Justia Patents Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Contracts
Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Google LLC
Uniloc brought multiple infringement suits against Google concerning patents directed to innovations in multimedia content delivery, IT security, high-resolution imaging, network connectivity, video conferencing, and image and text searching. Google alleged Uniloc lacked standing because its predecessors had granted Fortress a license and an unfettered right to sublicense to the asserted patents as part of a financing arrangement. Uniloc argued that any license had been eliminated by a Termination Agreement executed between Uniloc’s predecessors and Fortress before the suits commenced.The district court dismissed, finding that a license had been granted and survived the Termination Agreement. The Federal Circuit reversed. The district court erred in interpreting the Termination Agreement. The License Agreement granted Fortress a “non-exclusive, transferrable, sub-licensable, divisible, irrevocable, fully paid-up, royalty-free and worldwide license” to several of Uniloc’s patents, including those at issue. The Termination Agreement stated that the License Agreement “shall terminate and shall be of no further force or effect without any further documentation or action and without liability to any party hereto, and the rights of each of the applicable parties under the applicable agreement shall terminate.” By terminating the License Agreement and rights under that agreement, the Termination Agreement terminated Fortress’s license. Although the License Agreement describes the license as “irrevocable” the context clearly refers to the license’s being “irrevocable” by the licensor and does not preclude revocation by mutual agreement. View "Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Google LLC" on Justia Law
Nippon Shinyaku Co., Ltd. v. Sarepta Therapeutics, Inc.
Shinyaku and Sarepta executed an Agreement concerning “a potential business relationship relating to therapies for the treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.” During the Agreement’s term the parties would “not directly or indirectly assert or file any legal or equitable .. claim or otherwise initiate any … form of legal or administrative proceeding against the other Party . . . in any jurisdiction … concerning intellectual property in the field of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy,” including “patent infringement litigations, declaratory judgment actions, patent validity challenges” before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) or Japanese Patent Office, and reexamination proceedings before the PTO. A forum selection, governing intellectual property disputes between the parties after the term’s expiration named the District of Delaware. The term ended in June 2021; the two-year forum selection clause took effect. That same day, Sarepta filed seven Patent Trial and Appeal Board petitions for inter partes review (IPR). Shinyaku filed suit in the District of Delaware asserting breach of contract (alleging that the IPR petitions violated the forum selection clause), declaratory judgment of noninfringement and invalidity concerning Sarepta’s patents, and infringement of Shinyaku’s patents.The Federal Circuit directed that the district court enter an injunction, requiring Sarepta to withdraw the petitions. The plain language of the forum selection clause resolved the dispute. View "Nippon Shinyaku Co., Ltd. v. Sarepta Therapeutics, Inc." on Justia Law
PlasmaCAM, Inc. v. CNCElectronics, LLC
PlasmaCAM sued CNCElectronics for infringing the 441 patent, for which Plasmacam has an exclusive license. In 2019, the parties notified the district court that they had settled the case. When the parties met to draft a formal agreement, however, it became evident that they interpreted the settlement differently, and further negotiations resulted. The parties eventually advised the district court that they had reached a complete agreement. The district court granted the motion to enforce Plasmacam’s version of that agreement and ordered CNC to execute it. The Federal Circuit reversed after holding that the district court order to execute the settlement agreement constituted either an appealable injunction or a final judgment. The court concluded that CNC’s version of the agreement accurately reflects the parties’ understanding. View "PlasmaCAM, Inc. v. CNCElectronics, LLC" on Justia Law
HTC Corp. v. Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson
The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) established many global standards for 3G, 4G, and 5G cellular communications technology. ETSI members that own standard-essential patents must provide “an irrevocable undertaking in writing that [they are] prepared to grant irrevocable licenses on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND)” terms. Ericsson holds patents that are considered essential to the ETSI standards and agreed to grant licenses to other companies to use its standard-essential patents on FRAND terms. HTC produces mobile devices that implement those standards; to manufacture standard-compliant mobile devices, HTC has to obtain a license to use Ericsson’s patents. Ericsson and HTC have previously entered into three cross-license agreements for their respective patents. Negotiations to renew one of those agreements failed.HTC filed suit, alleging that Ericsson had breached its commitment to provide a license on FRAND terms and had failed to negotiate in good faith. The jury found in favor of the defendants. The district court entered a separate declaratory judgment that the defendants had affirmatively complied with their contractual obligations. The Fifth Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to the district court’s exclusion of HTC’s requested jury instructions, its declaratory judgment that Ericsson had complied with its obligation to provide HTC a license on FRAND terms, and the exclusion of certain expert testimonial evidence as hearsay. View "HTC Corp. v. Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson" on Justia Law
New Vision Gaming & Development, Inc. v. SG Gaming, Inc.
New Vision sued SG in the federal district court in Nevada. SG then filed Patent Trial and Appeal Board petitions. The Board declined to respect the forum selection agreement in the parties’ license agreement, which referred to “exclusive” jurisdiction in the appropriate federal or state court in the state of Nevada, and proceeded to a final decision, finding the claims at issue as well as proposed substitute claims, patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101.The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the Board’s decisions for consideration of the forum selection clause in light of its 2019 “Arthrex” decision. Because Arthrex issued after the Board’s final-written decisions and after New Vision sought Board rehearing, New Vision has not waived its Arthrex challenge by raising it for the first time in its opening brief. The Board’s rejection of the parties’ choice of forum is subject to judicial review; section 324(e) does not bar review of Board decisions “separate . . . to the in[stitu]tion decision.” View "New Vision Gaming & Development, Inc. v. SG Gaming, Inc." on Justia Law
Glaxo Group Limited, et al. v. DRIT LP
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
Posted in: Business Law, Contracts, Delaware Supreme Court, Patents
Whitewater West Industries Ltd. v. Alleshouse
Alleshouse and Yeh are named as the inventors on the 685 and 189 patents, which claim water-park attractions that individuals may ride as if surfing, and on the 433 patent, which claims nozzle configurations for regulating water flow in such attractions. Pacific, the company Alleshouse and Yeh formed to develop and market such attractions, is the assignee of the patents. Whitewater is the successor of Wave, which employed Alleshouse until just before he went into business with Yeh and the patented inventions were conceived. Whitewater sued Alleshouse, Yeh, and Pacific, claiming that Alleshouse had to assign each of the patents to Whitewater, as Wave’s successor, under the terms of Alleshouse’s employment contract with Wave. Whitewater also claimed that Yeh, who had not been employed by Whitewater or its predecessors and therefore was not under any alleged assignment duty, was improperly listed as an inventor on each of the patents.The district court held that Alleshouse breached the employment agreement, so Whitewater was entitled to an assignment of the patent interests, and Yeh was improperly joined as an inventor. The Federal Circuit reversed, The contract’s assignment provision is void under California law, (Labor Code 2870, 2872; Business and Professions Code 16600), so Whitewater lacks standing to contest inventorship. View "Whitewater West Industries Ltd. v. Alleshouse" on Justia Law
Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A. v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Takeda sued Mylan for patent infringement based on Mylan’s Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) for a generic version of Takeda’s Colcrys® version of the drug colchicine. The parties settled, entering into a License Agreement that allows Mylan to sell a generic colchicine product on a specified date or under circumstances defined in Section 1.2, which refers the date of a final court decision holding that all unexpired claims of the licensed patents that were asserted and adjudicated against a third party are not infringed, invalid, or unenforceable. The parties stipulated that Mylar's breach of Section 1.2 “would cause Takeda irreparable harm.”Takeda also sued Hikma based on Hikma’s FDA-approved colchicine product Mitigare®. The district court granted summary judgment of non-infringement. After Mylan launched its product, Takeda sued, alleging breach of contract and patent infringement.The Federal Circuit affirmed the denial of a preliminary injunction. Takeda failed to show it is likely to succeed on the merits or that it will suffer irreparable harm. Section 1.2(d) was triggered by the third-party litigation; all unexpired claims of the three patents that were “asserted and adjudicated” were held to be not infringed. An objective, reasonable third party would not read Section 1.2(d) to be limited to generic equivalents of Colcrys® excluding section 505(b)(2) products like Mitigare®. Because Takeda had not established that Mylan breached the Agreement, the irreparable harm stipulation did not apply. Money damages would remedy any harm Takeda would suffer as a result of Mylan launching its generic product. View "Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A. v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc." on Justia Law
Cheetah Omni LLC v. AT&T Services, Inc.
Cheetah’s 836 patent is directed to optical communication networks. AT&T uses hardware and software components in its fiber-optic communication networks. Cheetah asserted that AT&T infringes the 836 patent by making, using, offering for sale, selling, or importing its fiber equipment and services. Ciena was allowed to intervene in the suit because it manufactures and supplies components for AT&T’s fiber-optic systems; those components formed the basis of some of Cheetah’s infringement allegations. Ciena and AT&T then moved for summary judgment that Cheetah’s infringement claim was barred by agreements settling previous litigation. Cheetah had sued Ciena and Fujitsu and executed two license agreements—one with Ciena and one with Fujitsu. Ciena and AT&T argued that the licenses included implicit licenses to the 836 patent covering all of the accused products. The district court dismissed the suit. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting Cheetah’s argument that the parties did not intend that the licenses extend to the 836 patent. The court noted the presumption that a license to a patent includes a license to its continuation. The naming of certain patents expressly does not evince a clear mutual intent to exclude other patents falling within the general definitions in an agreement. That is especially true here where the licenses list broad categories of patents without reciting their numbers individually. View "Cheetah Omni LLC v. AT&T Services, Inc." on Justia Law
Molon Motor & Coil Corp. v. Nidec Motor Corp.
Molon sued Merkle-Korff, for infringement of the 785 patent. Merkle-Korff filed counterclaims relating to Molon’s 915 and 726 patents. Molon unilaterally executed the 2006 Covenant, agreeing not to sue Merkle-Korff for infringement of the 915 and 726 patents. After the dismissal of the counterclaims, the parties entered into the 2007 Settlement. Merkle-Korff agreed to pay a lump sum for an exclusive license to multiple Molon patents including the 785, 915, and 726 patents, within the Kinetek Exclusive Market. The Settlement granted Merkle-Korff “the right, but not the duty, to pursue an infringement claim” and contains a statement that all prior covenants “concerning the subject matter hereof” are “merged” and “of no further force or effect.” Merkle-Korff later became Nidec. Molon sued, alleging that Nidec is infringing the 915 patent outside the licensed Market. Nidec argued that Molon is barred from enforcing the patent under the 2006 Covenant. Molon responded that the Covenant was extinguished by the 2007 Settlement.The court granted Nidec partial summary judgment after comparing the subject matters of the agreements. The Federal Circuit affirmed; the agreements concern different subject matter and do not merge. The 2006 Covenant gives Nidec a right to avoid infringement suits on two patents. The 2007 Settlement is in some ways broader, as an exclusive license, covering multiple patents and applications and providing Nidec with some enforcement rights, and in other ways narrower, being limited to a defined market. The 2006 Covenant remains in effect because it does not concern the same subject matter as the 2007 Settlement. View "Molon Motor & Coil Corp. v. Nidec Motor Corp." on Justia Law