Intellectual Property Law News - Federal Circuit
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There's nothing surprising about a bad faith patent infringement claim. Patent trolls are legion. Those unscrupulous individuals and companies extort payment against alleged infringers based on shoddy patents or questionable infringement. And while the practice has lead for calls for patent reform, little action has been taken on the federal level.

Vermont recently stepped into that void, suing a patent holder for violations of its state consumer protection act. Those patent holders sought to remove the suit to federal court, on the basis of federal preemption. The Federal Circuit does have jurisdiction to hear those appeals, the Federal Circuit ruled on Wednesday, just not in this case.

The long running patent battle between Apple and Samsung (now in year four) won't be ending anytime soon. Though a federal court had found that Samsung violated Apple's "slide to unlock" and auto-linking patents, it also refused to enjoin Samsung from selling those patent infringing products. According to the court, Apple simply couldn't show that Samsung's patent infringing features were harming its sales.

That was the wrong standard, the Federal Circuit ruled. Apple didn't have to show that a Galaxy phone's slide to unlock feature was directly connected to a loss of sales. A simple loss of sales due to Samsung is enough. Samsung will likely be forced to pull those phones from the market as a result of the ruling.

Contact manufactures can't patent a method for making contact lens material, the Federal Circuit ruled this week. That's because the process used is simply too obvious to be eligible for patent protection, the court found.

The court's ruling came 35 years Dome filed a patent for a method of making lenses which had increased oxygen permeability. When the patent was filed in 1980, contact lens makers were still struggling to move away from the unbreathable plexiglass lenses which were standard in the 70s. While a breakthrough, flexible, breathable polymer lenses were also so obvious at their time of invention that anyone could have made them.

If you've gotten a paternity test or fetal DNA test in the last twenty years, you have probably benefited from the discovery of cell-free fetal DNA, or cffDNA. This DNA is non-cellular bits of DNA floating freely in the blood stream of a pregnant woman, which can be extracted from maternal plasma and serum and tested for paternity and other genetic information.

After cffDNA was discovered, a method of detecting and interpreting it was commercialized by Sequenom and patented by Drs. Dennis Lo and James Wainscoat. Paternity and genetic tests based on cffDNA are significantly less invasive than other forms of testing. Unfortunately for Sequenom, however, those methods are also unpatentable, the Federal Circuit ruled last week.

Apple Verdict Against Samsung Mostly Upheld by Fed. Cir.

Back in 2012, a federal jury awarded Apple a staggering one billion dollars after finding that rival smartphone maker Samsung infringed Apple's design and utility patents, as well as Apple's trade dress.

Samsung appealed to the Federal Circuit, which yesterday handed Samsung a mixed bag. Everything but the trade dress claims could stand, the court said, setting the stage for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Fed. Cir. Invalidates Live TV Patent for Indefiniteness

In September 1997, the patent office issued Patent No. 5,663,757, which allows software to add interactive elements to a live television broadcast; for example, by allowing "impulse purchase transactions with immediate payment." So, basically, you can buy what you see on TV.

In 1997, there was no such thing as a smartphone. But the current holder of that patent, EON Corp. IP Holdings, claimed that watching live TV on a smartphone is the "modern iteration of that patent." And so, they sued AT&T, Sprint, Qualcomm, and so on.

Fed. Cir. Will Rehear Lexmark Ink Cartridge Case En Banc

Well, that's interesting. Yesterday, the Federal Circuit sua sponte ordered an en banc hearing in Lexmark International v. Impression Products, Inc. A three-judge panel just heard oral arguments on March 6, but that apparently wasn't sufficient for the Federal Circuit.

According to the order, the parties must resubmit new briefs and address the applicability of Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons and patent exhaustion in the face of a single-use-and-return restriction. This case is actually pretty huge.

Fed. Cir. Affirms, Reverses Claims in MobileMedia Suit Against Apple

Another day, another patent infringement suit with Apple on the other side of the "v." This time, the plaintiff is a patent licensing company, but slightly different than what we typically see from those kinds of entities.

MobileMedia is a patent licensing company formed by MPEG LA, Nokia, and Sony -- in other words, not one-off companies that make all their money from patent settlements. MobileMedia claimed that Apple's iPhone infringed on 16 of its patents. A jury found that Apple did infringe, but following a renewed motion for JMOL, the district court reversed some parts of the verdict.

Fed. Cir. Upholds Internet Business Method Patent

Over here at FindLaw's Federal Circuit blog, we're no fans of business method patents. Every chance we get, we write about, and celebrate, another Federal Circuit opinion using Alice v. CLS Bank to invalidate phony baloney "on a computer" method patents.

After a string of Alice success stories, in which the Federal Circuit struck patents for regular old, ordinary, analog things done on a computer, the court has upheld a business method patent because the problem the patent sought to solve actually was something unique to the Internet.

A Little Info About the Final Product Doesn't Break EMVR: Fed Cir.

The "entire market value rule" (EMVR) is a way of limiting damages on patent infringement. It requires the prevailing party in a patent infringement case to base its damages only on the value of the infringing component in a device, not the value of the entire device itself.

Ericsson sued big-name makers of network technology like D-Link and Netgear, and computer manufacturers like Toshiba and Dell, claiming they made devices with 802.11n-compliant wireless chips and therefore needed a license.

Ericsson won at trial, but the real question on appeal is whether its damage award broke the EMVR.