Articles Posted in Federal Circuit

The Plaintiff, Lifetime Industries, Inc. (doing business as Boyd Corp.) had filed a patent infringement lawsuit in the Northern District of Indiana alleging that Defendant, Trim-Lok, Inc infringed patent no. 6,966,590, Two-Part Seal For A Slide-Out Room, which has been issued by the US Patent Office. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the District Court’s dismissal and remanded back to the district for further proceedings.

Plaintiff owns the patent to a two-part seal for slide-out rooms in RVs. The seal prevents moisture, debris, and air drafts from entering the 2017-10-27-BlogPhoto-300x159vehicle. Soon after two employees left Lifetime to work at Trim-Lok, a representative of Lifetime found an allegedly infringing Trim-Lok seal installed on a third party RV. Plaintiff alleged direct, indirect, and contributory infringement on the part of Trim-Lok, based on claims that Trim-Lok directly installed the seal, or supervised installation of the seal, or influenced the RV company to install the seal on their vehicles. The district court dismissed each claim, stating that Lifetime had not adequately argued the allegations.

Continue reading

2017-10-20-BlogPhotoA 7-4 of the en banc decision of the Federal Circuit concludes that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board improperly requires a patent owner in an inter partes review (IPR) to show that proposed amended patent claims are patentable before a motion to amend those claims will be granted,

In an unusually opinion, the deeply divided the Court produced five opinions, none of which had enough backers to constitute the opinion of the Court. The most thoughtful opinion was 68 pages opinion, but only agreed upon by five of the judges.  It concluded 5-6 that the statute unambiguously prohibited imposing on the patentee a burden of showing patentability, requiring no deference to the PTAB rule under Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984). However, the opinion picked up two additional votes of Judges Dyk and Reyna, who concurred in the result based on an alternative rationale conceding the ambiguity of the statute but nonetheless denying deference to the PTAB rule.

Continue reading

Figure-6_903-Patent-300x283Washington, D.C. — The Federal Circuit ruled on two patent infringement decisions, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute v. Eli Lilly & Co. and Eli Lilly & Co. v. Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, that involve Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Company.

These companion cases pertain to a pharmaceutical patent, U.S. Patent No. 8,133,903 (“the ’903 patent”), owned by Los Angeles Biomedical.  Also at issue is one prior art reference, International Patent Application No. WO 01/80860, published Nov. 1, 2001, common to both lawsuits.

Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute v. Eli Lilly & Co. arose as an inter partes review of a decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board holding all claims of the ‘903 patent to be obvious.  The Federal Circuit reviewed claims in a provisional application relating to a study involving rats in combination with a method in an uncited reference to convert those results to apply to humans.  It held that the rat study and uncited conversion method did not support the claimed dosage for humans.  It further concluded that claims directed to an underlying condition should not be construed broadly to treat symptoms of that condition, holding that the Board had not adopted the broadest reasonable interpretation of the claims but instead had adopted an overbroad interpretation. The panel remanding, stating:

The question remains whether a person of skill in the art would have had a reason to combine [the three cited references relating to the medical condition] and would have had a reasonable expectation of success from doing so.  Because the Board’s obviousness analysis was based on an erroneous construction of the claim language and an overly broad interpretation of [one of the references], and because the Board did not address the record evidence summarized above, we remand for the Board to make new findings as to whether there was an apparent reason to combine the prior art references and whether that combination would have rendered [the treatment] obvious.

Continue reading

Indianapolis, Indiana – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has upheld the district court’s decision and ruled in favor of Eli Lilly regarding validity and infringement of the vitamin regimen patent U.S. Patent No. 7,772,209 for Alimta® (pemetrexed for injection).

In the case of Eli Lilly and Company v. Teva Parenteral Medicines, Inc., et al., the court affirmed the earlier district court’s rulings that the vitamin regimen patent is valid and would be infringed by the generic challengers’ proposed products. If the patent is ultimately upheld through all remaining challenges, Alimta would maintain U.S. exclusivity until May 2022, preventing marketing of generic products for as long as the patent remains in force. The Alimta compound patent remLillyHeadquarters-300x127ains in force through January 24, 2017.

In March 2014, the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Indiana upheld the validity of the vitamin regimen patent. In August 2015, the same court ruled in Lilly’s favor regarding infringement of the vitamin regimen patent.

2016-03-10-BlogPhoto.png

Washington, D.C. – The Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, reaffirmed its rules of patent exhaustion in a 10-2 decision. It concluded that the Supreme Court decisions in Quanta Computer, Inc. v. LG Electronics, Inc., and Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., did not require any change in the law of patent exhaustion. The 99-page decision was consistent with the position argued in the amicus brief filed by the American Intellectual Property Law Association.

Specifically, the Federal Circuit held that a patentee, when selling a patented article subject to a single-use/no-resale restriction that is lawful and clearly communicated to the purchaser, does not give the buyer, or downstream buyers, the resale/reuse authority that has been expressly denied. Explaining that the ruling in Mallinckrodt, Inc. v. Medipart, Inc., 976 F.2d 700 (Fed. Cir. 1992) remains unchanged, Judge Taranto wrote the following:

Such resale or reuse, when contrary to the known, lawful limits on the authority conferred at the time of the original sale, remains unauthorized and therefore remains infringing conduct under the terms of § 271. Under Supreme Court precedent, a patentee may preserve its § 271 rights through such restrictions when licensing others to make and sell patented articles; Mallinckrodt held that there is no sound legal basis for denying the same ability to the patentee that makes and sells the articles itself. We find Mallinckrodt’s principle to remain sound after the Supreme Court’s decision in Quanta Computer, Inc. v. LG Electronics, Inc., 553 U.S. 617 (2008), in which the Court did not have before it or address a patentee sale at all, let alone one made subject to a restriction, but a sale made by a separate manufacturer under a patentee-granted license conferring unrestricted authority to sell.

The Federal Circuit also held that a U.S. patentee, by merely selling or authorizing the sale of a U.S.-patented article abroad, does not authorize the buyer to import the article and sell and use it in the United States, which are infringing acts absent authority from the patentee. Explaining that the ruling in Jazz Photo Corp. v. International Trade Comm’n, 264 F.3d 1094 (Fed. Cir. 2001), remains unchanged, Judge Taranto wrote the following:

Jazz Photo’s no exhaustion ruling recognizes that foreign markets under foreign sovereign control are not equivalent to the U.S. markets under U.S. control in which a U.S. patentee’s sale presumptively exhausts its rights in the article sold. A buyer may still rely on a foreign sale as a defense to infringement, but only by establishing an express or implied license–a defense separate from exhaustion, as Quanta holds–based on patentee communications or other circumstances of the sale. We conclude that Jazz Photo’s no-exhaustion principle remains sound after the Supreme Court’s decision in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 133 S. Ct. 1351 (2013), in which the Court did not address patent law or whether a foreign sale should be viewed as conferring authority to engage in otherwise infringing domestic acts. Kirtsaeng is a copyright case holding that 17 U.S.C. §109(a) entitles owners of copyrighted articles to take certain acts “without the authority” of the copyright holder. There is no counterpart to that provision in the Patent Act, under which a foreign sale is properly treated as neither conclusively nor even presumptively exhausting the U.S. patentee’s rights in the United States.

Judge Dyk filed a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Judge Hughes, that generally agreed with the position argued in the government’s amicus brief.

With respect to Mallinckrodt, Judge Dyk maintained that the decision was wrong from the outset and cannot now be reconciled with the Supreme Court’s Quanta decision. “We exceed our role as a subordinate court by declining to follow the explicit domestic exhaustion rule announced by the Supreme Court,” he added. With respect to Jazz Photo, he wrote that he would retain the ruling if read to say that a foreign sale does not always exhaust U.S. patent rights, but it may if the authorized seller failed to explicitly reserve those rights.

Background

Lexmark makes and sells patented ink cartridges for its printers. It sells cartridges under one plan that permits buyers to use them as they wish, and at a discounted price under a “Return Program” plan that limits buyers to a single use of the cartridge and requires the cartridges to be returned to Lexmark for recycling.

Lexmark brought infringement actions in the district court and the International Trade Commission against Impression Products and other makers of after-market ink cartridges for Lexmark printers. Most of the district court defendants settled the litigation with Lexmark.

As to Lexmark’s action against Impression Products, the district court entered a stipulated judgment on Impression Products motion to dismiss. It held that Lexmark’s patent rights in cartridges first sold in the United States were exhausted under Quanta, but that the rights were retained for cartridges first sold abroad under Jazz Photo.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit sua sponte granted en banc review of whether the appellate court’s ruling on conditional sales in the U.S. must be overruled in light of Supreme Court’s Quanta decision, and whether the appellate court’s Jazz Photo ruling on international exhaustion must be overruled in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling on copyright exhaustion in Kirtsaeng.

Continue reading

The Lanham Act’s ban on registering disparaging marks violates the First Amendment of the Constitution held the Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, on December 22, 2015. In re Tam, en banc Fed. Cir., No. 2014-1203, oral argument 12/22/2015.

In a case involving the refusal to register the term “The Slants” for a group of Asian musicians, the court concluded that the disparagement provision of the Lanham Act is used to reject trademarks based on their content and viewpoint, and that denying the benefit of registration on this basis is an unlawful burden on free speech.

Background

After the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office refused to register the “The Slants” mark as disparaging under Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a), the applicants appealed to the Federal Circuit. The Federal Circuit panel affirmed based on In re McGinley, 660 F.2d 481 (CCPA 1981), which found no First Amendment violation since the applicant was free to use the mark without the registration.

However, Judge Moore, in her “additional views,” said that McGinley should be reconsidered by the en banc in light of current First Amendment jurisprudence stating that the government may not deny a benefit based solely on a moral judgment about the viewpoint expressed by a mark. The Federal Circuit granted en banc review on whether Section 2(a) violates the First Amendment.

Disparagement Provision Is Neither Content Nor Viewpoint Neutral

It is beyond dispute that Section 2(a) discriminates on the basis of content and viewpoint to the extent that it denies registration on the basis of the idea or message expressed, the court held. It rejected the government’s argument that the provision calls for rejection of marks based on particular words rather than viewpoints. Judge Moore pointed out that an applicant can register a mark if he shows it is perceived by the referenced group in a positive way, even if the mark contains language that would be offensive in another context.

Nor can the government avoid strict scrutiny of the provision by contending that it simply regulates commercial speech, Judge Moore continued. While trademarks have a commercial function as source identifiers, she explained, it is always a mark’s expressive character that is the basis for the disparagement exclusion from registration, not its ability to serve as a source identifier.

The en banc court expressly overruled In re McGinley, rejecting the argument that denial of a trademark registration does not prohibit use of the trademark. Citing Perry v. Sindermann, 408 U.S. 593(1972), Judge Moore pointed out that, by denying the government benefit based on constitutionally protected speech, a government could penalize and inhibit that freedom. She wrote the following:

Federal trademark registration brings with it valuable substantive and procedural rights unavailable in the absence of registration. These benefits are denied to anyone whose trademark expresses a message that the government finds disparages any group, Mr. Tam included. The loss of these rights, standing alone, is enough for us to conclude that § 2(a) has a chilling effect on speech. Denial of federal trademark registration on the basis of the government’s disapproval of the message conveyed by certain trademarks violates the guarantees of the First Amendment.

Government Speech and Government Subsidy

The court also rejected the contention that trademark registration is government speech and therefore beyond the terms of the First Amendment. While registered trademarks are recorded on a government database, that doesn’t convert the underlying speech to government speech any more that copyright registration converts copyrighted works into government speech, Judge Moore noted. “If being listed in a government database or published in a list of registrations were enough to convert private speech to government speech, nearly every action the government takes–every parade permit granted, every property title recorded, every hunting or fishing license issued–would amount to government speech,” she wrote.

Nor was the Federal Circuit persuaded that the provisions of Section 2(a) set out a variety of legitimate conditions for providing the government subsidy of trademark registration, pointing out that the availability of government subsidies may not be limited by unconstitutional conditions. While Congress is entitled to define the conditions under which it extends government benefits, the court noted that the denial of registration has a major chilling effect on private speech because the benefits of registration are so substantial.

Judge Moore added the following:

Were we to accept the government’s argument that trademark registration is a government subsidy and that therefore the government is free to restrict speech within the confines of the trademark program, it would expand the “subsidy” exception to swallow nearly all government regulation. In many ways, trademark registration resembles copyright registration. Under the logic of the government’s approach, it follows that the government could refuse to register copyrights without the oversight of the First Amendment. Congress could pass a law prohibiting the copyrighting of works containing “racial slurs,” “religious insults,” “ethnic caricatures,” and “misogynistic images.”

Judge O’Malley filed a concurring opinion, writing separately to argue that Section 2(a) is unconstitutionally vague under the Fifth Amendment.

Judge Dyk filed a concurring and dissenting opinion, arguing that the majority goes too far in concluding that the statute is facially unconstitutional as applied to purely commercial speech.

Judge Lourie filed a dissenting opinion, explaining that he would apply stare decisis to sustain Section 2(a).

Judge Reyna filed a dissenting opinion, arguing that Section 2(a) is an appropriate regulation of commercial speech.

Practice Tip: The availability of trademark protection for the Washington Redskins trademark, which was also denied federal trademark protection on the grounds that it was disparaging, is currently under review by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Continue reading

2015-12-04-BlogPhoto.png

Washington, D.C. – The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard a patent infringement lawsuit styled Momenta Pharms., Inc. v. Teva Pharms. USA Inc. on the issue of whether Defendants’ quality control procedures infringed the patent-in-suit. This appeal included a companion case, Momenta Pharms., Inc. v. Amphastar et al. Both cases were heard at the trial court level in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts by Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton.

Momenta was the first to market enoxaparin, an anticoagulant drug, in generic form. Momenta also owns U.S. Patent No. 7,575,886 (“the ‘886 patent”), which includes claimed methods designed to ensure that every batch of enoxaparin was of sufficient quality. Momenta asserted the ‘886 patent against other manufacturers, including Teva and Amphastar, which also wanted to bring a generic version of enoxaparin to market. It contended that Defendants’ quality-control measures infringed the ‘886 patent.

In this litigation, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts determined that patent infringement had not taken place, listing two separate grounds. First, the asserted claims were directed towards analyzing enoxaparin for the purpose of quality control, not manufacture of the drug, which did not amount to patent infringement. Second, the district court found that use of the analytical methods of the ‘886 patent were protected under the safe harbor provisions of 35 U.S.C § 271(e)(1). Momenta appealed.

Circuit Judges Dyk, Moore and Wallach of the Federal Circuit ruled on this appeal in November. Writing for the court, Judge Wallach affirmed the trial court’s ruling that Defendants Teva and Amphastar had not infringed the ‘886 patent, holding that infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(g) occurs when “making” a product and that quality-control testing, thus, did not constitute patent infringement.

The Federal Circuit vacated the district court’s judgment that the activities were also protected under the “safe harbor” provisions within § 271(e)(1) and remanded this issue to the district court for further inquiry.

Continue reading

Baby3.jpg

Washington, D.C. – The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided the matter of SCA Hygiene v. First Quality Baby Products, a case about adult incontinence products.

At issue in the case was the legal doctrine of “laches.” The laches doctrine penalizes a plaintiff who “sleeps on” his or her rights by waiting a long time to file a lawsuit after learning of a violation of those rights. Laches, an equitable defense, protects those who would be harmed by the assertion of those rights after a plaintiff’s delay. For example, in the case of a lawsuit asserting patent infringement, laches could work against a patent owner who saw an infringing product emerge in 2000 but waited until 2015 to sue, after a significant investment of time and resources had been put into the product.

The Federal Circuit had long recognized laches as a limitation on patent owners’ rights. But a recent Supreme Court case, Petrella v. MGM, called the doctrine into question. In Petrella, the Supreme Court held that laches was not a defense in copyright cases. Given the ruling in Petrella, the Federal Circuit opted to hear this litigation en banc to determine whether laches should still be a defense in patent cases.

The court held that the defense should be preserved. Proponents of laches in the patent-infringement context (see, e.g., Electronic Frontier Foundation‘s friend-of-the-court brief), contend that patent defendants and copyright defendants are in very different positions when it comes to defending against stale claims. Patent defendants, unlike their copyright counterparts, often defend themselves by showing that the patent owner’s claimed invention was obvious at the time of filing (thus making the patent invalid). But, by delaying a lawsuit, a patent owner can make it difficult for the defendant to find evidence of what people in the field knew about or would have found obvious back when the application was filed. This is especially true in the Internet age, those proponents argue. Websites are constantly rewritten. Software code gets lost or is not documented. In sum, without the defense of laches, patent owners can sit and wait for time to destroy the evidence that an alleged infringer needs to defend herself.

The decision came out 6-5, meaning five judges of the Federal Circuit think Petrella changed the availability of the doctrine of laches in both copyright infringement and patent infringement lawsuits. Given the closeness of the decision, this case may go to the Supreme Court.

This edited article was provided by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group which advocates for innovators and users of technology. The article has been licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

Continue reading

Dyk05012015.png

Washington, D.C. – The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard an appeal in the matter of Ineos USA LLC v. Berry Plastics Corporation. It affirmed the decision reached by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Case No. 3:13-cv-00017, regarding the infringement of Patent No. 6,846,863 (the “‘863 patent), which was issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Ineos holds the ‘863 patent, which was directed to polyethylene-based compositions which could be used to form shaped products, such as screw caps for bottles. In a patent lawsuit filed in Texas, Ineos accused Berry Plastics of infringing its ‘863 patent.

Berry Plastics moved for summary judgment that the asserted claims were anticipated independently by various prior art references, including U.S. Patent No. 5,948,846. Prior art incorporated a lubricant to allow the cap to glide better, which facilitated unscrewing the cap. However, in addition to increasing usability, the prior chemical formulations also imparted a bad odor and flavor to food products stored in contact with them. Ineos’ ‘863 patent claimed to have solved this problem by modifying the proportions of polyethylene, lubricants, and additives.

The district court ruled in Berry Plastic’s favor, holding that the ‘863 patent was invalid as anticipated by prior art under 35 U.S.C. § 102 (2006).

Ineos appealed from the district court’s ruling. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that Ineos had failed to show that the range claimed by the ‘863 patent was “critical to the operability of [Ineos’] invention.”

Continue reading

ColumnPicture.png

Washington, D.C. – The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a royalty award in Gaylord v. United States for copyright infringement committed by the United States Postal Service.

Frank Gaylord, a World War II veteran and renowned sculptor, created The Column, consisting of nineteen stainless steel statues depicting a squad of soldiers on patrol. This work, completed and dedicated in 1995, formed a central part of the Korean War Veterans Memorial located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. For his efforts in creating the work, Gaylord was paid $775,000.

Shortly after the completion of the work, an amateur photographer named John Alli visited the Memorial during a heavy snowstorm and photographed The Column. In 2002, the United States Postal Service decided to issue a stamp to commemorate the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the Korean War armistice. It settled on Alli’s photo of The Column for the stamp face and paid Alli a one-time fee for the right to use his photo. The Postal Service made no payment to Gaylord.

Gaylord sued for copyright infringement. The United States Court of Federal Claims acted as the trial court in the litigation. Twice prior to the instant appeal, an appeal was made to the Federal Circuit, first in 2010 and again in 2012. In Gaylord I, the Federal Circuit held that the government was liable to Gaylord for copyright infringement. Upon remand, the Court of Federal Claims awarded Gaylord a total of $5,000 to compensate for the infringement of his copyright. This award was vacated by the Federal Circuit in Gaylord II and the lawsuit remanded with instructions to “determine the fair market value of a license for Mr. Gaylord’s work based on a hypothetical negotiation with the government.”

Upon remand, the trial court split the calculations of damages for the infringement into three categories: (1) stamps used to send mail; (2) commercial merchandise featuring an image of the stamp; and (3) unused stamps purchased by collectors. The parties agreed that no damages would be paid for stamps used to send mail and that a royalty of 10% of revenues would be appropriate for commercial merchandise featuring the copyrighted work.

The only disputed issue was the appropriate measure of copyright infringement damages for the stamps purchased by collectors. The lower court determined that the Postal Service received $5.4 million in revenue, which was deemed “almost pure profit,” from these sales. It then found that an appropriate copyright royalty would be 10%, or $540,000.

At issue in this latest appeal, Gaylord III, is whether this royalty was appropriate. The Federal Circuit applied the “hypothetical negotiation” analysis in reviewing the Court of Federal Claims’ award to Gaylord, stating that “actual damages for copyright infringement may be based on a reasonable royalty representing the fair market value of a license covering the defendant’s use.” Determining that “fair market value,” in turn could be done employing a valuation tool used in the context of patent infringement litigation: a hypothetical negotiation that would determine “the reasonable license fee on which a willing buyer and a willing seller would have agreed for the use taken by the infringer.”

The Federal Circuit held that the lower court neither committed clear error nor abused its discretion in arriving at a 10% royalty rate affirmed the award of $540,000.

Continue reading

Contact Information