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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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LFD operates a Lake Cumberland, Kentucky marina under a lease from the Army Corps of Engineers, covering approximately 130 acres of water and 36 acres of land. The Lease states: The right is reserved to the United States ... to enter upon the premises at any time and for any purpose necessary or convenient ... to flood the premises; to manipulate the level of the lake or pool in any manner whatsoever; and/or to make any other use of the lands as may be necessary in connection with project purposes, and the Lessee shall have no claim for damages. By 2007, Wolf Creek Dam, which created the lake, was at a high risk of failure; the Corps began lowering the lake's water level. The Corps returned the lake to its previous levels in 2014, when restoration was complete. LFD submitted a certified claim to the District Engineer, asserting $4,000,000 in damages. The Federal Circuit affirmed rejection of the claim. While the Lease is a contract for “the disposal of personal property” under 41 U.S.C. 7102(a)(4), giving the court jurisdiction, LFD did not properly present its reformation claim to the District Engineer. Rejecting a breach of contract claim, the court stated the Lease granted the Corps the right to manipulate the level of the lake in any manner whatsoever. View "Lee's Ford Dock, Inc. v. Secretary of the Army" 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

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Kerry is the CEO of KEI, the son of Dale Earnhardt (a professional race car driver who died in 2001), and the stepson of Teresa. KEI's ventures include the EARNHARDT COLLECTION lifestyle brand. KEI licensed that mark to Schumacher for use in connection with custom home design and construction. Teresa, Dale's widow, owns trademark registrations and common law rights containing the mark DALE EARNHARDT in connection with various goods and services and has sold licensed merchandise totaling millions of dollars since 2001. Teresa filed notices of opposition to KEI's trademark application. The Trademark Board found that Teresa did not establish a likelihood of confusion and that EARNHARDT COLLECTION is not primarily merely a surname, 15 U.S.C. 1052(e)(4). The Board found that “collection” is “not the common descriptive or generic name” for KEI’s goods and services. The Federal Circuit vacated. The Board's decision could be understood as finding that “collection” is neither generic nor merely descriptive of KEI’s goods and services, and adding “collection” to “Earnhardt” alters the surname significance of Earnhardt in the mark as a whole; it could be understood as finding that a mark consisting of a surname and a merely descriptive term is registrable as a matter of law if the descriptive term is not generic. View "Earnhardt v. Kerry Earnhardt, Inc." on Justia Law

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The specifications of the three Soft Gel patents describe a method for dissolving CoQ10. The patented inventions include a composition, a soft gelatin capsule, and a method of making such a soft gelatin capsule, each involving a solution of CoQ10 dissolved in a monoterpene. CoQ10, also called ubiquinone, is a coenzyme, i.e., a chemical compound that is required for the biological activity of certain proteins and is necessary for certain metabolic processes and for the production of cellular energy; it has a secondary role as an antioxidant. In clinical trials, CoQ10 has been shown to be effective in regulating blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improving cardiovascular health, and “thwarting various diseases such as certain types of cancers.” It is “sparingly soluble in hydrophilic solvents such as water.” According to the patents, at the time of the inventions, most solvents that were used to administer CoQ10 in liquid form could dissolve, at most, only about 5 to 10 percent of the CoQ10. Jarrow requested inter partes reexaminations of the three Soft Gel patents. The Patent Board invalidated several claims. The Federal Circuit affirmed, finding the claims invalid as obvious in light of prior references, 35 U.S.C. 103(a). View "Soft Gel Technologies, Inc. v. Jarrow Formulas, Inc." on Justia Law

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Miskill was employed as an IT Specialist with the Social Security Administration for 14 years. Her supervisor proposed to remove Miskill for violations of the time and attendance policy. The Assistant Associate Commissioner sustained four charges and removed Miskill from Federal Service. The Union submitted a grievance and subsequently invoked arbitration. Miskill obtained the records of the eight other individuals within her component at the Division of Network Engineering (DNE) for the relevant time period. Those records were analyzed by a CPA, Certified Product Examiner, and Certified Information Technology professional, who concluded that the eight other DNE employees had committed the same or similar violations as Miskill; none were investigated or charged with misconduct. The parties later stipulated that those employees were under investigation, but had not yet been charged. The Arbitrator sustained Miskill’s removal, finding that the comparators were not similarly situated because possible disciplinary action regarding them was still pending. The Federal Circuit vacated. Miskill sufficiently raised the issue of disparate treatment but arbitrator erred in its treatment of the comparator evidence. His categorical conclusion that the eight DNE employees could not be comparator employees because they were under investigation was an incorrect statement of law. Although the fact that a comparator employee is under investigation is a factor to be considered in determining whether that comparator is similarly situated, it is not a complete bar. View "Miskill v. Social Security Administration" on Justia Law

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Manzanares served on active duty, 1986-1991. In 1992, she was awarded service connection for a history of stress fractures in both legs, with a non-compensable rating. In 2006, she sought an increased rating. The VA assigned a 10-percent rating for each ankle, with a February 2006 effective date. Manzanares filed a notice of disagreement and claimed: “[e]ntitlement to service connection for degenerative disc disease lumbar spine as secondary to bilateral ankle disabilities.” The VA granted secondary service connection for “degenerative arthritis and disc disease, lumbar spine” with a rating of 20 percent and an April 2007 effective date. Manzanares argued that the VA should have awarded a February 2006 effective date for the secondary service-connected condition, citing 38 C.F.R. 3.156(b), which provides that, for a pending claim, “[n]ew and material evidence received prior to the expiration of the appeal period . . . will be considered as having been filed in connection with the claim which was pending at the beginning of the appeal period.” The Board of Veterans’ Appeals, Veterans Court, and Federal Circuit rejected her argument. The effective date for service connection is the later of the date the VA receives the claim or the date that entitlement arose; Manzanares’s secondary service claim was not filed until April 2007 and was not part of the ankle claim. View "Manzanares v. Shulkin" on Justia Law

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NobelBiz alleged infringement of patents titled “System and method for modifying communication information” with identical specifications. The patents relate to “a method for processing a communication between a first party and a second party.” When a call originator contacts a call target, the system modifies the caller ID data “to provide a callback number or other contact information . . . that may be closer to or local to the Target.” The Federal Circuit reversed a jury verdict of infringement, stating that the district court erred in its claim construction. The intrinsic evidence better supports the defendants’ proposed construction: “outbound call” should be construed as a “call placed by an originator to a target.” View "NobelBiz, Inc. v. Global Connect, L.L.C." on Justia Law