MVS Filewrapper® Blog: New and Useful - August 26, 2013

·         In University of Utah v. Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, the Federal Circuit held that a patent lawsuit between a state university and the officers of another state university is not a controversy between two states.  The case began when the University of Utah (“UUtah”) sued the Max Planck Institute and the University of Massachusetts (“UMass”) to correct inventorship of two patents—U.S. Patent Nos. 7,056,704 and 7,078,196.  The basis of UUtah’s claim was that the named inventor of the patents—Dr. Thomas Tuschl, a UMass Professor—incorporated the ideas of a UUtah Professor—Dr. Brenda Bass—and did not name her as an inventor.  UMass argued that the dispute was between two states as both UUtah and UMass are state institutions.  This presents constitutional law questions.  In particular, two provisions of the Constitution are at issue, Article 3, §2, cl.2 and the 11th Amendment.  The 11th Amendment provides sovereign immunity to state governments from any cause of action brought by citizens of another state in Federal Court.  However, Article III of the Constitution provides for state-versus-state lawsuits, for which the United States Supreme Court has original jurisdiction.  Thus, under UMass’s argument, only the United States Supreme Court should have jurisdiction to hear the matter.  In response to UMass’s argument, UUtah amended its complaint and substituted UMass with four UMass officials as defendants.  The district court held that the action was no longer a state-versus-state action and could proceed.  Immediate appeal was heard by the Federal Circuit, which affirmed the district court in a 2-1 decision.  Judge Moore provided a notable dissent arguing that UMass is an indispensable party and should be a named defendant and the case is in fact a controversy between two states.

·         In Skinmedica v. Histogen, the Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment of non-infringement.  Skinmedica asserted infringement of two of its patents covering methods for producing dermatological products containing “novel cell culture medium compositions.”  The Federal Circuit noted that “[d]uring prosecution of the ’494 patent, the inventors limited their claimed inventions to pharmaceutical compositions comprising cell culture medium conditioned by animal cells only in three-dimensions” in order to overcome an anticipation rejection.  Histogen cultures cells beginning with “one- or two-dimensional growth” on beads that “evolves into a three-dimensional growth phase in which the cells crawl off the beads.”  On appeal Skinmedica argued “that the district court erroneously excluded beads from the definition of ‘culturing . . . cells in three-dimensions.’”  The Federal Circuit, however, found no basis to overturn the district court’s construction of the phrase “culturing . . . cells in three-dimensions.”  This was because the patents-in-suit define “three dimensional culturing” to exclude beads by “expressly confin[ing] culturing with beads to two-dimensional culturing.”  In light of this, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment of non-infringement. 

·         In Ex parte Mewherter, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board held that a software composition cannot meet the requirements of patentable subject-matter under § 101 unless the invention excludes transitory media such as signals and carrier waves.  Independent claim 16 was rejected under § 101.  Claim 16 recited in pertinent part, “A machine readable storage medium having stored thereon a computer program for converting a slide show presentation for use within a non-presentation application.”  The Examiner rejected the claim arguing that the phrase “machine-readable storage medium” encompassed transitory media “such as signals, carrier waves, etc.”  The patent Applicant—IBM—countered that the term “storage” differentiates the claimed invention from the non-patentable subject matter “machine-readable medium” because it requires permanent storage.  The Board, however, affirmed the Examiner’s rejection noting that the specification failed to exclude transitory signals from its definition of “machine-readable storage medium.”  As a result, the Board held that one of skill in the art would construe the term to encompass transitory media and not be limited exclusively to permanent storage media.

MVS Filewrapper® Blog: New and Useful - January 31, 2013

·       In Soverain Software LLC v. Newegg Inc. the Federal Circuit vacated in part and reversed in part an Eastern District of Texas decision finding Newegg Inc. liable for infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 5,715,314, 5,909,492, and 7,272,639, all relating to electronic commerce.  The Federal Circuit offered clarifying insight on the obviousness doctrine.  The background facts are as follows:  Soverain Software purchased three software patents through bankruptcy proceedings and then proceeded to sue seven different entities for infringing the patents.  Six of the defendants settled and entered paid up license agreements with Soverain.  The seventh defendant, Newegg, refused to settle and argued that the asserted patents are all invalid and even if valid, Newegg’s system is different and non-infringing.  At trial, the district court refused to permit Newegg to present its obviousness argument to the jury and ruled that the patents were valid as a matter of law.  The jury found that Newegg had infringed two of the patents but not the third; the district court, however, entered judgment as a matter of law that Newegg infringed the third patent.  Newegg appealed and the Federal Circuit found all three patents obvious.  The federal circuit had three major discussion points:  (1) each element of the disputed claims was found in the prior art, (2) combining those elements would be obvious to one of skill in the art, and (3) licenses entered in settlement to a lawsuit do not constitute evidence of commercial success. 

 

·       In Rexnord Industries, LLC v. Kappos the Federal Circuit reversed a BPAI decision holding claims for a mechanical conveyor belt patentable.  The patent in question was asserted by Habasit Belting, Inc. against Rexnord Industries in an infringement suit in Delaware district court.  Rexnord filed a request for inter partes reexamination.  The examiner in the reexamination found all of the claims to be unpatentable for anticipation or obviousness. Habasit appealed the examiner’s findings, and the BPAI reversed, concluding that the claims of the patent were not anticipated by any of the references cited in the reexamination, and were unobvious over the cited references.  Rexnord appealed the BPAI decision to the Federal Circuit, arguing that the BPAI erroneously refused to review all of the arguments that Rexnord had presented as grounds for unpatentability.  The PTO countered that the BPAI only needed to consider the issue raised by Habasit on appeal, and had no obligation to consider other grounds that had been presented during reexamination, relying on a BPAI rule that “bars the presentation of new arguments outside appellant’s opening brief.”  The Federal Circuit noted that Rexnord was not the appellant before the BPAI since Habasit appealed the examiner’s decision, and concluded that the alternative bases for obviousness raised in the reexamination were properly raised on appeal to the Federal Circuit because they were fully raised in the reexamination and were not an issue for patentability until after the Board reversed the examiner.  The court then found the claims obvious on these additional grounds.

       

·       In Hall v. Bed Bath & Beyond, the Federal Circuit affirmed a Southern District of New Your district court’s dismissal of counts against Bed Bath & Beyond (BB&B) executives and counterclaims filed by BB&B, but concluded that the district court’s dismissal of Hall’s design patent infringement, unfair competition, and misappropriation claims for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).  BB&B argued in its motion to dismiss, and the district court agreed, that the complaint was insufficient because if failed to include any claim construction, but the Federal Circuit held the complaint met the requirements for pleading design patent infringement previously set out by the court in Phonometrics, Inc. v. Hospitality Franchise Systems, Inc.  Specifically, the court found the complaint (i) alleged ownership of the patent, (ii) named each defendant, (iii) cited the patent that was allegedly infringed, (iv) stated the means by which the defendant allegedly infringed, and (v) pointed to the sections of the patent law invoked, and in doing so met its burden to withstand a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), Twombly and Iqbal. 

 

·       In LG Display Co. v. Obayashi Seikou Co., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10785 (D.D.C. 2013) The district court for the District of Columbia issued a ruling in a case between LG and Obayashi Seikou Co., LTD that goes back nearly a decade, centering on LG’s allegations that a former employee stole proprietary information and passed it along to Obayashi Seikou Co., who then obtained several patents on the technology.  Prior to the U.S. litigation, the parties had entered into a settlement agreement, and after the settlement failed, litigated the settlement agreement in the Korean courts.  In the Korean litigation LG secured a judgment from Korea’s highest court holding that the settlement agreement was valid, and the defendants were required to transfer their patents to LG, under the terms of the agreement.  LG then filed suit in the District of Columbia seeking recognition of the Korean judgment, as well as claiming misappropriation of trade secrets, conversion, and unjust enrichment.  The district court granted in part LG’s motion for partial summary judgment, recognizing the Korean judgment, but concluded that ownership of two related patents involved factual disputes and was not ready for summary judgment. 

Another Billion Dollar Patent Verdict

Another billion dollar verdict has been handed out in a patent case.  Read the verdict in Carnegie Mellon University v. Marvell Technology Group, LTD. here.  This latest case continues a string of billion dollar verdicts highlighted by Jonathan Kennedy in the latest edition of MVS Briefs. 

Carnegie Mellon brought suit alleging infringement of two of its patents, Patent No. 6,201,839 and Patent No. 6,438,180, relating to integrated circuits for computer memory systems.  Marvell asserted that it did not infringe the patents, and in the alternative, the patents were invalid because they were anticipated or rendered obvious by the prior art.

The jury in the case found for Carnegie Mellon on all counts of infringement—including indirect infringement—and invalidity.  In addition to the large damages award, the jury determined that Marvell had engaged in willful infringement of two patents held by Carnegie Mellon because Marvell knew of the asserted patents before the lawsuit, had no reasonable defense for its actions, and knew or should have known that its actions would infringe the asserted patents.  The determination of willfulness by the jury could allow the presiding judge, U.S. District Judge Norra Barry Fischer, to triple the damages award. 

 A final judgment in the case is expected in May 2013, pending post-trial motions from both sides.  Marvell has already announced its intent to appeal the verdict should its post-trial motions prove unsuccessful. 

Dependent claim can't be obvious when indepdendent claim is not; verdict vacated as inconsistent

In a recent decision, the Federal Circuit affirmed-in-part a district court's decision regarding obviousness, holding the defendant was not entitled to summary judgment that the asserted claims were invalid for obviousness.  The court vacated the district court's entry of judgment of an inconsistent jury verdict of obviousness:  the jury held a dependent claim obvious but the independent claim from which it depends not obvious.  The court stated that such a result reflects an "irreconcilable inconsistency" and thus a new trial on obviousness must be granted.

The court also addressed the question of incorporation by reference.  The defendant argued the claims were anticipated based on a prior art patent that made reference to another patent for one of the relevant limitations.  The district court held the incorporation by reference was ineffective and excluded expert testimony regarding the "combined" prior art.  The Federal Circuit reversed, holding the incorporation by reference was sufficiently specific to be successful, and remanded the issue of anticipation to the district court for redetermination.

More on Callaway Golf Co. v. Acushnet Co. after the jump.

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Manuscript filed with copyright office not necessarily publicly available as of filing date

In a decision Tuesday, the Federal Circuit held the USPTO had not provided sufficient evidence that an inventor's manuscript was publicly accessible, and therefore available as prior art under § 102(b), before the critical date of the application.  As a result, the court reversed the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences.

At issue was the inventor's own manuscript.  It was undisputed that the manuscript disclosed the invention and was filed with the U.S. Copyright Office more than a year before the filing date of the application.  The Board held this, combined with the ability to search the Copyright Office records by title, provided sufficient evidence of public accessibility to qualify the manuscript as prior art under § 102(b)

The Federal Circuit reversed.  After surveying the applicable case law, the court held the copyright office automated catalog was insufficient to render the manuscript publicly accessible because it only permitted searching by the author's last name or the first word of the title of the work.  Further, while the copyright office records were spearately indexed by two commercial search providers that permitted keyword searching, there was no evidence in the record of when these commercial search providers would have included the relevant records.  As a result, the court vacated the Board's decision and remanded, noting that the rejection may be reinstated if there was sufficient proof of when the commercial databases indexed the manuscript.

More detail of In re Lister after the jump.

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Close but no cigar: ITC gets 4 of 5 claim constructions correct, but must reconsider 2 issues

In a recent decision, the Federal Circuit addressed a variety of claim construction, infringement, and validity issues in an appeal from the International Trade Commission.  After construing five disputed claim terms, the ITC held one of four representative products infringed, the remaining three did not infringe, and one claim invalid as anticipated.  Both parties appealed.

The Federal Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.  The court affirmed the ITC's construction of 4 of the 5 disputed terms.  However, the modification of one term resulted in the court vacating the ITC's determination of invalidity of one claim, as well as infringement of two of the four devices.  The Federal Circuit affirmed the finding of noninfringement of the other two devices, and remanded for reconsideration of the various issues in light of the revised construction.

More detail of Linear Tech. Corp. v. Int'l Trade Comm'n after the jump.

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Supreme Court of Canada tightens obviousness standard

The Supreme Court of Canada recently made significant changes to its obviousness standard for patentability. The case addressed a dispute arising between the brand-name pharmaceutical manufacturer, Sanofi, and the Canadian generic manufacturer, Apotex.  The decision by the Supreme Court of Canada brings its obviousness standard closer to the standard recently set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in KSR v. Teleflex. However, the Canadian obviousness standard still appears to be less stringent than the U.S. obviousness standard.  

More on Apotex, Inc. v. Sanofi-Synthelavo Canada after the jump.

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Prior art disclosure of compound does not anticipate substantially separated enantiomer

In a recent decision, the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court's determination, after a bench trial, that the asserted claim of a patent had not been proven anticipated or obvious.  The district court held that while the prior art showed the chemical structure of the claimed compound, it did not describe the separation of the two enantiomers of the compound, nor did it describe the appropriate salt form to use in tableting the compound.   As a result, the claim was not anticipated.  Further, the district court held the claim was not obvious, because the separation of the enantiomers had the unexpected effect of separating the beneficial effects of the compound (produced by one enantiomer) with the harmful side effects of the compound (produced by the other enantiomer).

The Federal Circuit affirmed.  After a detailed analysis of the facts, the court agreed with the district court's analysis that the disclosure of the chemical structure of the compound in the prior art was insufficient to either anticipate or render obvious a claim directed to one of the two enantiomers, given the difficulty and unpredictability in separating enantiomers and the unexpected division of the beneficial and harmful effects between the two enantiomers of this particular compound.

More detail of Sanofi-Synthelabo v. Apotex, Inc. after the jump.

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Substantial question regarding validity insufficient to defeat likelihood of success?

In a recent decision, the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court's grant of a preliminary injunction concerning the manufacture of an extended release formulation of an antibiotic. In a lengthy opinion, the Federal Circuit applied the Supreme Court's obvious-to-try logic from KSR to pharmaceutical patents. Notably, the court used the unpredictability of the pharmaceutical arts to find that, despite a prior art reference listing twelve different approaches in creating an extended release formula, the claimed formulation was (at least at the preliminary injunction stage) more than the predictable use of prior art elements according to their established functions.

The Federal Circuit also addressed the issue of inequitable conduct, reinforcing its holding in Kingsdown Medical that materiality alone does not automatically establish the bad faith necessary for a finding of inequitable conduct.

The panel majority, after an extensive review of case law regarding injunctive relief, held when determining likelihood of success, the court must examine the question with the ultimate issue in mind, namely whether the party will likely prevail on the issue.  Judge Gajarsa's dissent, on the other hand, took the panel majority to task for diverging from the Federal Circuit's precedent on the issue, and would have held a substantial question of validity and enforceability was raised, making the preliminary injunction improper.

More on Abbot Labs. v. Sandoz, Inc. after the jump.

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Federal Circuit reaffirms anticipatory reference must have all elements as arranged in the claim

In a recent decision, the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court's finding of indefiniteness but reversed the district court's holding of anticipation of other claims.  The district court held the means-plus-function limitations did not have corresponding structure disclosed in the specification, rendering them indefinite, and that the combination of two examples in a prior art publication anticipated the remaining asserted claims.

The Federal Circuit agreed the means-plus-function limitations were indefinite.  The limitations were computer-implemented, which means to be definite, the specification must disclose "more than simply a general purpose computer or microprocessor," but instead must disclose "the special purpose computer programmed to perform the disclosed algorithm."  There was no such disclosure here, so the Federal Circuit held the claims were correctly held indefinite.

Regarding anticipation, however, the court reaffirmed its previous cases holding in order to anticipate, it is not enough for all elements of the claim to be disclosed in a single reference.  All the elements must also be disclosed as arranged in the claim.  Here, the claim elements were spread across two different examples given in the allegedly anticipatory reference, so the Federal Circuit reversed the district court's summary judgment of anticipation because the reference did not disclose the elements as they were arranged in the claim.

More detail of Net MoneyIN, Inc. v. VeriSign, Inc. after the jump.

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