Justia U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Internet Law
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Affinity’s 085 patent, entitled “System and Method to Communicate Targeted Information,” describes a “method for targeted advertising” in which an advertisement is selected for delivery to the user of a portable device based on at least one piece of demographic information about the user. Despite the title, only three sentences in the specification and only one of the 20 claims deal with targeted advertising; the rest are directed to media systems that deliver content to a handheld wireless electronic device. The district court found that the claims are directed to the abstract idea of “delivering selectable media content and subsequently playing the selected content on a portable device” and do not supply an inventive concept. The “085 Patent solves no problems, includes no implementation software, designs no system. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The 085 patent is not directed to the solution of a “technological problem,” nor is it directed to an improvement in computer or network functionality. It claims the general concept of streaming user-selected content to a portable device. The addition of basic user customization features to the interface does not alter the abstract nature of the claims and does not add an inventive component that renders them patentable. View "Affinity Labs of Tex., LLC v. Amazon.com Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Internet Law, Patents
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Wi-LAN’s patents result from advances proposed for the WiMAX wireless network standard. In a typical wireless network, a base station connects directly to the user devices that it serves. The patents to add intermediary nodes between the base station and the user devices. Communications from the base station to a user device pass from the base station through an intermediary node to the user device; communications from a user device to the base station take the reverse path. This network architecture allowed for efficiency gains, primarily because the base station could offload some of its more resource-intensive tasks to the intermediary nodes. Wi-LAN claimed infringement by Apple’s iPhone operating on a 4G network. Based on several claim constructions, the district court granted Apple summary judgment of noninfringement. The Federal Circuit affirmed, upholding the court’s construction of the term “specified connection” and the term “UL connections.” View "WI-LAN USA, Inc. v. Apple Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Internet Law, Patents
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Indacon’s patent is directed to a system and method for searching, indexing, perusing, and manipulating files in a database, particularly through the insertion of automatically generated hyperlinks. Following the district court’s claim construction order, Indacon stipulated to noninfringement. The court entered final judgment in favor of Facebook. The Federal Circuit affirmed, upholding the constructions of the claim terms “alias,” “custom link,” “custom linking relationship,” and “link term.” View "Indacon, Inc. v. Facebook, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Internet Law, Patents
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MSV’s “Terry patents” are a line of continuations beginning with the 895 patent; they concern techniques for providing access to a local area network (LAN) from a relatively distant computer. When two computers on the LAN transmit onto the medium concurrently, they create interference known as a “collision,” and the concurrent communications may be lost. It is not practical to use LAN protocols with collision detection over long distances, such as those spanned by telephone lines. The Terry patents describe an approach by which a computer may communicate with a LAN over the long distances covered by telephone lines, using a collision avoidance scheme rather than a collision detection scheme. In 2013, IWS sued several dozen hotels and coffee shops doing business in the Eastern District of Texas, alleging infringement by providing WiFi Internet access to customers using off-the-shelf WiFi equipment sold by Ruckus and Cisco. The district court entered final judgment of non-infringement, holding the asserted patent claims are limited to wired rather than wireless communications. The Federal Circuit affirmed, finding that no intrinsic or extrinsic evidence suggesting that “communications path” encompasses wireless communications. View "Ruckus Wireless, Inc. v. Innovative Wireless Solutions, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Internet Law, Patents
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Mankes’s patent claims methods for managing a reservation system that divides inventory between a local server and a remote Internet server. Mankes sued Vivid Seats and Fandango, alleging infringement by their Internet-based reservation systems, in conjunction with the operation of local systems by movie theaters and other entertainment venues. No one person performs all of the steps of the claims, so Mankes’s case depended on establishing “divided infringement.” At the time, the law relating to divided infringement was under reconsideration. In 2014, the Supreme Court held that divided-infringement liability requires some person to be liable for direct infringement under 35 U.S.C. 271(a). In 2015, the district court concluded that Mankes’s allegations were insufficient to establish direct infringement and granted defendants judgments on the pleadings. Vivid Seats sought attorney’s fees under 35 U.S.C. 285. The court denied the request, finding the case not exceptional. The Federal Circuit vacated in light of developments since the Court’s Akamai decision, broadening the circumstances in which others’ acts may be attributed to an accused infringer to support direct-infringement liability for divided infringement. Attribution is proper in a joint-enterprise setting. The district court’s rulings were based on the earlier, narrower standard. Mankes made reasonable arguments for adjustment of legal standards that the Federal Circuit had already granted en banc review to consider; his pursuit of the case was not unreasonable. View "Mankes v. Vivid Seats Ltd." on Justia Law

Posted in: Internet Law, Patents
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GeoTag’s patent claims systems and methods of searching online information within a geographically and topically organized database. It describes a preferred embodiment that organizes websites and files within a directory-like structure of folders categorized by geography and topic. In that embodiment, an Internet user may navigate to a folder labeled for a particular geographic area and then conduct a topical search within that area, such as for “information about specific goods and services in the geographic location.” Google sought a declaratory judgment that the patent was invalid and not infringed by Google’s AdWords platform. The court held that AdWords does not practice the “dynamically replicated” limitation of the patent because it does not search a narrow geographic area and automatically add results from a broader area; AdWords conducts a broad search for “all responsive ads” and then “consecutively filters” results. Before the court entered summary judgment, GeoTag unsuccessfully moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that the complaint did not establish a substantial controversy “of sufficient immediacy and reality to warrant" declaratory judgment. The Federal Circuit upheld the claim construction and held that the court retained subject matter jurisdiction over GeoTag’s infringement counterclaims under 28 U.S.C. 1338(a), regardless of any flaw in Google’s complaint. View "Microsoft Corp. v. GeoTag, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Internet Law, Patents
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Avid’s patent is directed to a “system for decompressing consecutive streams of compressed video data to provide a continuous, uninterrupted decompressed video data output stream.” Many computers store video in a compressed form. One well-known compression format is MPEG. Instead of storing every video frame in full, MPEG stores only changes in one frame to the next. Before compressed video files can be played, they must be decompressed. Methods to compress and decompress videos were well known at the time of the patent application. The patent discloses that these prior art methods often generated blank frames between first and second videos when playing multiple compressed videos back-to-back due to system latency and purports to teach a system that allows play of compressed video streams one after the other without creating blank frames or a video-less gap when switching between streams by using multiple decompression buffers. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board instituted inter partes review on a subset of the grounds in Harmonic’s petition and determined that the instituted ground did not render claims of the patent unpatentable. The Federal Circuit affirmed confirmation of claims 11–16 over the instituted ground and concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to review the Board’s institution decision. View "Harmonic, Inc. v. Avid Tech., Inc.." on Justia Law

Posted in: Internet Law, Patents
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The Blue Calypso Patents are all related and describe a peer-to-peer advertising system that uses mobile communication devices. At the request of Groupon, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board instituted Covered Business Method (CBM) review of the Blue Calypso Patents under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA).The Board found certain claims unpatentable under either 35 U.S.C. 102, 103, or 112. The Federal Circuit affirmed that the patents are CBM patents that do not claim a technological invention and that certain claims were anticipated, but reversed the Board’s conclusion that the claim terms “endorsement tag” and “token,” as used in the 516 patent lack written description support. View "Blue Calypso, LLC. v. Groupon, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Internet Law, Patents
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Columbia’s six patents involve applying data analytics techniques to computer security to detect and block malware. Columbia sued Symantec, alleging infringement. Based on the district court’s claim constructions, the parties agreed to a judgment of non-infringement and a finding of invalidity for indefiniteness. The Federal Circuit affirmed in part, holding that the district court correctly construed the term “byte sequence feature” in connection with two patents and the term “probabilistic model of normal computer system usage” in connection with two other patents and correctly found certain claims indefinite. Reversing in part, the court held that the district court incorrectly construed the term “anomalous” in other patent claims by requiring the model of normal computer usage be built only with “typical, attack free data.” View "Trs. of Columbia Univ. v. Symantec Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Internet Law, Patents
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Lumen’s 073 patent is directed to facilitating multilateral decision-making by matching parties, using preference data from two classes of parties. FTB operates a search website with a comparison feature, “AssistMe,” that provides personalized product and service recommendations by asking the user questions about attributes of the desired product or service. Lumen alleged infringement. FTB repeatedly informed Lumen that FTB’s accused feature did not involve bilateral or multilateral preference matching. Before receiving any discovery, Lumen served preliminary infringement contentions, including a chart identifying the allegedly infringing features of AssistMe. The district court granted FTB judgment on the pleadings, holding that the patent’s claims are directed to an abstract idea and invalid for failure to claim patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 101. The court found claim construction unnecessary and awarded attorney fees. Finding the case exceptional under 35 U.S.C. 285, the court stated “basic” pre-suit investigation would have shown that AssistMe only used one party's preference data. The court explained factors that supported enhancing the lodestar amount, including “the need to deter the plaintiff’s predatory strategy, the plaintiff’s desire to extract a nuisance settlement, the plaintiff’s threats to make the litigation expensive, and the frivolous nature of the plaintiff’s claims.” The Federal Circuit affirmed the "exceptional" finding, but remanded for proper explanation of the calculation of fees. View "Lumen View Tech., LLC v. Findthebest.Com, Inc" on Justia Law