Justia Patents Opinion Summaries
United States v. Arthrex, Inc.
Administrative Patent Judges (APJs) conduct adversarial proceedings for challenging the validity of an existing patent before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), 35 U.S.C. 6(a), (c). The Secretary of Commerce appoints PTAB members, including APJs, except the Director, who is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. APJs concluded that Arthrex’s patent was invalid. The Federal Circuit concluded that the APJs were principal officers who must be appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate; their appointment was unconstitutional. To remedy this violation, the court invalidated the APJs’ tenure protections, making them removable at will by the Secretary.The Supreme Court vacated. The unreviewable authority wielded by APJs during patent review is incompatible with their appointment by the Secretary to an inferior office. Inferior officers must be “directed and supervised at some level by others who were appointed by Presidential nomination with the advice and consent of the Senate.” While the Director has administrative oversight, neither he nor any other superior executive officer can directly review APJ decisions. A decision by the APJs under his charge compels the Director to “issue and publish a certificate” canceling or confirming patent claims he previously allowed. Given the insulation of PTAB decisions from executive review, APJs exercise power that conflicts with the Appointments Clause’s purpose “to preserve political accountability.”Four justices concluded that section 6(c) cannot constitutionally be enforced to prevent the Director from reviewing final APJ decisions. The Director may review final PTAB decisions and may issue decisions on behalf of the Board. Section 6(c) otherwise remains operative. Because the source of the constitutional violation is the restraint on the Director’s review authority not the appointment of APJs, Arthrex is not entitled to a hearing before a new panel. View "United States v. Arthrex, Inc." on Justia Law
Yu v. Apple Inc.
Yu sued for infringement of the 289 patent, titled “Digital Cameras Using Multiple Sensors with Multiple Lenses.” The district court dismissed the suit with prejudice after concluding that each asserted claim was patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101. The court found that the asserted claims were directed to “the abstract idea of taking two pictures and using those pictures to enhance each other in some way.” The court explained that “photographers ha[ve] been using multiple pictures to enhance each other for over a century” and that the asserted claims lack an inventive concept, noting “the complete absence of any facts showing that the [claimed] elements were not well-known, routine, and conventional.” The Federal Circuit affirmed. The claimed hardware configuration itself is not an advance and does not itself produce the asserted advance of enhancement of one image by another, which is an abstract idea. View "Yu v. Apple Inc." on Justia Law
Chandler v. Phoenix Services LLC
In 2006 Heat On-The-Fly began using a new fracking technology on certain jobs. Heat’s owner later filed a patent application regarding the process but failed to disclose 61 public uses of the process that occurred over a year before the application was filed. This application led to the 993 patent. Heat asserted that patent against several parties. In 2014, Phoenix acquired Heat and the patent. Chandler alleges that enforcement of the 993 patent continued in various forms. In an unrelated 2018 suit, the Federal Circuit affirmed a holding that the knowing failure to disclose prior uses of the fracking process rendered the 993 patent unenforceable due to inequitable conduct.Chandler filed a “Walker Process” monopolization action under the Sherman Act, which required that the antitrust-defendant obtained the patent by knowing and willful fraud on the patent office and maintained and enforced that patent with knowledge of the fraudulent procurement, and proof of “all other elements necessary to establish a Sherman Act monopolization claim.” The Federal Circuit transferred the case to the Fifth Circuit, which has appellate jurisdiction over cases from the Northern District of Texas. The court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction because this case does not arise under the patent laws of the United States. View "Chandler v. Phoenix Services LLC" on Justia Law
SpeedTrack, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc.
SpeedTrack’s 360 patent discloses a “computer filing system for accessing files and data according to user-designated criteria.” The patent explains that prior-art systems “employ a hierarchical filing structure” and “emulate commonly[ ]used paper filing systems” in that they “organize data into files (analogous to papers in a paper filing system) and directories (analogous to file folders and hanging files).” According to the patent, such systems could “become very cumbersome.” According to the patent, prior-art solutions presented additional drawbacks. The 360 patent discloses a method that uses “hybrid” folders, which “contain those files whose content overlaps more than one physical directory” and “allows total freedom from the restrictions imposed by hierarchical and other present-day computer filing systems.”SpeedTrack sued various retail website operators, alleging infringement of the patent. The Federal Circuit affirmed the stipulated judgment of noninfringement based on the district court’s construction of the term “hierarchical limitation.” View "SpeedTrack, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc." on Justia Law
Hyatt v. Hirshfeld
Until 1995, a patent’s term was 17 years from the date of issuance, which incentivized certain patentees to delay by abandoning applications and filing continuing applications in their place to obtain patents at a financially desirable time. In 1995, changes in the law triggered a patent application rush. Hyatt, the named inventor on 399 patent applications, bulk-filed 381 applications during that "bubble," each a photocopy of an earlier application. Four applications relate to computer technologies, claim priority to applications filed in the 1970s and 1980s, and are atypically long and complex. Hyatt filed multiple amendments. From 2003 to 2012, the PTO stayed the examination of many of Hyatt’s applications pending litigation. The Board of Patent Appeals affirmed the rejection of the four applications.Hyatt filed suit under 35 U.S.C. 145. The district court ordered the PTO to issue the patents.The Federal Circuit vacated. Prosecution laches may “render a patent unenforceable when it has issued only after an unreasonable and unexplained delay in prosecution that constitutes an egregious misuse of the statutory patent system under a totality of the circumstances” and is a defense available to the PTO in an action to obtain a patent. The district court erred in concluding that the PTO failed to prove prosecution laches. Rather than analyze the evidence of Hyatt’s conduct, the court repeatedly placed blame on the PTO. The court held the issues invalidity for anticipation and lack of written description.in abeyance. View "Hyatt v. Hirshfeld" on Justia Law
Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. v. United States International Trade Commission
Bio-Rad’s patents relate to the generation of microscopic droplets, contiguous fluid that is encapsulated within a different fluid, by using a microfluidic chip. Typically, the inner fluid is water-based, while the outer fluid is oil. The patents arise out of research conducted by inventors at QuantaLife. In 2011, Bio-Rad purchased QuantaLife, acquiring QuantaLife’s patent rights. The inventors became employees of Bio-Rad and executed assignments of their rights to applications that later issued as the 664, 682, and 635 patents. Soon after Bio-Rad acquired QuantaLife, three inventors left Bio-Rad to start 10X, which has developed technology and products in the field of microfluidics, with the goal of achieving DNA and RNA sequencing at the single-cell level. Bio-Rad alleged that 10X violated the Tariff Act, 19 U.S.C. 1337, by importing into the U.S. certain microfluidic chips. The Trade Commission concluded that 10X did not infringe the 664 patent by importing its “Chip GB” but infringed the 664, 682, and 635 patents by importing its “GEM Chips.” The Federal Circuit affirmed. The construction of the term “droplet generation region” is consistent with the intrinsic evidence; substantial evidence established that the use of 10X’s GEM chips directly infringes the asserted claims. Bio-Rad proved the elements of induced and contributory infringement of the 682 and 635 patents with respect to the GEM Chips. View "Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. v. United States International Trade Commission" on Justia Law
Becton, Dickinson & Co. v. Baxter Corp. Englewood
Becton petitioned for inter partes review of claims in Baxter’s patent, directed to “[s]ystems for preparing patient-specific doses and a method for telepharmacy in which data captured while following [a protocol associated with each received drug order and specifying a set of steps to fill the drug order] are provided to a remote site for review and approval by a pharmacist.” The Patent Trial and Appeal Board found that Becton had established that one of ordinary skill in the art would have been motivated to combine prior references and that Baxter’s “evidence of secondary considerations [was] weak” and concluded that none of the challenged claims were shown to be unpatentable as obvious.The Federal Circuit reversed. The Board’s determination that prior art did not teach the verification limitation is not supported by substantial evidence; a highlighting limitation would have been obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art in view of prior art. View "Becton, Dickinson & Co. v. Baxter Corp. Englewood" on Justia Law
Hyatt v. Office of Management and Budget
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of OMB in an action brought by plaintiff and AAET, contending that patent applicants should not have to comply with certain U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) rules because the USPTO is violating the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). Plaintiff and AAET argue that patent applicants need not follow the rules because the USPTO is violating the PRA by failing to obtain OMB approval and a control number each time the USPTO makes a request to an applicant during the back-and-forth communications process concerning a particular patent. The OMB rejected this argument and concluded that the rules are not subject to the PRA.The panel held that the challenged rules do not impose "collections of information" subject to the PRA's procedural requirements. Rather, the PRA and the regulations expressly exclude from coverage individualized communications just like those between a patent examiner and a patent applicant. Furthermore, even if they impose "collections," most of the rules are exempted from the PRA under Exemption 6. View "Hyatt v. Office of Management and Budget" on Justia Law
New Vision Gaming & Development, Inc. v. SG Gaming, Inc.
New Vision sued SG in the federal district court in Nevada. SG then filed Patent Trial and Appeal Board petitions. The Board declined to respect the forum selection agreement in the parties’ license agreement, which referred to “exclusive” jurisdiction in the appropriate federal or state court in the state of Nevada, and proceeded to a final decision, finding the claims at issue as well as proposed substitute claims, patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101.The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the Board’s decisions for consideration of the forum selection clause in light of its 2019 “Arthrex” decision. Because Arthrex issued after the Board’s final-written decisions and after New Vision sought Board rehearing, New Vision has not waived its Arthrex challenge by raising it for the first time in its opening brief. The Board’s rejection of the parties’ choice of forum is subject to judicial review; section 324(e) does not bar review of Board decisions “separate . . . to the in[stitu]tion decision.” View "New Vision Gaming & Development, Inc. v. SG Gaming, Inc." on Justia Law
Trimble Inc. v. PerDiemCo LLC
PerDiemCo, a Texas LLC, is the assignee of the patents, which relate to electronic logging devices. PerDiemCo’s current sole owner, officer, and employee, Babayi, lives and works in Washington, D.C. PerDiemCo rents office space in Texas, which Babayi has never visited. Trimble and ISE, Trimble’s wholly owned subsidiary, manufacture and sell GPS devices. Trimble, incorporated in Delaware, is headquartered in California. ISE is an Iowa LLC with an Iowa principal place of business.Babayi sent a letter to ISE accusing ISE of using technology covered by PerDiemCo’s patents, stating that PerDiemCo “actively licenc[es]” its patents and listed companies that had entered into nonexclusive licenses after the companies had “collectively spent tens of millions of dollars" on litigation. Babayi offered a nonexclusive license. ISE forwarded the letter to Trimble’s Chief IP Counsel, Brodsky, in Colorado, who explained that Trimble would be PerDiemCo’s contact. Babayi replied that PerDiemCo also believed that Trimble’s products infringed its patents. The parties communicated by letter, telephone, and email at least 22 times before Trimble and ISE sought a declaratory judgment of noninfringement in the Northern District of California. The district court held that it lacked specific personal jurisdiction over PerDiemCo. The Federal Circuit reversed. In patent litigation, communications threatening suit or proposing settlement or patent licenses can establish personal jurisdiction. A broad set of a defendant’s contacts with a forum are relevant to the minimum contacts analysis. Here, the minimum contacts or purposeful availment test was satisfied. View "Trimble Inc. v. PerDiemCo LLC" on Justia Law