Justia Patents Opinion Summaries

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The patent venue statute, 28 U.S.C. 1400(b), provides that “[a]ny civil action for patent infringement may be brought in the judicial district where the defendant resides, or where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.” In its 1957 “Fourco” decision, the Supreme Court concluded that for purposes of section 1400(b) a domestic corporation “resides” only in its state of incorporation, rejecting the argument that section 1400(b) incorporates the broader definition of corporate “residence” contained in the general venue statute, 28 U.S.C. 1391(c). Congress has not amended section 1400(b) since Fourco. Kraft filed a patent infringement suit in the District of Delaware against TC, a competitor, organized under Indiana law and headquartered in Indiana. TC ships the allegedly infringing products into Delaware. Reversing the district court and Federal Circuit, the Supreme Court held that, ss applied to domestic corporations, “reside[nce]” in section 1400(b) refers only to the state of incorporation. Section 1400(b) was enacted as a "stand alone" statute. Amendments to section 1391 did not modify the meaning of 1400(b) as interpreted by Fourco. View "TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC" on Justia Law

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Apicore owns, and Mylan Is the exclusive licensee of, the 992, 616, and 050 patents, which relate to isosulfan blue (ISB), a triarylmethane dye used to map lymph nodes. The 992 and 616 patents (together, “the process patents”) are directed to a process for preparing ISB by reacting isoleuco acid with silver oxide in a polar solvent, followed by reaction with a sodium solution. In response to Aurobindo’s FDA application to market a generic version of Myland’s drug, Lymphazurin®, Apricore and Myland obtained a preliminary injunction precluding Aurobindo from making, using, selling, offering to sell, and importing the accused ISB product that allegedly infringes the patents. The Federal Circuit affirmed. While the district court’s “equivalents analysis” was deficient and there remains a substantial question concerning infringement, so that the court’s grant of a preliminary injunction based on the process patents constituted an abuse of discretion, the injunction stands under the 050 patent. View "Mylan Institutional LLC v. Aurobindo Pharma Ltd." on Justia Law

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In 2010, ArcelorMittal sued (050 case), alleging infringement of the 805 patent. A jury found that Defendants did not infringe and that the asserted claims were invalid as anticipated and obvious. The Federal Circuit reversed the court’s claim construction and concluded that, as a matter of law, the claims were not anticipated. In 2013, the Patent Office reissued the 805 patent as the RE153 patent. ArcelorMittal filed the 685 and 686 infringement suits based on events occurring after the reissuance and moved to amend its 050 complaint to substitute allegations of infringement of the RE153 patent. The court entered summary judgment, finding that claims 1–23 had been improperly broadened, and denied the motion to amend as moot. The Federal Circuit affirmed the invalidity of RE 153 claims 1–23, but reversed as to claims 24 and 25. On remand, the court granted defendants summary judgment of invalidity on RE 153 claims 24 and 25, denied ArcelorMittal’s motion to dismiss the 050 case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and granted ArcelorMittal’s motion to amend its 685 complaint. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The district court possessed subject matter jurisdiction to grant summary judgment, properly followed the mandate on remand, and properly exercised its discretion to deny ArcelorMittal’s request for new discovery. View "Arcelormittal v. AK Steel Corp." on Justia Law

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Patent Board did not adequately explain why it accepted patent holder’s claim construction, but nonetheless found the claims unpatentable. Rovalma’s patent describes and claims methods for making steels with certain desired thermal conductivities. Böhler petitioned the Patent Trial and Appeal Board for an inter partes review of claims 1–4 of the patent. The Board instituted a review, rejected Böhler’s construction of the claims, and adopted Rovalma’s construction. Böhler had not submitted arguments or evidence for unpatentability based on Rovalma’s construction. Nevertheless, the Board determined that Rovalma’s own submissions demonstrated that the claims, construed as Rovalma urged, would have been obvious to a relevant skilled artisan over the same prior art that Böhler invoked. The Federal Circuit vacated, stating that the Board did not set forth its reasoning in sufficient detail for determination what inferences it drew from Rovalma’s submissions, making it impossible to determine whether the Board’s decision was substantively supported and procedurally proper. View "Rovalma, S.A. v. Bohler-Edelstahl GMBH & Co. KG" on Justia Law

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Statements made by the patent owner during an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding, whether before or after an institution decision, can be relied upon to support a finding of prosecution disclaimer. Aylus’s patent “provides systems and methods for implementing digital home networks having a control point located on a wide area network.” It teaches various network architectures for streaming and displaying media content using combinations of networked components. The Patent Office initiated IPR on two claims while Aylus’s infringement suit was pending. In its response to Apple’s request for IPR, Aylus made statements that the court subsequently characterized as constituting “clear and unmistakable surrender” of certain methods. The district court entered summary judgment, finding that Apple’s AirPlay feature did not infringe the patent. The Federal Circuit affirmed, upholding construction of the limitation “wherein the CPP logic is invoked to negotiate media content delivery between the MS and the MR” to “require that only the CPP logic is invoked to negotiate media content delivery between the MS and the MR, in contrast to claims 1 and 20 which require both the CP and CPP to negotiate media content delivery.” Aylus’s statements during IPR were a clear and unmistakable disavowal of claim scope. View "Aylus Networks, Inc. v. Apple Inc." on Justia Law

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District court properly awarded “exceptional case” legal fees. In 2005, Dow filed an infringement action against NOVA, which argued that its product did not infringe and that Dow lacked standing because it had transferred ownership of the patents. In 2010, the district court entered judgment against NOVA for $61 million. The Federal Circuit affirmed. In a separate appeal from an award of supplemental damages, the Federal Circuit found the asserted claims invalid as indefinite under the Supreme Court’s intervening “Nautilus” standard, but did not disturb the 2010 judgment relating to preverdict infringement. NOVA became aware of evidence allegedly showing that Dow had committed fraud in obtaining the 2010 judgment but was time-barred from moving to set aside that judgment. In 2013, NOVA filed a separate action in equity for relief from the 2010 judgment, asserting misrepresentation of Dow’s ownership of the asserted patents, based on the testimony of a former Dow employee in an unrelated tax case and on the testimony of Dow’s expert, about testing on the accused product during separate Canadian litigation. The Federal Circuit affirmed dismissal. The district court awarded Dow $2.5 million under 35 U.S.C. 285, which allows courts to award “reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party” in “exceptional cases.” The court noted the weakness of NOVA’s litigating position and the manner in which NOVA pursued the case. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Nova Chemicals Corp. v. Dow Chemical Co." on Justia Law

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AT&T’s patent is directed to a method of compressing and transmitting transform coefficients in a manner that does not rely on scanning the coefficients in any particular order; all of the coefficients in a block are transmitted at once. Days before the America Invents Act inter partes review procedures went into effect, LG requested inter partes reexamination of the patent, alleging anticipation. Before the PTO decided whether to initiate reexamination, LG asked the PTO to suspend its rule prohibiting a requester from filing documents between requesting inter partes reexamination and the PTO’s initial office action on the merits so that it could file a second request, requesting denial of its initial request. LG did not withdraw, nor did it withdraw its reexamination request. The PTO granted LG’s initial request and declined to suspend the rules. The examiner found new grounds of rejection. While discussions between AT&T and the examiner were ongoing, LG withdrew. The examiner suspended the prohibition against interviews during inter partes reexamination proceedings. Before any amendment, the examiner issued an Action Closing Prosecution that explained a different basis for finding the patent anticipated. The Board and the Federal Circuit affirmed. The Board did not exceed its statutory authority when instituting the reexamination and substantial evidence supported the finding of anticipation. View "In re: AT&T Intellectual Property II" on Justia Law

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Claims in patent relating to fiber optic communication signals were unpatentable for lack of written description support. Cirrex’s 082 patent is directed to the field of fiber optic communication signals that use light energy made up of multiple different wavelengths within one fiber optic cable. Cisco requested inter partes reexamination of the patent. The Patent and Trademark Office found certain claims patentable and rejected other claims for lack of written description support. The Board affirmed. The Federal Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part, finding that, under the correct claim construction for the equalization and discrete attenuation claims, all the claims on appeal unpatentable for lack of written description support. View "Cisco Systems, Inc. v. Cirrex Systems, LLC" on Justia Law

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Pre-AIA section 317(b) precluded argument that Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) was prohibited from maintaining reexamination of multiple claims where court upheld only two claims in parallel litigation. King requested ex parte reexamination of all claims of Affinity’s patent. Volkswagen requested inter partes reexamination based on additional, different asserted grounds of unpatentability; Apple requested inter partes reexamination of based on still different grounds. The PTO granted and merged the requests. Volkswagen subsequently received an adverse final judgment in a parallel district court proceeding, upholding the validity of claims 28 and 35. Affinity petitioned the PTO to vacate the entire merged reexamination proceeding, arguing that the estoppel provision in pre-America Invents Act (AIA) 35 U.S.C. 317(b) extended to all parties and all claims, not just litigated claims 28 and 35. The PTO denied Affinity’s request, but severed the Volkswagen reexamination and held that no rejection could be maintained in that reexamination as to claims 28 and 35. The Examiner evaluated the Volkswagen reexamination separately and issued a Right of Appeal Notice in each proceeding, rejecting numerous claims as unpatentable. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board and Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting Affinity’s arguments that the PTO erred in maintaining the reexaminations, given the final decision that Volkswagen failed to prove invalidity of two claims, and that, assuming the reexaminations were properly maintained, the decisions were based on misreadings of asserted prior art and misevaluation of Affinity’s objective indicia evidence of nonobviousness. View "In re: Affinity Labs of Texas, LLC" on Justia Law

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Estoppel provision of section 317(b) did not prohibit the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) from maintaining a reexamination after court's dismissal, without prejudice, of invalidity claims..Apple requested reexamination after Affinity filed suit, alleging infringement of Affinity’s patent. While the reexamination was pending, the parties settled and filed a stipulation of dismissal with the district court. Affinity’s infringement action was dismissed with prejudice and Apple’s invalidity counterclaims were dismissed without prejudice. Apple filed notice of non-participation in the reexamination. Affinity petitioned the PTO to terminate the reexamination in view of the dismissal of Apple’s district court counterclaims pursuant to pre-America Invents Act (AIA) 35 U.S.C. 317(b), which prohibited the PTO from maintaining an inter partes reexamination after the party who requested the reexamination has received a final decision against it in a civil action concluding “that the party has not sustained its burden of proving the invalidity of any patent claim in suit.” The PTO dismissed Affinity’s request because it did not view the dismissal, without prejudice, as meeting section 317(b)’s required condition. The Examiner rejected all of the patent’s claims. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board and the Federal Circuit upheld the rejection, rejecting Affinity’s claims that the PTO improperly maintained the reexamination and that the Board’s finding that all claims are unpatentable was based on improper claim construction. View "In re: Affinity Labs of Texas, LLC" on Justia Law