Court of Appeals Vacates Obviousness Jury Verdict
By Stephanie Weiner – Edited by Evelyn Breithaupt
Callaway Golf Co. v. Acushnet Co., 2009-1076 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 14, 2009)
On August 14, 2009, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the District Court for the District of Delaware’s order of summary judgment for the plaintiff on anticipation and vacated its entry of a jury verdict that a dependent claim was invalid for obviousness, but that the independent claim from which it stemmed was non-obvious. The Federal Circuit determined that the obviousness judgment was based upon irreconcilably inconsistent jury verdicts. This case raises the controversial issue of whether juries are appropriate in patent validity cases.
IP Watchdog notes that while the Federal Circuit decision itself is not surprising, it is rare to see a decision out of the District of Delaware that is so “obviously flawed.” The Patent Prospector examines some of the evidentiary issues raised on appeal. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog gives some useful background of the case. (more…)
Court of Appeals Vacates Obviousness Jury Verdict
By Evan Kubota
Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon Join Opposition to Google Settlement
The New York Times reports that Microsoft, Yahoo, and Amazon have joined library associations, nonprofits, and individuals in opposing the Google Books settlement in The Authors Guild v. Google. The settlement, which would allow Google to provide digital versions of millions of books, still requires court approval and remains the subject of a Department of Justice antitrust investigation. The opposition group, tentatively called the Open Book Alliance, will argue to the Department of Justice that the settlement agreement is anticompetitive.
Internet Law Group Brings Suit Against Unidentified Hackers
“John Doe” suits brought against unidentified Eastern European hackers may offer a glimpse of the hackers’ targets and techniques through subpoenas against defrauded banks. However, the banks may challenge the subpoenas in order to protect customer privacy. Unspam Technologies, a group that recently filed suit against bank hackers in the Eastern District of Virginia, hopes to improve bank security and potentially identify the hackers. The New York Times outlines the stakes and key players in the case, Project Honey Pot v. Does.
Mozilla Versus Microsoft in EU Browser Investigation
Ryan Paul at Ars Technica criticizes Mozilla’s complaints regarding Microsoft’s Internet Explorer bundling and default-setting practices. Paul not only argues that many of Mozilla’s complaints “lack substance,” but also claims that the European Union has no business intervening to encourage competition because Mozilla’s Firefox browser has a 22 percent market share “amidst an increasingly competitive browser market.” In contrast, Mitchell Baker of Mozilla argues that the Firefox browser is at a disadvantage because Internet Explorer has a “uniquely privileged position on Windows installations.”
Federal Circuit Holds Blackboard Patent Claims Invalid for Indefiniteness and Failure to Disclose Sufficient Structure
By Dmitriy Tishyevich – Edited by Amanda Rice
Blackboard, Inc. v. Desire2Learn, Inc., No. 2008-1368, -1396 (Fed. Cir. July 27, 2009)
On July 27, 2009, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas’s partial summary judgment, holding that claims 1 through 35 of the patent were invalid for indefiniteness. However, the court reversed the jury’s finding that Desire2Learn had infringed claims 36 through 38, holding that, under proper construction, these claims were anticipated and rendered obvious by prior art.
Patent law blogs PatentlyO and The Patent Prospector summarize the opinion. Inside Higher Ed provides commentary about the decision. Sakai Blog speculates about Blackboard’s motives and the future of Blackboard’s numerous patent disputes.
Mum’s the Word for Microsoft’s XML Functionality
On August 11, 2009, Judge Davis of the Eastern District of Texas entered final judgment awarding i4i L.P., a Canadian company, approximately $290 million in damages and interest for Microsoft’s willful infringement of i4i’s XML patent. The court also issued a permanent injunction ordering Microsoft to stop selling Word 2003 and 2007 within 60 days unless the infringing functionality has been removed.
Commentators have weighed in on the impact of the injunction and the award. Ars Technica summarizes the order and the background of the case, Patently-O summarizes the injunction, and Peter Zura summarizes Judge Davis’ opinion. ZDNet and ArnNet both argue that the injunction is ultimately unlikely to stop sales of Word.
By Sharona Hakimi
WTO Finds China’s Media Laws Violate International Trade Laws
On August 12, Ars Technica and the New York Times reported that the World Trade Organization ruled against China in a complaint by the United States regarding China’s limitation on imports of songs, movies, and books. The Chinese laws constituting trade violations require that many forms of imported media must be distributed by a single, state-owned company. The laws also limit foreign ownership of Chinese media companies and allow domestic companies to bypass trade censors. Ron Kirk, the US trade representative at the WTO conference in Geneva, said that the “decision promises to level the playing field for American companies working to distribute high-quality entertainment products in China so that legitimate American products can get to market and beat out the pirates.”
Hollywood Group Secures Preliminary Injunction against DVD Copying Software
On August 11, U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Patel issued a preliminary injunction against RealNetworks, barring the company from selling its RealDVD copying software until a jury can decide the issue, CNET News reports. She stated that RealNetworks cannot use fair use as a defense under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or the company’s license with the DVD Copy Control Association, but noted that “[i]t may well be fair use for an individual consumer to store a backup copy of a personally owned DVD on that individual’s computer.” While the decision is seen as a major victory for the Motion Picture Association of America, the Electronic Frontier Foundations views it as a setback for innovators and consumers.
David Kappos Sworn in as New Director of USPTO
Patently-O reports that on August 13, David Kappos was sworn as Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Kappos addressed USPTO employees at the ceremony, pledging to work on “reducing the backlog of unexamined patent applications, cutting pendency dramatically, working off the mounting appeals backlog, [and] improving re-exam processing.” He also projected his goals to secure more stable financial backing or the USPTO, hoping there will be no need to utilize the Office’s new authority to use trademark funds to pay for patent operations. A video of Kappos’s swearing in ceremony is available on the blog Anticipate This!