Justia U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Intellectual Property
In Re Cellect, LLC
Cellect’s challenged patents are directed to personal digital-assistant devices or phones. Each claims priority from a single application, the 255 patent. The 369 and 626 patents are continuations-in-part of the 255 patent. The 742 patent is a continuation-in-part of the 369 patent; the 621 patent is a continuation-in-part of the 626 patent. The 036 patent is a continuation of the 626 patent. Each of the challenged patents was granted Patent Term Adjustment (PTA) for Patent Office delay during prosecution (pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 154(b)); each would have expired on the same day but for the grants of PTA. None were subject to a terminal disclaimer during prosecution; the patents have all expired.Cellect sued Samsung for infringement. Samsung requested ex parte reexaminations, asserting that the patents were unpatentable based on obviousness-type double patenting (ODP). The examiner determined that the challenged claims were obvious variants of Cellect’s prior-expiring reference patent claims, tracing back to the 036 patent, which did not receive PTA and retained an expiration date 20 years after the filing of the 255 application. The 621 patent claims were unpatentable over the 626 patent claims, which were unpatentable over the 369 patent claims. The 742 patent claims were unpatentable over the 369 claims. The 369 patent claims were unpatentable over the 036 claims, which did not receive PTA. The Board and Federal Circuit affirmed. ODP for a patent that has received PTA, regardless of whether a terminal disclaimer is required or has been filed, must be based on the expiration date of the patent after PTA has been added. View "In Re Cellect, LLC" on Justia Law
Volvo Penta of the Americas, LLC v. Brunswick Corp.
Volvo’s 692 patent is directed to a tractor-type stern drive for a boat. A stern drive is an engine mounted in the boat's hull, connected to a drive unit mounted outside of the hull, typically on the stern; it is also called an “inboard/outboard drive.” A tractor-type drive generally relies on forward, bow-facing propellers that pull the boat through the water. In 2015, Volvo launched its commercial embodiment of the patent, the Forward Drive, which became extremely successful for water sports, including wake-surfing. The forward-facing propellers increased the distance between the propeller and swimmers, compared with prior, pulling-type stern-drive boats. In 2020, Brunswick launched its own drive that embodies the 692 patent, the Bravo Four, and petitioned for inter partes review, asserting that all claims would have been anticipated or obvious based on several references.The Patent Trial and Appeal Board found all claims unpatentable as obvious. The Federal Circuit vacated. The Board’s finding of a motivation to combine was supported by substantial evidence but the Board failed to properly consider the evidence of objective indicia of nonobviousness. Volvo established a nexus between its objective evidence of secondary considerations and the claimed invention. Even if its assignment of weight to each factor was supported by substantial evidence (“some weight” for copying, industry praise, and commercial success; and “very little weight” for skepticism, failure of others, and long-felt unsolved need), the Board did not discuss the summation of the factors. View "Volvo Penta of the Americas, LLC v. Brunswick Corp." on Justia Law
Incept LLC v. Palette Life Sciences, Inc.
Incept’s 723 and 913 patents relate to improved methods for treating cancer, particularly prostate cancer, using radiation. The patents describe methods of introducing a filler between a radiation target tissue and other tissue to increase the distance between the two and thereby decrease the amount of radiation received by the non-targeted tissue. Palette sought inter partes review challenging the claims of the patents as unpatentable over prior art, including “Wallace,” describes a method for the “rapid formation of a biocompatible gel . . . at a selected site within a patient’s body.”The Federal Circuit affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in holding that the claims were anticipated or obvious, 35 U.S.C. 102, 103. Wallace discloses each element of claim 1 of the 723 patent, arranged as in that claim. The Board’s findings of motivation to combine are supported by substantial evidence in the form of the references themselves and Palette’s expert’s detailed testimony, which the Board found “persuasive.” With respect to Incept’s argument that the Board improperly dismissed the market share data that Incept provided, the court deferred to the Board’s findings concerning the credibility of expert witnesses. View "Incept LLC v. Palette Life Sciences, Inc." on Justia Law
Rembrandt Diagnostics, LP v. Alere, Inc.
Rembrandt’s 019 patent is directed to test assay devices and methods for testing biological fluids. The test assay device receives a fluid sample “introduced directly to the sample loading zone” of one or more assay test strips. Alere petitioned for inter partes review.The Patent Trial and Appeal Board found that claims 3–6 and 10 would have been unpatentable for obviousness. Rembrandt argues that the Board erred by relying on Alere’s new theories asserted for the first time in its reply brief. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Alere did not offer new theories. Alere’s reply argument was responsive to Rembrandt’s arguments and the Board’s observations. Substantial evidence supports the Board’s determinations. The Board was presented with “two alternative theories” about what the prior art discloses; the court reasoned that it was not its task “to determine which theory we find more compelling.” View "Rembrandt Diagnostics, LP v. Alere, Inc." on Justia Law
Axonics, Inc. v. Medtronic, Inc.
Medtronics’s patents, which share a specification, relate to the transcutaneous (through the skin) charging of implanted medical devices. This charging occurs by inductive coupling, whereby energy is transferred between a primary coil in the external charger and a secondary coil in the implanted device when the two coils are placed in proximity to each other. The patents seek to improve charging efficiency by automatically varying the power output of the external charger based on various measured parameters of the current passing through the implanted device.In two inter partes review (IPR) determinations. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board held that the petitioner had failed to show that claims of the patents were unpatentable as anticipated or obvious. In each decision, the Board adopted a "two-input" claim construction first presented in the patent owner’s response after the institution decision and declined to consider the petitioner’s reply arguments and evidence under the new claim construction, reasoning that the petitioner had not identified anywhere in the petition that the two-input anticipation arguments had been made.The Federal Circuit vacated. The Board’s refusal to consider the new arguments and evidence was erroneous. The court remanded for the Board to consider the merits of Axonics’ responsive arguments and evidence under the new claim construction. View "Axonics, Inc. v. Medtronic, Inc." on Justia Law
United Therapeutics Corp. v. Liquidia Technologies, Inc.
United Therapeutics holds New Drug Application (NDA) 022387 for Tyvaso®, an inhaled solution formulation of treprostinil approved for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension. It is a vasodilator that reduces vasoconstriction in the pulmonary vasculature, thereby decreasing blood pressure. United’s patents are listed in the FDA’s Orange Book for Tyvaso. Liquidia filed NDA 213005 for Yutrepia™ (21 U.S.C. 355(b)(2)), a dry powder inhalation formulation of treprostinil that is not a generic version of any currently marketed drug. United sued Liquidia, alleging infringement. Liquidia filed a petition for inter partes review (IPR); the Board found all claims of the 793 patent unpatentable as obvious. The district court concluded that seven claims of the 793 patent were not invalid and were infringed by Liquidia; several claims of the 066 patent were invalid as anticipated and would have been infringed by Liquidia but for the finding of anticipation; and claim 8 of the 066 patent was not invalid and not infringed.The Federal Circuit affirmed, upholding the district court’s determination that the meaning of “treating pulmonary hypertension” does not require a showing of safety and efficacy; the claims of the 793 patent are adequately enabled and supported by the written description; and Liquida induced infringement of that patent. View "United Therapeutics Corp. v. Liquidia Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law
Trinity Info Media, LLC v. Covalent, Inc.
Trinity sued Covalent for infringement of patent claims relating to methods and systems for connecting users based on their answers to polling questions. The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit, concluding that the asserted patents do not claim patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 101. Because Trinity did not identify a proposed claim construction or specific facts to be discovered, the district court was not required to conduct claim construction and fact discovery before analyzing the asserted claims. The claims are directed to the abstract idea of matching based on questioning. A human mind could review people’s answers to questions and identify matches based on those answers; the patent’s requirements that the abstract idea be performed on a “hand-held device” or that matches are “reviewable by swiping” does not alter the conclusion that the focus of the asserted claims remains directed to an abstract idea, not an improvement on technology. The claims do not provide an inventive concept by virtue of their use of multiple processors, match servers, unique identifications, or a match aggregator. View "Trinity Info Media, LLC v. Covalent, Inc." on Justia Law
SNIPR Technologies Ltd. v. Rockefeller University
SNIPR's patents, directed to methods of selectively killing bacteria using CRISPR gene editing, claim priority to a 2016 Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Application. Because their effective filing dates are after March 2013, they are pure America Invents Act (AIA) patents, examined and issued under first-inventor-to-file patentability requirements. The Rockefeller Application is also directed to selectively killing bacteria. It claims priority to a 2014 PCT Application and a February 2013 U.S. Provisional Application; it is a pure pre-AIA application.The Patent Board declared an interference to determine which party was the first to invent, then identified Rockefeller as the senior party, with an accorded benefit date of February 2013, and SNIPR as the junior party, with a May 2016 accorded benefit date (the date for which the Board recognizes that a patent application provides a proper constructive reduction to practice of the invention under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(g)(1)). SNIPR unsuccessfully moved to terminate, arguing that the AIA eliminated interferences for AIA patents. The Board reasoned that pre-AIA patent claims must “comply with [pre-AIA] 35 U.S.C. 102(g),” which requires an interference. SNIPR had not filed any priority statement asserting an invention date earlier than Rockefeller’s earliest accorded benefit date and failed to overcome Rockefeller’s senior party status. The Board canceled the SNIPR Patents.The Federal Circuit reversed. Pure AIA patents may not be part of an interference. SNIPR’s pure AIA patents were examined and issued under the AIA’s first-inventor-to-file patentability requirements and cannot be canceled under the pre-AIA invention priority requirements. View "SNIPR Technologies Ltd. v. Rockefeller University" on Justia Law
In Re Float‘N’Grill LLC
Float‘N’Grill's patent is directed to a float designed to support a grill to facilitate a user grilling food while remaining in a body of water. The specification describes a single embodiment. The apparatus includes a float and a pair of grill supports, each of which has a base rod, and an “inverted substantially U-shaped upper support medially attached to a top surface of the base rod.” Each of the supports “includes a plurality of magnets disposed within the middle segment of the upper support of each” grill support. After the patent was issued, FNG, believing that it claimed less than it was entitled to claim in the original patent, filed a reissue application, seeking claims that did not contain the narrow “plurality of magnets” limitation; the claims more generically call for the removable securing of a grill to the float apparatus.The Patent Trial and Appeal Board affirmed an Examiner’s rejections under 35 U.S.C. 112(b) and 251 of the 13 claims of the reissue application. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The reissue claims in question do not cover “the invention disclosed in the original patent” as required by 35 U.S.C. 251. The court did not address the indefiniteness of those claims under section 112(b). View "In Re Float‘N’Grill LLC" on Justia Law
Axonics, Inc. v. Medtronics, Inc.
The Medtronic patents describe and claim a neurostimulation lead and a method for implanting and anchoring the lead. Axonics, having been sued by Medtronic for infringement, challenged various claims of the Medtronic patents for obviousness in inter partes reviews (IPRs) under 35 U.S.C. 311–319. In both IPRs, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board concluded that Axonics had failed to prove any of the challenged claims unpatentable.The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded, The Board erred in its obviousness analysis and the errors cannot be regarded as harmless. Even if the Board was correct to treat the Medtronic patents as limited in the problem they address to the sacral-nerve context, it committed a fundamental legal error in confining the motivation inquiry to whether a motivation would exist to make the proposed combination for use in the specific trigeminal-nerve context—to which the Medtronic patents are not limited. The Board was also incorrect in its view that “the relevant art is medical leads specifically for sacral neuromodulation,” as the Medtronic patents’ claims are not limited to the sacral-nerve context; the shared specification, properly read, is not so limited either. View "Axonics, Inc. v. Medtronics, Inc." on Justia Law