Justia Patents Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
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EcoFactor, Inc. sued Google LLC in the Western District of Texas, alleging patent infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,738,327, which relates to the operation of smart thermostats in computer-networked heating and cooling systems. After a jury trial, the jury found that Google infringed the asserted claim of the patent and awarded damages to EcoFactor. Google appealed three of the district court’s orders: the denial of Google’s motion for summary judgment that the patent was invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101; the denial of Google’s motion for judgment as a matter of law of non-infringement of the patent; and the denial of Google’s motion for a new trial on damages.The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court's decisions. The court held that Google's appeal of the district court's denial of summary judgment was not appealable after a trial on the merits. The court also found that the jury's infringement verdict was supported by substantial evidence. Finally, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Google's motion for a new trial on damages. The court concluded that the damages expert's opinion was sufficiently reliable for admissibility purposes and that the expert sufficiently showed that the license agreements were economically comparable to the hypothetically negotiated agreement. View "ECOFACTOR, INC. v. GOOGLE LLC " on Justia Law

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The case revolves around a dispute between Ulrich Speck and Bruno Scheller (collectively, “Speck”) and Brian L. Bates, Anthony O. Ragheb, Joseph M. Stewart IV, William J. Bourdeau, Brian D. Choules, James D. Purdy, and Neal E. Fearnot (collectively, “Bates”) over the priority of a patent related to a drug-coated balloon catheter. The Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) Patent Trial and Appeals Board (“Board”) had previously awarded priority to Bates. Speck had argued that the claims of Bates' patent application were time-barred under 35 U.S.C. § 135(b)(1) and invalid for lack of written description. The Board denied these motions.The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reviewed the case and concluded that the Board erred in finding that Bates' patent application was not time-barred under 35 U.S.C. § 135(b)(1). The court applied a two-way test to determine if pre-critical date claims and post-critical date claims were materially different. The court found that the post-critical date claims were materially different from the pre-critical date claims, making the patent application time-barred. The court reversed the Board's decision, vacated its order canceling the claims of Speck's patent and entering judgment on priority against Speck, and remanded for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. View "SPECK v. BATES " on Justia Law

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Between November 2019 and August 2020, Core Optical Technologies, LLC filed complaints against three groups of defendants led by Nokia Corp., ADVA Optical Networking SE, and Cisco Systems, Inc. Core Optical alleged that these companies infringed on U.S. Patent No. 6,782,211, which was assigned to Core Optical by the inventor, Dr. Mark Core, in 2011. The defendants argued that the patent was actually owned by Dr. Core's former employer, TRW Inc., due to an employment-associated agreement signed by Dr. Core in 1990.The district court in the Central District of California agreed with the defendants, ruling that the 1990 agreement between Dr. Core and TRW automatically assigned the patent rights to TRW. The court found that the patent did not fall under an exception in the agreement for inventions developed entirely on the employee's own time, as Dr. Core had developed the patent while participating in a fellowship program funded by TRW.The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated the district court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. The appellate court found that the phrase "developed entirely on my own time" in the 1990 agreement was ambiguous and did not clearly indicate whether Dr. Core's time spent on his PhD research, which led to the invention, was considered his own time or partly TRW's time. The court concluded that further inquiry into the facts was needed to resolve this ambiguity. View "CORE OPTICAL TECHNOLOGIES, LLC v. NOKIA CORPORATION " on Justia Law

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The case involves a patent infringement dispute between Copan Italia S.p.A. and Copan Diagnostics Inc. (collectively, “Copan”) and Puritan Medical Products Company LLC and its affiliated companies (collectively, “Puritan”). Copan, the holder of several patents on flocked swabs used for collecting biological specimens, filed a patent infringement complaint against Puritan in the District of Maine. Puritan, in response, filed a partial motion to dismiss, claiming immunity under the Pandemic Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (“PREP Act”) for a portion of its accused product.The District Court for the District of Maine denied Puritan's motion to dismiss. The court found that Puritan had not shown, as a factual matter, that its flocked swabs were “covered countermeasures” under the PREP Act. The court also granted Puritan’s motion to amend its answer, allowing it to assert PREP Act immunity as a defense, subject to further argument.Puritan appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. However, the appellate court found that it lacked jurisdiction to review the case. The court reasoned that the district court's denial of Puritan's motion to dismiss did not conclusively determine any issue, which is a requirement for the application of the collateral order doctrine. The court suggested that the district court may wish to structure the litigation in a manner that could allow it to make a conclusive determination on Puritan’s PREP Act immunity defense before the case proceeds any further. The appeal was dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction. View "COPAN ITALIA SPA v. PURITAN MEDICAL PRODUCTS COMPANY LLC " on Justia Law

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In 2020, Zircon Corp. filed a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission alleging that Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. and Black & Decker (U.S.), Inc. violated section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 by importing and selling electronic stud finders that infringed on Zircon's patents. The Commission instituted an investigation based on Zircon's complaint. A Commission Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found no violation of section 337. On review, the Commission affirmed the ALJ's finding of no violation.The Commission's decision was based on two independent reasons. First, it affirmed the ALJ's determination that Zircon had not satisfied the economic prong of the domestic industry requirement. Zircon had argued that it met this requirement based on its investment in plant and equipment, its employment of labor and capital, and its investment in the exploitation of the asserted patents. However, the Commission found that Zircon had not provided an adequate basis to evaluate the investments and the significance of those investments with respect to each asserted patent.Second, the Commission found each of the claims of the patents that were before the Commission were either invalid or not infringed. The Commission found that all the asserted claims of one patent would have been obvious in view of four prior art references; that several claims of two other patents were invalid as anticipated by or obvious in light of Zircon’s original stud finder; and that several of the claims of these two patents were not infringed.Zircon appealed the Commission's decision, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Commission's decision. The court agreed with the Commission's interpretation of section 337 and found that substantial evidence supported the Commission's finding that Zircon failed to meet its burden to prove the existence of a domestic industry relating to articles protected by each of its patents. View "ZIRCON CORP. v. ITC " on Justia Law

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The case involves IOENGINE, LLC (IOENGINE) appealing a series of Final Written Decisions by the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board) that found certain claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 8,539,047, 9,059,969, and 9,774,703 unpatentable during inter partes review (IPR). The patents in question share a written description and title—“Apparatus, Method and System for a Tunneling Client Access Point.” They claim a “portable device” configured to communicate with a terminal, with the device and terminal having various program codes stored in memory to facilitate communications.The Board had previously determined that certain claims of the patents were unpatentable. IOENGINE appealed, arguing that the Board incorrectly construed the claim term “interactive user interface,” incorrectly applied the printed matter doctrine, and otherwise erred in its anticipation and obviousness analysis.The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that the Board erred in its application of the printed matter doctrine to certain claims, reversing the Board’s unpatentability determinations as to claims 4 and 7 of the ’969 patent and claims 61–62 and 110–11 of the ’703 patent. However, the court affirmed the Board’s unpatentability determinations as to all other claims. The court also found that IOENGINE forfeited its proposed claim construction by not presenting it to the Board during IPR. View "IOENGINE, LLC v. INGENICO INC. " on Justia Law

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This case involves Packet Intelligence LLC ("Packet") and NetScout Systems, Inc. and NetScout Systems Texas, LLC (collectively, "NetScout"). Packet had sued NetScout for patent infringement. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas found that NetScout had willfully infringed Packet's patents and awarded Packet damages, enhanced damages for willful infringement, and an ongoing royalty. NetScout appealed this decision.In a previous appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit had reversed the district court's award of pre-suit damages and vacated the court's enhancement of that award. The court affirmed the district court's judgment in all other respects and remanded the case to the district court. On remand, the district court denied NetScout's motion to dismiss or stay the case and entered an amended final judgment. The amended judgment reduced the enhanced damages and reset the ongoing royalty rate.Meanwhile, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board ("Board") found all of the patent claims asserted by Packet in this case unpatentable as obvious. Packet appealed the Board's final written decisions. The Federal Circuit coordinated those appeals so they would be considered by the same panel deciding this appeal.The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated the district court’s amended final judgment and remanded the case with instructions to dismiss the case as moot. The court held that Packet’s infringement judgment was not final before the Board’s unpatentability determinations were affirmed. Therefore, the court was compelled to order that Packet’s patent infringement claims be dismissed as moot. View "PACKET INTELLIGENCE LLC v. NETSCOUT SYSTEMS, INC. " on Justia Law

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The case revolves around SnapRays, a Utah-based company that designs, markets, and sells electrical outlet covers with integrated guide lights, safety lights, motion sensor lights, and USB charging technology, and Lighting Defense Group (LDG), an Arizona-based company that owns a patent related to a cover for an electrical receptacle. LDG submitted an Amazon Patent Evaluation Express (APEX) Agreement alleging that certain SnapPower products sold on Amazon.com infringed its patent. SnapPower subsequently filed an action for declaratory judgment of noninfringement.The United States District Court for the District of Utah dismissed SnapPower's complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction over LDG. The court concluded that LDG lacked sufficient contacts with Utah for it to exercise specific personal jurisdiction. It found that LDG's allegations of infringement were directed toward Amazon in Washington, where the APEX Agreement was sent, and not at SnapPower in Utah. The court also noted that under Federal Circuit law, principles of fair play and substantial justice support a finding that LDG is not subject to specific personal jurisdiction in Utah.The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the lower court's decision. The appellate court concluded that LDG purposefully directed extra-judicial patent enforcement activities at SnapPower in Utah, thereby satisfying the requirements for specific personal jurisdiction. The court found that LDG's submission of the APEX Agreement to Amazon, which identified SnapPower's listings as allegedly infringing, was an intentional action aimed at affecting SnapPower's sales and activities in Utah. The court also rejected LDG's argument that the assertion of specific personal jurisdiction over it in Utah would be unfair and unreasonable. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "SNAPRAYS v. LIGHTING DEFENSE GROUP " on Justia Law

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The case revolves around Intellectual Tech LLC (IT), a wholly owned subsidiary of OnAsset Intelligence, Inc. (OnAsset), and its patent dispute with Zebra Technologies Corporation (Zebra). In 2019, IT asserted U.S. Patent No. 7,233,247 against Zebra, claiming that it was the owner and assignee of the patent. However, Zebra moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that IT lacked standing. The district court initially denied the motion, but later granted it based on its determination that IT lacked constitutional standing, leading to the dismissal of all claims without prejudice.Previously, OnAsset had granted Main Street Capital Corporation (Main Street), a lender, a security interest in its patents, including the one in question, as part of a loan agreement. When OnAsset defaulted on the loan, Main Street gained certain rights. Subsequently, OnAsset assigned the patent to IT, which also defaulted on its obligations. The district court found that Main Street's ability to license the patent upon default deprived IT of all its exclusionary rights, leading to a lack of constitutional standing.The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit disagreed with the district court's interpretation. The appellate court found that IT retained at least one exclusionary right, even considering the rights Main Street gained upon default. The court clarified that a patent owner has exclusionary rights as a baseline matter unless it has transferred all exclusionary rights away. The court concluded that IT still suffered an injury in fact from infringement even if IT and Main Street could both license the patent. Therefore, the appellate court reversed the district court's decision and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Intellectual Tech LLC v. Zebra Technologies Corp." on Justia Law

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This case involves a dispute between two manufacturers of dining mats for toddlers, Luv n' Care, Ltd. and Nouri E. Hakim (collectively, “LNC”), and Lindsey Laurain and Eazy-PZ, LLC (collectively, “EZPZ”). LNC filed a lawsuit against EZPZ, seeking a declaratory judgment that EZPZ’s U.S. Patent No. 9,462,903 (the “’903 patent”) is invalid, unenforceable, and not infringed. EZPZ counterclaimed, alleging infringement of the ’903 patent, among other claims. After a bench trial, the district court found that LNC failed to prove that the ’903 patent is unenforceable due to inequitable conduct, but that EZPZ was barred from obtaining relief due to its “unclean hands.” The court also granted LNC’s motion for partial summary judgment that the claims of the ’903 patent are invalid as obvious. Both parties appealed.The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment on the doctrine of unclean hands, meaning that EZPZ was barred from obtaining relief due to its misconduct during the litigation. However, the court vacated the district court’s judgment on inequitable conduct and invalidity, finding that there were genuine disputes of material fact that precluded summary judgment. The court also vacated the district court’s denial of LNC’s motion for attorney fees and costs, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Luv n' Care, Ltd. v. Laurain" on Justia Law