Through its recent decision in Halo Elecs., Inc. v. Pulse Elecs., Inc., the Supreme Court discarded the mechanical two-part test governing enhanced damages fashioned by the Federal Circuit in Seagate, and gave district courts broad discretion to decide when to award enhanced damages in cases involving willful patent infringement. The Supreme Court also held that enhanced damages do not need to be proven by clear and convincing evidence, but only by a preponderance of the evidence. While this will make it easier for plaintiffs to obtain enhanced patent damages involving willful patent infringement, the high court made it clear that enhanced damages should still be reserved for cases involving egregious infringement behavior.
As most practitioners know, even a duly issued patent can be invalidated under 35 U.S.C. § 101 if the patent’s claims are directed to a “patent-ineligible concept,” such as an abstract idea. Yet, trying to anticipate whether a patent claim will actually be invalidated under § 101 remains as difficult as ever. The dispute between Global Cash Access, Inc. (“Global Cash”) and NRT Technology Corp. (“NRT”) involving U.S. Patent No. 6,081,792 (the “’792 Patent”) is illustrative.
In last week’s 6-5 decision in SCA Hygiene Prod. v. First Quality Baby Prod., LLC, No. 2013-1564, 2015 WL 5474261 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 18, 2015), the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, reaffirmed that laches remains a viable defense in patent infringement lawsuits. The decision was reached despite the relatively recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 1962 (2014), where the high court struck laches as an available copyright infringement defense. However, the Federal Circuit’s sharp divide on this issue suggests that further review by the U.S. Supreme Court may be on its way.
In Internet Patents Corp. v. Active Networks, the Federal Circuit affirmed yet another dismissal of a patent infringement lawsuit due to the asserted patent being invalid for lacking patent eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Here, the sole patent-in-suit, U.S. Patent No. 7,707,505 (the “’505 Patent”), was generally directed to the use of a web browser Back and Forth navigational functionalities without data loss in an online application consisting of dynamically generated webpages. Claim 1 of the ’505 Patent recites:
On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc. partially modifying the standard of review to be applied by the Federal Circuit when reviewing a district court’s construction of a claim term. Prior to Teva, the Federal Circuit applied a de novo standard for claim construction review. Now, based on the Teva decision, the Federal Circuit must apply a “clear error” standard for factual questions, and a de novo standard for legal questions when reviewing a claim construction on appeal.
Through its recent decision in Stryker Corp. v. Zimmer, Inc., the Federal Circuit gave Zimmer an early Christmas gift worth approximately $140 million by reversing a district court’s determination of willfulness and vacating a corresponding award of trebled damages against Zimmer. The reversal was based on the Federal Circuit’s finding that the noninfringement and invalidity defenses raised by Zimmer were “not objectively unreasonable.”
In its most recent decision in Ultramercial, Inc. v. Hulu, the Federal Circuit finally concluded that the claims-at-issue do not cover patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. This comes after two prior decisions by the Federal Circuit reaching the opposite conclusion, and two orders from the U.S. Supreme Court instructing the Federal Circuit to reconsider those two decisions.
Co-owning any piece of property can lead to unwanted and unexpected headaches. And as demonstrated by the Federal Circuit in STC.UNM v. Intel Corp., Fed. Cir. No. 2013-1241, this is especially true with respect to co-ownership of patents. Here, the Federal Circuit held that STC lacked standing to bring its patent infringement lawsuit against Intel because Sandia Corp., a co-owner of the patent-in-suit, refused to voluntarily join the lawsuit, and could not be involuntarily joined under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19(a).
PTAB Issues First Precedential Opinion in an AIA Post-Grant Proceeding
In its highly anticipated decision in Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that an abstract idea is not patentable simply because it is implemented on a computer.