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The third time is the charm. After being distributed for three judicial conferences, the Supreme Court granted Teva Pharmaceutical's petition for writ of certiorari on Monday.

The Stakes Are High

The Teva case is a patent dispute surrounding the multiple-sclerosis drug Copaxone. Teva Pharmaceuticals holds the patents for Copaxone, and a decision in its favor would keep the patents alive until September 2015. Generic manufacturers want to release their generic drug in May -- which technically they could, under the Federal Circuit's decision. Annual U.S. sales of Copaxone make up more than half of Teva's profit, and reach over $3 billion annually, so there is much at stake for both Teva, and generic manufacturers, reports Blooomberg.

The facts of this case are not terribly exciting. Robert Allen had a payment system used in the automotive industry. With David Gillman's help, he filled out patent paperwork, giving Allen sole inventorship, for using the system to process health care claims. Other licensing agreements and ownership agreements gave Gillman some rights, though it seems most of those rights seemed were transferred to Allen's company, StoneEagle, in 2010.

In 2011, it turned out that the patent was valuable. Gillman got angry, the relationship soured, and StoneEagle sought a declaratory judgment that Allen was the sole inventor and owner of the patent. A defective injunction was issued, then "clarified" in 2013, yet Gillman tried to start a competing venture anyway.

Now, he's appealing the declaratory judgment and injunction.

Another week passed, and still no word whether the Supreme Court will hear a decision originating in the Federal Circuit, that could have an effect on how soon generic versions of a drug show up on the market, reports Reuters. And in more recent Federal Circuit jurisprudence, the court looks at overtime compensation for Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA") air-traffic control specialists.

Teva et al., v. Sandoz, Inc., et al.

Teva manufactures Copaxone, a multiple-sclerosis drug, and has been seeking to delay introduction of generic competing drugs. In a patent infringement claim against Novartis's Sandoz, Mylan and Momenta, the Federal Circuit "upheld four Teva patents that expire in May while invalidating a separate patent that would have blocked generic competition until September 2015," according to Bloomberg.

Some days, it just seems like we should burn down our entire patent system and redesign it from the ground up. Today is one of those days.

How complicated is venue in a patent case? Take a look at Apple. They're in Cupertino, California, right? Except, they have a one-person subsidiary in Luxembourg, which itself has a six-person subsidiary that does nothing but patent work, and is located in the patent plaintiff-friendly Eastern District of Texas.

Where do they sue? Probably Texas, since it's so patent-friendly. Of course, that's probably why they located a new subsidiary there. And when a defendant has to travel to Texas to be sued, well, it's probably too bad. And two recent decisions by the Federal Circuit won't help, as the panel took an already murky procedural question and made it worse.

Google's not off the hook. What a California district court did to get it out of court was undone last week by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Vederi's Patents

The Google product up for debate is Street View. Vederi, LLC sued Google alleging that Google's Street View violates four of Vederi's patents: U.S. Patent Nos. 7,239,760; 7,577,316; 7,805,025; 7,813,596. The four patents together are for a "system and method for creating, storing, and utilizing composite images of a geographic location." That is, they define a method of "generating a composite image that provides a field of view that is wider than that provided by a single image." They all share common specification, and claim priority.

Nautilus v. Biosig Instruments: SCOTUS Oral Arguments Almost Here

With oral arguments slated for April, anticipation continues to build in the U.S. Supreme Court case Nautilus Inc. v. Biosig Instruments Inc.

Stemming from the Federal Circuit, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the legal standard of invalidity for indefiniteness.

Last week the Supreme Court heard arguments in a duo of cases regarding attorney fees in patent cases, and the meaning of the Patent Act's Section 285 language that allows a "court in exceptional cases may award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party." The arguments were concluded before the two-hours allotted for argument, and the most exciting news from the Supreme Court was unrelated to attorney fees, notes SCOTUSblog.

Last time, the question was whether a declaratory judgment action, seeking a ruling of non-infringement, shifted the burden of proof to the party pursuing the ruling (the alleged patent infringer).

This time, the issue again involves a shifting burden of proof, though the issue is complicated by questions of prior art and obviousness.

Last December, the Federal Circuit held that, once an alleged infringer discloses prior art, the burden of proof shifts to the patent holder to demonstrate that the patent should not be deemed obvious on that basis. Now, a petition for rehearing is pending, with amicus briefs attached.

Litigation is a notorious time sucker, but a patent case dragging on for ten years? That's just too long according to the Federal Circuit, who not only vacated and remanded the Patent Trial and Appeal Board ("Board") decision, but urged a "speedy resolution."

Patent 6,554,446 History

Tivoli owns patent 6,554,446 ("'446"), relating to a reflective material "stair-step lighting apparatus" to "alert users to the location of step edges in darkened or low light environments." In 2004, Tivoli sued Tempo for patent infringement, and after an inter partes reexamination, and decision by an examiner, Tivoli appealed to the Board. On February 24, 2012, the Board handed down its decision.

The facts of this case are unremarkable. Medtronic licenses patents from Mirowski for some products. Mirowski noticed that Medtronic was about to release new products, which they claimed infringed upon their patents. They wanted more royalties. Medtronic decided not to wait to be sued and filed a declaratory judgment action, seeking to have a judge rule that the new products didn't implicate the patents at issue.

The trial court ruled in Medtronic's favor, holding that even though they brought the declaratory judgment suit, the burden of proof still fell upon the party alleging infringement. The Federal Circuit disgreed, and reversed, holding that the burden fell on the party that brought the lawsuit.

The Supreme Court, however, disagreed, and shifted the burden of proof back to the patent holder.