Converting an IPR Loss into a District Court Win

It is very common to defend against a claim of patent infringement by litigating in the district court and the PTAB in parallel. The most straightforward-way for the defendant to win is to persuade the PTAB that the asserted patent is invalid. But, that is becoming more difficult as Director Iancu pushes the PTAB to apply greater scrutiny to petitions in order to address patent owner criticism that the PTAB proceedings are unfair. However, a recent decision disposing of a non-practicing entity’s long-running litigation against Ubisoft highlights how a defendant that ultimately lost on an issue before the PTAB can use the loss to their advantage in district court. Continue Reading

Framing Your Pitch: A Lesson from the TTI v. IBG Cases

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently issued three interesting, related opinions interpreting and applying the “technological invention” exception to Covered Business Method Review (“CBM Review”). These opinions serve as a reminder that litigation often turns on an advocate’s effectiveness in framing (or re-framing) a critical issue of law before the court.

The three Federal Circuit opinions are:

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A Cautionary Tale: Don’t Wait Until There Is A Problem To Protect Your Trade Secrets

A federal decision recently reminded businesses about the importance of taking appropriate measures to protect their proprietary information before any misappropriation occurs. In Abrasic 90 Inc. v. Weldcote Medals, Inc.[1], the court denied the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction “largely because [the plaintiff] did not protect its supposedly secret information.” The court’s order underscores that businesses may be unable to enforce as a trade secret their valuable information unless they have taken adequate steps to protect its secrecy.

In that case, a manufacturer of grinding and sanding disks sought to enjoin its former employees and their new employer from operating in the abrasives industry and from using its trade secrets. The defendants took information about the plaintiff’s pricing, customers and suppliers when they left the company to start a competing business. Yet, the court declined to issue an injunction on the ground that Abrasic had failed to protect its supposedly trade secret information. Continue Reading

Yes, UCANN!

Patentees and inventors of cannabis compounds may be happy to learn a district court in Colorado recently held that, based on the record before it, U.S. Patent No. 9,730,911, entitled “Cannabis extracts and methods of preparing and using same,” is not directed to unpatentable natural phenomena. United Cannabis Corporation v. Pure Hemp Collective Inc., No. 1-18-cv-01922 (Apr. 17, 2019, Order) (William J. Martinez). Continue Reading

Returning to the Status Quo? – Proposed Outline for Section 101 Reform

On April 18, 2019, Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE), along with Representatives Doug Collins (R-GA), Hank Johnson (D-GA), and Steve Stivers (R-OH), released a bipartisan framework for 35 U.S.C. § 101 reform, available here.  The framework outlines specific goals that any proposed legislation should aim to address.

The impetus for such reform stems from uncertainties in recent case law regarding what qualifies as “patent-eligible” subject matter since the U.S. Supreme Court’s holdings in Mayo Collaborative Services, DBA v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 566 U.S. 66 (2012), and Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International, 573 U.S. 208 (2014).  The relative fluidity of patent eligibility jurisprudence since the Court’s decision in Alice has caused difficulties not only for potential inventors and industry, but also for the patent bar at large.  Since the Alice decision, the USPTO has issued new guidance regarding how patent examiners are to analyze claims under section 101 at least once a year, with the exception of 2017.  As many practitioners would attest, the application of the guidance can vary between examiners and art units, resulting in general confusion as to what exactly makes one claim patent eligible over another. Continue Reading

PTAB Continues to Preclude PTAB Challenges That It Views As Untimely

In a proceeding that included Patent Office Director Andrei Iancu on the panel, the PTAB issued an order this past week denying institution of 3 IPRs filed by Valve. The decision demonstrates that the PTAB continues to tighten its standards for institution of post-grant challenges, including based upon considerations related to what it perceives as fairness to patent owners. Continue Reading

OH SNAP! Supreme Court to Take on Meaning of Key FOIA Exemption

On January 11, 2019, the Supreme Court granted a petition for writ of certiorari over an Eighth Circuit decision involving Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), which protects from public disclosure “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential.” This marks the first time the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving this important exemption. Continue Reading

Blockchain Games and Collectibles – Patents and Other Legal Issues

The use of blockchain (or distributed ledger) technology for games (a.k.a blockchain games) and token-based digital collectibles is on the rise. The overnight popularity of CryptoKitties was as significant to raising the awareness of digital collectibles as Pokémon Go was to location-based AR games. However, the ecosystem extends well beyond CryptoKitties, and is growing rapidly. The ecosystem includes cross-platform crypto currency and tokens, digital asset marketplaces, digital collectibles, decentralized virtual worlds and more. A significant amount of investment is going into this space. Blockchain gaming startup Forte has announced a deal with Ripple’s Xpring crypto currency platform to invest $100 million in game developers who make games based on blockchain technology. While the opportunities in this space are real, there are a number of legal issues that can arise depending on how a company implements its offerings. Continue Reading

Federal Circuit Weighs in on Patent Subject-Matter Eligibility of Dietary Supplements

The Federal Circuit weighed in on patent subject matter eligibility again last week, finding certain amino-acid containing dietary supplements, and related methods of use, to be patent eligible. In Natural Alternatives Int’l v. Creative Compounds, LLC, the Federal Circuit vacated the decision of the district court in the Southern District of California, which held that several sets of claims issued to Natural Alternatives International (“Natural”) were not directed to patentable subject matter under 35 USC § 101. The district court found the claims not patent eligible following a motion on the pleadings. Although the claims at issue included methods of treatment, composition, and process claims, this entry looks at the court’s decision with respect to methods.  The decision could put some wind in the sails of developers of supplements and nutraceuticals. Continue Reading

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