Erratum or late recusal?

May 21st, 2017

The recent decision in Atlas Power, LLC v. Commonwealth Edison Co. is curious in that it only shows Judges O’Malley and Hughes as the judges on the decision.  Judge Moore presided over the oral argument.  It is unclear if Judge Moore’s name missing from the decision is just an error or a late recusal without explanation. Usually, the Federal Circuit corrects printing errors relatively quickly.

The court’s opinion is available [here].

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Update:  May 21, 2017

Whoops — my “erratum.”  I see from this IPLaw360 article [Link] that it was indeed a late recusal without explanation.

The oral argument is available [here].

Good marketing

May 12th, 2017

Any enterprising Chinese restaurants located near courthouses or law offices around the country might want to add this fortune to some of their cookies:

Hot bench: In re Chudik

May 12th, 2017

The oral argument of In re Chudik is interesting for several reasons.  The associate solicitor faced a bit of a hot bench from the Federal Circuit panel with questions coming from the get-go.  Judges Reyna and Stoll fired a lot of questions at the Associate Solicitor and even Judge Dyk had some questions challenging the Office’s rejection of the claims.

The case is also interesting in that it deals with the language “arranged to” and whether the Office should interpret that language as structural or functional language.

The oral argument is available [here].

The court’s opinion is available [here].

Oral Argument of the Day: Williamson v. Citrix (2017)

May 10th, 2017

The oral argument of the day comes from the recently decided Williamson v. Citrix case.  The oral argument focuses on patent eligibility issues.  There were two sound bites that I thought would be of particular interest.  In this sound bite, Judge Moore refers to the old Alappat test that new software makes a new computer each time you run it: [Listen]. And, in this sound bite, Judge Moore notes that nobody would be more fond of turning the Alice decision on its head than she would, just show her the path:  [Listen].

The entire oral argument is available [here].

The court’s Rule 36 judgment is available [here].

Supreme Court Oral Argument: Sandoz, Inc. v. Amgen, Inc.

May 6th, 2017

The Supreme Court heard oral argument last week in its final IP case of the term, Sandoz, Inc. v. Amgen, Inc.

The questions presented, as laid out in the Solicitor General’s CVSG brief, are:

The Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009 (BPCIA) establishes an expedited process for licensing “biosimilar” versions of licensed biologic prod- ucts (“reference products”). 42 U.S.C. 262(k). In con- junction with that process, the BPCIA establishes a series of steps for the resolution of potential patent claims by the sponsor of the reference product and the biosimilar applicant. § 262(l ). Among other things, Subsection (l )(2)(A) of Section 262 provides that the applicant “shall provide to” the sponsor a copy of the biosimilar application and information about the prod- uct’s manufacturing processes. Subsection (l )(8)(A) provides that the applicant “shall provide notice to the reference product sponsor not later than 180 days before the date of the first commercial marketing of the biological product licensed under subsection (k).”

1. The questions presented in the certiorari petition are (a) whether notice of commercial marketing under Subsection (l )(8)(A) is legally effective if it is given before Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of the biosimilar application, and, if not, (b) whether Subsection (l )(8)(A) is a stand-alone requirement that may be enforced by means of an injunction that delays the marketing of the biosimilar until 180 days after FDA approval.

2. The question presented in the conditional cross- petition is whether Subsection (l )(2)(A) creates a binding disclosure obligation that a court may enforce by injunction, or whether the sponsor’s sole recourse for the applicant’s failure to disclose the information is the right, prescribed elsewhere in the BPCIA, to commence an immediate action for patent infringement.

The recording of the oral argument is available for download or streaming at this [link].

Plant Patent Infringement

May 4th, 2017

The Docket Report site highlighted the recent summary judgment order in Regents of the University of California v. California Berry Cultivars.  The case offers a trifecta of fun topics:  plant patent infringement, extraterritoriality, and strawberries.  Who doesn’t like strawberries!

The summary judgment order is available [here].

Axiom of the day — Claims construed the same for purposes of assessing patent validity and patent infringement

April 29th, 2017

In the recent oral argument of TVIIM v. McAfee, the appellant argued that claims must be construed the same way for purposes of validity as they are for infringement.  The Federal Circuit acknowledged that principle in its opinion.

I thought it would be interesting to list some of the quotations reciting the principle because I think it might play a role in how the court assesses patent eligibility in future cases.  Namely, if certain panels of the Federal Circuit are going to abridge the construction of claims for purposes of a patent eligibility analysis  –  e.g., “collecting information, analyzing it, and displaying certain results of the collection and analysis” are “a familiar class of claims ‘directed to’ a patent-ineligible concept.” See Elec. Power Grp. v. Alstom, 830 F.3d 1350, 1353 (2016) — the court should prepare itself for bold patent litigants to assert equally abridged constructions in the infringement context.

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Claim terms must be construed the same way for the purpose of determining invalidity and infringement. Amgen Inc. v. Hoechst Marion Roussel, Inc., 314 F.3d 1313, 1330 (Fed. Cir. 2003).

TVIIM, LLC v. McAFEE, INC., No. 2016-1562 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 21, 2017) (Judge Reyna writing for the court).

It is axiomatic that claims are construed the same way for both invalidity and infringement. W.L. Gore & Assoc., Inc. v. Garlock, Inc., 842 F.2d 1275, 1279, 6 USPQ2d 1277, 1280 (Fed.Cir.1988).

Amgen Inc. v. Hoechst Marion Roussel, Inc., 314 F.3d 1313, 1330 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (Judge Michel writing for the court).

Having construed the claims one way for determining their validity, it is axiomatic that the claims must be construed in the same way for infringement. See, e.g., Kimberly-Clark Corp. v. Johnson & Johnson, 745 F.2d 1437, 1449, 223 USPQ 603, 610 (Fed.Cir.1984). The district court was bound by this court’s interpretation of the term “rate of stretch” as the law of the case in deciding infringement on remand.

W.L. Gore & Assoc., Inc. v. Garlock, Inc., 842 F.2d 1275, 1279 (Fed.Cir.1988) (Judge Rich writing for the court).

Regardless of how patent claims may be arrived at during the vicissitudes of prosecution, the invention patented is no more and no less than what the finally issued claims, as construed by the court, define; and they must be construed in the identical way for both infringement and validity. That Roeder may have once thought he could get a claim allowed on the broad idea of merely using two lines of adhesive, or that his attorney may have made the attempt without success, is not determinative of what he finally succeeded in patenting as his invention. The court must consider, on the obviousness issue, only what was granted, not the unsuccessful — and not unusual — attempts at overreaching in the early stages of the patent application prosecution.

Kimberly-Clark Corp. v. Johnson & Johnson, 745 F.2d 1437, 1449 (Fed.Cir.1984) (Judge Rich writing for the court).

Having construed the claims one way for determining validity, it is axiomatic that the claims must be construed in the same way for infringement.

SmithKline Diagnostics, Inc. v. Helena Laboratories Corp., 859 F. 2d 878 (Fed. Cir. 1988) (Judge Nies writing for the court).

Bristol stated its view in response to requests for admission that the claims of each patent would be infringed without a showing of an objective response in every patient. Bristol cannot have an expression be limiting in this context and non-limiting in another. W.L. Gore Assocs., Inc. v. Garlock, Inc., 842 F.2d 1275, 1279, 6 USPQ2d 1277, 1280-81 (Fed.Cir.1988) (”Having construed the claims one way for determining their validity, it is axiomatic that the claims must be construed in the same way for infringement.”). We therefore affirm the district court’s interpretation of “antineoplastically effective amount” as non-limiting.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Ben Venue Labs., Inc., 246 F.3d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 2001) (Judge Lourie writing for the court).

As above indicated, the district court held in its opinion after the first trial that none of the prior art “showed a combination of one fixed and several free floating sprockets, whether mounted on a keyed round shaft or on a square shaft,” and that “it was a known principle . . . that a square shaft could be substituted for a keyed round shaft,” and that “variations on the non-round shaft have been around for years in one application or another,” and that “[T]he essence of patent ‘341 is the need to maintain a positive drive relationship between the sprocket and the belt” in light of expansion caused by temperature fluctuations. Thus, the court, in considering the validity issue, interpreted the claim as drawn to fixed and free floating sprockets on a non-round shaft, without regard to the particular cross sectional shape of the non-round shaft. “Having construed the claims one way for determining their validity, it is axiomatic that the claims must be construed in the same way for infringement.” W.L. Gore & Assoc., Inc. v. Garlock, Inc., 842 F.2d 1275, 1279, 6 USPQ2d 1277, 1280 (Fed.Cir.1988). Here, the district court committed legal error in interpreting claim 1 differently for infringement, i.e., as though it were limited to use of a square or other regular polygonal shaft (”The inventiveness in 341 was putting together the square shaft or other regular polygonal shaft, which gives you a very positive drive mechanism, putting that together with fixing one sprocket and letting others float.”).

Laitram Corp. v. Cambridge Wire Cloth Co., 863 F.2d 855, 9 U.S.P.Q.2d 1289 (Fed. Cir. 1988) (Chief Judge Markey writing for the court).

New USPTO Quick Reference Sheet on Patent Eligibility

April 27th, 2017

The USPTO issued a new Quick Reference Sheet yesterday on its patent eligibility page.  The new eligibility quick reference guide is available here:

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Coe v. U.S.

April 23rd, 2017

I was researching an issue in the Chisum treatise the other day and stumbled upon the Coe v. U.S., 84 F.2d 240 (D.C. Cir. 1936) case.  I thought it might be of historical interest to some.  It was a rare use of a writ of mandamus to require the Patent Office to take action — in the Coe case that action was entry of an amendment.

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COE, Commissioner of Patents,
v.
UNITED STATES ex rel. REMINGTON RAND, Inc.

No. 6607.United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Decided April 27, 1936.241*241 R. F. Whitehead, of Washington, D. C., for appellant.

Charles M. Thomas, of Washington, D. C., and S. E. Darby, Jr., of New York City, for appellee.

Before MARTIN, Chief Justice, and ROBB, VAN ORSDEL, GRONER, and STEPHENS, Associate Justices.

VAN ORSDEL, Associate Justice.

The Commissioner of Patents appeals from an order of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia granting appellee’s petition for a writ of mandamus directing the Commissioner to enter and consider a certain amendment filed on September 20, 1934 to a pending application for patent of one Lasker, serial No. 681,333, filed December 18, 1923 and assigned to the appellee, Remington Rand, Inc.

It appears that, during the period in which the Lasker application was pending in the Patent Office, eight different official actions were had, in five of which new art was cited by the Primary Examiner. It may be assumed that the delay in the consideration of this case by the Patent Office was due to these numerous actions.

After his application was allowed, applicant copied claims from a patent which had been issued to Lake and Storey on September 9, 1930. The Primary Examiner held that Lasker’s application supported certain of the claims, and accordingly, by direction of the Commissioner, an interference was declared involving the Lake and Storey patent. Lake and Storey moved to dissolve the interference, urging the failure of Lasker’s application to support the interference issues. The Examiner of Interferences granted the motion to dissolve, thereby reversing the decision of the Primary Examiner. Lasker then appealed to the Board of Appeals, which affirmed the decision of the Examiner of Interferences, and dissolved the interference.

This operated to restore the Lasker application to the Primary Examiner, where its prosecution was resumed. Upon further hearing the Primary Examiner rejected all claims involved in the interference, including the claims which had been previously allowed to Lasker. Lasker promptly filed an amendment to his application, traversing the new ground of rejection. The amendment included not only matter taken from prior art patents, which had been used as cross-references in the Lasker application as filed, but also additional claims tending to avoid the new ground of rejection found by the Examiner.

The Examiner refused to enter and consider the amendment, although the prosecution of the application was still pending; that is, the case had the status of a regularly pending application. Thereafter the Commissioner refused to enter the amendment, and it is urged that, since no appeal lies from his refusal, the remedy is by mandamus to compel him to order the Examiner to enter and consider the amendment.

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Helsinn v. Teva — Six months and counting

April 20th, 2017

It has been more than six months since the Federal Circuit heard oral argument in Helsinn v. Teva, which dealt with whether the AIA overruled Metallizing Engineering in regard to secret commercial use.  The oral argument was covered by the Written Description blog:  [Link].  Six months+ is quite a long time for the Federal Circuit to take to write an opinion, even with dissents.  Is it too early to wonder if this secretly went en banc?