Federal Circuit

Federal Circuit - The FindLaw Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


It was a good Monday for Apple. The tech giant won two appeals in the Federal Circuit this week, as that appellate court upheld two decisions rejecting claims by patent licensing companies that Apple had infringed on others' patents.

In one case, a licensing company accused Apple of infringing on its patents for data communications -- in pagers. Apple had accused the company of being a patent troll and described the lawsuit as extortion.

'On Sale' Gets Clarification by Fed Cir. Applying Basic Common Law

Welcome clarification sprang from the Federal Circuit on the issue of what constitutes a good on sale under the 35 U.S.C. sec. 102(b) et seq. Specifically, the court addressed when the "on sale" bar would or would not get triggered on those patents that were filed before the passage of the America Invents Act (AIA).

The legal issue before the courts in this case were not fundamentally about intellectual property, but basic contract law.

Facebook Beats Indacon in Claim Construction Game

Facebook has squeezed out of lower court ruling that the company infringed on a Texas-based software developer's database patent, inelegantly named the "Database system and method for data acquisition and perusal."

Software company Indacon sued Facebook in 2010 alleging that the social media company infringed on patent no. 6,834,276, which it claimed was violated when Facebook integrated linking and searching features into the Facebook interface.

Churrascos are delicious grilled meats found throughout Latin America, as skirt steaks in Puerto Rico, barbecue in Brazil, or slathered in chimichurri in Nicaragua. Churrascos is also a small chain of restaurants which sell, of course, South American grilled meats, along with other dishes. Cordua Restaurants Inc., the owner of the Churrascos chain, sought to register a stylized trademark of that name -- and was denied.

The Federal Circuit upheld that denial recently, finding that the term was too generic to be entitled to trademark protection.

Two summers ago, a unanimous Supreme Court struck down patent protection for a computerized method of reducing "settlement risk" in financial transactions. Since that case, Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, IP attorneys and courts alike have struggled with how to treat software, computerized business methods.

But, the Federal Circuit's recent Enfish ruling may provide some guidance, opening the door to broader patent eligibility for inventions that might otherwise have been rejected for being abstract.

Federal Circuit's Decision Could Invalidate 13,500 Patents

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals stands poised with its finger potentially over the big red button that would potentially invalidate some 13,500 continuation patents filed with the USPTO -- with 13,500 being a conservative number. If the court rules in favor of defendant HTC, right or wrong, it could spell a tidal wave of litigation over continued patents whose applications were filed the same day as the original parent application.

Thinking About Cutting Hair Isn't Patentable, Federal Cir. Rules

More and more it seems that the limitations of what can be patented are defined only by the USPTO's ability to craft walls around petitioner's dance steps -- which are likely patentable. In this piece, we look at the non-precedential case of In re Brown.

So, can you patent a haircutting selection technique? Most likely not, especially if you characterize it the way the Patent Trial and Appeals Board did.

Coleman's Armband Flotation Patent Suit Decided by Federal Circuit

The Federal Circuit dealt recently with one of its more nuanced patent infringement stipulations. In Sports Dimension, Inc. v. Coleman Company, Inc., the circuit court determined that the slight tapering angle and inclusion of flotation armbands were "functional" and not primarily ornamental in nature.

A declaratory judgment of non-infringement in favor of rival petitioner was vacated. It verifies something that patent lawyers already understand: nothing is entirely functional or ornamental on a finished consumer product.

SimpleAir Suit: Google Doesn't Have to Pay $85 Million After All

Google has walked away victorious in a suit brought against it first in 2011 by SimpleAir in which allegations that Google violated patent law with its cloud computing services. Judge Wallach concluded that "no reasonable jury could have found patent infringement" under proper claim construction.

It's shaping up to be a good couple of days for the giant Internet company as it also posted a victory in its legal dispute with GeoTag.

Fossil Magnetic Fastener Suit Clarifies 1999 Lanham Amendment

Most of you are probably not aware that the magnetic fasteners that you have on your bags are all part of a controversial intellectual property case that was just decided. Romag, the patent holder of those magnetic button fasteners successfully brought a suit against Fossil and other companies for selling counterfeits of its fasteners in Fossil bags. But "real" and "fake" can assume different meanings when dealing with certain foreign countries. The company one, but just not as much as it hoped.

The case reaffirms the rules that laches is still a viable defense in IP suits, and that damages awards can be reduced for wanting of willful disregard for trademark rights.