Justia Patents Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
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Chamberlain’s 611 patent, entitled “Barrier Movement Operator Human Interface Method and Apparatus,” is directed to improved methods of human interaction with “barrier movement operators,” such as garage door operator systems. Claims 18–25 of the patent are directed to an “interactive learn mode” that “guide[s] a user through installation and learn mode actions.” On inter partes review, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board found those claims anticipated, 35 U.S.C. 102(b) and 103(a). The Federal Circuit affirmed the findings as supported by substantial evidence. The disclosure, in prior art, of transmitting the signals in sequence, one after the other in response to the previously-completed steps of identifying the garage door operator’s present status and activities to be completed teaches the “responsive to” step in the challenged claim. View "Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. One World Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law

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Amgen’s patents relate to erythropoietin (EPO) isoforms and aspects of their production. EPO is a glycoprotein hormone that regulates red blood cell maturation and production. Recombinant human EPO is an important therapeutic protein for the treatment of anemia. Amgen manufactures and markets recombinant human EPO as Epogen. Hospira submitted its Biologics License Application (BLA) to the FDA, seeking approval for a biosimilar to Amgen’s Epogen product. Amgen sued Hospira for infringement under 35 U.S.C. 271(a) and 271(e)(2)(C). A jury found the asserted claims not invalid and infringed. Of the 21 accused drug substance batches, the jury found seven batches entitled to the Safe Harbor defense. The jury awarded Amgen $70 million in damages. The Federal Circuit affirmed, upholding the district court’s claim construction and finding substantial evidence of infringement. Section 271(e)(1) carves out a "Safe Harbor” exception to patent infringement liability when otherwise-infringing activities are solely for uses reasonably related to obtaining FDA approval. Substantial evidence supports the jury’s finding that the 14 batches at issue were not manufactured “solely for uses reasonably related to the development and submission of information” to the FDA. View "Amgen Inc. v. Hospira, Inc." on Justia Law

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Blackbird sued HIM for infringement of a patent relating to exercise equipment. Blackbird is owned and controlled entirely by attorneys, whose business model consists of purchasing patents and monetizing them “through litigation.” Nineteen months later, after a transfer of venue, Blackbird offered to settle for $80,000. HIM declined, asserting that the infringement allegations lacked merit and that HIM believed there was a strong likelihood that Blackbird would be ordered to pay attorney fees. Blackbird made another t offer, for $50,000. Again, HIM declined. Months later, Blackbird offered to settle for $15,000. HIM declined, again requesting that Blackbird pay some of its expenses. Blackbird then offered a “walk-away” settlement whereby HIM would receive a license to Blackbird’s patent for zero dollars, and the case would be dismissed. HIM declined. During discovery, HIM moved for summary judgment. After the motion was briefed and without notifying HIM in advance, Blackbird filed a notice of voluntary dismissal with prejudice, executed a covenant not to sue, and moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The district court dismissed Blackbird’s claims with prejudice, denied Blackbird’s motion to dismiss, and authorized HIM to seek costs, expenses, and attorney fees. The Federal Circuit affirmed an award to HIM of fees and expenses in the requested amount ($363,243.80), upholding findings that Blackbird’s litigation position was “meritless” and “frivolous.” Blackbird litigated in an unreasonable manner and the court properly considered the need to deter future abusive litigation. View "Blackbird Tech LLC v. Health in Motion, LLC" 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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Omnium sued Donghee, asserting infringement of eight patents, including the 921 and 812 patents, which generally relate to manufacturing plastic fuel tanks formed by blow molding. The fuel tanks are formed in a way that allows accessory components to be installed inside the fuel tank without cutting holes in the tank wall, which could compromise the structural integrity of the wall. The parties disputed the meaning of the term “parison.” Donghee argued that it should be given its plain and ordinary meaning of “hollow plastic tube exiting the die of an extrusion head.” Omnium argued that the patentee had acted as its own lexicographer and that the patents do not use the term in its conventional, ordinary meaning. The district court reasoned that “the patents specify that the ‘parison’ is cut in two as it leaves the die at the end of the extrusion head” and so “this ‘parison’ cannot be strictly limited to a fully-formed tubular structure existing in its entirety outside the extrusion head/die.” It recognized that “the principal disagreements between the parties [were] identifying the point at which the molten plastic within the extrusion head becomes a ‘parison.’ The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment of noninfringement, upholding the claim construction as supported by undisputed facts. View "Plastic Omnium Advanced Innovation and Research v. Donghee America, Inc." on Justia Law

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The challenged patents relate to certain improvements to electronic communications systems that lower the peak-to-average power ratio (PAR) of the transmitted signals. Lowering the PAR of a communications system is desirable because it reduces power consumption and the likelihood of transmission errors. The challenged patents specifically address a PAR problem that arises in the transmission of digital data using multicarrier communications systems, such as digital subscriber line (DSL) systems. In inter partes review proceedings, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board invalidated all claims of the two related patents as obvious in view of prior art, 35 U.S.C. 103. The Federal Circuit reversed. The fact findings underlying the Board’s obviousness determinations are not supported by substantial evidence. The Board based its findings on the assertions in Cisco’s petition, which the Board expressly adopted as its own findings and conclusions. No reasonable factfinder could find, based on Cisco’s petition and supporting expert declaration, that a person of ordinary skill would have recognized prior art’s disclosure of phase scrambling as a solution to reduce the PAR of other prior art. View "TQ Delta, LLC v. Cisco Systems, Inc." on Justia Law

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IPR’s 244 patent recognizes two types of wireless networks: a wireless local area network, which allows a user to wirelessly connect a portable electronic device to an access point, e.g., a router, that is in turn connected to a network and a cellular network, in which geographic regions are divided into “cells” that each contain a “base station.” The 244 patent claims a “subscriber unit,” e.g., a mobile device, that can automatically select the best available wireless network and then connect to it. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board found multiple claims obvious based on prior art references. The Federal Circuit remanded as to claim 8, finding insufficient record support for the determination that claim 8 is invalid as obvious. The court concluded that the evidence to which the Board pointed failed—either individually or collectively— to support the conclusion that there would have been a motivation to combine the relevant prior art references. On remand, the Board again found claim 8 unpatentable. The Federal Circuit again remanded. The only additional evidence the Board cited in support of its conclusion on remand was not part of the record before the Board and the decision remains unsupported. View "In re IPR Licensing, Inc." on Justia Law

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Pharma Tech sued LifeScan for infringement of two patents that concern blood glucose monitoring systems for home use by individuals with diabetes. The shared specification of Pharma Tech’s patents states that the claimed inventions improve on prior art blood glucose monitoring systems by “eliminat[ing] several of the critical operator depend[e]nt variables that adversely affect the accuracy and reliability” of these systems. The specification explains that the invention accomplishes this objective by performing multiple Cottrell current measurements and comparing the results. “In a system that is operating correctly, the results should agree within reasonable limits.” The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment of noninfringement. Pharma Tech agreed that the accused products do not literally infringe the claim. Prosecution history estoppel bars the claims for infringement under the doctrine of equivalents; the accused system falls within the claim scope surrendered by the inventors during prosecution of the patent. View "Pharma Tech Solutions, Inc. v. LifeScan, Inc." on Justia Law

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GAT’s 243 patent discloses a “method and system for providing an online game, in which ability information of a unit associated with a pilot is enabled to change as ability information of the pilot changes.” In July 2015, GAT filed a complaint accusing Wargaming and its affiliate, Wargaming.net, of infringing the patent. GAT's process server served Wargaming.net’s registered United Kingdom agent in December 2015; the summons was not signed by the clerk of court and did not bear the court’s seal. GAT’s attorney also mailed a copy of the complaint and summons to Wargaming's Cyprus office. In February 2016, Wargaming indicated that it did not believe that service was properly effected on either Wargaming entity but that Wargaming would waive service in exchange for an agreement to have until April to respond to the complaint. No formal waiver was filed. In March 2016, Wargaming appeared at a scheduling conference. In April 2016, Wargaming moved to dismiss. On March 13, 2017, Wargaming filed its petition for inter partes review (IPR), asserting that it was not barred by 35 U.S.C. 315(b)'s one-year limitation from requesting IPR because it had not been served. The Patent Board concluded that neither the UK service nor the Cyprus service triggered the time bar and that several claims would have been obvious over prior art. The Federal Circuit affirmed. GAT did not preserve its specific arguments for why service was proper or that Wargaming’s counsel waived service. The court upheld the Board’s construction of the terms “unit,” “pilot,” and “ability” in making its findings of obviousness. View "Game & Technology Co., Ltd. v. Wargaming Group Ltd." on Justia Law