In an interesting order issued recently in BroadSign International, LLC v. T-Rex Property AB, Judge Swain of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the Plaintiff’s declaratory judgment of patent non-infringement for a lack of subject matter jurisdiction.  The Plaintiff, BroadSign, is a supplier of “hardware and software solutions for operators of networks of digital displays” and filed its complaint for declaratory judgment against the Defendant, T-Rex, after licensing negotiations stalled between the parties. The declaratory judgment action was based solely on patent infringement lawsuits filed by T-Rex against at least five of BroadSign’s customers.  Although T-Rex had not filed suit against BroadSign itself, BroadSign alleged in its amended complaint that it had received numerous requests for indemnification as a result of T-Rex’s patent enforcement against BroadSign’s customers.  The court concluded that this was insufficient to create subject matter jurisdiction, as there was no “actual case or controversy” between the parties.

Continue Reading Sued Customers Insufficient to Prove a Supplier’s Actual Case or Controversy Against Patentee

Speed is almost always of the essence for the victim of trade secret misappropriation. Many companies ground their business in proprietary information that, if made public, would make the exclusive product or service those companies provide a commodity good. The International Trade Commission provides a lightning fast mechanism to address trade secret misappropriation and stop foreign goods embodying misappropriated trade secrets from entering the United States, and thus it is no surprise that when trade secret misappropriation takes place abroad, companies turn to the ITC for relief. A recent decision by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin makes the ability of the ITC to address trade secret misappropriation even stronger by finding, for the first time, that ITC determinations may have preclusive effect in United States District Court.

Continue Reading International Trade Commission Becomes Even More Potent Venue for Victims of Trade Secret Misappropriation

When trying to overcome an obviousness rejection of a patent claim, an argument that two or more cited references cannot be combined may be used.  For example, it can be argued that the combination is improper because the modification of a reference completely changes its “fundamental principle of operation.”  However, it can be difficult to overcome obviousness rejections using this argument, which is highlighted in a recent Federal Circuit decision in University of Maryland v. Presens.  In this case, the court affirmed an inter partes reexamination (IPR) decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that affirmed the examiner’s rejection of claims in U.S. Patent 6,673,532 (“’532 patent) as obvious despite the plaintiff’s “changes the principle of operation” argument. Although the decision is non-precedential, it provides helpful information to patent practitioners and litigators for arguing obviousness based on changes to a reference’s fundamental principle of operation.

The ’532 patent discloses an optical method of monitoring various cell culture parameters. Claim 1 of the ’532 patent, deemed as representative, reads as follows: Continue Reading Overcoming Obviousness Rejections: Arguing Changes to Fundamental Principle of Operation

Under U.S. patent law, while there is no duty to perform a search of relevant art, inventors and those associated with filing or prosecuting patent applications as defined in 37 C.F.R. § 1.56 have a duty to disclose to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) all known prior art or other information that may be “material” in determining patentability.  In U.S. patent practice, this duty is deemed satisfied when “material” information is submitted to the USPTO in an information disclosure statement (IDS).  The duty continues until a patent has issued, and importantly, if one fails to live up to this duty, the resulting patent may be deemed unenforceable.

While there is no hard and fast rule as to what information is “material,” a good rule of thumb is to disclose all information that is relevant to the claimed subject matter.  Such information can include other related U.S. patent applications and patents of the applicant or references cited in a PCT or foreign counterpart application.  This article explores when and how to file IDSs in satisfying the duty to disclose “material” information, as well as common mistakes to avoid in IDS filings.

Continue Reading Information Disclosure Statements: When and How to File?

The Federal Circuit’s damages apportionment jurisprudence is an ever-evolving area of the law. On January 10, 2018, a three judge panel of the Federal Circuit revisited the issue in connection with a patent covering a method for providing computer security in the case Finjan, Inc. v. Blue Coat Systems, Inc. While the Federal Circuit affirmed the damages award for 2 of 4 asserted patents, it reversed as to one computer security patent which was found to be infringed by a product that performed both infringing and non-infringing functions.

In calculating damages, the plaintiff sought the reasonable royalty they “would have received through arms-length bargaining.” Lucent Techs., Inc. v. Gateway, Inc., 580 F.3d 1301, 1324

Continue Reading Damages Apportionment For Infringing A Method Claim When The Smallest Saleable Unit Performs Infringing and Non-Infringing Functions

In its first en banc decision of 2018, the Federal Circuit held that “judicial review is available for a patent owner to challenge the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s determination that the petitioner satisfied the timeliness requirement of 35 U.S.C. § 315(b) governing the filing of petitions for inter partes review.” Wi-Fi One v. Broadcom (Fed. Cir. 2018) (en banc). The 9-4 decision overruled a contrary conclusion in Achates Reference Publishing v. Apple.

Continue Reading <i>Wi-Fi One v. Broadcom</i>: <i>en banc</i> Federal Circuit Held The Time-Bar Determinations (§ 315(b)) Appealable

If you purchased anything from a website using a one-click purchase button, you indirectly paid Amazon for that ability, at least up until September 11, 2017 when Amazon’s patent to this technology expired. As a result, one-click purchasing might become the new norm.

In 1997, Amazon filed for a business method patent to one-click purchasing, which allows return shoppers to purchase items with just a single click of a button instead of having to proceed through a prolonged checkout process. The patent issued in 1999, at which point Amazon sued Barnes & Noble for patent infringement based on a similar technology used during Barnes & Noble’s checkout process. After extended litigation, the two companies settled in 2002. Not wanting to face similar litigation, Apple licensed the patent in 2000 to simplify ordering from the Apple Store.

Continue Reading Have you ever used a one-click ordering process online? Then you indirectly paid Amazon.

As 2018 begins and IP strategies are being developed for the new year, it is a good time to reflect on what IP issues were prominent in 2017.  According to the many readers of Global IP Matters, hot topics included navigating the waters of U.S. patent prosecution, evaluating obviousness, and ITC treatment of standard-essential patents (SEPs).

Continue Reading Year in Review: The Most Popular Blog Posts of 2017

In a recent development from the Eastern District of Texas, Magistrate Judge Roy S. Payne concluded that defendants Globalfoundries, Qualcomm, and Samsung waited too long prior to moving to dismiss or transfer the case due to improper venue (see report and recommendation here). KAIST IP US LLC filed its complaint back in November 2016, and a significant portion of discovery already occurred. Similar to In re Micron (which we previously covered here), defendants reserved the right to challenge venue pending the decision in TC Heartland, in their respective answers to the complaint. However, it was not until September 2017, about four months after the decision in TC Heartland issued, that defendant Globalfoundries affirmatively challenged venue. Qualcomm and Samsung filed similar motions a month later. The defendants argued that “after lengthy negotiations… it become clear that KAIST did not have a legitimate, good faith interest in an agreed transfer to a proper venue.”

MJ Payne disagreed, largely because the parties were already immersed in claim construction briefing. MJ Payne opined that “[g]ranting such untimely motions at this stage of the proceeding would disrupt the efficiency of the judicial process, both here and in the proposed transferee district.” Further, MJ Payne was perplexed as to why defendants sat on their hands for four to five months after the TC Heartland decision to move. Accordingly, the court denied defendants motions to dismiss or transfer venue citing In re Micron (affirming a district court’s ability to find forfeiture when a party does not raise a timely objection to venue). We will continue to track any developments regarding this matter.

On December 19, 2017, an expanded panel of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) ruled that the state of Minnesota waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity to challenges to patent validity by inter partes review (IPR) by filing suit in federal court alleging infringement of the same patent being challenged by IPR.  In Ericsson Inc. and Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson v. Regents of the University of Minnesota (IPR2017-01186; IPR2017-01197; IPR2017-01200; IPR2017-01213; IPR2017-01214; IPR2017-01219), Petitioner Ericsson Inc. filed IPR petitions against five University of Minnesota patents covering wireless communications technology. In response, the University filed a motion to dismiss, arguing its Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity exempted the patents from IPR challenge.

Continue Reading Assertion of Patents Results in Loss of Sovereign Immunity for Public Universities