to address a number of key issues relating to the assertion of SEPs in general, and at the ITC specifically. In this case many of Sony’s affirmative defenses relate to the alleged essentiality of the asserted patents and the Administrative Law Judge was asked to answer a number of questions relating to SEPs generally and the ability to enforce them at the ITC.

Continue Reading Upcoming Opinion in ITC Expected To Provide Important Guidance on FRAND and SEPs

As we have covered in detail here before, Apple sued Samsung in 2011, for infringement of design patents covering a black rectangular front face with rounded corners, a rectangular front face with rounded corners and a raised rim, and a grid of 16 colorful icons on a black screen.   A jury found that several Samsung smartphones did infringe those patents and awarded $399 million in damages to Apple for Samsung’s design patent infringement. The Federal Circuit subsequently upheld the award.

Last week, the Supreme Court held that the relevant “article of manufacture” for arriving at a damages award for design patent infringement need not be the end product sold to the consumer, but may be only a component of that product. In Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., et al. v. Apple Inc., 580 U.S. ___, No. 15-777, slip op. (Dec. 6, 2016), a unanimous 8-0 opinion authored by Justice Sotomayor reversed the Federal Circuit’s ruling that Apple was entitled to $399 million in damages, and remanded the case to the Federal Circuit.

To read more about the decision, please click here.

On November 28, 2016, Baroness Neville Rolfe, the United Kingdom Minister of State for Intellectual Property, announced that the U.K. would ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement, paving the way for the European Unified Patent Court (UPC).  Commentators were generally surprised that the U.K, in the wake of June 2016’s referendum vote to leave the E.U., would take this step, moving towards greater cooperation with E.U. member states and ceding some control over its patent system. Regardless of whether the U.K.’s ratification was expected, the establishment of the UPC could have a profound impact on global intellectual property, provided that the U.K. follows through on its announcement.

To read more about this announcement, and what the European Unified Patent Court means for the world patent market, please click here.

Faced with the growing problem of efficient infringement and the difficulty of obtaining adequate protection from the courts, US owners of standard-essential patents need to develop creative strategies to protect the value of their rights.

In a comprehensive article, published as a feature in Intellectual Asset Management magazine, several Mintz Levin attorneys discuss the extent of the growing problem, the courts’ focus on “patent hold-up, not hold-out” (including analysis of Microsoft v. Motorola, CSIRO v. Cisco, Certain 3G Mobile Handsets, and Certain Wireless Devices with 3G and/or 4G Capabilities), the implications for moving forward, and some thoughts on strategy to overcome efficient infringement.  IAM | Sept/Oct 2016: “Efficient infringement and the undervaluation of standard-essential patents

A sidebar in the article points out that in dealing recently with the issue of patent hold-out, European courts appear to be demonstrating a better understanding of the issue and the threat it poses.

In a newly issued statement, the U.S. International Trade Commission once again made it clear that standard-essential patents may be asserted at the ITC and will be treated no differently than other patents asserted in a Section 337 investigation. Issues of standard essentiality will be addressed – under commission’s statutory obligation to assess an exclusion order’s impact on the public interest – only after it has been determined that a violation of the statute has occurred. Such issues, therefore, are not appropriate for resolution through the ITC’s Early Disposition Pilot Program.

Read more on the team’s insights into the SEPs at the ITC issue in this Law 360 article (republished with permission).

The owners of popular brands, trademarks, and designs have been confronted with a rising tide of counterfeits and knockoffs. The products may be straight counterfeits – products using the trademarked brand names and identical to the legitimate product – or knockoffs, which copy a designer or brand’s style, trade dress, or patented designs without containing logos or brand names but are still so confusingly similar that consumers assume that they are branded products. To fight this, brand and trademark owners are turning to new strategies such as actions under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and the Lanham Act, and pulling products from Amazon and other websites.

Read more on the team’s insights into using the ITC to fight counterfeits and knockoffs in this Law 360 article (republished with permission).

The October 2016 issue of Financier Worldwide features our article discussing the ITC’s general exclusion order procedure and how it impacts fighting counterfeit goods.  Though the US International Trade Commission (ITC) is most often thought of in terms of high stakes patent litigation, the issuance of a general exclusion order (GEO) by the ITC has always been a powerful tool for intellectual property owners to fight counterfeits and knockoffs. Word of the benefits of obtaining a GEO seems to have spread as in recent years the numbers of these orders, and the parties seeking them, have been increasing rapidly.

Companies seeking to stop a tide of imported knockoffs often find themselves playing legal whack-a-mole – they spend a great deal of money and time filing repeated cases in the US district courts against the sellers they can identify, but after it all find that the orders they worked so hard to obtain are difficult to enforce against small overseas companies which simply cease their official operations then re-emerge having changed their names, locations or channel of importation.

To read the entire article, please click here.

Several months ago, we were struck with the question of whether, as counsel for a patent owner at the ITC, our clients’ case would benefit from a Markman hearing.  Claim construction during an ITC investigation was routinely performed as part of the evidentiary hearing in an investigation, rather than as part of earlier Markman proceedings.  This has now changed.  Recently appointed ALJs at the ITC have been trending towards conducting Markman hearings rather than pushing claim construction to the final hearing.  This new trend has resulted in additional litigation strategy considerations at the ITC, regarding whether Markman hearings are beneficial, or detrimental, and what affect the increase in Markman hearings have on investigations.

Claim construction will occur at some point in any patent-based ITC investigation.  From a patent owner’s perspective, the question is whether having a Markman hearing at the ITC will be helpful.  A negative claim construction order, especially early in the investigation, may imperil the ability to reach the evidentiary hearing as an adverse ruling could result in summary determination.  In contrast, a favorable claim construction order could result in added pressure for settlement.

Continue Reading Markman at the ITC and Its Effect on an Investigation

On August 22, 2016, Administrative Law Judge David Shaw of the International Trade Commission (“ITC” or “Commission”) issued his final initial determination (“the ID”) in Certain Portable Electronic Devices and Components Thereof, Inv. No. 337-TA-994. The ID invalidated all of the asserted claims for lack of patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101, and terminated the investigation.  This decision resulted from an early evidentiary hearing, conducted by order of the Commission within 100 days of its Notice of Institution under its “pilot program.”  81 Fed. Reg. 29307 (May 11, 2016).

The ID has implications related both to the implementation of the 100 day pilot program and continually developing Alice jurisprudence.  For a more in depth discussion of those issues, please see our client alert here.

Continue Reading A Novel Outcome at the International Trade Commission: Patent Claims Invalidated Under Alice in the 100-Day Pilot Program