June 2011 Archives

Delaware Court Again Rules That A Corporate Entity's State of Incorporation in Delaware Weighs Heavily Against Transferring Out of Delaware

June 30, 2011

A Delaware Court again recently denied transfer from Delaware to the Northern District of California despite that (a) all of the accused infringers were headquartered in the transferee venue, (b) the party witnesses knowledgeable about the accused products and documents related to the accused products were there and (c) the plaintiff also maintained an office there as well. Focusing instead on the fact that the plaintiff and three of the four defendants were incorporated in Delaware, the Court stated that the Plaintiff's choice of venue was entitled to "significant deference" because Delaware was considered plaintiff's home turf. Moreover, the Court found that because three of the four defendants were incorporated in Delaware, they could not be heard to complain about defending a lawsuit in Delaware because they had availed themselves of the rights and privileges of the State of Delaware by incorporating there. The Court quoted from another decision from the District of Delaware that "absent some showing of a unique or unexpected burden, a company should not be successful in arguing that litigation in its state of incorporation is inconvenient."

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Complete Source Code Production Ordered for Deposition

June 29, 2011

In a recent case from the Central District of California, the court ordered the defendant to produce the complete source code for an allegedly infringing product during a deposition. The plaintiff noticed the depositions of certain engineers from the defendant and requested that the defendant provide a complete copy of the source code on a computer during the deposition. The defendant objected on two grounds.

The defendant first argued that such a request and corresponding procedure would violate the protective order entered by the court. The defendant also argued that the proposals offered by the plaintiff were insufficient to maintain the security and integrity of the source code for the allegedly infringing product. The court disagreed with both of defendant's objections and ordered the production of the source code.

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Incorporation in Delaware Leads to Denial of Motion to Transfer

June 27, 2011

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against five companies in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware for patent infringement. All five companies moved to transfer the case to the Northern District of California because none of the defendants had their headquarters in Delaware and they argued it would be more convenient for the witnesses if the case proceeded in the Northern District of California. The district court denied the motion.

The district court began its analysis by noting that the various defendants were incorporated in Delaware and several had their principal place of business in California.. It also noted that the plaintiff was incorporated in Delaware and had its principal place of business in Connecticut.

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Expert Survives Daubert Challenge on Entire Market Value Theory

June 24, 2011

In a recent decision from the Eastern District of Texas, the court allowed the testimony of an expert witness on the entire market value theory even though the expert did not provide evidence of consumer demand. The court found that the expert could use the entire market value theory of the accused products in calculating the reasonable royalty because it was economically justified.

The court began by noting that the "entire market value rule" allows for the recovery of damages based on the value of an entire apparatus containing several features, when the feature patented constitutes the basis for the customer demand. Defendants moved to exclude plaintiff's expert on the ground that the patented feature of the accused product had not been shown to provide the basis for consumer demand. The defendants also argued that it was largely undisputed that, in fact, the patented feature did not provide the basis for the consumer demand of the accused product. The plaintiff argued that the expert was justified in calculating a reasonable royalty based on the entire market value of the accused products as that is the industry standard and because nearly every comparable license in the case was based upon a percentage of the total accused product (or licensed product) sales price.

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Equitable Estoppel -- Silence May Preclude Enforcement

June 22, 2011

Failing to act and follow up on cease and desist letters against potential infringers of a patent may preclude enforcement of the patent. This is particularly true when the patent owner does not begin litigation or execute a license for the patent and, during the intervening time, the potential infringer takes action to build its business in reliance on the patent owners failure to act. These issues were addressed by the Federal Circuit in a recent decision, Aspex Eyewear Inc v. Clariti Eyewear, Inc., 605 F.3d 1305 (Fed. Cir. 2010).

For further details, see a discussion of Aspex.

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The authors of www.PatentLawyerBlog.com are patent litigation lawyers at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. We represent inventors, patent owners and technology companies in patent licensing and litigation. Whether pursuing patent violations or defending infringement claims, we are aggressive and effective advocates for our clients. For more information contact Stan Gibson at 310.201.3548 or SGibson@jmbm.com.

Applying Therasense Court Denies Defense Motion of Inequitable Conduct

June 20, 2011

In the first district court case applying the Federal Circuit's new standard for proving inequitable conduct, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas concluded that defendants had failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the patents-in-suit were unenforceable due to inequitable conduct.

The case was tried to a jury and the jury returned a verdict finding, among other things, that the asserted claims were invalid. After that finding, the defendants filed a motion arguing that the first inventor committed fraud on the Patent Office by withholding material prior art with an intent to deceive.

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Source Code Review -- What Must a Defendant Provide During the Review?

June 17, 2011

In a case from the Eastern District of Texas, the district court granted an emergency motion to compel pertaining to source code contained on a stand-alone computer. In the case, Hyundai had loaded its source code on a stand-alone computer and provided a standard text-editor (Notepad), a source code editor (Notepad ++) and a comparison tool (Beyond Compare) to facilitate plaintiff's review of the source code. The plaintiff found that this was insufficient and requested that Hyundai provide integrated development environments to facilitate the review, arguing that the integrated development environment was required to mimic the operation of the source code. Hyundai refused and the emergency motion was filed.

In filing its emergency motion to compel, the plaintiff argued that because of the modular nature of the source code, the integrated development environments would allow its experts to follow various jumps between modules contained in separate files, which would replicate the behavior of the source code during execution. The plaintiff noted that the tools it wanted installed are free and the installation is "virtually effortless."

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Divided Infringement Leads to a Finding of No Infringement

June 15, 2011

In a recent case from the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, the district court held that the defendant was not liable for patent infringement based on the doctrine of divided infringement. The district court based its ruling on the Federal Circuit's decision in Centillion Data Sys., LLC v. Qwest Communications Int'l, Inc., 631 F.3d 1279 (Fed. Cir. 2011).

In Centillion, the Federal Circuit analyzed a patent that disclosed a system for collecting, processing, and delivering information from a service provider, such as a telephone company, to a customer. The Federal Circuit focused its decision on the word "use" -- agreeing that "direct infringement by 'use' of a system claim 'requires a party ... to use each and every ... element of a claimed [system.]" Id. at 1285. The Federal Circuit also stated that "to use' a system for the purposes of infringement, a party must put the invention into service, i.e., control the system as a whole and obtain benefit from it."

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Patent False Marking Claims Prove Largely To Be A Nuisance

June 14, 2011

Section 292 of the Patent Statute (Title 35) provides a civil penalty for falsely marking goods as being covered by a patent and imposes a fine of no more than $500 "for every such offense." A Section 292 claim, moreover, can be brought by anyone on behalf of the United States government. Yet, it was not until the Federal Circuit's decision in Forest Group, Inc. v. Bon Tool Co., 590 F.3d 1295 (Fed. Cir. December 28, 2009), that the floodgates of Section 292 claims were opened. In Forest Group, the Federal Circuit held that Section 292 provided for a penalty based on a per article basis rather than on each decision to mark. In other words, the Federal Circuit held that a penalty can be assessed against each product falsely marked rather than a single fine of no more than $500 imposed for falsely marking an entire line of products.

False marking claims typically involve one of two scenarios: (1) an article continues to be marked with a U.S. patent number (or marked with statements to that effect) even though the patent has expired or (2) the article is not covered by any patent and so any marking is false. According to Docket NavigatorĀ®, approximately 830 false marking suits have been filed since January 1, 2010 and March 15, 2011. Of those, most of them (i.e., some 60 percent of the cases) were filed in the Eastern District of Texas. As a result of the deluge of Section 292 lawsuits, manufacturers are faced with a dilemma about whether to (1) spend time and money to ascertain whether any patents listed on products actually cover their product or have expired and, if necessary; remove the patent number; (2) remove any patent numbers from all of its products going forward and risk limiting damages in a subsequent infringement lawsuit to the time when an infringer has actual notice of the patent per Section 287 of the Patent Statute; or (3) do nothing and risk a Section 292 claim.

Recently published data regarding settlements of Section 292 claims have shed some light on the actual cost of settling such claims. According one source, there have been approximately 191 settlements from May 10, 2010 through March 4, 2011. The lowest settlement reported was $500 while the largest settlement reported was $350,000 with the average settlement at about $55,635. The total sum for all 191 settlements is $10.6 million. Approximately 80 percent of the claims settle for $75,000 or less. The largest number of claims settled at between $0 and $25,000 with 70 settlements while the next largest group is between $25,001-$50,000 with 52 settlements, and the next largest group being those settlements between $50,001-$75,000 with 30.

While the settlements may vary as a result of the exposure that each defendant faces or the relative difficulty of proving the requisite deceptive intent in each case, this data suggests that Section 292 claims largely are being settled at nuisance costs, i.e., costs that are less than the cost of defending the lawsuits. One implication from this conclusion is that for companies that are not sure whether existing patents cover the products marked, they should carefully weigh the cost of undertaking an expensive and time consuming effort to revamp its manufacturing process or product packaging to remove or change its patent marking in light of the likely cost of settling such claims. For companies that have learned they have products that are marked with expired patents or products that are incorrectly marked with patents, such markings should be removed as soon as reasonably practical.

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The authors of www.PatentLawyerBlog.com are patent litigation lawyers at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. We represent inventors, patent owners and technology companies in patent licensing and litigation. Whether pursuing patent violations or defending infringement claims, we are aggressive and effective advocates for our clients. For more information contact Greg Cordrey at 949.623.7236 or GCordrey@jmbm.com.

Microsoft Loses Clear and Convincing Evidence Challenge to Validity of Patents

June 13, 2011

The United States Supreme Court affirmed the use of the clear and convincing evidence standard for challenges to the validity of patents last week in a closely watched and eagerly anticipated case, i4i v. Microsoft. The Supreme Court's opinion re-affirmed decades of case law that the standard to challenge the validity of a patent is clear and convincing evidence rather than the preponderance of the evidence standard urged by Microsoft.

The patent held by i4i claimed an improved method for editing computer documents. The patent was asserted against Microsoft Word and Microsoft countered that the patents were invalid and challenged the standard for determining the validity of a patent, arguing that it should be by a preponderance of the evidence rather than the existing clear and convincing standard currently used in patent cases.

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Patent for Insurance Claim Processing Held Invalid Under Bilski

June 10, 2011

In a recent decision from the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, the district court considered defendant's motion for summary judgment of invalidity. The plaintiff's patent is directed to a computer program for developing a component based software for the insurance industry. The patent contained both method and system claims.

Defendant's moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the patent was invalid under Bilski v. Kappos, 130 S. Ct. 3218 (2010), contending "that the claims of the [patents] contain abstract ideas and fail the machine or transformation test." Defendant contended that the plaintiff's patents failed the "machine" prong of the Bilski test because the claims only require aspects of a general purpose computer. In addition, the defendant contended that the transformation test also could not be met because the transfer of data regarding insurance cases from one electronic file to another does not transform physical objects to another state or thing. According to the defendant, all of the claims reflect field of use restrictions or insignificant post-solution activity and, therefore, constitute unpatentable abstract ideas under Ā§ 101.

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The Person of Ordinary Skill in the Art May Not Save your Patent

June 8, 2011

To have a valid patent, an inventor must disclose sufficient detail in the specification to enable the patent, often referred to as the enablement requirement. To fulfill the enablement requirement, an inventor must disclose enough detail in the patent to teach a person of ordinary skill in the art to make the invention without undue experimentation. But an inventor cannot rely on the argument that one of ordinary skill in the art can fill in missing details from the specification. Indeed, recent case law demonstrates that inventors cannot rely on the person of ordinary skill in the art to serve as a substitute for missing information in the specification of the patent.

The case of Alza Corp v. Andrx Pharamaceuticals LLC, 603 F.3d 935 (Fed Cir. 2010), addressed this exact issue. For more information, please see a discussion of Alza.

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The authors of www.PatentLawyerBlog.com are patent litigation lawyers at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. We represent inventors, patent owners and technology companies in patent licensing and litigation. Whether pursuing patent violations or defending infringement claims, we are aggressive and effective advocates for our clients. For more information contact Stan Gibson at 310.201.3548 or SGibson@jmbm.com.

Discovery Regarding Future Products Denied Despite Argument of Accelerated Market Entry

June 6, 2011

In a patent case pending against Intel in the District of New Mexico, the plaintiff sought to compel the production of Intel's future products that were under development. The litigation involved plaintiff's claim that Intel infringed its patent for a process called "double patterning," which is a process that allows for the manufacture of smaller, more powerful computer processor chips.

Plaintiff sought production from Intel of a certain size of Intel chips that were not yet sold to the public and that would not be marketed until after September 2012, a date which is after the plaintiff's patent expires. Intel argue that the information was not relevant to a reasonable royalty calculation and production of the information would be overly burdensome because the processes were likely to change multiple times before the launch of the product.

The plaintiff argued that it was entitled to production of the information under the theory of "accelerated market entry" and that production of research and development documents would not be overly burdensome.

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Scheduling Orders in Multi-Defendant Litigation - Another Decision

June 3, 2011

One of the district courts in the Eastern District of Texas has issued several orders in multi-defendant patent infringement cases addressing whether changes to the court's normal scheduling orders were necessary. The district court has previously expressed concern in several cases that defendants may be faced with a Hobson's choice of spending more than the settlement range on discovery "or settling for less than their cost of defending the case, regardless of the merits of the case." The district court has expressed concern that the Patent Rules may not provide the most efficient case management schedule in those situations because of the quick discovery deadlines in the Eastern District of Texas.

In addressing a plaintiff that has sued 95 defendants across seven cases, the district court began by noting that it had previously expressed concern in cases where a plaintiff may assert questionable patent claims to extract cost of defense settlements. "The Court has previously expressed concern about cases where a plaintiff asserts questionable patent claims against a large number of Defendants to extract cost of defense settlements."

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Challenge the Written Description--Or Lose Your Patent

June 1, 2011

In pursuing patents for their inventions, inventors need to make sure that earlier filed provisional patent applications filed by other inventors do not preclude the inventor's patent application. The Federal Circuit's decision in In re Giacomini, (Fed. Cir. July 7, 2010) affirmed a USPTO Board of Patent Appeal's decision that found the patent examiner properly rejected certain claims of a pending application. The decision in Giacomini occurred because an earlier filed provisional application by another inventor disclosed the same invention. Because the inventor failed to challenge the written description of the earlier filed provisional application, the inventor waived his right to do so on appeal and lost his patent as a result.

The Federal Circuit began by noting that "an applicant is not entitled to a patent if another's patent discloses the same invention, which was carried forward from an earlier U.S. provisional application or U.S. non-provisional application. Here, the inventor did not dispute that the earlier provisional application described the invention claimed in Giacomini's application. As result, the Federal Circuit found that the provisional, which pre-dated Giacomini's filing date, was the first U.S. application to describe the invention.

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