Justia Patents Opinion Summaries
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
ClearOne, Inc. v. Shure Acquisition Holdings, Inc.
Shure’s 493 patent relates to arrays of microphones and housings for the arrays so that the arrays and housings may be fitted into a drop ceiling grid. The array is configured, in one embodiment, to “include a plurality of microphone transducers selectively positioned in a self-similar or fractal-like configuration, or constellation.” During inter partes review (IPR), Shure added independent claim 57, which recites: A microphone assembly comprising: an array microphone comprising a plurality of microphones arranged in a self-similar configuration. The Patent Board concluded that a skilled artisan would understand “self-similar” to have had a well-known meaning and include the specification’s disclosure of “fractal-like configurations or constellations,” which does not create an ambiguity. ClearOne requested rehearing and to file a sanctions motion, arguing Shure violated its duty to disclose material prior art; weeks before the Board's decision, Shure petitioned for post-grant review of the 653 patent, which also relates to drop ceiling microphone arrays, asserting that all claims of the 653 patent would have been obvious over, inter alia, patent publications Levit and Gulbrandsen, which Shure did not disclose in the 493 patent IPR.The Board denied rehearing and did not authorize a sanctions motion, reasoning that Levit and Gulbrandsen were cumulative of references asserted by ClearOne in its IPR petition. The Federal Circuit affirmed, further concluding that the self-similar term is not indefinite, and substantial evidence supports the Board’s subsidiary fact findings based on extrinsic evidence. View "ClearOne, Inc. v. Shure Acquisition Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law
Smith & Nephew, Inc. v. Arthrex, Inc.
Arthrex sued S&N, alleging infringement. S&N sought inter partes review (IPR). The Patent Trial and Appeal Board found that prior art anticipated several claims. Arthrex challenged the decision on the merits and argued that the Board lacked constitutional authority to issue the final decision because its Administrative Patent Judges (APJs) were not nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, as the Appointments Clause requires for principal officers.The Federal Circuit severed the statutory limitations on the removal of APJs and remanded for rehearing by a new panel. The Supreme Court vacated and remanded, finding that the appropriate remedy was to exempt the Director from 35 U.S.C. 6(c), which precludes anyone but the Board from granting rehearing of a Board decision, and remand to the Acting Director for a decision on whether to rehear the case. The offices of the Director and Deputy Director were vacant. Agency Organization Order 45-1 states, “If both the [Director] and the Deputy [Director] positions are vacant, the Commissioner for Patents . . . will perform the non-exclusive functions and duties of the [Director].” The Commissioner denied rehearing and ordered that the Board’s decision “is the final decision of the agency.”The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the Commissioner violated the Appointments Clause, the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, 5 U.S.C. 3345, or the Constitution’s separation of powers in denying Arthrex’s rehearing request. The court agreed that prior art anticipated the challenged claims. View "Smith & Nephew, Inc. v. Arthrex, Inc." on Justia Law
Kaufman v. Microsoft Corp.,
Kaufman’s now-expired patent describes and claims methods for using a computer to automatically generate an end-user interface for working with the data in a relational database. Kaufman sued Microsoft, asserting infringement by Microsoft’s making and selling of its Dynamic Data product. A jury found Microsoft liable and awarded damages of $7 million. The district court upheld the verdict and denied Kaufman’s motion to amend the judgment to include prejudgment interest. The Federal Circuit affirmed the denial of Microsoft’s post-judgment motions but reversed the denial of prejudgment interest. Microsoft failed to preserve its challenge to claim construction with respect to the phrase “automatically generating,” and failed to establish that the district court erred in its claim construction or that the jury’s verdict was not supported by substantial evidence. View "Kaufman v. Microsoft Corp.," on Justia Law
Mitek Systems, Inc. v. United Services Automobile Association
USAA, a reciprocal inter-insurance exchange organized under Texas law with its principal place of business in San Antonio, owns the four patents, which address the use of a mobile device to capture an image of a bank check and transmit it for deposit. Mitek filed suit in the Northern District of California, seeking a declaratory judgment (28 U.S.C. 2201(a)), that Mitek and its customers have not infringed, either directly or indirectly, any valid and enforceable claim of USAA’s patents. USAA moved for dismissal of the complaint, arguing that there was no case or controversy between USAA and Mitek and that the court should exercise discretion not to hear Mitek’s claim. In the alternative, USAA requested the transfer of the action to the Eastern District of Texas under 28 U.S.C. 1404. The California court, without ruling on the dismissal motion, ordered the case transferred to Texas.The Texas court dismissed for want of a case or controversy, stating that, even if jurisdiction existed, it would exercise its discretion to decline to entertain the action. The Federal Circuit vacated the Texas court’s dismissal and remanded, affirming the California court’s transfer order. To make the “case or controversy” determination, the district court’s primary task will be to ascertain the alleged role of the Mitek technology in the banks’ applications and the alleged role that the Mitek technology plays in infringement claims. View "Mitek Systems, Inc. v. United Services Automobile Association" on Justia Law