In the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, a section of the patent statute once the focus of only occasional litigation is emerging as a “go to” weapon for invalidating patents directed to computer-implemented inventions. Of the 25 federal court decisions in which 35 U.S.C. § 101 (Section 101) has been invoked since Alice was handed down, 19 have resulted in declarations of invalidity. This article highlights some trends in the case law. It also examines more closely one recent Federal Circuit decision in which patent claims did not survive a preliminary challenge under Section 101, as well as the six decisions in which the claims did survive.
The equitable defense of laches may not be at the forefront of most patent practitioners’ minds, but the recent Federal Circuit decision in SCA Hygiene Products v. First Quality Baby Products illustrates that the defense can have teeth. Patent owners looking to mitigate the risk of an accused infringer successfully employing the defense should consider preventative action in the period before filing a lawsuit. Practitioners may also want to continue monitoring the law in this area, as an en banc rehearing has been requested to consider the possible impact of a recent Supreme Court ruling with regard to laches in the context of copyright infringement.
Following the conclusion of trademark prosecution, your certificate of registration has arrived in the mail. Now what? Some lawyers still advise their clients to keep the certificate “in a safe place,” but one wonders how much longer paper certificates will even be prepared and issued. Maybe they will last as long as (paper) newspapers. After all, the information contained on the paper certificate is readily available online at the web site of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and either a link to the USPTO web site or a printout of the online record will serve the same evidentiary purpose as the paper certificate.
Before the Supreme Court’s 2006 decision in eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C., it was axiomatic that, upon a showing of a likelihood of success on the merits, a trademark owner was entitled to a presumption of irreparable harm when moving for preliminary injunctive relief. But after eBay, there was no such presumption in patent cases, leaving the question open whether the presumption would apply in trademark cases. Just a few weeks ago, on October 6, 2014, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in Herb Reed Enters., LLC v. Florida Entm. Mgmt., Inc., in which the Ninth Circuit held that trademark owners are not entitled to a presumption of irreparable harm simply by making a preliminary showing of a good case on the merits. Accordingly, the Supreme Court has left it to the circuits to resolve the presumption question in trademark cases, at least for now, causing litigants to query what evidence will suffice to establish irreparable harm without the presumption and to consider the prevailing law in the various circuits when choosing a forum.
The examiner count system is the stick by which a patent examiner’s production is measured. Although the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office(USPTO) does set expected time limits for each task, examiners’ production goals are met by receiving “counts,” which are accrued by completion of various tasks associated with the examination process. Under the current count system, more counts are granted for tasks performed early in prosecution to provide an incentive for examiners to “dispose” of cases quickly—either through abandonment or the granting of a Notice of Allowance. Thus, the count system serves as a reminder that patent examiners and patent applicants are not opponents, but rather members of the same team who are intended to work together to move patent applications through the system.
Maximizing the protection and value of intellectual property assets is often the cornerstone of a business's success and even survival. In this blog, Nutter's Intellectual Property attorneys provide news updates and practical tips in patent portfolio development, IP litigation, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and licensing.