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

October 2013 Archives

Sometimes we read a patent case and we just want to skip it because our eyes begin to glaze over at the sight of numbers and graphs (there's a reason why we went to law school, no?). But, when it comes down to it, you have to cut through the thicket of mathematical equations and get to the root of the matter. Today, we did just that, so you don't have to. You're welcome.

Here's the latest case in patent litigation coming out of the Federal Circuit.

Sequester, debt-ceilings, defaults and bailouts. When will it end? Since 2008, the markets have been in a constant state of doubt and upheaval, and because of the delays of litigation, we're still hearing about 2008 bailouts now.

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled that Ben Bernanke could be deposed about his involvement in his decision to bailout AIG in 2008. The government swiftly filed a petition for writ of mandamus, which the Federal Circuit granted.

Patent Exhaustion Ironically Dooms Keurig's Coffee Pod Claims

We've all seen those Keurig coffee makers. Insert a "pod" or "K-cup" into the machine. It shoots hot water through the cup. One serving of coffee is produced. It's basically a super-fast single-serving coffee maker, except those pods cost way more than traditional drip makers. Seeking to cash in on the single-serve market, other companies, including Sturm (under the name "Grove Square"), have introduced their own pods.

The stakes, for Keurig, are high. Motley Fool notes that prior to their 2011 patent expiration, they held 100 percent of market. Green Mountain Coffee (the parent company of Keurig) brings in $2.4 billion in single-serve revenue, or 73 percent of the company's total revenue. Since 2011, competitors have chipped out 8 percent of the market share in recent years.

Litigation that has been ongoing for twelve-years is finally over (unless the loser appeals to the Supreme Court), with the Federal Circuit resolving a case involving streaming video system technology, reports Globe Newswire.

While the technology in dispute may be difficult to comprehend, the Federal Circuit was clear in clarifying its previous en banc decision in TiVo Inc. v. EchoStar Corp.

Is SCOTUS Fixin' to Fix Fee-Shifting in the Federal Circuit?

In its petition for certiorari, Octane Fitness referenced a study that shows that attorney fees are granted in only about 1 percent of all patent cases that are filed, with plaintiffs (typically patent owners) being twice as likely as defendants (typically, the alleged infringers) to prevail. They also quote another study, which shows that the median cost of a patent litigation battle is $2.5 million for cases where the amount in dispute is up to $25 million.

Why is fee-shifting so rare, especially when the cost of litigation is so high? Surely, more than 1 percent of cases are blatantly frivolous. One reason is that fee-shifting is an exceptional remedy only applied in exceptional cases, per the authorizing statute, 35 U.S.C. § 285.

Remember playing the game hot potato as a kid? Well, this patent infringement case set for oral argument in November before the Supreme Court is very similar -- except, instead of a hot potato, the parties want to hand off the burden of proof.

Who knew that the perfume packaging industry was so competitive? Well, it appears it is.

Invisible Dip Tubes

MeadWestVaco Corp. ("MWV") was the first player in the beauty industry to develop an invisible dip tube for perfume bottle dispensers. Normally, when the dispenser dip tube is immersed in the fragrance, you can still see the dip tube. To enhance the aesthetics of the perfume bottle, MWV designed a dip tube that became "invisible" once immersed in the fragrance, the NoC® (cleverly pronounced "no see"). MWV patented the dip tube: 7,722,819 ("'819") and 7,718,132 ("'132"), the continuation of the '819 patent.