Justia Patents Opinion Summaries

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Voip-Pal’s patents, titled “Producing Routing Messages for Voice Over IP Communications,” describe the field of invention as “voice over IP communications and methods and apparatus for routing and billing” and relate to routing communications between two different types of networks—public and private. Voip-Pal sued Apple for infringement. Apple petitioned for inter partes review (IPR) of several claims of the asserted patents in two separate proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, which determined that the claims not invalid for obviousness. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Board’s non-obviousness determinations as to certain claims and its sanctions ruling, based on a finding that Voip-Pal engaged in sanctionable ex parte communications. The Board’s decision to allow Apple to petition for rehearing before a new panel, and provide Apple with a meaningful opportunity to respond to VoipPal’s letters was a reasonable course of action. The court vacated with respect to 19 claims, on grounds of mootness. View "Apple Inc. v. Voip-Pal.com, Inc." on Justia Law

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Network-1’s 930 patent, titled “Apparatus and Method for Remotely Powering Access Equipment over a 10/100 Switched Ethernet Network,” issued in 2001. Network-1 sued HP for infringement. A jury found the patent not infringed and invalid. Following post-trial motions, the district court denied Network-1’s request for a new trial on infringement but granted Network-1’s motion for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) on validity, holding that HP was estopped from raising certain validity challenges under 35 U.S.C. 315(e)(2) based on HP’s joinder to an inter partes review (IPR) before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.The Federal Circuit vacated in part and remanded. The district court correctly construed “low-level current” but erred in its construction of “main power source,” and as a result of that error, Network-1 is entitled to a new trial on infringement. Network-1 was prejudiced by the incorrect claim construction. HP was not statutorily estopped from challenging the asserted claims of the patent based on prior art, which was not raised in the IPR and which could not have reasonably been raised by HP. The court affirmed that certain asserted claims were not improperly broadened. View "Network-1 Technologies, Inc. v. Hewlett-Packard Co." on Justia Law

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Egenera sued, alleging that Cisco’s enterprise server systems infringed the 430 patent. Before claim construction, and with Cisco’s inter partes review (IPR) petition pending, Egenera separately petitioned the Patent and Trademark Office to remove one of the 11 listed inventors from the patent. Egenera realized that all claim limitations had been conceived before one listed inventor, Schulter, had started working there. The Patent Board declined to institute IPR; Schulter was removed as an inventor. Following the district court’s claim construction of a “logic to modify” limitation and a trial on inventorship, Egenera asked the district court to add Schulter back to the patent. The court determined that judicial estoppel prevented Egenera from relisting Schulter and found the patent invalid for failing to name all inventors.The Federal Circuit affirmed the claim construction but vacated the invalidity judgment based on judicial estoppel. Egenera advanced no “clearly inconsistent” positions. Inventorship can depend on claim construction. Egenera’s inventorship petition was consistent with the underlying presumption was that Egenera’s claim terms, lacking “means,” were not means-plus-function. Schulter likely would not be an inventor under Egenera’s preferred construction but inventorship under that construction was not decided. Once claim construction issues were decided, it was entirely consistent for Egenera to request an accompanying formal correction of inventorship. In addition, Egenera did not succeed in persuading a court or court-like tribunal to accept its first position. View "Egenera, Inc. v. Cisco Systems, Inc." on Justia Law

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Neville’s 708 patent and its parent 236 patent relate to foundation piles, which are tubular structures placed into the ground to provide stability for the foundations built over them. Such foundation piles can be driven into the ground through direct application of force or through rotational torque. The claimed inventions are directed to the screw-type foundation pile. The specification explains that rotational torque is applied through a “helical flight” at the tip of the foundation pile, which “draws the pile into a soil bed,” which is depicted in the figures as a structure similar to the helical structure of a screw.The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment, finding that Foundation’s accused products do not infringe. The district court properly construed the terms “end plate having a substantially flat surface,” and “protrusion extending outwardly from the end plate.” View "Neville v. Foundation Constructors, Inc." on Justia Law

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Baxalta sued Genentech, asserting that Genentech’s Hemlibra® product used to treat the blood clotting disorder hemophilia infringes claims of its 590 patent. The 590 patent relates to preparations used to treat hemophilia patients who have developed factor VIII inhibitors. After the district court issued a claim construction order, construing the terms “antibody” and “antibody fragment,” the parties stipulated to non-infringement of the asserted claims. The Federal Circuit vacated, finding that the district court erred in construing the terms by selecting a narrower construction, which is inconsistent with the written description and the plain language of the claim. View "Baxalta Inc. v. Genentech, Inc." on Justia Law

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Christy applied for a patent on its “ambient air backflushed filter vacuum” invention. The patent claiming that invention issued in 2006. Christy paid the patent's $1,000 issuance fee and the $490 3.5-year, $1,800 7.5-year, and $3,700 11.5-year maintenance fees. Christy and its licensee sued competitors for patent infringement. One competitor filed petitions for inter partes review (IPR). The Federal Circuit affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s invalidity decision. Aggrieved by the cancellation of 18 claims of the patent, Christy filed a class-action suit, seeking compensation from the government, with a Fifth Amendment takings claim and, alternatively, an illegal exaction claim, seeking compensation amounting to the issuance and maintenance fees, Christy’s investments made in the technologies, and attorney fees spent in defending the IPR.The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. The cancellation of patent claims in an IPR does not amount to a compensable taking. Christy’s argument regarding the fees fails because the law requires payment of the fees without regard to any later result of post-issuance proceedings, 35 U.S.C. 41, 151. Christy identifies no statute, regulation, or constitutional provision compelling the fees’ refund if claims are later canceled in post-issuance proceedings. Without showing how the PTO’s actions contravened the Constitution, a statute, or a regulation, Christy cannot state an illegal exaction claim. View "Christy, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Security obtained the 180 patent in 2003. After being sued for patent infringement, Security’s competitor sought review of certain claims of the patent in 2015. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board instituted an inter partes review (IPR) and found the sole instituted claim unpatentable. The Federal Circuit summarily affirmed. The Supreme Court then denied a petition for certiorari, which did not raise any constitutional arguments.Security then sought a declaratory judgment that the retroactive application of an IPR proceeding to cancel claims of its patent violated its due process rights. The district court dismissed the suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The America Invents Act, 35 U.S.C. 319, 141(c), provides for “broad Federal Circuit review” of the Board’s final written decisions and allows for review “only” in the Federal Circuit. The court concluded Congress intended to preclude district court review of Board decisions under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). The Federal Circuit affirmed. Congress foreclosed the possibility of collateral APA review of IPR decisions by district courts. Security cannot bring an APA challenge when the statutory scheme separately establishes an adequate judicial remedy for its constitutional challenge. The APA authorizes judicial review of final agency actions only if there is no other adequate remedy. View "Security People, Inc. v. Iancu" on Justia Law

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After ATOM filed for bankruptcy, plaintiff and ATOM initiated an adversarial proceeding against Petroleum Analyzer, alleging claims of misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition, and civil theft. On the bankruptcy court's recommendation, the district court withdrew the reference to the bankruptcy court and asserted jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1334, and entered partial summary judgment for plaintiff and ATOM. Four years later, the district court held a bench trial and entered judgment in favor of Petroleum Analyzer and later awarded attorneys' fees to Petroleum Analyzer.The Fifth Circuit held that the district court did not clearly err by finding that Petroleum Analyzer did not use plaintiff's trade secrets in Petroleum Analyzer's sulfur-detecting excimer lamp called a MultiTek. Furthermore, the district court did not ignore the "law of the case" doctrine. The court also held that the district court did not err by awarding Petroleum Analyzer attorneys' fees under the Texas Theft Liability Act. The court remanded to allow the district court to make the initial determination and award of appellate attorneys' fees to Petroleum Analyzer. View "ATOM Instrument Corp. v. Petroleum Analyzer Co., LP" on Justia Law

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Godo sued TCL, alleging infringement, arguing that the patents-in-suit are essential to the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) standard and that TCL’s accused devices are LTE-compatible. A jury found that TCL was liable for infringement by its sale of LTE standard-compliant devices, including mobile phones and tablets. In post-trial motions, TCL unsuccessfully argued that Godo’s theory of infringement was flawed because the “narrow exception” to proving infringement in the standard way—i.e., by showing that each element in the asserted claim is present in the accused devices—only applies in circumstances where the patent owner asks the court to assess essentiality in the context of construing the claims of the asserted patents.The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting TCL’s contention that whether a patent is essential to any standard established by a standard-setting organization is a question of law to be resolved in the context of claim construction. Where, as here, there are material disputes of fact regarding whether asserted claims are in fact essential to all implementations of an industry standard, the question of essentiality must be resolved by the trier of fact in the context of an infringement trial. Substantial evidence supports the jury’s infringement verdict. View "Godo Kaisha IP Bridge 1 v. TCL Communication Technology Holdings Ltd." on Justia Law

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The Navy began a program to design and build littoral combat ships (LCS) and issued a request for proposals. During the initial phase of the LCS procurement, FastShip met with and discussed a potential hull design with government contractors subject to non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements. FastShip was not awarded a contract. FastShip filed an unsuccessful administrative claim, alleging patent infringement. The Claims Court found that the FastShip patents were valid and directly infringed by the government. The Federal Circuit affirmed.The Claims Court awarded FastShip attorney’s fees and expenses ($6,178,288.29); 28 U.S.C. 1498(a), which provides for a fee award to smaller entities that have prevailed on infringement claims, unless the government can show that its position was “substantially justified.” The court concluded that the government’s pre-litigation conduct and litigation positions were not “as a whole” substantially justified. It unreasonable for a government contractor to gather information from FastShip but not to include it as part of the team that was awarded the contract and the Navy took an exceedingly long time to act on FastShip’s administrative claim and did not provide sufficient analysis in denying the claim. The court found the government’s litigation positions unreasonable, including its arguments with respect to one document and its reliance on the testimony of its expert to prove obviousness despite his “extraordinary skill.” The Federal Circuit vacated. Reliance on this pre-litigation conduct in the fee analysis was an error. View "FastShip, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law