Justia Patents Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Commercial Law
Hall v. Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc.
The Tote Towel is a large towel with binding around all the edges, zippered pockets at both ends, and an angled cloth loop in the middle. Hall applied for a design patent for the Tote Towel in 2008 and began producing the item soon after the filing, with a label marked “patent pending.” While the application was pending, Hall contacted Bed Bath & Beyond to discuss whether BB&B would sell the Tote Towel at retail stores. Hall left samples of packaged Tote Towels with BB&B. The package and the towel were marked “patent pending.” BB&B had copies of the Hall towel manufactured in Pakistan, for retail sale by BB&B. The patent issued, and Hall sued for patent infringement, unfair competition under the Lanham Act, and for misappropriation under New York law. The district court dismissed all claims and counterclaims on the pleadings. The Federal Circuit held that the counts of patent infringement, unfair competition, and misappropriation were not subject to dismissal on the pleadings, but affirmed dismissal of claims against BB&B executives who had been sued in their personal capacities, and affirmed dismissal of the counterclaims. View "Hall v. Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc." on Justia Law
Soverain Software, LLC v. Newegg, Inc.
The 314 patent, its continuation, the 492 patent, and the 639 patent, relate to electronic commerce; products are offered and purchased through computers interconnected by a network. The patents arise from a software system called “Transact,” developed in 1996 by Open Market. In 2001 Open Market was sold, with the Transact software and patents, to Divine, which was unable to provide support for the complex product and declared bankruptcy. Soverain acquired the Transact software and patents, then sued seven online retailers for patent infringement. The defendants, except Newegg, took paid up licenses to the patents. Newegg declined to pay, stating that its system is materially different and that the patents are invalid if given the scope asserted by Soverain: similar electronic commerce systems were known before the system; the Transact software was generally abandoned; and Newegg’s system, based on the different principle of using “cookies” on the buyer’s computer to collect shopping data, is outside of the claims. The district court awarded Soverain damages and an ongoing royalty and held that the claims were not invalid as obvious. The Federal Circuit reversed in part, holding that claims in the all of the patents are invalid for obviousness. View "Soverain Software, LLC v. Newegg, Inc." on Justia Law
Cummins, Inc. v. TAS Distrib. Co., Inc.
Since 2003, Cummins and TAS have been engaged in three separate actions regarding idle-control technologies for heavy-duty truck engines. Earlier suits concerned breach of a master license agreement between the parties. In a 2009 action, Cummins sought a declaratory judgment that claims of TAS’s 703 and 469 patents are invalid and unenforceable. The district court found that the suit was barred by the doctrine of res judicata in light of a decision in an earlier claim. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Cummins could have pursued claims regarding invalidity and unenforceability of the TAS patents in prior litigation, which featured the same parties, arose from the same group of operative facts, and resulted in a final resolution on the merits so that res judicata bars Cummins’ defenses under 35 U.S.C. 102 and 103. View "Cummins, Inc. v. TAS Distrib. Co., Inc." on Justia Law
Static Control Components, Inc v. Lexmark Int’l, Inc.
Lexmark manufactures printers and toner cartridges. Remanufacturers acquire used Lexmark cartridges, refill them, and sell them at a lower cost. Lexmark developed microchips for the cartridges and the printers so that Lexmark printers will reject cartridges not containing a matching microchip and patented certain aspects of the cartridges. SC began replicating the microchips and selling them to remanufacturers along with other parts for repair and resale of Lexmark toner cartridges. Lexmark sued SC for copyright violations related to its source code in making the duplicate microchips and obtained a preliminary injunction. SC counterclaimed under federal and state antitrust and false-advertising laws. While that suit was pending, SC redesigned its microchips and sued Lexmark for declaratory judgment to establish that the redesigned microchips did not infringe any copyright. Lexmark counterclaimed again for copyright violations and added patent counterclaims. The suits were consolidated. The Sixth Circuit vacated the injunction and rejected Lexmark’s copyright theories. On remand, the court dismissed all SC counterclaims. A jury held that SC did not induce patent infringement and advised that Lexmark misused its patents. The Sixth Circuit affirmed dismissal of federal antitrust claims, but reversed dismissal of SC’s claims under the Lanham Act and certain state law claims. View "Static Control Components, Inc v. Lexmark Int'l, Inc." on Justia Law
Amkor Tech., Inc. v. Int’l Trade Comm’n
Amkor initiated an International Trade Commission investigation, based on the importation, sale for importation, and sale within the U.S. after importation of certain encapsulated integrated circuit devices that allegedly infringed patent claims The Commission determined that the patent was invalid under 35 U.S.C. 102(g)(2). The Federal Circuit reversed. Evidence establishing that there might have been a prior conception is not sufficient to meet the clear and convincing burden needed to invalidate a patent. View "Amkor Tech., Inc. v. Int'l Trade Comm'n" on Justia Law
Ninestar Tech. Co., Ltd. v. Int’l Trade Comm’n
In an action under the Tariff Act, 19 U.S.C. 1337, the International Trade Commission found unfair trade practices based on infringement of Epson's U.S. patents by importation and sale of ink printer cartridges produced in China by Ninestar and imported into and sold in the U.S. by entities including Ninestar's subsidiaries, The Commission issued a general exclusion order, limited exclusion orders, and cease and desist orders. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Final Orders prohibited importation and sale of infringing cartridges, including cartridges in the inventory of U.S. subsidiaries. Subsidiaries continued to import and sell cartridges that were subject to the orders. An Administrative Law Judge determined that Ninestar was in violation and levied a penalty under 19 U.S.C. 1337(f)(2). The Commission reduced the penalty. The Federal Circuit affirmed, finding Ninestar China jointly and severally liable for the penalty ($55,000 per day, a total of $11,110,000) along with the U.S. subsidiaries. Ninestar was aware that refurbishing and reselling spent cartridges, not first sold in the U.S., would be patent infringement View "Ninestar Tech. Co., Ltd. v. Int'l Trade Comm'n" on Justia Law
Atlantic Research Mktg. Sys., Inc. v. Troy
Plaintiff manufactures accessories for small arms weaponry, including handguards that attach to military rifles. Defendant, a distributor who became an employee, signed a nondisclosure agreement, and became familiar with all of plaintiff's products before he was terminated and went into competition with plaintiff. Plaintiff claimed patent infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets. The Federal Circuit affirmed the district court holding that the patent at issue, covering a sleeve for a handgun, was invalid for failing to meet the written description and best mode requirements. Plaintiff introduced sufficient evidence to support a verdict in its favor on Massachusetts law trade secret claims. The district court erred in denying a motion for mistrial and did not take adequate steps to determine whether the presence of a clamp, brought to the jury room by a juror, had a prejudicial effect. View "Atlantic Research Mktg. Sys., Inc. v. Troy" on Justia Law
John Mezzalingua Assocs., Inc. v. Int’l Trade Comm’n
A manufacturer of cable connectors that are used to connect coaxial cables to electronic devices filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission asserting that the importation, sale for importation, and sale after importation of certain coaxial cable connectors infringed four of its patents and therefore violated 19 U.S.C. 1337. Its 539 design patent patent issued in 2001 and describes an ornamental design for a coaxial cable connector. The Commission ruled that the company failed to satisfy the requirement of showing that a "domestic industry" exists or was being established. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The company's enforcement litigation expenses did not constitute "substantial investment in exploitation" of the 539 patent. Those costs were not sufficiently related to licensing. The company has no formal licensing program and the litigation opponent was its only licensee. View "John Mezzalingua Assocs., Inc. v. Int'l Trade Comm'n" on Justia Law
Cordance Corp. v. Amazon.com
The jury found that Amazon's 1-click purchasing system infringes plaintiff's 710 patent, entitled "Object-Based On-Line Transaction Infrastructure," which covers an online purchasing system, but that all of the claims of the patent were invalid, and that Amazon did not infringe any of the other patents at issue. The judge granted a plaintiff's post-verdict motion and ruled that the 710 patent claims were not invalid. The Federal Circuit reversed the post-verdict ruling and held that each asserted claim of the 710 Patent is invalid as anticipated and the asserted claims of the other patents remain valid and not infringed.View "Cordance Corp. v. Amazon.com" on Justia Law
Allergan, Inc. v. Athena Cosmetics, Inc.
The holder of patents on an FDA-approved product that promotes eyelash growth claimed patent infringement and violation of California Business & Professions Code 17200 unfair competition provisions against companies marketing similar products. The district court dismissed the state law claims for lack of standing under an amendment to that law, enacted by the voters as Proposition 64. The Federal Circuit reversed and remanded. The complaint adequately alleged economic injury caused by defendants' unfair business practices; it is not necessary that the plaintiff had direct business dealings with the defendants.