Federal Circuit

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Apple v. Samsung Returns to District Court

When it comes to a phone and its components, what is the "article of manufacture?"

In the Apple v. Samsung patent infringement case, the U.S. Supreme Court said last year that it could be a product or a component of the product. The decision upended Apple's $399 million judgment against Samsung based on the phone's entire design.

The Supreme Court did not define "the article of manufacture" for calculating damages in the case, however. The justices sent that determination back to the court of appeals.

On remand, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit this week rejected arguments from both Apple and Samsung on the question. Instead, the appeals panel sent the issue back to the trial judge.

"While Apple requests continued panel review, Samsung requests that we remand to the district court for a new trial on damages," the court said. " Instead, we remand this case to the district court for further proceedings, which may or may not include a new damages trial."

Court Cuts Back at PTO on Scalpel Invention

A federal appeals court has breathed life into a doctor's patent claim for a scalpel that helps surgeons repair torn knee ligaments and other injuries.

The U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals said the Patent and Trademark Office wrongfully denied the doctor's patent by shifting the burden on him to continue his claim. The trademark examiner and board said that a prior invention could perform the same function, but the appeals court said the doctor had done enough to show his scalpel design worked differently.

"For that reason, the examiner failed to make the necessary prima facie showing to shift the burden of going forward to applicant," the court said.

Federal Circuit Rules PTAB's Definition of CBM Patent Is Too Broad

Patent attorneys may be wondering where to go after a federal appeals court upended a decision involving location services on mobile devices.

In a unanimous decision, the appeals court ruled that a patent review board had overstepped its authority in denying the patent as a "covered business method." Judge Jimmie Reyna said the board used an overbroad definition that would have allowed the board to consider challenges to virtually any device that could be used in commerce. He said, in essence, that it is not a covered business method just because it could result in a sale.

"Take, for example, a patent for an apparatus for digging ditches," he wrote in the decision for Unwired Planet, LLC. "Does the sale of the dirt that results from use of the ditch digger render the patent a CBM patent? No ..."

In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that certain software patents were "abstract ideas," ineligible for patent protection, despite requiring the use of a computer for implementation. In the subsequent years, that decision, Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank, and the two-part test it established, has been used to invalidate a host of software patents. Yet, in a handful of decisions, the Federal Circuit has taken a more permissive approach, reversing lower court invalidations and holding that the abstract idea test did not render specific software patents ineligible.

The Federal Circuit did so again this Tuesday, reversing the invalidation of patents that were "parts of a system designed to solve an accounting and billing problem faced by network service providers," and exposing a growing rift between the Federal Circuit judges.

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.