Archive for September, 2021

Muddy Metaphysics of Patent Law

Friday, September 24th, 2021

The evening news here in Colorado shared this video clip the other night of some local bears sparring in a mud puddle. I’m not entirely sure how Federal Circuit panel discussions operate immediately following oral argument; but, I suppose it could be something similar to this. Particularly when inventorship rears its head during a case:

One court has said that the “exact parameters of what constitutes joint inventorship are quite difficult to define. It is one of the muddiest concepts in the muddy metaphysics of patent law.”

In re VerHoef, 888 F.3d 1362, 1365 (Fed. Cir. 2018)(quoting  Mueller Brass Co. v. Reading Indus., Inc., 352 F.Supp. 1357, 1372 (E.D. Pa. 1972)).

Quote of the day

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

The quote of the day comes from the dissent in Scientific Plastic Products, Inc. v. Biotage AG:

It is troubling that the majority and the Board rely on the inventors’ disclosure of the problem their inventions solve as the primary basis for modifying the prior art. This is hindsight of the worst kind, “wherein that which only the invention taught is used against its teacher.” W.L. Gore & Assocs., Inc. v. Garlock, Inc., 721 F.2d 1540, 1553 (Fed.Cir.1983). The patents 1363*1363 do not indicate that leakage was a problem identified in the prior art or a problem known to those of skill in the art. Rather they indicate that the claimed design will avoid leakage. These inventors identified a design problem, articulated it, and solved it. There is absolutely no evidence of the existence of a known leakage problem that would have motivated skilled artisans to modify Yamada. The Board is taking the ingenuity of these inventors and, without any record basis, attributing that knowledge to all skilled artisans as the motivation to make the inventions at issue. Hindsight, hindsight, hindsight.

Scientific Plastic Products, Inc. v. BIOTAGE AB, 766 F.3d 1355 (Fed. Cir. 2014)(J. Moore dissenting).

Senate Confirmation Hearing for Solicitor General Nominee Elizabeth Prelogar

Sunday, September 19th, 2021

The Solicitor General is often referred to as “The Tenth Justice.” I was looking to see if the Solicitor General’s Office had yet filed its requested brief in American Axle and came across this recent Senate confirmation hearing for Solicitor General nominee Elizabeth Prelogar. The introduction begins at the 4:00 minute mark; the questioning begins at the 2:17:20 minute mark.

I thought the discussion of parties that the Solicitor General’s Office consults with before determining its position on a matter, including “agencies with equities” in the matter, was interesting at the 2:36:18 minute mark.

Link to video: [Link].

Judge Cunningham sworn-in

Friday, September 3rd, 2021

The Federal Circuit announced that Judge Tiffany Cunningham was sworn-in on September 1, 2021. More details are available at this link: [Announcement].

Judge Cunningham’s bio is now on the court’s website at this link and reads:

TIFFANY P. CUNNINGHAM was appointed by President Joseph R. Biden in 2021 and assumed duties of her office on September 1, 2021.  Prior to her appointment, she served as trial and appellate counsel for companies and individuals in complex patent and trade secret disputes.  From 2014 to 2021, Judge Cunningham served as a partner at Perkins Coie LLP in Chicago, Illinois.  She also was a member of the Executive Committee of Perkins Coie LLP from 2020 to 2021.  She served as a partner at the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP from 2007 to 2014 and as an associate at the same office from 2002 to 2007.  During her time in private practice, she was recognized on The Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers, and Leading Lawyers lists.  Judge Cunningham clerked from 2001 to 2002 for the Honorable Timothy B. Dyk, Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  

Judge Cunningham received her S.B. in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1998, and her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2001.  She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi honor societies.