Justia Patents Opinion Summaries
Thaler v. Vidal
The Federal Circuit affirmed the judgment of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) denying Plaintiff's patent applications, which failed to list any human as an inventor, holding that the Patent Act requires an "inventor" to be a natural person.Plaintiff, who developed and ran artificial intelligence systems that generate patentable inventions, sought patent protection for two putative inventions by filing two patent applications with the PTO, listing DABUS, "a collection of source code or programming and a software program," as the sole inventor. The PTO denied the petitions on the ground that "a machine does not qualify as an inventor." The district court affirmed, concluding that an "inventor" under the Patent Act must be an "individual" and that an "individual" is a natural person. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that the plain meaning of "inventor" in the Patent Act is limited to natural persons. View "Thaler v. Vidal" on Justia Law
Realtime Adaptive Streaming LLC v. Netflix, Inc.
Realtime filed patent infringement actions against Netflix in the District of Delaware. While that action was ongoing, Netflix filed petitions for inter partes review (IPR) and moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing patent ineligibility under 35 U.S.C. 101. Following the institution of the IPR proceedings and a recommendation from the Delaware magistrate finding certain claims ineligible, Realtime voluntarily dismissed the Delaware action—before the district court ruled on the magistrate’s findings. The next day, Realtime reasserted the same patents against Netflix in the Central District of California—despite having previously informed the Delaware court that transferring the Delaware action to the Northern District of California would be an unfair burden on Realtime. Netflix then moved for attorneys’ fees and to transfer the actions back to Delaware. Before a decision on either motion, Realtime again voluntarily dismissed its case.Netflix renewed its motion for attorneys’ fees for the California actions, the Delaware action, and IPR proceedings. The district court awarded fees for both California actions under 35 U.S.C. 285, and, alternatively, the court’s inherent equitable powers. The court declined to award fees for the Delaware action or IPR proceedings The Federal Circuit affirmed. The district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding fees under its inherent equitable powers or in denying fees for the related proceedings The court did not address whether the award satisfies section 285's requirements. View "Realtime Adaptive Streaming LLC v. Netflix, Inc." on Justia Law
CareDx, Inc. v. Natera, Inc
The patents share the same specification and are entitled “Non-Invasive Diagnosis of Graft Rejection in Organ Transplant Patients.” They discuss diagnosing or predicting organ transplant status by using methods to detect a donor’s cell-free DNA (cfDNA). When an organ transplant is rejected, the recipient’s body, through its natural immune response, destroys the donor cells, releasing cfDNA from the donated organ’s dying cells into the blood. These increased levels of donor cfDNA—which occur naturally as the organ’s condition deteriorates—can be detected and then used to diagnose the likelihood of an organ transplant rejection.In an infringement action, the district court found the patents ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The court applied the Supreme Court’s two-part “Alice” test to determine whether the claims were patent-eligible applications of laws of nature and natural phenomena or claims that impermissibly tie up such laws and phenomena. The claims boil down to collecting a bodily sample, analyzing the cfDNA using conventional techniques, including PCR, identifying naturally occurring DNA from the donor organ, and then using the natural correlation between heightened cfDNA levels and transplant health to identify a potential rejection, none of which was inventive. This is not a case involving a method of preparation or a new measurement technique. View "CareDx, Inc. v. Natera, Inc" on Justia Law
LG Electronics Inc. v. Immervision, Inc.
LG filed petitions for inter partes review (IPR), each challenging a dependent claim of the 990 patent, which relates to capturing and displaying digital panoramic images. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s findings that LG had not shown the challenged claims were unpatentable. Substantial evidence supports the Board’s finding that prior art disclosure critical to both of LG’s IPR petitions was an apparent error that would have been disregarded or corrected by a person of ordinary skill in the art. The Board correctly identified several aspects of the disclosure that would alert the ordinarily skilled artisan that the disclosure was an obvious error of a typographical or similar nature, notwithstanding the amount of time that preceded detection of the obvious error. The corrected disclosure does not satisfy the language of the challenged claims; LG did not meet its burden to prove the challenged claims unpatentable as obvious. View "LG Electronics Inc. v. Immervision, Inc." on Justia Law
Wreal, LLC v. Amazon.com, Inc.
Plaintiff, Wreal, LLC, a pornography company, has been using the mark “FyreTV” in commerce since 2008. Defendant, Amazon.com, Inc., has been using the mark “Fire TV” (or “fireTV”) in commerce since 2012. Wreal contended that Amazon’s allegedly similar mark is causing consumers to associate its mark—“FyreTV”—with Amazon. After the close of discovery, the district court granted summary judgment to Amazon. The Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded the district court’s ruling. The court explained that the case addresses the application of the seven likelihood-of-confusion factors to a reverse-confusion trademark infringement case. Although some of those factors are analyzed and applied in the same way in both reverse-confusion cases and the more familiar forward-confusion cases, there are important differences in how other factors are analyzed and applied that stem from the fact that the harm and the theory of infringement differ between forward and reverse confusion. Here, the record evidence establishes that Amazon acquired actual knowledge of Wreal’s registered trademark and still launched a product line. The two marks at issue are nearly identical, the commercial strength of Amazon’s mark is consistent with Wreal’s theory of recovery. Furthermore, Wreal has identified two consumers who a reasonable juror could conclude were confused by Amazon’s chosen mark. The court wrote, that there is no mechanical formula for applying the seven factors relating to the likelihood of confusion. But when considering all seven factors as they apply to a theory of reverse confusion and taking all the circumstances of this case into account on the record, it concluded that they weigh heavily in favor of Wreal. View "Wreal, LLC v. Amazon.com, Inc." on Justia Law
Centripetal Networks, Inc. v. Cisco Systems, Inc.
Centripetal sued Cisco for the infringement of 10 patents relating to systems that perform computer networking security functions. Centripetal successfully requested that the case be reassigned to Judge Morgan, who had recently presided over a trial involving related technology and five of the same patents. While the case was pending, Judge Morgan sent the parties an email, stating that the previous day, his assistant had discovered that his wife owned 100 shares of Cisco stock valued at $4,687.99. He stated that the “shares did not and could not have influenced [his] opinion.” The disqualification statute, 28 U.S.C. 455, refers to financial interests held by family members. Centripetal had no objection to the judge’s continuing to preside over the case.Cisco sought recusal. Judge Morgan stated that section 455(b)(4) did not apply because he had not discovered his wife’s interest in Cisco until he had decided “virtually” every issue and that placing the Cisco shares in a blind trust “cured” any conflict, then found that Cisco willfully infringed the asserted claims and awarded Centripetal damages of $755,808,545 (enhanced 2.5 times to $1,889,521,362.50), pre-judgment interest ($13,717,925), and “a running royalty."The Federal Circuit reversed the denial of Cisco’s motion for recusal, vacated all orders and opinions of the court entered on or after August 11, 2020, including the final judgment, and remanded for further proceedings before a different district court judge. View "Centripetal Networks, Inc. v. Cisco Systems, Inc." on Justia Law
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. v. Accord Healthcare, Inc.
Novartis markets a 0.5 mg daily dose of fingolimod hydrochloride under the brand name Gilenya, for treating relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, a debilitating immune-mediated demyelinating disease. There is currently no cure for MS. The disease is managed by reducing or preventing relapses and thereby slowing disability. HEC filed an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) seeking approval to market a generic version of Gilenya. Novartis sued, alleging that HEC’s ANDA infringes all claims of its patent. The Federal Circuit initially affirmed a holding that the patent is not invalid and that HEC’s ANDA infringes that patent.On rehearing, the Federal Circuit reversed. Because the Novartis patent fails to disclose the absence of a loading dose, the district court clearly erred in finding that the negative claim limitation “absent an immediately preceding loading dose” added during prosecution to overcome prior art satisfied the written description requirement of 35 U.S.C. 112(a). The specification nowhere describes “initially” administering a daily dosage. View "Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. v. Accord Healthcare, Inc." on Justia Law
Eli Lilly and Company v. Novartis Pharma AG
Plaintiff and its foreign subsidiaries (collectively, “Eli Lilly”) applied to the district court under 28 U.S.C Section 1782 for an order requiring Novartis Pharma AG to provide discovery for use in ongoing patent litigation between the two companies. After Novartis intervened and objected to Eli Lilly’s application, the district court entered an order denying the application. The Fourth Circuit affirmed and addressed two grounds. The district court held that Novartis was not “found” in the Eastern District of Virginia because it was not physically present there. Eli Lilly contends that the court erred in interpreting the word “found” so restrictively, arguing instead that a person is “found” within a district for purposes of Section 1782 when it is “within the personal jurisdiction” of the district court, extending to “the full reach of personal jurisdiction” under the Due Process Clause. Here, in view of the definitions in legal dictionaries and Supreme Court opinions, the court presumed that when Congress similarly used “found” in Section 1782, it intended that the same meaning apply — that a corporation is found where it is physically present by its officers and agents carrying on the corporation’s business. Thus, the district court acted in conformance with the requirements of Section 1782 when it denied Eli Lilly’s application to issue a discovery order directed against Novartis on the ground that Novartis was not found in the Eastern District of Virginia. Further, the court wrote it is apparent that the factors addressed by the district court fall squarely within those factors identified by the Supreme Court in Intel as relevant. View "Eli Lilly and Company v. Novartis Pharma AG" on Justia Law
University of Massachusetts v. L’Oréal S.A.
The patents, which cover skin care products and are related as parent and child, are owned by the University of Massachusetts, which sued L’Oréal (S.A. and USA) for infringement. L’Oréal S.A., which is based in France, moved to dismiss the action on the ground that the Delaware forum lacked personal jurisdiction over it. The district court granted the motion without permitting UMass to conduct jurisdictional discovery, then ruled on a dispute about the proper construction of one limitation of a claim, and relying on that construction, held another limitation of the claim indefinite and entered a final judgment of invalidity.Finding that UMass was entitled to jurisdictional discovery, the Federal Circuit vacated the dismissal of L’Oréal S.A. The court then rejected the district court’s construction of the “wherein” clause in a claim: A method for enhancing the condition of unbroken skin of a mammal by reducing one or more of wrinkling, roughness, dryness, or laxity of the skin, without increasing dermal cell proliferation, the method comprising topically applying to the skin a composition comprising a concentration of adenosine in an amount effective to enhance the condition of the skin without increasing dermal cell proliferation, wherein the adenosine concentration applied to the dermal cells is 10-4 M to 10-7 M. View "University of Massachusetts v. L’Oréal S.A." on Justia Law
Pavo Solutions,. LLC v. Kingston Technology Co., Inc.
Pavo's patent is generally directed to “[a] flash memory apparatus having a single body type rotary cover” to protect USB ports from damage and foreign substances. Pavo’s predecessor sued Kingston, alleging infringement. Kingston sought inter partes review (IPR). Certain claims survived IPR. The district court lifted the previously-imposed stay, and, in claim construction, found that the phrase “pivoting the case with respect to the flash memory main body” included a clerical error. It corrected the language, replacing the word “case” with the word “cover” so that the claim read “pivoting the cover with respect to the flash memory main body.” The court determined that the error was “evident from the face of the patent” because “[t]he case is described as a part of the main body, so it is not possible for it to rotate with respect to the body,” noting that the prosecution history was consistent with the correction.A jury returned a verdict that Kingston had willfully infringed three claims and awarded Pavo a 20-cent reasonable royalty. The court awarded $7,515,327.40 in compensatory damages, enhanced by 50 percent. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The district court appropriately corrected an obvious minor clerical error in the claims; the correction is not subject to reasonable debate. Reliance on an obvious minor clerical error in the claim language is not a defense to willful infringement. The court rejected Kingston’s challenges to an expert’s damages testimony and affirmed the damages award. View "Pavo Solutions,. LLC v. Kingston Technology Co., Inc." on Justia Law