Over the summer we analyzed a decision by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that denied Amazon.com, Inc.’s (Amazon) motion for summary judgment as to watchmaker Multi Time Machine, Inc.’s (MTM) claims that Amazon’s use of MTM’s trademarks as keywords at amazon.com was infringing. The Ninth Circuit has now taken the unusual step of revisiting and vacating its July decision, upholding the federal district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Amazon.
On October 19, 2015, the Supreme Court consolidated and granted certiorari in Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc., et al. and Stryker Corporation, et al. v. Zimmer, Inc., et al., both of which concern enhanced patent infringement damages under 35 U.S.C. § 284. At issue in both cases is the question of whether the Federal Circuit is correct in requiring a willfulness finding under the rigid, two-part Seagate test to award enhanced damages. Under Seagate, finding willfulness requires the patentee to prove that an infringer acted “despite an objectively high likelihood that its actions constituted infringement” and that such risk was known, or should have been known, to the infringer. The question of this test’s propriety is particularly ripe given the Supreme Court’s decision in Octane Fitness, LLC v. ICON Health & Fitness, Inc. during its last term, where a similarly rigid test for imposing an award of attorney’s fees was rejected in favor of a more flexible and discretionary determination.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that Google’s scanning of printed books and subsequent use of the resulting digital copies is fair use under the Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 107). Google was first sued by the Authors Guild a decade ago over its Library Project and Books Project, which involve scanning published works to create digital copies, making the text searchable, and displaying at least snippets of the work in connection with search results. The decision affirmed the lower court’s grant of summary judgment and focused on the transformative nature of Google’s use. The Second Circuit noted that Google’s use provides information about a book without being a substitute for the book itself. The decision may not be the final word in this case—the Authors Guild states on their website that they intend to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.
Bikram Choudhury, one of the most famous names in modern yoga, sought copyright protection in 2002 on a series of twenty-six yoga poses and two breathing exercises he developed and later called “the Sequence.” On October 8, 2015, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Sequence is not entitled to copyright protection because it is an “unprotectable idea.” The judges noted that the Sequence is akin to cooking recipes or surgical procedures. Accordingly, yoga studios that are not owned or operated by Choudhury are able to practice and teach the Sequence without concern for copyright infringement claims.
In the beginning of October, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that it is extending two programs that patent applicants find useful in the later stages of prosecution—the After Final Consideration Pilot 2.0 (AFCP) and the Quick Path Information Disclosure Statement (QPIDS) programs.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Tuesday that the “Safe Harbor” data transfer regulatory framework, which had enabled the otherwise prohibited transmission of European Union residents’ personal information to the U.S., is invalid. The program enabled those who collect data in the European Union to transmit the data to the United States notwithstanding the E.U. determination that the U.S. lacks “adequate” privacy laws. Companies who have relied upon or who were planning to rely upon the Safe Harbor scheme should assess the alternatives that are available and adjust their practices accordingly.
On August 28 and September 15, 2015, certain asserted claims of Exergen’s United States Patent No. 7,787,938 (the "'938 patent") were found invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 on two separate summary judgment motions. See Exergen Corp. v. Brooklands Inc. ("Brooklands"), No. 12-cv-12243-DPW (August 28, 2015) and Exergen Corp. v. Thermomedics, Inc. ("Thermomedics"), No. 13-cv-11243-DJC (September 15, 2015). The claims of the '938 patent at issue are directed to diagnostic methods for measuring body temperature based upon radiation and temperature measurements taken at the temporal artery at the side of the forehead. Readers, particularly with children, will recognize the Exergen thermometer as a popular tool for taking kids’ temperatures.
Recently, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“the Board”), issued an informative decision in Apotex Inc., v. Wyeth, LLC, IPR2015-00873 (“the ‘873 IPR”), providing insight into how the Board will apply estoppel under 35 U.S.C. §315(e)(1) and exercise its discretion under 35 U.S.C. §325(d). Previously, Apotex filed an IPR petition, IPR2014-00115 (“the ‘115 IPR”), against the same patent at issue in the ‘873 IPR, which resulted in the issuance of a Final Written Decision. In view of the Final Written Decision in the ‘115 IPR, the patent owner asserted that Apotex was estopped from “requesting inter partes review because the asserted grounds are based on prior art that the petitioner ‘was aware of, cited and relied upon [in the previous] ‘115 IPR.’” Finding that the preconditions for §315(e)(1) estoppel applied, the Board found that the petitioner was estopped from raising one of the two asserted grounds. No estoppel applied to the other ground, however, because the ground was merely raised, but not instituted on, in the earlier proceeding.
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.