Justia Patents Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Intellectual Property
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CUPP’s patents share a common name and priority date and address the problem of malicious attacks aimed at mobile devices. They generally concern systems and methods for waking a mobile device from a power-saving mode and then performing security operations on the device, “such as scanning a storage medium for malware, or updating security applications.” In inter partes review (IPR), the Patent Trial and Appeal Board concluded that the challenged claims in CUPP’s patents were unpatentable as obvious over two prior art references.The Federal Circuit affirmed, upholding a claim construction determination involving the limitation concerning a “security system processor,” which appears in every independent claim in the patents. Substantial evidence supports the Board’s finding that either prior art renders obvious a claimed “security agent” on a mobile device, which “perform[s] security services.” View "CUPP Computing AS v. Trend Micro Inc." on Justia Law

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VLSI sued Intel for infringing a patent, directed to “[a] technique for alleviating the problems of defects caused by stress applied to bond pads” of an integrated circuit. The district court construed the term “force region,” which appears in two independent claims, to mean a “region within the integrated circuit in which forces are exerted on the interconnect structure when a die attach is performed.” In the meantime, Intel sought inter partes review (IPR), and proposed the construction of “force region,” consistent with the construction that the district court adopted. The parties disagreed as to the meaning of the term “die attach.” In its Institution Decisions, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board stated that it disagreed with VLSI that the method of performing a “die attach” cannot include the method of wire bonding. In its Final Decision, the Board did not resolve the meaning of “die attach” but construed the term “force region” as “including at least the area directly under the bond pad.” The Board found that the patent specification made clear that the term “force region” was not limited to flip chip bonding, but could include wire bonding and concluded that the challenged claims were unpatentable for obviousness.The Federal Circuit affirmed the Board’s treatment of the “force region” limitation but held that the Board erred in construing the phrase “used for electrical interconnection” to encompass a metallic structure that is not connected to active circuitry. View "VLSI Technology LLC v. Intel Corp." on Justia Law

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Sleep Number’s patents describe systems and methods that purport to adjust the pressure in an air mattress “in less time and with greater accuracy” than previously known.” In inter partes reviews (IPR), the Patent Trial and Appeal Board found that some, but not all, of the challenged claims were not unpatentable.The Federal Circuit affirmed, upholding the Board’s decision permitting Sleep Number to present proposed amended claims that both responded to a ground of unpatentability and made other wording changes unrelated to the IPR proceedings. Each proposed substitute claim included at least one responsive narrowing limitation, so Sleep Number was free to include other amendments, including any addressing perceived 35 U.S.C. 101 and 112 issues. American National challenged the proposed claims and the Board was free to determine whether the proposed claims were unpatentable. The Board did not err in determining that the proposed amended claims were enabled, despite an admitted error in the specification; that error and its correction would have been obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art. The court rejected arguments that the proposed amended claims should have been rejected for allegedly raising an inventorship issue and that the Board inappropriately considered the petitioner’s sales data in its secondary considerations analysis. View "American National Manufacturing Inc. v. Sleep Number Corp." on Justia Law

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SoClean, a medical-device company that produces sanitizing devices for CPAP machines, owns the 195 registration for the configuration of replacement filters for its sanitizing devices. SoClean sued its former distributor, Sunset, for patent infringement, and trademark infringement based on that registration. On a motion for a preliminary injunction, the district court concluded that SoClean was likely to succeed on the merits and was entitled to a presumption of irreparable harm. Balancing the equities and weighing the public interest, the court concluded that enjoining all sales of Sunset’s filters would “go[] much further than necessary” to “end any possible statutory violation.” The court crafted a narrow “injunction that prohibits Sunset from engaging in those practices that result in consumer confusion” and enjoined Sunset from marketing its filters “using images of the filter cartridge alone”; “[a]ny image, drawings, or other depictions of Sunset’s filter cartridge used for the purposes of promotion, marketing and/or sales shall prominently display the Sunset brand name in a manner that leaves no reasonable confusion that what is being sold is a Sunset brand filter.”The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the district court afforded too much weight to the presumption of validity and held Sunset to a higher standard of proof than the applicable preponderance-of-the-evidence standard. View "SoClean, Inc. v. Sunset Healthcare Solutions, Inc." on Justia Law

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Aire sued Apple for patent infringement in the Western District of Texas in October 2021. In April 2022, Apple moved for transfer to the Northern District of California. Apple submitted a declaration from an Apple finance manager, “to establish certain facts, such as the relevance, role, and locations of witnesses and their teams, as well as the relevance and locations of various categories of documents.” Shortly before the close of venue discovery, Apple sought leave to supplement its motion with additional declarations, offering to make the declarants available for deposition and stating non-opposition to a “reasonable continuance” of the transfer proceedings.The district court granted Apple’s motion, but sua sponte ordered the parties to complete fact discovery on the merits (which it extended for an additional 30 weeks) and go through another six weeks of re-briefing of the motion before it would rule on Apple’s request to transfer. Apple then sought a writ of mandamus. Citing judicial economy, the Federal Circuit vacated the district court’s amended scheduling order and directed the court to postpone fact discovery and other substantive proceedings until after consideration of Apple’s motion for transfer. View "In Re: Apple Inc." on Justia Law

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Uniloc sued Motorola for infringement of a patent that concerns pairing a telephone with another device and using the other device to make a telephone call using the telephone’s cellular capabilities. Motorola alleged that Uniloc lacked standing, having granted Fortress a license and an unfettered right to sublicense the asserted patent. The district court dismissed, agreeing that Uniloc had granted a license and that the existence of a license deprived it of standing. Related cases, in which Uniloc had alleged infringement, had been dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. On appeal, Motorola asserted collateral estoppel.The Federal Circuit affirmed. The court acknowledged that patent owners arguably do not lack standing simply because they granted a license that gave another party the right to sublicense the patent to an alleged infringer but declined to address that issue. , Uniloc was collaterally estopped from arguing that it did not grant a license, including a right to sublicense, to Fortress, and that the existence of that license deprived Uniloc of standing. View "Uniloc USA, INC. v. Motorola Mobility, LLC" on Justia Law

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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

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Finjan sued ESET for infringement. The four asserted (expired) patents are part of a family of patents directed to systems and methods for detecting computer viruses in a “Downloadable” through a security profile. Finjan claims priority for each of the patents back to a 1996 provisional application. The district court held a Markman hearing and construed the term “Downloadable,” which appears in the claims of all asserted patents, to mean “a small executable or interpretable application program which is downloaded from a source computer and run on a destination computer.” The court reasoned that the patent family contained “somewhat differing definitions” that “can be reconciled” and, based on the definitions and examples included throughout those patents, the term Downloadable should be construed to include the word “small” as defined in the 520 Patent.The court then granted summary judgment, finding the asserted patents indefinite. The Federal Circuit reversed. The district court erred because it viewed the differing definitions throughout the patent family as competing and determined that the asserted patents should be limited to the most restricted definition; it is not necessary to limit the asserted patents because the definitions are not competing. The use of a restrictive term in an earlier application does not reinstate that term in a later patent that purposely deletes the term, even if the earlier patent is incorporated by reference. View "Finjan, Inc.. v. ESET, LLC" on Justia Law

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The plaintiffs own four design patents on hoverboards and sued the appellants claiming that products sold by the appellants infringed the plaintiffs’ patents. The plaintiffs obtained a temporary restraining order, followed by a preliminary injunction, prohibiting the appellants from “offering for sale, selling, and importing any products not authorized by Plaintiffs and that include any reproduction, copy or colorable imitation of the design claimed in the Patents-in-Suit.” The Federal Circuit reversed, holding that the entry of the preliminary injunction was procedurally improper for lack of Rule 65(a) notice.After the court entered a second injunction, the Federal Circuit again reversed. The plaintiffs established a likelihood of success on the merits that the accused products infringed one or more claims of the asserted patents. The district court failed to apply the "ordinary observer" test on a product-by-product basis, which is particularly important here in light of significant differences among the accused products themselves. View "ABC Corp. I v. Partnership & Unincorporated Associations" on Justia Law

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IBM sued Zillow for infringement of several patents related to graphical display technology. A user of the system draws a shape on a map to select that area of the map, and the claimed system then filters and displays data limited to that area of the map. It synchronizes which elements are shown as “selected” on the map and its associated list.The district court granted Zillow judgment on the pleadings, concluding that two of the asserted patents claimed ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 101. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The patents are directed to abstract ideas and lack an inventive concept. The claims in one patent fail to “recite any assertedly inventive technology for improving computers as tools,” but are directed to “an abstract idea for which computers are invoked merely as a tool” for limiting and coordinating the display of information based on a user selection. Another patent is directed to the abstract idea of organizing and displaying visual information. View "International Business Machines Corp. v. Zillow Group, Inc" on Justia Law