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

Articles Posted in Patents
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Epinephrine (adrenaline), a hormone that has been on the market since approximately 1938, is used for various medical purposes. It degrades by racemization and oxidation. A 1986 publication taught that “there is an optimum pH at which racemization and oxidation can be balanced to minimize loss of intact drug by these two routes.” In 2012, Belcher submitted New Drug Application (NDA) for a 1 mg/mL injectable l-epinephrine formulation. The NDA was literature-based; Belcher did not perform any studies on its epinephrine formulation. Belcher responded to FDA inquiries concerning pH levels and racemization. In 2014, Belcher filed an application entitled “More Potent and Less Toxic Formulations of Epinephrine and Methods of Medical Use,” resulting in the 197. Hospira then submitted an NDA seeking approval of a 0.1 mg/mL injectable l-epinephrine formulation, including a Paragraph IV certification (21 U.S.C. 355(b)(2)(A)(iv)) alleging that the patent’s claims are invalid, unenforceable, and/or not infringed. Belcher sued Hospira for infringement.The Federal Circuit affirmed a finding that the patent was unenforceable for inequitable conduct. Belcher’s Chief Science Officer withheld material information about the pH range and the impurity levels from the Patent and Trademark Office. Belcher’s alleged critical improvement over the prior art was already within the public domain, just not before the examiner. Belcher’s officer acted with intent to deceive. View "Belcher Pharmaceuticals, LLC v. Hospira, Inc." on Justia Law

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Lubby’s patent is titled “Personal Vaporizer.” “Personal vaporizers are handheld devices that vaporize a vaporizing medium such as a liquid solution or a wax.” The patent relates to personal vaporizers that “will resist leaking, particularly during periods of nonuse.” Lubby and Vaporous Technologies, a nonexclusive licensee of the patent, sued Chung for infringement. The district court found Chung liable and awarded damages of $863,936.10.The Federal Circuit affirmed in part. There was evidence to support the jury’s verdict that Chung directly infringed the patent but the district court erred in awarding damages for the sales of infringing products before the commencement of the suit, which is the date Chung received actual notice of the patent under 35 U.S.C. 287. The court remanded for a new trial to determine the number of infringing products sold after the commencement of the suit and for the determination of a reasonable royalty rate for the sale of these units. View "Lubby Holdings LLC v. Chung" on Justia Law

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USR sued Apple for infringement of patents otherwise directed to similar technology, securing electronic payment transactions. The patents “address the need for technology that allows consumers to conveniently make payment-card [e.g., credit card] transactions without a magnetic-stripe reader and with a high degree of security.”The district court found all claims of four asserted patents ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101. The Federal Circuit affirmed. All claims of the asserted patents are directed to an abstract idea and contain no additional elements that transform them into a patent-eligible application of the abstract idea. Applying the Supreme Court’s “Alice” analysis, the court stated that sending data to a third party as opposed to the merchant is an abstract idea and cannot serve as an inventive concept, as is authenticating a user using conventional tools and generating and transmitting that authentication—without “improv[ing] any underlying technology.” Nothing in the claims is directed to a new authentication technique; rather, the claims are directed to combining longstanding, known authentication techniques to yield expected additional amounts of security. View "Universal Secure Registry LLC v. Apple Inc." on Justia Law

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T cells, white blood cells that contribute to the immune response, have naturally occurring receptors on their surfaces that facilitate their attack on target cells (such as cancer cells) by recognizing and binding an antigen, i.e., a structure on a target cell’s surface. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy involves isolating a patient’s T cells; reprogramming those T cells to produce a specific, targeted receptor (a CAR) on each T cell’s surface; and infusing the patient with the reprogrammed cells. Juno’s patent relates to a nucleic acid polymer encoding a three-part CAR for a T cell. It claims priority to a provisional application filed in 2002, at “the birth of the CART field.” Kite’s YESCARTA® is a “therapy in which a patient’s T cells are engineered to express a [CAR] to target the antigen CD19, a protein expressed on the cell surface of B-cell lymphomas and leukemias, and redirect the T cells to kill cancer cells.”Juno sued, alleging infringement. The district court held that the claims were not invalid for lack of written description or enablement, the patent’s certificate of correction was not invalid, and Juno was entitled to $1,200,322,551.50 in damages. The Federal Circuit reversed. No reasonable jury could find the patent’s written description sufficiently demonstrates that the inventors possessed the full scope of the claimed invention. View "Juno Therapeutics, Inc v. Kite Pharma, Inc." on Justia Law

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MLC sued Micron for infringing certain claims of a patent, titled “Electrically Alterable Non-Volatile Memory with N-bits Per Cell,” describing methods of programming multi-level cells. The district court excluded certain opinions of MLC’s damages expert.On interlocutory appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed orders precluding MLC’s damages expert from characterizing certain license agreements as reflecting a 0.25% royalty, opining on a reasonable royalty rate when MLC failed to produce key documents and information directed to its damages theory when requested prior to expert discovery, and opining on the royalty base and royalty rate where the expert failed to apportion for non-patented features. View "MLC Intellectual Property, LLC v. Micron Technology, Inc." on Justia Law

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DET sued Google for infringing its “Tab Patents,” which are directed to systems and methods for displaying and navigating three-dimensional electronic spreadsheets by implementing user-customizable “notebook tabs” on the spreadsheet interface. In 2018, the Federal Circuit reversed a holding that the claims were patent ineligible. On remand, the district court granted Google summary judgment of noninfringement, premised on its construction of the term “three-dimensional spreadsheet” recited in the preamble of the asserted claims. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that the preamble is limiting and adopting the district court’s construction of that term. DET did not argue that the accused product infringes under the district court’s construction. View "Data Engine Technologies LLC v. Google LLC" on Justia Law

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CommScope sued Dali, alleging infringement of five of CommScope’s patents relating to telecommunications technology. Dali counterclaimed, alleging CommScope infringed two of Dali’s patents also relating to telecommunications technology. One of Dali’s asserted patents, the 521 patent, is titled “System and Method for Digital Memorized Predistortion for Wireless Communication.” This technology generally relates to wireless communications with portable equipment and handsets, such as mobile phones. Such devices often include a power amplifier to boost the signal. However, amplification can cause unintended distortions to the signal. The 521 patent resolves this problem through the use of a feedback loop and lookup tables.The district court entered judgment on the jury’s verdict of infringement, no invalidity, and damages for both CommScope and Dali. The Federal Circuit reversed with respect to the 521 patent and otherwise affirmed without opinion. Substantial evidence does not support the jury’s finding that CommScope’s FlexWave infringes Dali’s 521 patent. Dali failed to present evidence proving that the FlexWave meets the district court’s construction of the claim term “switching a controller off.” View "CommScope Technologies LLC v. Dali Wireless, Inc." on Justia Law

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Gamon’s patents each claim “[t]he ornamental design for a gravity feed dispenser display.” Gamon’s commercial embodiment of the claimed designs is called the iQ Maximizer gravity feed dispenser, In 2002-2009, Gamon sold about $31 million worth of iQ Maximizers to Campbell. In 2008, Campbell began purchasing similar gravity feed dispensers from Trinity. Gammon sued for infringement. In inter partes review, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board rejected claims of obviousness. The Federal Circuit reversed. Weighing all of the “Graham" factors, including the Board’s finding that, from the perspective of a designer of ordinary skill, prior art creates the same overall visual impression as the claimed designs and copying by Trinity of the claimed designs’ unique characteristics, the claimed designs would have been obvious over the prior art. View "Campbell Soup Co. v. Gamon Plus, Inc." on Justia Law

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Hyatt is a prolific patent filer and litigant. In 1995, Hyatt filed “hundreds of extraordinarily lengthy and complex patent applications,” including the four at issue; he adopted an approach "that all but guaranteed indefinite prosecution delay” in an effort to submarine his patent applications and receive lengthy patent terms. The examination of these patents has cost the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) millions of dollars. After adverse results regarding the patents at issue, Hyatt sued the PTO under 35 U.S.C. 145. The PTO moved to dismiss the actions for prosecution laches. The district court ordered the PTO to issue a patent covering some of the claims.While an appeal was pending, Hyatt sought attorney’s fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act as a “prevailing party” 28 U.S.C. 2412(b). The district court granted this motion in part. The Sixth Circuit vacated, holding that the PTO had carried its initial burden of demonstrating prosecution laches. The PTO sought reimbursement of its expert witness fees. Under 35 U.S.C. 145, “[a]ll the expenses of the proceedings shall be paid by the applicant.” The district court noted the American Rule presumption against fee-shifting and denied expert fees. The Federal Circuit vacated. Hyatt is not entitled to attorney’s fees under 28 U.S.C. 2412(b) and cannot be considered a prevailing party. The court affirmed the denial of expert fees because section 145 does not specifically and explicitly shift expert witness fees. View "Hyatt v. Hirshfeld" on Justia Law

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The separate inter partes review (IPR) proceedings concerned the 688 patent, and the 229 patent, which have the same inventors and owner. Both are directed to controllers for games consoles. The Patent Board determined that nine claims of the 688 patent were unpatentable as anticipated by the Uy application; five other claims were not unpatentable as obvious over a claimed prior art reference (Burns article) in combination with other references because a copy of the Burns article that Valve relied on had not been authenticated. The 229 patent is directed to “[a] hand[-]held controller for a games console,” “wherein the controller further includes at least one additional control located on a back of the controller,” The Board determined that none of the claims of the 229 patent were unpatentable as anticipated by Uy because Uy did not teach “an elongate member” that “is inherently resilient and flexible,” and because Valve failed to show that a copy of the Burns article Valve relied on as a reference to show obviousness was prior art.The Federal Circuit reversed the determination that the Exhibit is not prior art and vacated the determination that five claims of the ’688 patent and multiple claims of the 229 patent were not shown to be unpatentable. The court remanded for the Board to consider Valve’s arguments that relied on the Exhibit as to those claims. The court affirmed that other of the patents were not unpatentable. View "Valve Corp. v. Ironburg Inventions Ltd." on Justia Law