Justia Patents Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Copyright
Lanard Toys Ltd. v. Dolgencorp LLC
Lanard owns Design Patent D167 and the 458 copyright for a work entitled “Pencil/Chalk Holder,” relating to a toy chalk holder designed to look like a pencil. Lanard sold the Chalk Pencil, marked to indicate Lanard’s copyright and patent protections, to national retailers. Ja-Ru designed a toy chalk holder, using the Chalk Pencil as a reference sample. Lanard’s retailers stopped ordering the Chalk Pencil and began ordering Ja-Ru’s product. Lanard sued, asserting copyright infringement, design patent infringement, trade dress infringement, and statutory and common law unfair competition.The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment that Ja-Ru’s product does not infringe the patent, that the copyright is invalid and alternatively not infringed, and that Ja-Ru’s product does not infringe Lanard’s trade dress. Lanard’s unfair competition claims failed because its other claims failed. The district court properly construed the claims commensurate with the statutory protection for an ornamental design. Lanard impermissibly seeks to exclude any chalk holder in the shape of a pencil and extend the scope of the patent beyond the “new, original and ornamental design,” 35 U.S.C. 171. Lanard’s copyright is for the chalk holder itself; Lanard’s arguments seek protection for the dimensions and shape of the useful article itself. Because the chalk holder itself is not copyright protectable, Lanard cannot demonstrate that it holds a valid copyright. Lanard cannot establish that the Chalk Pencil has acquired secondary meaning. View "Lanard Toys Ltd. v. Dolgencorp LLC" on Justia Law
Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC v. Willowood, LLC
Syngenta sued Willowood, a Hong Kong company that sells fungicide to its Oregon-based affiliate, for infringement of patents directed to a fungicide compound and its manufacturing processes and infringement of copyrights for detailed product labels that provide directions for use, storage, and disposal, plus first-aid instructions and environmental, physical, and chemical hazard warnings. The district court dismissed the copyright claims as precluded by the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U.S.C. 135 and granted-in-part Syngenta’s summary judgment motion with respect to patent infringement. After a jury trial, the court entered a defense judgment on the patent claims. The Federal Circuit affirmed-in-part, reversed-in-part, and vacated in part. The district court did not provide an adequate analysis of the potential conflict between FIFRA and the Copyright Act. Because FIFRA does not, on its face, require a “me-too” registrant to copy the label of a registered product, FIFRA only conflicts with the Copyright Act to the extent that some particular element of Syngenta’s label is both protected under copyright doctrines and necessary for the expedited approval of Willowood’s generic pesticide. The court erred by imposing a single-entity requirement on the performance of a patented process under 35 U.S.C. 271(g); practicing a patented process abroad does not trigger liability under section 271(g) in the same manner that practicing a patented process domestically does under section 271(a). View "Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC v. Willowood, LLC" on Justia Law
Halo Creative & Design, Ltd. v. Comptoir des Indes Inc.
Halo, a Hong Kong company that designs and sells high-end modern furniture, owns two U.S. design patents, 13 U.S. copyrights, and one U.S. common law trademark, all relating to its furniture designs. Halo’s common law trademark, ODEON, is used in association with at least four of its designs. Halo sells its furniture in the U.S., including through its own retail stores. Comptoir, a Canadian corporation, also designs and markets high-end furniture that is manufactured in China, Vietnam, and India. Comptoir’s furniture is imported and sold to U.S. consumers directly at furniture shows and through distributors, including in Illinois. Halo sued, alleging infringement and violation of Illinois consumer fraud and deceptive business practices statutes. The district court dismissed on forum non conveniens grounds, finding that the balance of interests favored Canada and that Canada, where the defendants reside, was an adequate forum. The Federal Circuit reversed. The policies underlying U.S. copyright, patent, and trademark laws would be defeated if a domestic forum to adjudicate the rights they convey was denied without a sufficient showing of the adequacy of the alternative foreign jurisdiction; the Federal Court of Canada would not provide any “potential avenue for redress for the subject matter” of Halo’s dispute. View "Halo Creative & Design, Ltd. v. Comptoir des Indes Inc." on Justia Law
Oracle Am., Inc. v. Google Inc.
Sun developed the Java computer programming platform, released in 1996, to eliminate the need for different versions of computer programs for different operating systems or devices. With Java, a programmer could “write once, run anywhere.” The Java virtual machine (JVM) takes source code that has been converted to bytecode and converts it to binary machine code. Oracle wrote 37 packages of computer source code, “application programming interfaces” (API), in the Java language, and licenses them to others for writing “apps” for computers, tablets, smartphones, and other devices. Oracle alleged that Google’s Android mobile operating system infringed Oracle’s patents and copyrights. The jury found no patent infringement, but that Google infringed copyrights in the 37 Java packages and a specific routine, “rangeCheck.” It returned a noninfringement verdict as to eight decompiled security files. The jury deadlocked on Google’s fair use defense. The district court held that the replicated elements of the 37 API packages, including the declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization, were not subject to copyright and entered final judgment in favor of Google on copyright infringement claims, except with respect to rangeCheck and the eight decompiled files. The Federal Circuit affirmed as to the eight decompiled files that Google copied into Android and rangeCheck. The court reversed in part, finding that the declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization of the API packages are entitled to copyright protection, and remanded for consideration of fair use.View "Oracle Am., Inc. v. Google 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
Apple Inc. v. Psystar Corp.
Apple brought this action against Psystar for copyright infringement because Psystar was using Apple's software on Psystar computers. The district court held that Psystar was infringing Apple's federally registered copyrights in its operating software, Mac OS X, because Psystar was copying the software for use in Psystar's computers. Psystar subsequently appealed the district court's rejection of Psystar's copyright misuse defense, the district court's order enjoining Psystar's continuing infringement, and the district court's grant of Apple's motions to seal documents on grounds of maintaining confidentiality. The court held that Psystar's misuse defense failed because it was an attempt to apply the first sale doctrine to a valid licensing agreement. The court affirmed the district court's order enjoining Psystar's continuing infringement and Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), 17 U.S.C. 1203(b)(1), violations and held that the district court properly applied the Supreme Court's four eBay Inc. v MercExchange, L.L.C. factors. The court held, however, that there was no adequate basis on the record to support the sealing of any Apple records on grounds of confidentiality and applied the presumption in favor of access, vacating the district court's sealing orders. View "Apple Inc. v. Psystar Corp." on Justia Law