In a recent landmark ruling, the Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, held that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act’s ban on “disparaging” marks violates the First Amendment. Section 2(a) provides that no trademark shall be refused registration “unless it consists of or comprises . . . matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols[.]” The majority found that the government’s prohibition of registration of disparaging marks “amounts to viewpoint discrimination, and under the strict scrutiny review, . . . is unconstitutional.” It further concluded that such prohibition is unconstitutional even under the intermediate scrutiny review because the government offered no legitimate interests to justify such prohibition.
On February 11, 2016, Glaser Weil Partner, Mieke Malmberg, presented a one hour webinar sponsored by the State Bar of California on the use of the Federal Circuit’s Model order on electronic discovery in patent cases.
Recently, the Federal Circuit, for a second time this year, evaluated infringement of a method claim. The Court, vacating the recent panel decision in May, outlined the governing framework for direct infringement of a method claim. It held that direct infringement occurs “where all steps of a claimed method are performed by or attributable to a single entity.” This holding is significant because proving direct infringement of a method claim where steps of the method are performed by more than one party no longer requires the parties to be in principal-agent or contractual relationships, or joint enterprise, as demanded by the vacated panel decision.
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 June 12, 2015, the Federal Circuit issued its decision in Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc. v. Sequenom, Inc., finding that Sequenom’s patent claiming methods of using cell-free fetal DNA (“cffDNA”) for prenatal diagnosis test is patent ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The Sequenom’s patent is directed to a revolutionary finding that there is cffDNA in the blood stream of a pregnant woman. The presence of cffDNA in maternal blood samples provides a safer, cheaper, and faster alternative to the conventional invasive methods to determine fetal genetic abnormalities, such as Down Syndrome. Several popular prenatal diagnosis tests, including Sequenom’s MaterniT21 and Ariosa’s Harmony, embody Sequenom’s discovery.
In In re Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC, the first ever appeal of the final written decision from an inter partes review (“IPR”) before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB” or the “Board”), the Federal Circuit decided two novel and fundamental questions arising under the newly enacted IPR proceedings created by the America Invents Act of 2011 (“AIA”). On both issues, the Federal Circuit agreed with the PTO, holding (1) institution decisions by the Board are almost never reviewable on appeal, either interlocutory or after the Board’s final written decision, and (2) that the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard is the proper standard for claim construction in IPR proceedings.
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.
Patents claiming inventions which must be used to comply with certain technical standards (for example, the Wi-Fi standard or standards for 3G) are referred to as standards-essential patents or “SEPs”. There has, historically, been little judicial guidance concerning damages in cases where SEPs are implicated. The recent Federal Circuit ruling in Ericsson, Inc. v. D-Link Sys., Inc., finally provides some guidance on the issue of determining damages in such cases. No. 2013-1625, 2014 WL 6804864 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 4, 2014). In addition to providing insight on several apportionment issues specific to SEPs, the court also held that simply reciting all Georgia-Pacific factors to a jury is unacceptable and that jury instructions must only include the specific factors relevant to the evidence presented.