Justia Patents Opinion Summaries

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The patent term length is 20 years from the effective filing date of the application, 35 U.S.C. 154. Applicants are compensated for three classes of prosecution delay: a “B Delay” generally entitles the applicant to patent term adjustment (PTA) for each day the application is pending beyond three years. Limitations reduce PTA for "time during which the applicant failed to engage in reasonable efforts to conclude prosecution.” Mayo’s 310 application had a November 1999, effective filing date. The PTO issued a final rejection for anticipation (757 patent) in October 2010. In September 2011, Mayo requested continued examination (RCE) arguing that Mayo had priority of invention over the 757 patent. Mayo cancelled certain claims and pursued them in a separate continuation application, which later issued as the 927 patent. In February 2012, an interference was declared. In February 2014, the Board awarded priority to Mayo’s 310 application and canceled the 757 patent. In June 2014, an examiner rejected the 310 application, citing double patenting in view of the 927 patent. Mayo argued that the claims were patentably distinct. The examiner mailed a Notice of Allowance in November 2014. The 310 application issued as the 063 patent in March 2015. The PTO calculated 621 days of PTA, with no B Delay. Mayo claimed 685 days, arguing the examiner’s reopening of prosecution after termination of the interference was not RCE under 35 U.S.C. 154(b)(1)(B)(i). The PTO concluded that RCE time (which is deducted from B Delay) did not end when the interference was declared, but instead when the Notice of Allowance was mailed. The Federal Circuit affirmed, upholding the PTO’s interpretation of “any time consumed by continued examination of the application requested by the applicant under section 132(b),” 35 U.S.C. 154(b)(1)(B)(i). View "Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research v. Iancu" on Justia Law

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During frying, cooking oil gradually degrades and loses its cooking capacity, generating impurities called total polar materials (TPMs). Frymaster’s patent describes a system for measuring the state of cooking oil degradation with a TPM sensor. When the sensor detects that TPM levels are too high, the system instructs the fryer operator to change the oil. On inter partes review, the Patent and Trademark Office Patent Trial and Appeal Board found multiple claims not unpatentable as obvious under 35 U.S.C. 103. The Federal Circuit affirmed, agreeing that industry praise is probative of nonobviousness even if it was not precisely limited to the point of novelty of the claimed combination. Substantial evidence supports the Board’s finding of no motivation to combine prior references and Frymaster’s evidence of secondary considerations supports nonobviousness. View "Henny Penny Corp. v. Frymaster LLC" on Justia Law

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Curver’s 946 patent, filed in 2011, entitled “Pattern for a Chair” claims an “ornamental design for a pattern for a chair” with an overlapping “Y” design. The design patent’s figures, however, merely illustrate the design pattern disembodied from any article of manufacture. Curver sued Home Expressions, alleging that Home Expressions made and sold baskets that incorporated Curver’s claimed design pattern and infringed the 946 patent. The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. The accused baskets could not infringe because the asserted design patent was limited to chairs only. The scope of the design patent was limited to the illustrated pattern applied to a chair. View "Curver Luxembourg, SARL v. Home Expressions Inc." on Justia Law

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The Intellectual Ventures (IV) patents are directed to tracking and storing information relating to a user’s purchases and expenses; methods and systems for providing customized Internet content to a user as a function of user-specific information and the user’s navigation history; and methods of scanning hardcopy images onto a computer. IV unsuccessfully sued Capital One for infringement in the Eastern District of Virginia and in the District of Maryland. Capital filed antitrust counterclaims, alleging monopolization and attempted monopolization (Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 2) and unlawful acquisition of assets (Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 18), claiming that IV is principally engaged in the business of acquiring patents and asserting them in litigation. IV acquired approximately 3,500 patents relating to commercial banking and attempted to obtain large licensing fees from banks by threatening infringement suits. Capital alleged that IV concealed the identity of its patents and insisted that banks license IV’s entire portfolio of financial services patents, knowing that many were invalid, unenforceable, and not infringed. The Virginia court dismissed the antitrust counterclaims for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted. The Maryland district court granted summary judgment against Capital on all the antitrust claims. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Maryland holding, citing collateral estoppel. The Virginia decision that Capital failed to plausibly allege a proper relevant antitrust market and failed to plausibly allege that IV wields monopoly power within that market was conclusive in the Maryland action. View "Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. Capital One Financial Corp." on Justia Law

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University of Texas System (UT) sued BSC for patent infringement in the Western District of Texas. The patents resulted from research conducted at UT and are directed to implantable drug-releasing biodegradable fibers. BSC is a Delaware corporation with a principal place of business in Massachusetts. BSC does not own or lease any property or maintain a business address in the Western District of Texas but has 46 employees in the District; all maintain home offices and do not work in spaces that are owned or controlled by BSC. UT asserted that venue was proper because UT has sovereign immunity. The district court transferred the case to the District of Delaware. The Federal Circuit affirmed, first holding that it had jurisdiction to hear the appeal under the collateral order doctrine. State sovereignty principles do not grant UT the right to bring suit in an otherwise improper venue; 28 U.S.C. 1400(b) is the sole and exclusive provision controlling venue in patent infringement actions and venue is proper where a defendant resides or has a regular and established place of business. Sovereign immunity is a shield, not a sword. There was no claim or counterclaim against UT that placed it in the position of a defendant. View "Board of Regents of the University of Texas System v. Boston Scientific Corp." on Justia Law

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Allergan’s patents, entitled “Combination of Brimonidine and Timolol for Topical Ophthalmic Use,” the Patents-in-Suit share a common specification that relates “to the topical ophthalmic use of brimonidine in combination with timolol . . . for treatment of glaucoma or ocular hypertension.” Allergan sued Sandoz, asserting that Sandoz’s Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) for a generic version of Allergan’s ophthalmic drug Combigan® infringed those patents. The district court granted Allergan a preliminary injunction. The Federal Circuit affirmed, limiting a number of “wherein” clauses in the patents. Both Allergan and the Examiner explicitly relied on the “wherein” clauses to distinguish the claimed methods over the prior art during prosecution. The “wherein” clauses were neither unnecessary nor irrelevant. View "Allergan Sales, LLC v. Sandoz, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2014, BioDelivery filed three petitions for inter partes review (IPR) of Aquestive’s 167 patent. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board instituted review on a single ground in each petition. For the 14 non-instituted grounds, the Board found that BioDelivery failed to establish a reasonable likelihood of prevailing on the merits. The Board sustained the patentability of the three claims. The Supreme Court then issued its SAS Institute (2018) holdings that IPR proceedings must proceed in accordance with the petition including the grounds on which the challenge to each claim is based. On remand, the Board modified the institution decisions, denied the petitions, and terminated the proceedings, emphasizing its discretion to institute IPR under 35 U.S.C. 314(a) even upon a showing of a reasonable likelihood of prevailing on at least one challenged claim. The Board considered the merits of the previously noninstituted grounds, finding that BioDelivery had not “establish[ed] a reasonable likelihood of success in relation to those claims and grounds.” The Federal Circuit dismissed BioDelivery’s appeals as barred by 35 U.S.C. 314(d). In following the remand order to “implement SAS,” the Board corrected its partial institution errors by revisiting its institution decisions and properly exercising its discretion not to institute review at all. Nothing in the order divested the Board of that discretion. View "BioDelivery Sciences International, Inc. v. Aquestive Therapeutics, Inc." on Justia Law

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Guangdong is a foreign manufacturer of aerogel insulation products currently subject to a limited exclusion order entered by the U.S. International Trade Commission following an unfair competition investigation. The exclusion order is based in part on the Commission’s final determination that Alison’s products infringe Aspen’s 359 patent, 19 U.S.C. 1337. The Commission found that certain claims of the 359 patent are not indefinite based on their use of the term “lofty . . . batting” and that certain claims of the patent are not invalid on anticipation and obviousness grounds. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The written description of the 359 patent informs the meaning of “lofty . . . batting” with reasonable certainty and the Commission’s factual findings regarding anticipation are supported by substantial evidence View "Guangdong Alison Hi-Tech Co. v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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CGI’s 275 patent relates to an apparatus and method for communicating information about the status of a movable barrier, for example, a garage door. The district court rejected TTI’s allegation that the asserted claims are directed to the abstract idea of wireless transmission of content and, therefore, directed to patent-ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 101, finding the claims directed “to garage door openers that wirelessly transmit status information” and constituted “a particular improvement over prior art which uses a particular manner of sending and experiencing data.” The court granted CGI’s motions for enhanced damages and attorney fees. The Federal Circuit reversed in part, concluding that three claims are directed to an abstract idea and are patent-ineligible. No inventive concept exists in the asserted claims sufficient to transform the abstract idea of communicating status information about a system into a patent-eligible application of that idea. The court affirmed the jury’s verdict with respect to its finding of no anticipation of three claims of CGI’s 966 patent, directed to a rechargeable battery backup system for a barrier movement operator. The court vacated the injunction and awards of enhanced damages and attorney fees and remanded for reconsideration of enhanced damages and attorney fees with respect to only the 966 patent. View "Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Techtronic Industries Co. Ltd." on Justia Law

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Arthrex’s 541 patent describes a surgical suture anchor used to reattach soft tissue to bone. The disclosed “fully threaded suture anchor” includes “an eyelet shield that is molded into the distal part of the biodegradable suture anchor.” In an inter partes review, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruled two claims invalid. In doing so, the Board employed different language than Smith & Nephew, Inc.’s petition to explain why a person of ordinary skill in the art would have been motivated to combine the teachings of the prior art. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The Board’s minor variation in wording does not violate the safeguards of the Administrative Procedure Act and did not deprive Arthrex of an opportunity to be heard. The Board’s findings have substantial evidence support, its claim constructions are correct, and Arthrex has not articulated a cognizable constitutional challenge to inter partes review for its patent. View "Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc." on Justia Law