Justia Patents Opinion Summaries
Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Apple, Inc.
Uniloc filed patent infringement actions against Apple, which moved to dismiss, arguing that Uniloc had granted its creditor a license with the right to sublicense in the event of a Uniloc default. According to Apple, Uniloc had defaulted and “lacked the right to exclude Apple from using the patents.” Apple’s motion referenced material that Uniloc had designated as highly confidential. Uniloc asked the court to seal most of the materials in the parties’ filings, including citations to case law, quotations from published opinions, and 23 entire exhibits, including matters of public record. The court denied that motion. Uniloc sought reconsideration, stating that it was willing to make public more than 90 percent of the material it had originally sought to shield; it submitted a declaration including individual grounds for redacting or sealing the remaining materials and declarations from third-party licensees that disclosure would cause them significant competitive harm. The court denied Uniloc’s motion. The Federal Circuit affirmed with respect to Uniloc’s requests to seal its purportedly confidential information and that of its related entities and vacated with respect to licensees. In denying Uniloc’s “sweeping motion,” the court sent a strong message that litigants should submit narrow, well-supported sealing requests and “took seriously the presumption of public access.” The court failed to make sufficient findings on balancing the public’s right of access against the interests of the third parties in shielding their financial and licensing information from public view. View "Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Apple, Inc." on Justia Law
Fitbit, Inc. v. Valencell, Inc.
Valencell’s patent, entitled “Methods and Apparatus for Generating Data Output Containing Physiological and Motion-Related Information,” concerns systems for monitoring information such as blood oxygen level, heart rate, and physical activity. Apple sought inter partes review (IPR) of claims 1–13. The Patent Board instituted review of several claims but denied review of claims 3–5. Fitbit then filed an IPR petition for claims 1, 2, and 6–13 and moved for joinder with Apple’s IPR. The Board granted Fitbit’s petition, terminating Fitbit’s separate proceeding. The Supreme Court then held that all patent claims challenged in an IPR petition must be reviewed by the Board if the petition is granted. The Board re-instituted conducted further proceedings and issued a Final Written Decision, finding claims 1, 2, and 6–13 unpatentable, and claims 3–5 not unpatentable. Following the decision, Apple withdrew from the proceeding. Valencell challenged Fitbit’s right to appeal as to claims 3–5. The Federal Circuit held that Fitbit has a right to appeal but vacated as to claims 3–5. Fitbit’s rights as a joined party apply to the entire proceedings and include the right of appeal, conforming to the statutory purpose of avoiding redundant actions by facilitating consolidation, while preserving statutory rights, including judicial review. The court remanded for review of the patentability of claims 3-5 in light of claims of obviousness. View "Fitbit, Inc. v. Valencell, Inc." on Justia Law
In Re Boloro Global Ltd.
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board, in an ex parte appeal, affirmed an examiner’s rejection of claims in Boloro’s patent applications. Boloro moved to vacate. The Director of the Patent and Trademark Office acknowledged that the administrative patent judges (APJs) were not constitutionally appointed at the time of the Board’s final decision. The Federal Circuit has previously held that the appropriate remedy for such a constitutional violation was to vacate the Board’s decision and to remand for reassignment to a different panel of APJs for a new hearing and decision. The Director urges that the same remedy should not be extended to ex parte proceedings, like the Boloro proceedings, because the Director possesses “complete control over the initial examination” and could at any time before the Board proceedings have directed the issuance of Boloro’s patents but did not, consistent with the Board’s subsequent decisions. The Federal Circuit rejected that argument and remanded to the Board. View "In Re Boloro Global Ltd." on Justia Law
Genentech, Inc. v. Immunex Rhode Island Corp.
Genentech manufactures and sells bevacizumab, a biological product used to treat certain types of cancer, under the name Avastin. Amgen filed a biologics license application, 42 U.S.C. 262(k) to market a biosimilar version of Avastin—Mvasi. Mvasi received FDA approval effective September 2017. In October, Amgen notified Genentech of its intent to commercially market Mvasi starting no earlier than 180 days from the date of the letter. In August 2018, Amgen filed a third supplement to its Mvasi application to add a manufacturing facility and a fourth supplement to change its drug label. By July 2019, Amgen decided it would commercially launch Mvasi, intending to market it immediately. Genentech filed motions, seeking to preclude Amgen from commercially marketing Mvasi until Amgen “provides notice of its intent to commercially market such product” pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 262(l)(8) and 180 days have elapsed,” arguing that Amgen’s third and fourth supplements resulted in new and distinct applications that require new notices. The Federal Circuit affirmed the denial of the motions, reasoning that Amgen’s October 2017 commercial marketing notice for Mvasi satisfied Section 262(l)(8)(A)’s notice requirements. View "Genentech, Inc. v. Immunex Rhode Island Corp." on Justia Law
Immunex Corp v. Sandoz Inc.
The patents at issue are directed to the fusion protein etanercept and methods of making the same. Etanercept is the active ingredient in Immunex’s biologic drug Enbrel®, which is primarily indicated for reducing the signs and symptoms of moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder. Sandoz filed an abbreviated Biologics License Application (aBLA), seeking approval to market Erelzi, a biosimilar version of Enbrel®. In a patent infringement suit under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act, Sandoz stipulated to infringement of the asserted claims of the patents-in-suit. The district court held that Sandoz had failed to prove that the asserted claims of the patents-in-suit were invalid. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting claims of obviousness-type double patenting; failure to meet the written description requirement; and obviousness. View "Immunex Corp v. Sandoz Inc." on Justia Law
Electronic Communication Technologies, LLC v. ShoppersChoice.Com, LLC
ECT sued ShoppersChoice for infringement of its 261 patent, directed “to systems and methods that notify a party of travel status associated with one or more mobile things. ShoppersChoice challenged claim 11 as patent-ineligible, 35 U.S.C. 101. ShoppersChoice moved to join a patent eligibility hearing set in a parallel lawsuit, in which ECT alleged claim 11 infringement against other companies. The court conducted a consolidated hearing and invalidated claim 11 as directed to the abstract idea of providing advance notification of the pickup or delivery of a mobile thing. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that “the claim only entails applying longstanding commercial practices using generic computer components and technology.” ShoppersChoice sought attorney fees, citing evidence that ECT sent standardized demand letters and filed repeat infringement actions to obtain low-value “license fees” and force settlements. Before the court ruled, a California District Court awarded attorney fees against ECT in another case related to the patent. The Federal Circuit vacated a holding that the case was not exceptional. A pattern of litigation abuses characterized by the repeated filing of patent infringement actions for the sole purpose of forcing settlements, with no intention of testing the merits of one’s claims, is relevant to a district court’s exceptional case determination. The court clearly erred by failing to consider the objective unreasonableness of ECT’s alleging infringement of claim 11 against ShoppersChoice. View "Electronic Communication Technologies, LLC v. ShoppersChoice.Com, LLC" on Justia Law
B/E Aerospace, Inc. v. C&D Zodiac, Inc
On inter partes review (IPR) of B/E’s patents, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board found certain claims unpatentable as obvious. The patents relate to space-saving technologies for aircraft enclosures such as lavatory enclosures, closets, and galleys. The patents are directed to space-saving modifications to the walls of aircraft enclosures; they are not directed to the structures contained within those walls. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that the Board incorporated a claim limitation that is not present in the prior art. The challenged claims would have been obvious because modifying a combination of prior art to include a second recess was nothing more than the predictable application of known technology. The Board fully articulated its conclusion of obviousness, and substantial evidence supports the Board’s determination of obviousness independent of whether it erred in considering design drawings. View "B/E Aerospace, Inc. v. C&D Zodiac, Inc" on Justia Law
Adidas AG v. Nike, Inc.
Nike’s patents share a specification and are directed to methods of manufacturing an article of footwear with a textile upper. Adidas petitioned for inter partes review of certain claims. The Patent Board held that Adidas had not demonstrated that the challenged claims are unpatentable as obvious. The Federal Circuit affirmed, first holding that Adidas had standing. The companies are in direct competition. Nike refused to grant Adidas a covenant not to sue, confirming that Adidas’ risk of infringement is concrete and substantial. Substantial evidence supports a finding that the claims are not obvious. The claims recite a method of “mechanically-manipulating a yarn with a circular knitting machine . . . to form a cylindrical textile structure.” The process involves removing a textile element from the textile structure and incorporating it into an upper of the article of footwear. Adidas had not demonstrated that a person of ordinary skill in the art would have been motivated to combine prior references and failed to identify which reference or combination of references it was relying on to disclose each limitation of the challenged claims. View "Adidas AG v. Nike, Inc." on Justia Law
Shoes by Firebus LLC v. Stride Rite Children’s Group, LLC
The Firebug patents are generally directed to footwear illumination systems. According to the patents, while light-up shoes are not new to the industry, there are many possible structural designs. In some designs, the light sources are external to the footwear; in others, the lights are integrated into the shoes. The Firebug patents purport to disclose an improved structure for internally illuminated footwear. The patents describe footwear comprising a sole and an upper portion having three layers—a liner (the innermost layer), an interfacing layer, and a light-diffusing layer. The light sources are connected to the interfacing layer between the interfacing layer and the light-diffusing layer. The interfacing layer is reflective and maximizes the amount of light that exits through the light-diffusing layer. Stride Rite, Firebug’s competitor, filed an infringement suit. Stride Rite, in response, filed petitions for inter partes review of certain claims. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board found the claims unpatentable as obvious over prior art. The Federal Circuit affirmed. While the preamble of claim 1 of one patent limits the challenged claims to require textile footwear, the Board’s ultimate conclusion of obviousness is correct under the proper claim construction and any error was therefore harmless. The obviousness determination was supported by substantial evidence. View "Shoes by Firebus LLC v. Stride Rite Children's Group, LLC" on Justia Law
In Re PersonalWeb Technologies LLC
Personal Web’s patents share a largely common specification and claim priority to an abandoned patent application, which was filed in 1995. According to the specification, there was a problem with the way computer networks identified data in their systems. There was “no direct relationship between the data names” and the contents of the data item. Computer networks could become clogged with duplicate data, and the efficiency and integrity of data processing systems could be impaired. The inventors purported to solve this problem by devising “True Names” for data items. The system created a “substantially unique” identifier for each data item that depended only on the content of the data itself and did not depend on purportedly less reliable means of identifying data items, such as user-provided file names. PersonalWeb sued Amazon for patent infringement. After the district court issued its claim construction order, PersonalWeb stipulated to the dismissal of all its claims against Amazon with prejudice; the court subsequently entered judgment against PersonalWeb. In 2018, PersonalWeb filed dozens of new lawsuits against website operators, many of which were Amazon’s customers. Amazon intervened. The Federal Circuit affirmed a declaratory judgment that PersonalWeb’s lawsuits against Amazon’s customers were barred as a result of the prior lawsuit brought by PersonalWeb against Amazon. View "In Re PersonalWeb Technologies LLC" on Justia Law