Hammond, IndianaThe Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, issued its Opinion and Order denying a Motion for Preliminary Injunction in the case of Furrion Property Holding Limited, and Furrion Limited (collectively “Furrion”) versus Way Interglobal Network, LLC (“Way Interglobal”). This case was filed by Furrion-BlogPhoto-300x173Furrion in July 2019 alleging Way Interglobal’s oven infringed Furrion’s 2 in 1 Range Oven. Furrion then moved for a preliminary injunction, barring any further sales of the allegedly infringing product until the lawsuit was decided. The Court held Furrion “failed to meet its burden of showing irreparable harm”, and therefore denied the Motion for a Preliminary Injunction.

Furrion, as evidence of intentional copying and infringement, claims the user manual produced by Way Interglobal utilizes identical language to Furrion’s manual. While that could be an exceptional coincidence, Judge Simon found the images included in Way Interglobal’s manual included images of Furrion’s 2 in 1 Range Oven including Furrion’s trademarked logo. Way Interglobal’s CEO and president, Wayne Kaylor, testified that he was unaware of the similarities in the user manuals and speculated that the Chinese manufacturer who writes the user manual may have taken a shortcut when preparing the manual. Kaylor further testified that Way Interglobal had heard rumors that Furrion was alleging Way Interglobal’s range oven infringed Furrion’s patents in or around July 2018 and that “Way Interglobal changed the metal grate of its gas range to distinguish it from Furrion’s” without admitting any infringement.

To find in favor of Furrion’s motion for preliminary injunction, Furrion must show “(1) a likelihood of success on the merits . . . ; (2) a likelihood of irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted; (3) the balance of hardships between the parties favors an injunction; and (4) the public interest likewise favors an injunction.” PHG Techs., LLC v. St. John Companies, Inc., 469 F.3d 1361, 1365 (Fed. Cir. 2006). “[I]f the moving party fails to clear the likelihood of success and irreparable harm hurdles, ‘a court’s inquiry is over and the injunction must be denied” in the Seventh Circuit. Abbott Labs v. Mead Johnson & Co., 971 F.2d 6, 11 (7th Cir. 1992). However, if the moving party shows all four elements, the court weighs he factors in deciding whether to grant the injunction.

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The Petitioner, Lippert Components, Inc. (“Lippert”), filed a Petition for inter partes review of claims 12 and 13 of Days Corporation’s (“Days”) United States Patent No. 6,619,693 B1 (the “‘693 Patent”) for “Apparatus andLippert-BlogPhoto-300x214 Method for Automatically Leveling an Object”. In addition to filing its Reply and Sur-Reply to the inter partes review, Days also filed a Motion to Amend the ‘693 Patent. Days also filed a Motion to Exclude Evidence prior to the oral hearing. The United States Patent Trial and Appeal Board (the “PTAB”) determined claims 12 and 13 of the ‘693 Patent are unpatentable, denied Days’ Motion to Amend, and dismissed Days’ Motion to Exclude as moot.

The ‘693 Patent “discloses an apparatus for automatically leveling a vehicle, such as a recreational vehicle, that is located on uneven terrain or an out-of-level surface.” The vehicle to be leveled contains four adjustable legs that can be manually lowered and raised to achieve a feeling of true level relative to horizontal in the interior of the vehicle. The leveling process can also be performed automatically with the use of a controller. The person having ordinary skill in the art for the Court’s analysis was found to be a person having “either a bachelor’s degree in engineering, preferably mechanical or electrical, or at least five years of work experience in the field of vehicle leveling systems and related equipment.”

The PTAB interpreted the claims 12 and 13 of the ‘693 Patent using the “broadest reasonable construction in light of the patent’s specification.” See 37 C.F.R. § 42.100(b) (2018). The term “reference level plane”, when referring to a pre-set vehicle orientation plane, may be construed to be a plane in which the vehicle feels at true level to horizontal. In claims 12 and 13, there are two identical “Sensor Limitations”. Those Sensor Limitations are “a sensor . . . to sense pitch and roll of the vehicle relative to a reference level plane,” and “the sensor produces an orientation signal representing the vehicle pitch and roll.” In this case, the PTAB agreed with Lippert in that when construed “under the broadest reasonable construction in light of the ‘693 patent specification, claims 12 and 13 do not require the sensor to be aligned directly along the vehicle’s longitudinal and lateral axes.” The PTAB further stated that “[c]onstruing claims 12 and 13 to be limited to a sensor that must be aligned directly along the vehicle’s longitudinal and lateral axes would improperly incorporate a limitation into the claims from the specification.”

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Elkhart, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Paul Steeger (“Steeger”) of Germany, filed suit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging thatGoodLiving-BlogPhoto-300x143 Defendant, Good Living Enterprises Inc. (“Good Living”) of Elkhart, Indiana, infringed his rights in United States Copyright Registration No. VA 2-056-056. Steeger is seeking actual damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs, pre-judgment interest, and any other relief the court deems proper.

Steeger, a professional photographer, claims he is in the business of licensing his photographs for a fee. In this case, Steeger claims he photographed a leaf in water (the “Photograph”) and registered it with the United States Copyright Office. Steeger claims Good Living posted the Photograph on its website without a license, permission, or consent from Steeger. As such, Steeger is seeking damages for copyright infringement pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §§ 106 and 501.

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Chief Judge Theresa Lazar Springmann has announced that she will take senior status starting in January 2021.Springmann-BlogPhoto-300x190  She presently presides in the Hammond, Indiana Division.

Judge Springmann was appointed to the bench as a District Judge in June 2003. Prior to then she served as a magistrate Judge for the Northern District of Indiana since 1995.  As of September 2019, she has completed 111 trials during her tenure, which are reported here.

As a result of her announcement,  U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) are seeking applications for qualified individuals to fill the vacancy.  Individuals can access the applicant questionnaire here. Two physical copies of the application must be submitted by December 9, 2019, to Senator Young’s Indianapolis office located at 251 North Illinois Street, Suite 120, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

BlogPhotoCummins Inc. of Columbus, Indiana has announced success in legal actions against Turbotechsnab LLC and Weifang Yuhang Turbocharger Co. Ltd. for infringement of Cummins’ trademarks and patents.

In a decision reached by the Moscow City Arbitrazh Court, Turbotechsnab was held to have infringed Cummins’ HOLSET trademarks. The court awarded an injunction against Turbotechsnab prohibiting further illegal use of Cummins’ HOLSET trademarks in connection with selling, offering to sell, storing and advertising turbochargers. Additionally, the court ordered Turbotechsnab to pay damages and fees to Cummins.

As part of the settlement with Weifang Yuhang Turbocharger Co. Ltd., that company agreed to cease and desist purchasing, making and selling any nozzle ring product that infringes Cummins’ patents, and agreed to destroy all existing infringing stock.

Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiff, Tenstreet, LLC (“Tenstreet”) of Tulsa, Oklahoma, filed suit in DriverReach-BlogPhotothe Southern District of Indiana alleging that Defendant, DriverReach, LLC (“DriverReach”) of Indianapolis, Indiana, infringed its rights in United States Patent No. 8,145,575 (the “‘575 Patent”) for “Peer to Peer Sharing of Job Applicant Information”. Defendant moved to dismiss the Complaint and the Court has now granted that motion.  This case was described on this site here.

Tenstreet develops products for the transportation industry such as its XchangeTM network to help share job applicant verification data between employers, past and present, for commercial truck drivers. The ‘575 Patent, obtained by Tenstreet on March 27, 2012, claims to streamline the verification process between past and prospective employers while giving the drivers a chance to review and correct information before it is sent to the prospective employer. DriverReach allegedly sells its own employment verification product, VOE Plus Solutions. Tenstreet claimed VOE Plus Solutions infringed on the ‘575 Patent. DriverReach moved the Court to dismiss Tenstreet’s claims “on the ground that the ‘575 patent is patent-ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.”

Pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 101, patentable subject matter is “any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.” However, the Supreme Court has held “that this provision contains an important implicit exception[:] Laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas are not patentable.” Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 569 U.S. 576, 589 (2013) (quoting Mayo Collaborative Servs. V. Prometheus Labs., Inc., 566 U.S. 66, 70 (2012)). In this case, the Court discusses the abstract idea exception. When determining if a patent claims an abstract idea, the Court first looks to whether the claims are directed to a patent-ineligible concept. Second, the Court looks for an “inventive concept” which transforms the claim into a patent-eligible application.

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Overhauser Law Offices, the publisher of this site, assists with US and foreign patent searches, patent applications and assists with enforcing patents via infringement litigation and licensing.

The U.S. Patent Office issued the following 278 patent registrations to persons and businesses in Indiana in October 2019, based on applications filed by Indiana patent attorneys:

Patent No. Title
1 RE047673 Process for recovering zinc and/or zinc oxide II
2 D0865234 Lamp for the rear of a vehicle
3 D0865161 Medication pump holder
4 D0865131 Faucet handle
5 D0865130 Faucet body

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The U.S. Trademark Office issued the following  208 trademark registrations to persons and businesses in Indiana in October 2019 based on applications filed by Indiana trademark attorneys:

Registration No.  Word Mark
5897362 DOUBLE TIME
5897334 TRANSTAPE
5896926 WE SELL THE EARTH AND EVERYTHING ON IT!
5896748 DRY EYE BOOT CAMP

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October 17, 2019.  The US Patent Office has issued an Update on “Subject Matter Eligibility.”  These Guidelines are used by the Patent Office to determine whether patent claims are eligible for protection under 35 USC 101.

Patent claims satisfy § 101’s eligibility requirement unless they are directed to an abstract idea (or other ineligible principle) and fail to add any inventive concept. Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Intern., 573 U.S. 208 (2014). In particular, claims that recite a specific advance in computer technology—including, for example, an unconventional arrangement of computer components—are eligible.

It is notoriously unclear to understand how should be applied.  For example , Judge Plager of the Federal Circuit (and former Dean of the School of Law and Indiana University – Bloomington) has stated that the “body of doctrine” is “incoherent,” “render[ing] it near impossible to know with any certainty whether [an] invention is or is not patent eligible.” Interval Licensing LLC, 896 F.3d at 1348 (Plager, J., concurring and dissenting). Other jurists have noted that the case law is “baffling,” “inconsistent,” and that “needs clarification by higher authority, perhaps by Congress.”   Athena Diagnostics, Inc. v. Mayo Collaborative Servs., LLC, 927 F.3d 1333, 1371 (Fed. Cir. 2019); Aatrix Software, Inc. v. Green Shades Software, Inc., 890 F.3d 1354, 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2018)

Indianapolis, Indiana – Judge Richard L. Young of the Southern District of Indiana issued a decision on cross-motions for attorneys’ fees and costs in the case of Richard N. Bell (“Bell”) versus Michael Maloney (“Maloney”). The Court first entered judgment in favor of Bell on June 11, 2019 granting him $200 in statutory damages, and costs. Bell sought $33,536,25 in attorney’s fees and $4,719.80 in costs. Maloney made a cross-motion “for leave to file a Bill of Costs totaling $2,183.77 and to enforce the Rule 68 offer. The Court found that the Rule 68 offer should be enforced and Maloney is entitled to the costs he incurred after the offer was rejected.

Bell sent a demand letter to Maloney for $5,000.00 prior to filing this suit. After Bell filed suit, Maloney filed his Answer and then sent Bell an Offer of Judgment pursuant to FRCP 68. This offer was for $2,500.00 for Bell to take judgment against Maloney and would include all attorney’s fees and costs. Bell denied the Rule 68 offer and after the denial of cross-motions for summary judgment, the case went to a bench trial. After the one-day bench trial, the Court found Bell was the prevailing party and was entitled to $200 in statutory damages. Bell filed his motion for fees and costs eleven months after the bench trial occurred.

FRCP 68 provides in part, “[i]f the judgment that the offeree finally obtains is not more favorable than the unaccepted offer, the offeree must pay the costs incurred after the offer was made.” The court in Payne v. Milwaukee Cty., 288 F.3d 1021, 1024 (7th Cir. 2002), found that “Rule 68 is designed to provide a disincentive for plaintiffs from continuing to litigate a case after being presented with a reasonable offer.” In determining if a final judgment obtained is less favorable than a Rule 68 offer, “the attorney’s fees and costs that accrued before the offer must be added to the judgment.” Lawrence v. City of Philadelphia, 700 F.Supp. 832, 836 (E.D. PA. 1988).

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