Justia Patents Opinion Summaries

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Glaxo Group Limited and Human Genome Sciences, Inc. (collectively, “GSK”) owned patents covering Benlysta, a lupus treatment drug. GSK filed a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) claiming a method for treating lupus. Biogen Idec MA Inc. (“Biogen”) held an issued patent covering a similar method for treating lupus. When parties dispute who was first to discover an invention, the PTO declares an interference. Rather than suffer the delay and uncertainty of an interference proceeding, the parties agreed to settle their differences through a patent license and settlement agreement (“Agreement”). GSK ended up with its issued patent. The PTO cancelled Biogen’s patent, and Biogen received upfront and milestone payments and ongoing royalties for Benlysta sales. Under the Agreement GSK agreed to make royalty payments to Biogen until the expiration of the last “Valid Claim” of certain patents, including the lupus treatment patent. The Agreement defined a Valid Claim as an unexpired patent claim that has not, among other things, been “disclaimed” by GSK. GSK paid Biogen royalties on Benlysta sales. After Biogen assigned the Agreement to DRIT LP - an entity that purchased intellectual property royalty streams - GSK filed a statutory disclaimer that disclaimed the patent and all its claims. GSK notified DRIT that there were no longer any Valid Claims under the Agreement and stopped paying royalties on Benlysta sales. DRIT sued GSK in the Superior Court for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing for failing to pay royalties under the Agreement. The court dismissed DRIT’s breach of contract claim but allowed the implied covenant claim to go to a jury trial. The jury found for DRIT, and the court awarded damages. On appeal, GSK argued the superior court should have granted it judgment as a matter of law on the implied covenant claim. On cross-appeal, DRIT claimed that, if the Court reversed the jury verdict on the implied covenant claim, it should reverse the superior court’s ruling dismissing the breach of contract claim. The Delaware Supreme Court found the superior court properly dismissed DRIT’s breach of contract claim, but should have granted GSK judgment as a matter of law on the implied covenant claim. Thus, the superior court's judgment was reversed. View "Glaxo Group Limited, et al. v. DRIT LP" on Justia Law

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Rain sued Samsung for infringement of claims of the 349 patent, which is directed to delivering software application packages to a client terminal in a network based on user demands. The claimed invention purports to deliver these packages more efficiently by using an operating system in a client terminal rather than a web browser. The district court found the patent not infringed and not indefinite.The Federal Circuit reversed as to indefiniteness, 35 U.S.C. 112. The term “user identification module” fails to provide any structure for performing the claimed functions, has no commonly understood meaning, and is not generally viewed by one skilled in the art to connote a particular structure. The term is a means-plus-function term subject to section 112; the function of “user identification module” is “to control access to one or more software application packages to which the user has a subscription,” but nothing in the claim language or the written description provides an algorithm to achieve the “control access” function of the “user identification module.” View "Rain Computing, Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd." on Justia Law

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Bayer’s patent is directed to recombinant forms of human factor VIII (FVIII), a protein that is produced, and released into the bloodstream, by the liver. In Bayer’s suit, alleging that Baxalta’s biologic product Adynovate® infringes certain claims of the patent, a jury found that the asserted claims were enabled and infringed, and that Bayer was entitled to reasonable-royalty damages. The district court did not send the question of willful infringement to the jury, holding as a matter of law that Baxalta’s conduct did not meet the requirements for willfulness.The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting Baxalta’s challenges to the district court’s construction of the claim term “at the B-domain” and its interpretation of the word “random” in its construction of the claim term “an isolated polypeptide conjugate.” The court upheld the district court’s judgments of infringement and enablement as supported by substantial evidence, along with the court’s awards of damages and pre-verdict supplemental damages. Even accepting Bayer’s evidence as true and weighing all inferences in Bayer’s favor, the record is insufficient to establish that Baxalta’s “conduct rose to the level of wanton, malicious, and bad-faith behavior required for willful infringement.” View "Bayer HealthCare LLC v. Baxalta Inc." on Justia Law

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SynQor’s 190 patent issued in 2006, as part of an extensive family of patents that disclose technology for DC-DC power converters used in large computer systems and data communication equipment to convert direct electric current from one voltage to another. In 2011, SynQor asserted several patents against Vicor. Vicor petitioned for reexamination of the 190, 702, and 290 patents. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board affirmed that claims of the 702 patent were not unpatentable, finding that “there are incompatibilities in frequency between” prior references Cobos and Steigerwald, and found the challenged claims of the 290 patent not unpatentable based on a combination of Steigerwald, Cobos, and another reference.The Federal Circuit court affirmed the patentability of the claims of the 290 patent and the finding the 702 patent not unpatentable but did not reach the finding that Steigerwald and Cobos were incompatible. The 190 patent expired in 2018. A year later, the Board issued its decision in the 190 reexamination, rejecting SynQor’s argument that Steigerwald and Cobos had incompatible frequencies.The Federal Circuit vacated. Common law issue preclusion arising from the 702 and 290 reexaminations collaterally estopped the Board from finding that an artisan would be motivated to combine Steigerwald and Cobos. The Board’s decision on newly presented claims 34–38 became moot with the patent's expiration. View "SynQor, Inc. v. Vicor Corp." on Justia Law

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Bean’s patent, issued in 2002, covers an auger-type poultry chiller. Days after the patent issued, Bean’s only domestic competition, Morris, wrote a demand letter, arguing that the patent was invalid and citing prior art. Morris received no response and proceeded to develop and sell chillers that included features described in the Bean patent. About 11 years later, Bean requested ex parte reexamination of its patent. After John Bean amended and added claims, the Patent and Trademark Office issued a reexamination certificate; six weeks after receiving that certificate, Bean filed suit, alleging that Morris infringed the patent once the reexamination certificate issued.The Federal Circuit affirmed partial summary judgment in favor of Morris. A defendant, accused of infringing a reissued patent, may raise the affirmative defense of equitable intervening rights, 35 U.S.C. 252, and may be protected from liability for infringement of substantively and substantially altered claims in a reissued patent. Granting equitable intervening rights is a matter of judicial discretion. Once granted, they give the alleged infringer the continued right to manufacture, sell, or use the accused product after the reexamination certificate is issued “when the defendant made, purchased, or used identical products, or made substantial preparations to make, use, or sell identical products, before the reissue date.” The public has the right to use what is not specifically claimed in the original patent. View "John Bean Technologies Corp. v. Morris & Associates, Inc." on Justia Law

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Melanoscan’s patent, titled “Apparatus for Total Immersion Photography,” relates to the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of skin cancer as well as other diseases and cosmetic conditions of the visible human. The apparatus claimed as a “device” is an enclosure fitted with cameras and lights arranged in a manner that “allows for the imaging of total or subtotal non-occluded body surfaces in order to detect health and cosmetic conditions and involves the measurement and analysis of an optically depicted image of a patient’s surfaces.” Canfield petitioned the Patent Trial and Appeal Board for inter partes review (IPR) of multiple claims, asserting unpatentability on the ground of obviousness. The Board ruled that all of the challenged claims are patentable.The Federal Circuit reversed as to independent claims 1 and 51, and vacated and remanded as to the dependent claims in the petition. Claims 1 and 51 place the subject within the enclosure, as in the prior art, and place multiple cameras and lights within the enclosure, as in the prior art; the subject matter described in claims 1 and 51 would have been obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the field of the invention. View "Canfield Scientific, Inc. v. Melanoscan, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Synchronoss patents describe a system for synchronizing data across multiple systems or devices connected via the Internet and a “method for transferring media data to a network coupled apparatus.” The system generally involves one device or system that utilizes a first sync engine, a second device or system that utilizes a second sync engine, and a data store. In an infringement suit against Dropbox, the district court held that all asserted claims in the patent are either invalid under 35 U.S.C. 112, paragraph 2, or not infringed.The Federal Circuit affirmed the findings of invalidity and non-infringement and did not address Dropbox’s claims of ineligible subject matter. The asserted claims of one patent “are nonsensical.” Adopting Synchronoss’s proposal would require rewriting the claims. With respect to another patent, the claim term “user identifier module” does what the definiteness requirement prohibits; the term does not correspond to “adequate” structure in the specification that a person of ordinary skill in the art would be able to recognize and associate with the corresponding function in the claim. With respect to the third patent, Dropbox does not directly infringe by “using” Synchronoss’s claimed system. View "Synchronoss Technologies, Inc. v. Dropbox, Inc." on Justia Law

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Crocs's Design Patent 789, titled “Footwear,” has a single claim for the “ornamental design for footwear.” Crocs sued Dawgs for infringement, Dawgs sought inter partes reexamination (IPE) under 35 U.S.C. 311. The district court stayed its proceedings. The examiner rejected the claim as anticipated, 35 U.S.C. 102(b). While an appeal to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board was pending, Dawgs filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court approved the sale of all of its assets to a new entity, Holdings, “not free and clear of any Claims Crocs . . . may hold for patent infringement occurring post-Closing Date by any person ... or any defenses Crocs may have in respect of any litigation claims that are sold.” The bankruptcy court authorized the distribution of the net sale proceeds and dismissed Dawgs’s bankruptcy case. Holdings assigned all rights, including explicitly the claims asserted by Dawgs in the infringement action and the IPE, to Mojave. Dawgs dissolved but continued to exist for limited purposes, including “prosecuting and defending suits" and "claims of any kind.”The Board declined to change the real-party-in-interest from the IPE requestor to Mojave, then reversed the examiner’s rejection of the patent’s claim. The Federal Circuit granted the motion to substitute. The assignments indicate that Mojave is Dawgs's successor-in-interest; as such, Mojave has standing. If the Board precludes substitution on the basis of a transfer in interest because of a late filing, it would defeat the important interest in having the proper party before the Board. View "Mojave Desert Holdings, LLC v. Crocs, Inc." on Justia Law

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Elevated LDL cholesterol is linked to heart disease. LDL receptors remove LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream; the PCSK9 enzyme regulates LDL receptor degradation. Amgen’s 165 and 741 patents describe antibodies that purportedly bind to the PCSK9 protein and lower LDL levels by blocking PCSK9 from binding to LDL receptors. Amgen sued Sanofi, alleging infringement of multiple patents, including the 165 and 741 patents. Amgen and Sanofi stipulated to infringement of selected claims and tried issues of validity to a jury.The court granted judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) of nonobviousness and of no willful infringement. Following remand, a jury again found that Sanofi failed to prove that the asserted claims were invalid for lack of written description and enablement. The district court granted Sanofi’s Motion for JMOL for lack of enablement and denied the motion for lack of written description. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Undue experimentation would be required to practice the full scope of these claims, which encompasses millions of candidates claimed with respect to multiple specific functions. It would be necessary to first generate and then screen each candidate antibody to determine whether it meets the double-function claim limitations. View "Amgen Inc. v. Sanofi, Aventisub LLC" on Justia Law

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The Infinity patents share a specification and involve using a fax machine as a printer or scanner for a personal computer. The indefiniteness issues revolve around the connection between the fax machine and the computer, termed a “passive link.” In a suit alleging that Oki infringed the patents, the district court found the patent claims indefinite.The Federal Circuit affirmed. Infinity has taken materially inconsistent positions regarding the extent of the claimed “passive link”— specifically, whether it ends at the I/O bus inside the computer or merely at the computer’s port; the endpoint of “passive link” is not reasonably certain and the term is indefinite. Because there is no reasonable certainty about where the “passive link” ends, there also cannot be reasonable certainty about where the “computer” begins. View "Infinity Computer Products, Inc. v. Oki Data Americas, Inc." on Justia Law