Late last week, the Federal Circuit granted a writ of mandamus in In re Cray, 2017-129 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 21, 2017), overturning Judge Gilstrap’s four-factor test for determining whether a defendant possesses “a regular and established place of business” in a district such that the defendant could be sued for patent infringement in that district. In re Cray provides useful guidance because it is the first time since the Supreme Court’s TC Heartland decision that the Federal Circuit has weighed in on what constitutes a “regular and established place of business.” The patent venue statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b), provides that venue is proper in a patent infringement lawsuit only where the defendant (1) resides or (2) has “committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.” TC Heartland clarified that a defendant “resides” only in the state in which it is incorporated. It did not address the second prong, however, which is an alternative way of establishing venue. More frequently patent owners are looking to the second prong to determine the locus of an appropriate venue now that the first prong of the statute has been interpreted narrowly.
On March 3, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reaffirmed, in a precedential opinion, that prosecution disclaimers may only limit the scope of a claim where the disclaimer is “both clear and unmistakable to one of ordinary skill in the art.” In Technology Properties Ltd. v. Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., the Federal Circuit made clear that statements made during patent prosecution will not constitute a disclaimer of claim scope where the statements are “ambiguous or amenable to multiple reasonable interpretations,” but that a disclaimer based on unambiguous statements during prosecution may serve to surrender more claim scope than was necessary to overcome a rejection. Continue Reading Federal Circuit Reiterates That Patent Prosecution Disclaimers Must Be “Clear and Unmistakable”
The Federal Circuit has further clarified the scope of the covered business method (CBM) review program under the America Invents Act (AIA), explaining in Secure Axcess, LLC. v. PNC Bank National Association that in order for patent to be a CBM patent, it is not enough that the claimed subject matter may be used in a financial activity. Rather, to qualify as a CBM patent, a patent must have at least one claim that contains a financial activity element.
The AIA contains a temporary program by which a CBM patent may be challenged on any ground of patentability. A threshold requirement to CBM review is that the challenged patent is in fact a covered business method patent. The AIA defines a CBM patent as “a patent that claims a method or corresponding apparatus for performing data processing or other operations used in the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service, except that the term does not include patents for technological inventions.” AIA §18(d)(1). Continue Reading Federal Circuit Clarifies Scope of Covered Business Method Review
Several recent court decisions have shed light on the patent agent privilege, and now the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking to weigh-in on the issue.
As previously reported at Global IP Matters, the Federal Circuit held in March in In re Queen’s University at Kingston that communications between patent agents and their clients regarding patent prosecution matters are privileged and should be shielded from discovery in subsequent litigation regarding the patents.
The Federal Circuit reaffirmed last week that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB’s) decision to discontinue inter partes review (IPR) proceedings is not reviewable on appeal. In Medtronic, Inc. v. Robert Bosch Healthcare Systems, Inc., the Federal Circuit held that just as the PTAB’s initial decision whether to institute inter partes proceedings is not appealable in light of 35 U.S.C. §314(d) and the Supreme Court’s recent Cuozzo decision, neither is a subsequent decision to vacate that institution decision.
Bosch sued Cardiocom (a subsidiary of Medtronic) in 2013 for infringing two Bosch patents. Cardiocom then filed petitions for inter partes reviews of the Bosch patents, which the PTAB denied in January 2014. Medtronic then filed three more petitions seeking inter partes reviews of the same Bosch patents, listing Medtronic as the sole real party in interest. The PTAB instituted the proceedings but allowed Bosch discovery regarding Cardiocom’s status as a real party in interest. Based on the discovery, the PTAB granted Bosch’s motion to terminate the proceedings because Medtronic failed to name Cardiocom as a real party in interest as required by 35 U.S.C. §312(a)(2).
The deadline has come and gone for the ITC and patentee Align to file petitions for certiorari seeking review by the Supreme Court of the Federal Circuit’s decision in ClearCorrect. On November 10, 2015, a panel of the Federal Circuit found that the ITC does not have jurisdiction to bar digital downloads or imports where there was no physical article to bar from importation. After the panel decision, the ITC and the patentee Align submitted a petition for rehearing en banc, which was denied on March 31, 2016. The deadline for further appeal was August 26 and neither the ITC nor Align filed for certiorari.
On July 5, 2016, in United States v. Nosal, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals clarified the definition of “trade secret,” finding that data derived from a compilation of publicly available information can constitute a protectable trade secret in a case involving allegations under the Economic Espionage Act (EEA). The Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) amended the EEA to create a federal private civil cause of action for trade secret misappropriation. Thus, the Ninth Circuit’s opinion in United States v. Nosal provides important guidance regarding the definition of “trade secret” in cases under the DTSA. With this decision, the Ninth Circuit recognizes that a collection of public information can be a protectable trade secret, especially where a proprietary process is used to compile or search that information. Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Provides Clarification Concerning the Definition of Trade Secret