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

Recently in Intellectual Property Law Category

In what is shaping up to be one of the most important software copyright cases of 2018, the Bikram Yoga case, decided by the Ninth Circuit in 2015, may prove to be pivotal in the battle between Cisco and Arista.

The fight between Cisco and Arista is over code that Cisco alleges to have created and thus believes deserves copyright protection. However, Arista and several amici contend that the sections of code Cisco seeks to protect are not creative or unique enough to merit copyright protection. A jury also ruled against Cisco on the same issue. Interestingly, how Bikram Yoga fits into this all is a little less curious than it all sounds.

Some cases defy expectations. In Re: Erik Brunetti is exactly one of those cases. Brunetti sought to register his clothing brand's trademark with the US PTO. However, his trademark application was rejected due to section 2(a)'s prohibition on immoral and offensive trademarks. After all, his brand name is FUCT.

Surprisingly though, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that section 2(a) was unconstitutional as an impermissible First Amendment restriction. It held that the restriction on immoral or offensive marks was a content based restriction that could not pass strict scrutiny. And if that's not surprising enough, the opinion is filled with a fascinating discussion of trademark morality.

Below, you can read some of the highlights from the case.

When it comes to the so-called patent dance, state law cannot be invoked to force a party to be a dance partner. At least, that's how the recent Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decision in Amgen v. Sandoz is being interpreted.

If that case name sounds familiar, that's because these two have been battling it out for some time and have been making headlines in pharma and patent circles. Most notably, the pair of litigants recently had SCOTUS opine on their case. However, the High Court merely struck down the injunction granted by the district court and remanded the matter as to the state law claims of unfair competition stemming from Sandoz's alleged strategic refusal to engage in the "patent dance."

Hulu Wins for Streaming Services

A federal appeals court pressed rewind for Hulu and other streaming companies, which means the shows will go on.

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board had ruled against the companies last year over a technology for users to transfer streaming sessions from one device to another. The board found in favor of a research firm that had sued the companies for infringing on its patent to the technology.

But in CRFD Research, Inc. v. Matal, the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals reversed.

The Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit explained in the recent In Re: Micron Technology opinion that the huge SCOTUS TC Heartland decision effectively changed the law on venue in patent cases. That change is causing ripple effects for cases in active litigation, and the ripples might take some time to work their way out of the system.

Essentially, SCOTUS ruled in TC Heartland to limit patent infringement venue to the location of the infringement or the infringer's principal place of business. Because of that ruling, scores of patent cases became eligible for dismissal on grounds of improper venue. But there's a catch, and the Federal Circuit has made it a little easier for those on the receiving end of an infringement case.

In a recent case out of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeal applying the Alice v. CLS standard, the appellant unsuccessfully sought to overturn a district court's dismissal. The case, Two-Way Media LTD. v. Comcast Cable Communications, was dismissed as the district court found the patent claims ineligible for protection under section 101.

In short, the court relied on the rational in Alice to determine that Two-Way Media's patent claims were directed at abstract ideas and did not contain the necessary additional elements required to transform the nature of the claims into ones that are patent eligible.

Not all Silicon Valley legal disputes get handled in California. Google has found itself in front of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals quite a bit recently, particularly as the tech giant's self-driving car division, Waymo, has started to take off.

If you're wondering why, the answer is rather simple: The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals is home to more patent cases than any other federal appellate court because it's the only circuit court of appeals with jurisdiction over patent appeals. And naturally, tech companies are going to fight over tech patents. Fortunately, this means the judges on the court are usually rather well suited to hearing cases involving tech companies.

Below are three recent Google cases at the Federal Circuit.

Federal Circuit Shifts Burden of Proof in Patent Challenges

Who'd have thought an automatic swimming pool cleaner would make such a splash on patent law?

But such is the case in Aqua Products, Inc. v. Matal after a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Divided on the core question of a patent owner's ability to amend claims, the appeals court issued what it called a "narrow" opinion.

The justices said a petitioner in an inter parties review has the burden to prove unpatentability in amended claims. That changes everything.

Thanks to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and a recent SCOTUS decision, a patent infringement case filed by Raytheon against Cray Inc. in the Eastern District of Texas is being sent to the federal district court in Cray's home state of Washington.

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals followed the U.S. Supreme Court precedent established in TC Heartland v. Kraft to explain that the one salesman Cray had within the Eastern District of Texas did not satisfy the venue requirements established by TC Heartland. This ruling reversed the lower district court's ruling dismissing the challenge to venue, while contemporaneously transferring the venue.

Waymo v. Uber Headed to Trial

Uber just missed its last exit before a trial that threatens the company's self-driving technology.

The company wanted to push the case into arbitration, but a federal judge denied its request. Trial is set to begin Oct. 10 in Waymo, LLC v. Uber Technologies, Inc.

There's always a chance for a continuance, but that's not likely. Judge William Alsup is ready to go, and the orders are falling into place.