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Marvell Case Update: Federal Circuit Waits for SCOTUS to Rule

The Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit has decided to cool its jets with regards to multi-billion dollar case Mellon University v. Marvell Tech, waiting for SCOTUS to make its decision in Halo and several other big-ticket infringement cases.

A Pennsylvania District Court had awarded the University a cool $1.54 billion dollars based on a finding of willful infringement on the part of Marvell. However, the Federal Circuit panel reduced that award, pointing to a number of factors including a finding by the circuit that Marvell had a, objectively reasonable defense to Mellon's claims, and the potential removal of foreign sales based on where sales contracts were executed.

Electric Transmissions Are Not Within USITC's Jurisdiction, Court Rules

The U.S. Federal Circuit's decision in ClearCorrect v. ITC and AlignTech has the potential be one of year's most important copyright / intellectual property cases, significantly outlining the boundaries of what the agency can and cannot oversee.

In the case, the court overturned the U.S. International Trade Commission's determination that "articles" includes electronic data that infringes on a U.S. patent.

The Supreme Court granted cert to two appeals from the Federal Circuit on Monday. Both cases -- the only intellectual property cases the High Court has agreed to hear this year -- challenge the Federal Circuit's two-part test for awarding treble damages in patent infringement cases.

The petitioners' argument is fairly straight forward: the law is simple, granting discretion to the courts in awarding adequate damages; the Federal Circuit's test is far from simple, imposing rigid restrictions on damage awards. If Supreme Court history is our guide, the Federal Circuit won't fair very well.

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.