Articles Posted in Intellectual Property

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Georgetown’s patent relates to a system for inspecting the steel tie plates that connect rail tracks to wooden ties, using digital technology. Georgetown's Aurora System uses lasers and cameras mounted on a vehicle to collect and process information about track ties to allow customers to “manage the logistics of crosstie replacement.” Holland purchases track and crosstie measuring technologies from Rail Vision and places those technologies on its own track inspection "TrackStar" vehicles. Data from the track is sent to third-parties for processing. Rail Vision sends finished reports to Holland for distribution to Holland’s customers. Holland and Georgetown knew of each other’s place in the track-tie market. The companies participated in a “head-to-head challenge,” and demonstrated their services to potential customer Union Pacific. Following the demonstrations, Union Pacific and Holland agreed to alter an existing contract to allow Holland to provide Rail Vision Systems technology to Union Pacific. Georgetown sued Holland for infringement and was granted a preliminary injunction, ending Holland’s potential sales to Union Pacific. A jury found that Holland willfully infringed Georgetown's patent and awarded $1,541,333 in damages. The court awarded Georgetown an additional $1,000,000 in enhanced damages based on a finding of willful infringement, 35 U.S.C. 284. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Substantial evidence supports a finding that subjective recklessness led to willful infringement in this case. View "Georgetown Rail Equipment Co. v. Holland L.P." on Justia Law

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Visual’s 740 patent purports to overcome deficiencies in computer systems using a three-tiered memory hierarchy to enhance performance by creating a memory system with programmable operational characteristics that can be tailored for use with multiple different processors without an accompanying reduction in performance. The Federal Circuit reversed the dismissal of Visual’s patent infringement complaint against NVIDIA. The patent claims an improvement to computer memory systems and is not directed to an abstract idea, so it is patentable under 35 U.S.C. 101. The patent includes a microfiche appendix having a combined total of 263 frames of computer code. View "Visual Memory LLC v. NVIDIA Corp." on Justia Law

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Lottery, a state agency, began operating traditional lottery drawing games and instant lottery scratch-off games in North Carolina in 2006. It introduces new scratch-off games on the first Tuesday of each month and asserts that it has continuously used the mark FIRST TUESDAY since July 2013 in print materials, on its Website, and on point-of-sale displays. In 2014, Lottery applied for registration of the mark FIRST TUESDAY for “Lottery cards; scratch cards for playing lottery games” and for “Lottery services,” submitting specimens that have explanatory text such as “[n]ew scratch-offs” or “[n]ew scratch-offs the first Tuesday of every month.” The examining attorney refused registration, finding that the mark used in the context of Lottery’s promotional materials “merely describes a feature of [its] goods and services, namely, new versions of the goods and services are offered the first Tuesday of every month.” The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and the Federal Circuit affirmed. Lottery’s promotional materials make clear that “new scratch-off games are offered on the first Tuesday of every month” and that fact would “be so understood by the relevant consumers who encounter the designation FIRST TUESDAY.” No “mental thought or multi-step reasoning is required to reach a conclusion as to the nature of the involved goods and services.” View "In re: North Carolina Lottery" on Justia Law

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The Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act, 42 U.S.C. 262, establishes a scheme for adjudicating claims of patent infringement in the FDA's approval of “biological products.” To obtain FDA approval, the sponsor of a new biological product must demonstrate that it is “safe, pure, and potent.” For a “biosimilar” product based on an approved “reference” product, a party may submit an abbreviated “subsection (k)” application that “piggybacks” on the showing made for an approved reference product but must provide the reference product's sponsor with its subsection (k) application and information that describes the manufacturing process. The parties then collaborate to identify patents for immediate litigation. The second phase is triggered by the applicant’s notice of commercial marketing and involves any patents that were included on the lists but not previously litigated. Hospira's subsection (k) application sought approval of a biosimilar of EPOGEN®, Amgen’s FDA-approved product, Although Amgen asserted that Hospira failed to disclose the composition of the cell-culture medium used during manufacturing, the parties began identifying patents. Amgen claimed that it could not assess the reasonableness of asserting infringement claims concerning other patents for culturing cells and moved to compel discovery on the composition of Hospira’s cell-culture medium in its suit on listed patents. The court denied Amgen’s motion, stating that the information had no relevance to the asserted patents. Amgen appealed that interlocutory order. The Federal Circuit dismissed, holding that it lacked jurisdiction under the collateral order doctrine and that Amgen failed to satisfy the prerequisites for mandamus. View "Amgen, Inc.. v. Hospira, Inc.." on Justia Law

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Romag’s patent and trademark are directed to magnetic snap fasteners and are licensed to a Chinese manufacturer, which supplied ROMAG magnetic snaps for use in handbags manufactured and distributed by Fossil. In 2010, a batch of Fossil handbags appeared to contain counterfeit ROMAG magnetic snaps. Romag sued Fossil for patent and trademark infringement and violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA). The Federal Circuit affirmed a verdict finding Fossil liable for patent and trademark infringement and for violation of CUTPA. Romag sought attorney’s fees under the Patent Act, 35 U.S.C. 285, Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1117(a), and CUTPA. The district court granted fees under the Patent Act and CUTPA, but not under the Lanham Act. The Federal Circuit vacated, first holding that the Lanham Act should have the same standard for recovering attorney’s fees as the Patent Act. In determining whether the case was exceptional under 35 U.S.C. 285, the court made several errors with respect to the “totality of the circumstances”: Fossil’s patent invalidity defenses were withdrawn before trial; the court made no finding that Fossil’s defenses of anticipation and obviousness were objectively unreasonable; in the infringement proceedings, the judge did not conclude that Fossil’s indefiniteness defense bordered on frivolous; and the court failed to consider Romag’s earlier litigation misconduct. View "Romag Fasteners, Inc. v. Fossil, Inc." on Justia Law

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Symbolic owns the mark I AM (typed drawing) for “clothing, namely, hats, caps, socks, shirts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, tank tops, shorts, pants, sweatpants, jeans, swimwear, swimsuits, beachwear and footwear, namely, shoes, athletic footwear, boots, clogs, sneakers and sandals” in class 25, and owns the mark WILL.I.AM (standard characters) for certain goods in class 9 and services in class 41. Symbolic’s predecessor-in-interest (William Adams) filed trademark applications for registration of the mark for goods in classes 3, 9, and 14 on an intent-to-use basis under 15 U.S.C. 1051(b). The applications were amended during prosecution to include the statement “associated with William Adams, professionally known as ‘will.i.am.’” The examining attorney refused registration on the ground of likelihood of confusion with previously registered I AM marks pursuant to 15 U.S.C. 1052(d) for the same or similar goods. The Board affirmed, noting that Adams is the well-known front man for the music group The Black Eyed Peas and is known as will.i.am but that the record did not establish that Adams is “widely known by ‘i.am’ or that ‘i.am’ and ‘will.i.am’ are used interchangeably by either Mr. Adams or the public.” The Federal Circuit affirmed, upholding the “likelihood of confusion” finding. View "In re: I.AM.Symbolic, LLC" on Justia Law

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EFF, a nonprofit organization that advocates in the public interest of consumers of digital technology, requested inter partes review of Personal Audio’s 504 Patent, entitled “System for Disseminating Media Content Representing Episodes in a Serialized Sequence.” The patent is directed to a system and apparatus for storing and distributing episodic media files (podcast technology). A podcast is a digital media file made available through web syndication, in which new installments or “episodes” are automatically received by subscribers. The 504 Patent claims an apparatus whose components receive and control playback of the episodes. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board found four claims unpatentable as anticipated under 35 U.S.C. 102 and/or obvious under 35 U.S.C. 103. The Federal Circuit affirmed, first holding that EFF is not constitutionally excluded from appearing in court to defend the PTAB decision in its favor. The court upheld the Board’s construction of “episode” as “a program segment, represented by one or more media files, which is part of a series of related segments, e.g., a radio show or a newscast,” its construction of “compilation file” as “a file that contains episode information,” and its holding that “updated version” did not require construction. View "Personal Audio, LLC v. Electronic Frontier Foundation." on Justia Law

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Whirlpool’s 688 patent claims a household blender with a pre-programmed, automated blending cycle designed to blend items “quickly and reliably—by repeatedly dropping to a speed slow enough to allow the blender contents to settle around the cutter assembly, and then returning to a [higher] speed suitable for processing the contents.” It was well-known that a user could manually pulse between a high speed and a low speed to “achieve[] . . . a pattern of movement that introduces the entire contents of the reservoir into contact with the rotating blades” for efficient mixing,” so the claimed automatic blending routine was, in the prior art, done manually. There were also blenders on the market which allowed “preprogram[ing] ‘on-off’ sequence[s] [to] enable[] hands-free operation of the blender.” On inter partes review, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board did not construe the key term “settling speed” found in the claims and determined that the claims were not invalid as anticipated by prior art reference. The Federal Circuit reversed, employing the “broadest reasonable construction” of predetermined settling speed: a speed that is slower than the operating speed and permits settling of the blender contents, and concluding that the claims were anticipated. View "Homeland Housewares, LLC v. Whirlpool Corp." on Justia Law

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Honeywell’s 366 patent is directed to the use of 1,1,1,2-tetrafluoropropene, an unsaturated hydrofluorocarbon compound, and a polyalkylene glycol lubricant in heat transfer systems, such as air conditioning equipment. In merged inter partes examinations, an examiner rejected several claims under 35 U.S.C. 103. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board affirmed. The Federal Circuit vacated. The Board erred: by improperly relying on inherency to find obviousness and in its analysis of motivation to combine the references; in dismissing Honeywell’s evidence of unpredictability in the art when it stated that one of ordinary skill would no more have expected failure than success in combining the references; and in relying on a new grounds for rejection. View "Honeywell International, Inc. v. Mexichem Amanco Holding S.A." on Justia Law

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Regeneron accused Merus of infringing the 018 patent. The district court issued an opinion construing various terms and declared one term indefinite. Merus asserted a counterclaim of unenforceability due to inequitable conduct. It argued that during prosecution of the patent, Regeneron’s patent prosecutors withheld four references that were cited in a third-party submission in related U.S. patent prosecution and in European opposition briefs, were but-for material, and were withheld by Regeneron with the specific intent to deceive. There was no dispute that Regeneron knew of the Withheld References during prosecution. Regeneron argued that the references were not but-for material, that they were cumulative of references actually relied-on during prosecution, and that Regeneron did not have any specific intent to deceive. The Federal Circuit affirmed the district court, which had “exhaustively detailed Regeneron’s discovery misconduct" throughout the litigation and sanctioned Regeneron by drawing an adverse inference of specific intent to deceive the PTO. The court noted Regeneron’s repeated violations of discovery orders and improper secreting of relevant and non-privileged documents. Regeneron committed inequitable conduct, rendering the patent unenforceable. View "Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Merus N.V." on Justia Law