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

Recently in Intellectual Property Law Category

William Adams, also known as will.i.am and the frontman for the hip-hop group The Black Eyed Peas, has lost his appeal challenging the denial of the "I AM" trademark registration. Adams' company, i.am.symbollic, llc already holds the I AM mark for some goods and services, and was seeking to expand intro product categories where the mark has already been used.

Sadly for the artist and entrepreneur, his attorneys were not able to convince the appellate court that the trademark examiners made a mistake. Even their bold argument that the extent of will.i.am's fame and his I AM mark's notoriety created a "reverse confusion" situation could not win the day over previously registered I AM trademarks in the categories in which i.am.symbollic sought protection.

The Podcasting Patent Is 'Totally Dead'

A federal appeals court knocked out a patent troll's claims against podcasters.

In Personal Audio v. Electronic Frontier Foundation, the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision that invalidated Personal Audio's "podcasting patent." The company had threatened numerous podcasters in recent years, and forced some into settlements.

The court ruling ended the patent troll's seven-year reign over podcasters, with industry observers claiming "the podcasting patent is totally dead."

It seems that no matter how much legal pillow talk (a.k.a. pleading) Amazon's lawyers attempt, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is not interested in making the pro-Amazon no pillow infringement ruling precedential.

The case that Amazon wants to be able to rely on is Milo & Gabby llc v. Amazon.com. The case involved a product manufacturer's claims for damages against Amazon for trademark and copyright infringement due to the counterfeiting of third party sellers on Amazon's Seller Marketplace. Basically, a fun kids pillowcase manufacturer alleged that Amazon profited by allowing Seller's Marketplace counterfeits of their products to be sold. The court agreed with Amazon in the case, but did not issue a precedent-setting ruling.

It's one of the biggest disputes in biotech and a billion dollar question: Who owns the intellectual property behind CRISPR-Cas9, the groundbreaking gene-editing technology? The technique allows researchers to edit specific parts of a genome, removing, adding, or altering DNA. It could be the future of biotech, allowing everything from bespoke medical treatments to designer crops or even genetically superior Ubermenschen.

But both the University of California, Berkeley and the Broad Institute have claimed the technique as their own. Broad won an early battle in the USPTO in February, and now the conflict could be on its way up to the Federal Circuit.

Federal Circuit Rules PTAB's Definition of CBM Patent Is Too Broad

Patent attorneys may be wondering where to go after a federal appeals court upended a decision involving location services on mobile devices.

In a unanimous decision, the appeals court ruled that a patent review board had overstepped its authority in denying the patent as a "covered business method." Judge Jimmie Reyna said the board used an overbroad definition that would have allowed the board to consider challenges to virtually any device that could be used in commerce. He said, in essence, that it is not a covered business method just because it could result in a sale.

"Take, for example, a patent for an apparatus for digging ditches," he wrote in the decision for Unwired Planet, LLC. "Does the sale of the dirt that results from use of the ditch digger render the patent a CBM patent? No ..."

In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that certain software patents were "abstract ideas," ineligible for patent protection, despite requiring the use of a computer for implementation. In the subsequent years, that decision, Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank, and the two-part test it established, has been used to invalidate a host of software patents. Yet, in a handful of decisions, the Federal Circuit has taken a more permissive approach, reversing lower court invalidations and holding that the abstract idea test did not render specific software patents ineligible.

The Federal Circuit did so again this Tuesday, reversing the invalidation of patents that were "parts of a system designed to solve an accounting and billing problem faced by network service providers," and exposing a growing rift between the Federal Circuit judges.

It was a good Monday for Apple. The tech giant won two appeals in the Federal Circuit this week, as that appellate court upheld two decisions rejecting claims by patent licensing companies that Apple had infringed on others' patents.

In one case, a licensing company accused Apple of infringing on its patents for data communications -- in pagers. Apple had accused the company of being a patent troll and described the lawsuit as extortion.

'On Sale' Gets Clarification by Fed Cir. Applying Basic Common Law

Welcome clarification sprang from the Federal Circuit on the issue of what constitutes a good on sale under the 35 U.S.C. sec. 102(b) et seq. Specifically, the court addressed when the "on sale" bar would or would not get triggered on those patents that were filed before the passage of the America Invents Act (AIA).

The legal issue before the courts in this case were not fundamentally about intellectual property, but basic contract law.

Facebook Beats Indacon in Claim Construction Game

Facebook has squeezed out of lower court ruling that the company infringed on a Texas-based software developer's database patent, inelegantly named the "Database system and method for data acquisition and perusal."

Software company Indacon sued Facebook in 2010 alleging that the social media company infringed on patent no. 6,834,276, which it claimed was violated when Facebook integrated linking and searching features into the Facebook interface.

Churrascos are delicious grilled meats found throughout Latin America, as skirt steaks in Puerto Rico, barbecue in Brazil, or slathered in chimichurri in Nicaragua. Churrascos is also a small chain of restaurants which sell, of course, South American grilled meats, along with other dishes. Cordua Restaurants Inc., the owner of the Churrascos chain, sought to register a stylized trademark of that name -- and was denied.

The Federal Circuit upheld that denial recently, finding that the term was too generic to be entitled to trademark protection.