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

May 2013 Archives

Snowplows and iPhones: What Do They Have in Common?

When Douglas Dynamics was decided last week, it seemed like a snoozer at first. But upon closer reading, there's actually an interesting discussion about injuncitons and what constitutes irreparable injury.

DD designed a snowplow that revolutionized the detachable snowplow industry. Their mount was simple, could be detached without disassembling everything, and the mount -- which remains on the truck -- didn't protrude awkwardly (and unsafely) past the bumper. A detachable plow also means less wear-and-tear on the truck's suspension.

Glorious.

Then Buyers Products came along with a cheaper version and snatched up 5% of the market share.

Patent Infringement That Happens in Taiwan, Stays in Taiwan

Wheelabrator designs, sells, and licenses some process (phosphate-based treatment systems) that keep heavy metals from industrial waste (such as incinerator ash) from leaching into drinking water. Forrester does too. Both have patents on their proprietary methods.

Wheelabrator licensed its system to a company that sublicensed it to a Taiwanese company, Kobin. That company was unhappy with the product, however, because it stank. Forrester, meanwhile, took that opportunity to develop a less smelly alternative, which it sold to Kobin, despite the existing deal with Wheelabrator.

This week, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals said "game over" to an infringement claim filed against Nintendo. The action was brought by Motiva, an American company that claimed to have beat Nintendo to the technology used in the Wii gaming console.

Motiva filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC), claiming Nintendo had infringed its patents to track a game user's movements. The Commission rejected the claim, holding that Motiva hadn't taken affirmative steps to capitalize on the technology. On Monday, the Federal Circuit affirmed the Commission's finding.

Allergan, a specialty pharmaceutical company, has been battling it out in court with fellow pharmaceutical maker Sandoz over the right to sell a generic version of Allergan's popular glaucoma drug, Combigan. Last week, the Federal Circuit reversed a district court's ruling that many of Allergan's patent claims were nonobvious under 35 U.S.C. §103.

While most of Allergan's claims were deemed obvious, the Federal Circuit court upheld a method claim because it arguably involves a nonobvious result. Sandoz is consequently barred from entering the market until the Combigan patent in question expires in 2022.

The most interesting part of the case, however, may be Judge Dyk's dissent, in which he argues that the method claim is invalid because it's merely a "discovered result of an existing method or use."

AIA Increases Need for Patent Attorneys, But Not Patent Litigators

The common refrain these days is that going to law school is a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad idea. There just aren’t any jobs.

Perhaps the real issue is not that there aren’t any jobs; it’s that the only jobs are going to that rare breed of lawyers that understands math and science: patent lawyers.

According to data compiled by Peer Monitor, demand for intellectual property patent work rose 5.1 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2013, Thomson Reuters reports.