Justia Patents Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in International Trade
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Broadcom’s 583 patent is directed to reducing power consumption in computer systems by “gating” clock signals with circuit elements to turn the signals ON and OFF for downstream parts of the circuit; its 752 patent is directed to a memory access unit that improves upon conventional methods of requesting data located at different addresses within shared memory. Broadcom alleged violations of 19 U.S.C. 1337 based on Renesas's importation of products that allegedly infringe those patents.An ALJ held that Broadcom failed to demonstrate a violation with respect to the 583 patent, citing the technical prong of the domestic industry requirement; Broadcom failed to identify an actual domestic industry article that practices claim 25. For the 752 patent, the ALJ held that claim 5 would have been unpatentable as obvious. The International Trade Commission affirmed. In inter partes review, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board held that claims 25 and 26 of the 583 patent and claims 1, 2, 5, 7, and 8 of the 752 patent would have been obvious over prior art but that Renesas failed to demonstrate that other claims of the 583 patent would have been obvious.With respect to the 583 patent, the Federal Circuit affirmed the Board’s holding and affirmed the holding that there was no domestic industry. With respect to the 752 patent, the court affirmed the entirety of the Board’s holding. View "Broadcom Corp. v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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In 2017, Kyocera filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission, alleging Koki was violating 19 U.S.C. 1337 by importing gas spring nailer products that infringe or were made using methods that infringe, certain claims in five patents. Those patents generally relate to linear fastener driving tools, like portable tools that drive staples, nails, or other linearly driven fasteners. The Commission held that Koki induced infringement.The Federal Circuit vacated. The ALJ erred in admitting certain expert testimony. The court upheld claim construction with respect to “driven position” and “main storage chamber” but rejected the construction of “lifter member.” The “safety contact element” and “fastener driving mechanism” should have been construed as separate components. View "Kyocera Senco Industrial Tools Inc.v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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Bio-Rad’s patents relate to the generation of microscopic droplets, contiguous fluid that is encapsulated within a different fluid, by using a microfluidic chip. Typically, the inner fluid is water-based, while the outer fluid is oil. The patents arise out of research conducted by inventors at QuantaLife. In 2011, Bio-Rad purchased QuantaLife, acquiring QuantaLife’s patent rights. The inventors became employees of Bio-Rad and executed assignments of their rights to applications that later issued as the 664, 682, and 635 patents. Soon after Bio-Rad acquired QuantaLife, three inventors left Bio-Rad to start 10X, which has developed technology and products in the field of microfluidics, with the goal of achieving DNA and RNA sequencing at the single-cell level. Bio-Rad alleged that 10X violated the Tariff Act, 19 U.S.C. 1337, by importing into the U.S. certain microfluidic chips. The Trade Commission concluded that 10X did not infringe the 664 patent by importing its “Chip GB” but infringed the 664, 682, and 635 patents by importing its “GEM Chips.” The Federal Circuit affirmed. The construction of the term “droplet generation region” is consistent with the intrinsic evidence; substantial evidence established that the use of 10X’s GEM chips directly infringes the asserted claims. Bio-Rad proved the elements of induced and contributory infringement of the 682 and 635 patents with respect to the GEM Chips. View "Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. v. United States International Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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10X filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission, alleging that Bio-Rad’s importation and sale of microfluidic systems and components used for gene sequencing or related analyses violated the Tariff Act of 1930, 19 U.S.C. 1337, which prohibits importation and sale “of articles that . . . (i) infringe a valid and enforceable United States patent.”An ALJ determined that Bio-Rad violated the statute with respect to all three patents finding that Bio-Rad infringed the patent claims and that 10X practiced the claims, satisfying the requirement of a domestic industry “relating to the articles protected by the patent.” The ALJ rejected Bio-Rad’s defense that it could not be liable for infringement because it co-owned the asserted 10X patents under assignment provisions that two of the named inventors signed when they were employees of BioRad (and its predecessor), even though the inventions were not made until after the employment.The Commission and Federal Circuit affirmed. Substantial evidence supports findings that Bio-Rad infringed the asserted claims and that 0X’s domestic products practice the asserted claims. The court rejected Bio-Rad’s indefiniteness challenge. The assignment provisions did not apply to a signatory’s ideas developed during the employment solely because the ideas ended up contributing to a post-employment patentable invention in a way that supports co-inventorship of that eventual invention. View "Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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The 850 patent discloses a self-anchoring beverage container that prevents spills by anchoring the container to a surface. An International Trade Commission complaint, against several respondents (including Mayborn) alleged infringement of the patent and sought a general exclusion order (GEO) barring importation of infringing goods by any party. An ALJ determined that remaining respondents—those with whom the Complainants had not settled—were in default and infringed claim 1 of the patent. The defaulting respondents did not raise invalidity challenges. The ALJ recommended a GEO because it was difficult to gain information about entities selling the containers, and numerous entities were importing the containers, making it “nearly impossible to identify the sources.” The Commission issued the GEO in 2018. Mayborn took no action during the proceedings.In 2019, the Complainants notified Mayborn and its retail partners that Mayborn’s products infringed the patent in violation of the GEO. Mayborn petitioned the Commission to rescind its GEO under 19 U.S.C. 1337(k)(1), which allows the Commission to rescind or modify an order if “the conditions which led to such ... order no longer exist.” Mayborn argued that this requirement was satisfied because claim 1 of the patent was invalid under 35 U.S.C. 102, 103. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Commission’s denial of Mayborn’s petition. The asserted discovery of invalidating prior art after the issuance of a GEO is not a changed condition. View "Mayborn Group, Ltd. v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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The International Trade Commission (ITC) investigated a complaint under Tariff Act Section 337, alleging that Comcast’s customers directly infringe patents by using Comcast’s X1 system. The patents claim an interactive television program guide system for remote access to television programs. An ALJ found a violation, concluding that the X1 set-top boxes are imported by ARRIS and Technicolor and that Comcast is sufficiently involved with the design, manufacture, and importation of the products, such that it is an importer under Section 337. The ITC affirmed, stating that Comcast induced infringement and that Comcast "instructs, directs, or advises its customers on how to carry out direct infringement.” The ITC affirmed that ARRIS and Technicolor do not directly infringe because they do not provide a “remote access device” as required by the claims and do not contributorily infringe because the set-top boxes have substantial non-infringing uses. The ITC issued a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders directed to Comcast. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting Comcast’s arguments that its conduct is not actionable under Section 337 because Comcast’s inducing conduct “takes place entirely domestically, well after, and unrelated to," the importation and that Comcast does not itself import the articles. The ITC has authority (19 U.S.C. 1337(d)(1)) to issue an exclusion order that blocks the importation of articles manufactured and imported by ARRIS and Technicolor, despite its determination that they did not violate Section 337 and did not infringe the patents. View "Comcast Corp. v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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Chamberlain's patent discloses improved “movable barrier operators,” such as garage door openers. The patent describes a need for “a passive infrared detector for controlling illumination from a garage door operator which could be quickly and easily retrofitted to existing garage door operators” and discloses as its invention “a passive infrared detector for a garage door operator,” contained in a wall control unit, along with an ambient light comparator and a microcontroller. The International Trade Commission determined, 19 U.S.C. 1337, that the Appellants’ importation of garage door opener products infringed the patent and entered limited exclusion orders and cease and desist orders. The Federal Circuit vacated the orders, concluding that the Commission erred in its construction of “wall console,” a term in each of the patent claims. Although claim terms are normally given their ordinary and customary meaning, as understood by persons of ordinary skill in the art in view of the specification and prosecution history, Chamberlain disavowed coverage of wall consoles without a passive infrared detector. The term is properly construed as a “wall-mounted control unit including a passive infrared detector.” The parties agree that the Appellants do not infringe the patent under that construction. View "Techtronic Industries Co. Ltd. v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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Ericsson owns patents essential to practicing standards (SEPs) that enable mobile devices from different manufacturers and different networks to communicate with each other using the same communication protocol. Ericsson is a member of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), the organization responsible for developing 2G, 3G, and 4G standards. ETSI’s acceptance of a member’s patent as "SEP" forms a contract between ETSI and its members. SEP owners wield significant power over implementers during licensing negotiations, so the ETSI contract imposes an obligation to license (FRAND obligation). Ericsson and TCL have been negotiating licensing terms for over a decade. There was litigation. The parties agreed to binding court adjudication of terms for a worldwide portfolio license. The district court imposed a prospective FRAND royalty rate for practicing each standard, and a “release payment” computed based on a closely related, retrospective FRAND rate for “TCL’s past unlicensed sales.” The court rejected both parties’ proposed methodologies and employed its own modified version of TCL’s proposed “top-down” approach in combination with comparable license evidence to compute both the prospective and retrospective FRAND rates. The Federal Circuit vacated in part. Ericsson had a Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial on the adjudication of the “release payment” term; the release payment is in substance compensatory relief for TCL’s past patent infringing activity. View "TCL Communication Technology Holdings Ltc. v. Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson" on Justia Law

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Guangdong is a foreign manufacturer of aerogel insulation products currently subject to a limited exclusion order entered by the U.S. International Trade Commission following an unfair competition investigation. The exclusion order is based in part on the Commission’s final determination that Alison’s products infringe Aspen’s 359 patent, 19 U.S.C. 1337. The Commission found that certain claims of the 359 patent are not indefinite based on their use of the term “lofty . . . batting” and that certain claims of the patent are not invalid on anticipation and obviousness grounds. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The written description of the 359 patent informs the meaning of “lofty . . . batting” with reasonable certainty and the Commission’s factual findings regarding anticipation are supported by substantial evidence View "Guangdong Alison Hi-Tech Co. v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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Anjinomoto’s 655 patent claims E. coli bacteria that have been genetically engineered to increase their production of aromatic L-amino acids, such as L-tryptophan, during fermentation, as well as methods of producing aromatic L-amino acids using such bacteria. Ajinomoto filed a complaint against CJ with the International Trade Commission, alleging that CJ was importing certain products that infringed the patent. CJ used several strains of E. coli to produce L-tryptophan products, which it then imported into the United States. The Commission determined that CJ’s earlier strains did not infringe but that CJ’s two later strains did, and that the relevant claim of the 655 patent is not invalid for lack of an adequate written description. The Federal Circuit affirmed, upholding the Commission’s construction of “replacing the native promoter . . . with a more potent promoter.” The court rejected CJ’s claim of prosecution history estoppel and held that the 655 patent expressly provides four examples of “more potent promoters,” so that the Commission supportably found that a skilled artisan could make relatively predictable changes to the native promoter to arrive at a more potent promoter. View "Ajinomoto Co., Inc. v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law