A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News In Brief

By Cristina Carapezza

Rosen Wins TV Headrest Patent Suit

Federal Circuit Allows for Declaratory Judgment of Noninfringement for Disclaimed Patent

Federal Circuit Prohibits Third Party Challenges to Patent Application Revivals Under the APA

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Government Agents Indicted for Wire Fraud and Money Laundering in Silk Road Investigation

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Jens Frankenreiter

Two former Drug Enforcement Administration agents have been charged for wire fraud and money laundering in connection with an investigation of Silk Road, a digital black market that allowed people to anonymously buy drugs and other illicit goods using Bitcoin, a digital currency. The two agents were members of the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force and allegedly used their official capacities and resources to steal Bitcoins for their personal gain.

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Mississippi Attorney General’s investigation of Google temporarily halted by federal court

By Lan Du – Edited by Katherine Kwong

On March 2, 2015, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s investigation of Google was halted by a federal court granting Google’s motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate issued the opinion. Judge Wingate found a substantial likelihood that Hood’s investigation violated Google’s First Amendment rights by content regulation of speech and placing limits of public access to information.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Ken Winterbottom

J.P. Morgan Appeal Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction

Court Agrees with USPTO: Settlement Agreements Are Not Grounds for Dismissing Patent Validity Challenges

Attorney Misconduct-Based Fee-Shifting Request Revived in Light of Recent Supreme Court Decision

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Pass the Patented Peas, Please: EPO Upholds Plant Product Patents

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

Everything’s coming up roses for plant patent holders, following the European Patent Office’s recent endorsement of patents for tomato and broccoli plants.  In a March 25, 2015 decision, the Enlarged Board of Appeal held that the European Patent Convention’s Article 53(b) prohibition on patents for production of plants by “essentially biological processes . . . does not have a negative effect on the allowability of a product claim directed to plants.”

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By: Cristina Carapezza

UnknownFederal Circuit Tackles Common Service Mark Question

For the first time, the Federal Circuit addressed a common question in trademark law of what constitutes use in commerce of a service mark. The Federal Circuit ruled in Couture v. Playdom, Inc., No. 2014-1480 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 2, 2015), that advertising or offering of a service alone is not enough to prove use in commerce. The services offered in connection with the mark must actually be provided before a registration can be granted.  David Couture filed an application in 2008 to register the service mark PLAYDOM claiming actual use, and the mark was registered in January 2009.  In February 2009, Playdom Inc., a company acquired by the Walt Disney Company, filed an application to register the identical mark. Noting that Couture did not acquire his first customer and actually perform any of the services he applied for until 2010, the Federal Circuit affirmed cancellation of Couture’s registration.

http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/images/stories/opinions-orders/14-1480.Opinion.2-26-2015.1.PDF

 

Federal Circuit Vacates $101 Million Damages Award in Medtronic Patent Case

The Federal Circuit vacated a $101 million damage award to Medtronic Plc and ordered a new trial to determine damages. The three-judge appellate panel in Warsaw Orthopedic, Inc. v. Nuvasive, Inc., No. 2013-1576 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 2, 2015) affirmed that NuVasive Inc.’s oversized spinal implants and products for minimally invasive spinal surgeries infringed on patents owned by Warsaw Orthopedic Inc., a unit of medical technology company Medtronic Plc. The Federal Circuit said that Warsaw is entitled to royalty sufficient to compensate for the value of the patented technology but was not entitled to recover damages for lost profits and ongoing royalties. The appellate court also upheld that Warsaw infringed one of NuVasive’s patents.

http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/images/stories/opinions-orders/13-1576.Opinion.2-26-2015.1.PDF

 

USDA Not Liable for $10 Million to Subcontractor Building Wireless Broadband Networks

The Federal Circuit affirmed that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not liable for $10 million, the balance owed to construction subcontractor G4S Technology LLC after prime contractor Open Range Communications Inc. went bankrupt. The USDA Rural Utility Service (RUS) agreed to loan Open Range $267 million to finance construction of wireless broadband networks in 540 markets. Open Range told RUS that it would use third-party vendors, but the loan agreement did not provide for direct payment from RUS to third-party vendors. GS4 alleged that the loan agreement’s provision that Open Range maintain a pledged deposit account (PDA) established the government’s intent to ensure subcontractors were paid. However, the Federal Circuit in G4S Technology LLC, v. United States, No. 2014-5078 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 6, 2015), found that the PDA was required to assist the government in reviewing and approving project costs rather than to serve as a mechanism to guarantee that subcontractors were paid.

http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/images/stories/opinions-orders/14-5078.Opinion.3-2-2015.1.PDF

 

Posted On Mar - 8 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Paulius Jurcys Edited by Saukshmya Trichi

Slip opinion

Jury verdict available here

In 2013, Smartflash filed a claim in Southern District of Texas claiming that Apple willfully infringed three of its patents related to digital copyright management, payment method as well as data storage. On February 24, 2015, in Smartflash LLC v. Apple Inc., the federal jury in state of Texas ordered Apple to pay $532.9 million for infringing a patent owned by Texas-based Smartflash Inc.

Procedural history reveals that initially Smartflash sought $852 million compensation. This sum was calculated based on the percentage of sales of Apple devices (iPads, iPods and Macs) which enabled iTunes customers to access and download songs, videos and games. Apple contended that the maximum value of those patents was worth not more than 4.5 million.

During the trial, Apple’s lawyers challenged all issues of the case. Namely, it was argued that patents were invalid, that Smartflash waited unduly long to file a case and that it did not have ultimate control over the patents. More generally, Apple submitted that plaintiff’s claim for $852 in damages was deemed to be “excessive and unsupportable.” Yet, a jury in Texas federal court sided with Smartflash holding that Apple did not “respect” its patents and failed to demonstrate that the patents at stake were invalid.

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Posted On Mar - 5 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Yaping Zhang – Edited by Jenny Choi

On February 13, 2015, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that Andrus Nomm, a computer programmer from Estonia who worked for Megaupload.com from 2007 until his arrest in January 2012, pleaded guilty in connection with his involvement with Megaupload and associated piracy websites. He is sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for conspiring to commit felony copyright infringement. In court papers, Nomm agreed that Mega Conspiracy’s conduct caused more than $400 million loss to copyright holders and that the group gained at least $175 million in proceeds. He also admitted that he was aware of the stored copyright-infringing content on the websites and that he personally downloaded copyright-infringing files from the Mega websites.

Megaupload.com was a file-sharing company established in Hong Kong by Kim Dotcom in 2005 and soon became one of the world’s largest piracy hubs. At one point, it accounted for 4% of all the Internet traffic and had more than one billion total visits, 150 million registered users, and 50 million daily visitors. According to The Guardian, Megaupload made a huge profit by paying people to upload pirated materials and facilitating unsanctioned exchanges of music and movies. On January 19, 2012, the DOJ shut down Megaupload and prosecuted the Mega group, after intense lobbying by the movie and music industries. Afterwards, according to another statement published by The Guardian, the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America brought civil lawsuits targeting Dotcom.

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Posted On Mar - 5 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Anne Woodworth

Report Claims Facebook Privacy Policy in Violation of EU Law

A report by the Centre of Interdisciplinary Law and ICT in Belgium claims that Facebook’s January privacy policy update remains in violation of European consumer protection law.  The authors stated that collection of device information such as location data defies article 5(3) of the EU e-Privacy Directive, requiring “free and informed prior consent before storing or accessing information on an individual’s device.”  The report criticized Facebook for not allowing users to control their appearance in “sponsored stories” and highlighted the inability of users to opt out of location sharing on the app without going through their mobile operating system.  Facebook responded that it’s updated terms and policies expand user control over advertising and comply with EU laws.

FCC Preempts State Laws Limiting City-Provided Internet Service

In a 3-2 vote, the FCC overrode state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that make it difficult for cities to provide internet service independently.  The move is likely to provoke litigation over limits on Federal Power.  In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled in Nixon v. Missouri Municipal League that Section 253 of the Telecommunications Act did not allow for state preemption in a case concerning the blocking of municipal broadband service.  The FCC Chairman said the current action is allowable under Section 706 which mandates the blocking of growth barriers in the broadband market.

Aereo Files Repayment Plan Following Bankruptcy Auction

Last week, eight months after the Supreme Court declared Aereo Inc.’s television streaming business illegal, the company auctioned off intellectual property, technology and other assets for a total of $1.55 million, a much smaller sum than expected.  It’s trademarks, domain names and customer list sold to TiVo for $1 million.  On Friday February 27, the company laid out its plan to repay creditors.  The auction sale is set to be approved in a March 11 hearing, and Aereo hopes to have the repayment plan confirmed by creditors in May.

Posted On Mar - 5 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Amanda Liverzani

UnknownPTO’s Statutory Interpretation on Patent Term Adjustment Upheld 

In Gilead Sciences, Inc. v. Michelle Lee, the Federal Circuit upheld the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (“PTO”) interpretation of a statute addressing the type of applicant conduct factored into a Patent Term Adjustment (“PTA”). 2014-1159 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 26, 2015), slip op. at 16. Gilead argued that the PTO’s PTA calculation for U.S. Patent No. 8,148,374 was based on an arbitrary and capricious interpretation of § 154(b)(2)(C)(i) of the Patent Act, which states that a PTA for delay caused by the PTO is to be offset by the time “the applicant failed to engage in reasonable efforts to conclude prosecution of the application.” Id. at 8 (quoting § 154(b)(2)(C)).  The court rejected Gilead’s argument that, contrary to the PTO’s interpretation, the statute should be read only to include applicant conduct that actually delays prosecution.  Applying the Chevron two-step framework, the court concluded that the PTO’s interpretation was entitled to deference because Congress did not specifically address whether an applicant’s failure to engage in reasonable efforts need actually cause delay, id. at 13, and that the PTO’s interpretation was permissible given the broad language of the statute, id. at 13-14. A timeline of the relevant patent prosecution and further explanation of the court’s decision are available at PatentlyO.

 

Federal Circuit Affirms Garmin Fitness Watches Do Not Infringe on Pacing Patent

The Federal Circuit upheld a district court decision that Garmin’s GPS fitness watches do not infringe on a patent held by Pacing Technologies in Pacing Technologies, LLC v. Garmin International, Inc., 2014-1396 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 18, 2015). The patent at issue, U.S. Patent No. 8,101,843 (“the ‘843 patent”), claims a method for pacing users during activities like running or cycling “by providing the user with a tempo . . . corresponding to the user’s desired pace.” Slip op. at 2.  On appeal, the court considered whether the patent claims were limited to devices that convey pace to the user through a play back mechanism such as a song or flashing lights. Id. at 4.  The Federal Circuit agreed with the district court’s finding that claims of the ‘843 patent were limited to devices with play back features, id. at 5, and subsequently held that Garmin’s fitness watches did not infringe on Pacing Technologies’ patent, id. at 10. For additional commentary see Law360, the National Law Review, and PatentlyO.

 

Online Shopping Cart Patents Deemed Invalid in Infringement Action Against Victoria’s Secret and Avon

 Soverain Software’s patent claims directed to online shopping carts were found invalid due to issue preclusion by the Federal Circuit, reversing the decision of the Eastern District of Texas in an infringement action against Victoria’s Secret and Avon. Soverain Software LLC v. Victoria’s Secret Direct Brand Management, LLC, Avon Products, Inc., 2012-1649, 2012-1650 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 12, 2015), slip op. at 2. The patents involved in the case, U.S. Patent No. 5,715,314 and U.S. Patent No. 5,909,492, were previously found invalid by the Federal Circuit in Soverain Software LLC v. Newegg Inc., 705 F.3d 1332 (Fed. Cir. 2013). Id. The court rejected Soverain’s argument that issue preclusion should not apply in the instant action because Soverain did not have full and fair opportunity to litigate. Id. at 6-14.  Further coverage of the decision and related litigation involving shopping cart patents is available at Ars Technica, IPWatchdog, and Law360.

 

Posted On Mar - 2 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST
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Federal Circuit Flas

By Cristina Carapezza Rosen Wins TV Headrest Patent Suit The Federal Circuit ...

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