Audio of Supreme Court oral argument in Iancu v. Brunetti

April 20th, 2019

The Supreme Court has released the audio recording of the oral argument in Iancu v. Brunetti — the case that addresses whether the USPTO must register scandalous marks.

The recording of the oral argument is available here:

The transcript of the oral argument is available here: [Transcript].

Kingston files brief in Polaris v. Kingston and addresses the role of PTAB judges

April 17th, 2019

Kingston filed its brief this week in the Polaris v. Kingston case pending at the Federal Circuit. The brief had some sort of informality and has not been accepted yet by the court; but, I thought it was worth posting anyway. You can review the brief here:

As I mentioned before, it will be interesting to follow this case. Kingston’s brief not surprisingly agrees with the DOJ’s brief that PTAB judges are inferior officers under the control of the Director. Therefore, the argument goes that they do not need to be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, in contrast to Polaris’ position.

I thought it was interesting that the brief mentions that the Director currently sits on some IPR panels:

Indeed, the Director currently sits on a number of active IPR panels. See, e.g.Valve Corp. v. Elec. Scripting Prods., Inc., IPR2019-00062, -00063, -00064, -00065, -00074, -00084; HTC Corp. et al v. Elec. Scripting Prods., Inc., IPR2018-01031; -01032; Lite-On Tech. Corp. v. Darfon Elecs. Corp., IPR2018-01062.

Pending case of note: Polaris v. Kingston

April 10th, 2019

There is an interesting case wending its way through the briefing process at the Federal Circuit, Polaris v. Kingston. In its opening brief Polaris asserts that APJ’s cannot extinguish patent rights via an IPR because they have not been appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

The USPTO has intervened in the case. In its brief filed last week, the USPTO asserts that APJ’s are “Inferior Officers whose appointment Congress permissibly vested in the Secretary of Commerce.”

It sounds as if this will be an interesting case to follow.

Polaris’ opening brief is available here:

The USPTO’s intervenor brief is available here:

Blue or otherwise Yellow

April 3rd, 2019

The oral argument of the day comes from BLACKBIRD TECH LLC v. LULULEMON ATHLETICA, INC., No. 2017-2350 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 6, 2018). One of the issues on appeal was how the following statement in the specification should be interpreted:

“Typically the sports bra will be constructed of two or more plies of material sewn or otherwise laminated together to provide sufficient tensile strength”

Should it be interpreted as the patent drafter being a lexicographer and redefining “laminated” to include “sewn”? The oral argument suggests that Judges Dyk, Wallach, and Hughes did not agree that such a statement was enough to make “sewn” a species of the genus “laminated.” However, the Rule 36 Judgment is rather brief on that topic.

There is an interesting similarity in the Blackbird language to the language that was in dispute in the Helsinn v. Teva case:

“invention [that] was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention”

and whether the use of “otherwise” put a gloss on the “on sale” language.

You can listen to the oral argument here:

Prime Minister’s Questions

April 2nd, 2019

If you enjoy listening to the point-counterpoint exchange during oral arguments, you might also enjoy watching the debates that take place on the floor of Britain’s Parliament each week. Each Wednesday, the Prime Minister fields questions from Parliament. The sessions tend to be rather raucous. Here’s the most recent one:

You can see previous sessions at this [link].

Using dependent claims to emphasize that an alleged claim term is structural and not MPF

March 29th, 2019

I think a lot of practitioners will take note of Chief Judge Prost’s precedential opinion for the court today in TEK Global, S.R.L., et al. v. Sealant Systems Int’l. Inc., et al. In assessing whether a phrase invoked 112¶6/112¶(f), Chief Judge Prost looked to the dependent claims to see if they indicated that the purported means plus function phrase was structural:

Even more, the dependent claims suggest that § 112, ¶ 6 does not govern. Indeed, they “add limitations that either describe particular structural features or flesh out whether the term has a particular structural meaning.”Diebold, 899 F.3d at 1298. For example, dependent claim 27 recites “at least one of said conduits . . . comprises a hose.” ’110 patent col. 8 ll. 12–14. And SSI does not dispute that the “hose” disclosed in the ’110 patent is structural.

You can read Chief Judge Prost’s precedential opinion for the court [here].

You can read the referenced Diebold Nixdorf v. ITC opinion [here].

The PTO might want to take note that its recent guidance entitled “Examining Computer-Implemented Functional Claim Limitations for Compliance with 35 U.S.C. 112” does not mention the Diebold case from August 2018 nor the use of dependent claims to analyze purported MPF terms. A discussion of Diebold and TEK Global would be a useful addition to the recent guidance.

Article suggestion

March 28th, 2019

I don’t know if the data is available; but, I think it would be a powerful article if someone could tabulate the number of patent eligibility rejections that have been made in the past year relative to inventor city. Interested advocates could then send the data to each congressional member. A congressional member might have a heightened awareness when he/she realized how many inventors, businesses, potential businesses, and potential jobs in that congressional member’s city are being impacted by the patent eligibility quagmire.

Chimeric hindsight

March 18th, 2019

I was talking with one of my clients today about how patent law allows multiple references to be combined together. His mind immediately jumped to the mythological Chimera — a fire-breathing creature formed from the body of a lion, head of a goat, and tail of a snake. That struck me as quite an appropriate characterization of many §103 invalidity arguments — three things that have nothing to do with one another that are merely cobbled together to make a fire-breathing monstrosity.

I checked the CCPA and CAFC decisions and do not see any references to the mythological Chimera. Perhaps a decision in the future will note that “the section 103 analysis relied upon Chimeric hindsight and is therefore reversed.”

See also [Frankenstraction].

USPTO Helsinn Memorandum

February 28th, 2019

The USPTO has issued a memorandum to the patent examining corps in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Helsinn Healthcare, S.A. v. Teva Pharamaceuticals USA, Inc.

The memorandum is available at this [link].

Audio of Supreme Court Oral Argument in Return Mail, Inc. v. United States Postal Service

February 27th, 2019

The Supreme Court of the United States heard oral argument in the case of Return Mail, Inc. v. United States Postal Service last week. You can listen to the recording of the oral argument here: