January 2013 Archives

Inter Partes Review: Who is a Required "Real Party in Interest"?

January 31, 2013

Under 35 U.S.C. 312(a)(2) and 37 CFR § 42, all "real parties in interests" (RPIs) are required to be named in an Inter Partes Review petition. Failure to name all RPIs could result in denial of a petition. The policy behind this requirement is rooted in the estoppel provisions that apply to decisions by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board ("PTAB"). Namely, a final written decision by the PTAB estops the petitioner (or all real parties in interest) and their privies from asserting invalidity or unpatentability on any ground that the petitioner raised or "raised or reasonably could have raised" during the IPR or PGR proceeding in a district court, International Trade Commission, or other USPTO proceeding. See 35 U.S.C. 315(e)(1), as amended, and 35 U.S.C. 325(e)(1). The PTO has also identified potential conflicts of interest and credibility of evidence as reasons for requiring the identification of all RPIs.

However, there is no clear definition for what constitutes a RPI. Indeed, the lack of a clear standard was by design due to the highly fact-dependent nature of determining who constitutes a real party in interest:

Who constitutes a real party in interest or privy is a highly fact-dependent question, especially on the issue of whether a party who is not a named participant in a given proceeding nonetheless constitutes a "real party in interest" or "privy" to that proceeding. Courts and commentators agree that there is no "bright-line test" for determining the necessary quantity or degree of participation to qualify as a "real party in interest" or "privy" based on the control concept. See Gonzalez v. Banco Cent. Corp., 27 F.3d 751, 759 (1st Cir. 1994); see also Wright & Miller § 44512 ("The measure of control by a nonparty that justifies preclusion cannot be defined rigidly."). Accordingly, the Office has not enumerated particular factors regarding a "control" theory of "real party in interest" or "privy" in the proposed rules. Instead, to resolve a real party in interest or privy dispute that may arise during a proceeding, the Board plans to consider each case on its specific facts.

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Recommendation to Grant Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Standing Where Plaintiff Did Not Retain Sufficient Rights in Patent-in-Suit

January 30, 2013

Azure Networks, LLC and Tri-County Excelsior Foundation ("Plaintiffs," "Azure" or "TCEF") filed a patent infringement action against several defendants, including Qualcomm and Marvell, among others. As explained by the court, "[t]he '129 Patent is entitled 'Personal Area Network with Automatic Attachment and Detachment' and discloses a Personal Area Network ("PAN"), which is managed by a hub device and can support wireless "attachment" of multiple Personal Electronic Accessories ("PEAs"). '129 Patent at 3:10-32."

The court further explained the ownership of the patent as follows: "Robert Donaghey, the sole inventor of the '129 Patent, assigned his rights to BBN Technologies Corp. ("BBN") in 2007, who then assigned the '129 Patent to Azure. Azure is a Texas limited liability company with its principal place of business in Longview, Texas. Complaint at 2. In June 2010, Azure donated numerous patents and patent applications (including the application that later issued as the patent-in-suit) to TCEF. TCEF is a Texas non-profit corporation with its principal place of business in Marshall, Texas. Id. Only July 30, 2010, TCEF and Azure entered into an exclusive license agreement whereby Azure received a 'worldwide, transferable, exclusive license under the ['129 Patent], with the right to sublicense others, to (i) make, have made, use, sell, offer to sell, import and lease any products, (ii) use and perform any method, process, and/or services, and (iii) otherwise practice any invention in any manner, such that Azure has full right to enforce and/or sublicense the ['129 Patent].'"

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Inter Partes Review: Dismissal Without Prejudice Bars Application of the IPR Statute of Limitations

January 29, 2013

In IPR2012-0004, on January 24, 2013, the Patent Trial and Appeals Board ("PTAB") (A.P.J.s Blankenship, Giannetti and McNamara) issued its Decision on Petitioner MacAuto USA's ("Petitioner") IPR petition for review of BOS GmbH & KG ("Patent Owner") U.S. Patent No. 6,422,291. The '291 patent relates to a roll-up blind especially suited for mounting on the rear window of an automobile.

In its Preliminary Response, the Patent Owner asserted that the Petition should be denied based on, among other things, the fact that a complaint was served on the Petitioner's parent company more than a year before the filing of the petition. Under 35 U.S.C. section 315(b), an inter partes review may not be instituted if the petition requesting the proceeding is filed more than one year after the date on which the petitioner, real party in interest, or privy of the petitioner is served with a complaint alleging infringement of the patent. In granting the petition over the Patent Owner's argument, the Board relied on the fact that the prior lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice and, as such, under Federal Circuit law, the effect of such a dismissal "leaves the parties as though the action had never been brought."

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Allegations That Patent Holder "Buried" the Patent and Trademark Office with Prior Art References Insufficient to Support Inequitable Conduct Claim

January 28, 2013

Plaintiff Parkervision, Inc. filed a patent infringement action against Qualcomm. Qualcomm answered the complaint and alleged an affirmative defense of inequitable conduct and a counterclaim that included a claim for inequitable conduct. Parkervision moved to strike the affirmative defense and the counterclaims pertaining to inequitable conduct, among other defenses and claims.

As explained by the district court, "Qualcomm counterclaims that ParkerVision's '551 patent is unenforceable due to ParkerVision's inequitable conduct and that the other five ParkerVision patents -- '518, '371, '734, '342, and '845 -- are also unenforceable because they stem from the '551 patent. (Doc. No. 91, ¶¶ 69-116.) All six of the inequitable conduct counterclaims thus rest on the factual allegations regarding the '551 patent. Specifically, Qualcomm sets forth three theories of inequitable conduct, alleging that Michael Q. Lee, the '551 patent's prosecuting attorney, and David F. Sorrells, an inventor: (1) "buried" the Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO") with references; (2) belatedly disclosed a material reference to the PTO; and (3) materially misrepresented four references to the PTO. Qualcomm urges the Court to consider the alleged inequitable conduct cumulatively, as a "course of deliberate egregious misconduct." (Id. ¶ 35.)"

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Russian Company Served Through Texas Secretary of State Held Proper Service Because the Russian Federation Unilaterally Suspended All Judicial Cooperation with the United States in Civil and Commercial Matters

January 25, 2013

Blue Spike, LLC ("Blue Spike") filed a patent infringement action against Biolink Solutions LTD. ("Biolink") and Biometric, LLC. Biolink is a Russian company that has no offices, employees, agents, distributors or related entities in Texas, but does business in Texas according to the complaint. Blue Spike served Biolink with the complaint through the Texas Secretary of State. Biolink moved to quash service of the summons on the ground that it was not served through the procedures set forth in the Hague Convention.

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Inter Partes Review: The PTAB Warns Parties Against Sending Ex Parte Emails

January 24, 2013

In IPR2012-00035, on January 22, 2013, the Patent Trial and Appeals Board ("PTAB") (A.P.J.s Lane, Robertson and Guest) issued an order concerning an ex parte email sent by Petitioner Nissan North America, Inc. ("Petitioner"). According to the Petitioner's email, in its Preliminary Response the Patent Owner made arguments based on an obvious mathematical error, e.g., stating that .5 microns is 500 angstroms when it actually is 5000 angstroms. In its ex parte email, the Petitioner asked for the proper procedure for requesting the Board to take judicial notice of this "false statement."

In its Order, the PTAB expressed concerned about the manner and content of the Petitioner's ex parte email to the Board:

The error asserted by Nissan is not the subject of this Order. Instead it is the manner and content of the Nissan email that are of concern. It is troubling that Nissan contacted the Board and included information to rebut the Collins Preliminary Response without authorization to do so. It is even more troubling that Nissan did so without providing Collins with a copy of the email. Communications with a Judge or other Board member regarding a specific proceeding is not permitted unless both parties have an opportunity to be involved in the communications. 37 CFR 42.5(d). The Practice Guide notes certain exceptions to the prohibition, e.g., where a party seeks to arrange a conference call. The Nissan email does not fall into any of the listed exceptions.

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In-House Counsel's Guide to Pro Hac Vice Admission to Practice before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)

January 23, 2013

The United States Patent and Trademark Office's new post-grant proceedings, including Inter Partes Review, are akin to litigation proceedings in several respects. As a result, the PTO Rules provide for the pro hac vice admission of litigation lawyers not licensed to practice before the Patent Office. However, practitioners should be aware that the grant of admission is not automatic and the application represents more than a mere formality.

Pursuant to 37 C.F.R. 42.10(c):

(c) The Board may recognize counsel pro hac vice during a proceeding upon a showing of good cause, subject to the condition that lead counsel be a registered practitioner and to any other conditions as the Board may impose. For example, where the lead counsel is a registered practitioner, a motion to appear pro hac vice by counsel who is not a registered practitioner may be granted upon a showing that counsel is an experienced litigating attorney and has an established familiarity with the subject matter at issue in the proceeding.

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Patent Case Rulings from the Central District of California: Jan. 1 to Jan. 11, 2013

January 22, 2013
The following six decisions in patent cases pending in the Central District of California were reported for the period of January 1 through January 11, 2013.

DATE

CASE AND HOLDING

JUDGE

MOTION TYPE

1/2/2013

The Tawnsaura Group, LLC v. Maximum Human Performance, LLC, 2-12-cv-07189

Otero

Dismiss

The court denied defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint because the asserted patents for health improvement methods contained ineligible subject matter.

Jumbo Bright Trading Limited, et. al. v. The Gap, Inc., 2-12-cv-08932

Pregerson

Preliminary Injunction

The court denied plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction to preclude defendant from selling its accused shoes because plaintiffs failed to present sufficient evidence of irreparable harm.

1/4/2013

Marketlinx Inc. v. Industry Access Incorporated, et al. , 2-12-cv-03496

Olquin

Compel - Source Code

The court granted plaintiff's motion to compel the production of defendant's source code.

1/8/2013

Medsquire LLC v. Compulink Business Systems Inc., 2-11-cv-10122

Fitzgerald

Compel - Invalidity Contentions

The court denied plaintiff's motion to compel defendants to provide further invalidity contentions.

TriPharma, LLC v. First Fruits Business Ministry LLC, et. al., 8-12-cv-00404

Selna

Contempt - Preliminary Injunction

The court denied plaintiff's unopposed motion to find defendants in contempt of a preliminary injunction because plaintiff failed to establish a knowing violation of the injunction.

1/10/2013

InTouch Technologies Inc. v. VGo Communications Inc., 2-11-cv-09185

Anderson

Motion for Judgment - Declaration that the patents-in-suit were invalid.

The court sustained plaintiff's objection to defendant's motion for judgment which included a declaration that the patents-in-suit were invalid as to all claims where the jury found invalidity as to only one claim per patent.

The authors of www.PatentLawyerBlog.com are patent trial 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.

Brocade v. A10 Networks: Brocade Granted Permanent Injunction as It Satisfied Causal Nexus Requirement by Showing that It Practiced Its Patent, that A10 Was a Direct Competitor and that It Does Not License Its Patents

January 21, 2013

After the recent Federal Circuit decision in the Apple v. Samsung case and the district court's application of that reasoning to find that a permanent injunction should not issue in Apple's favor, many predicted that it would be very difficult to obtain a permanent injunction in patent cases going forward where many components are at issue. Not so fast.

As the district court explained in the Brocade Communications Systems ("Brocade") v. A10 Networks ("A10"), upon the showing of an appropriate causal nexus a permanent injunction should issue. "Some have suggested that these standards herald the death, or at least the wounding, of the permanent injunction in patent cases involving hardware or software products with hundreds or thousands of components. One standard in particular - the "casual nexus" standard - bears the brunt of this discussion. Whether those opinions are fair or even accurate is something this court cannot say. What this court can say, however, is that whatever the "trend" of permanent injunctions in such cases, the Federal Circuit has made clear that injunctions can and should continue to issue upon the assembly and presentation of an appropriate record. After careful consideration of the parties' voluminous papers and substantial oral arguments, the court is persuaded that the record in this case, which shows a clear causal nexus between Brocade's loss of exclusivity in its inventions and A10's infringement, is one such example."

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The Patent Trial and Appeal Board Requires A Patent Owner's Challenge on The Petitioner's Standing to be Raised in the Patent Owner's Preliminary Response

January 17, 2013

In IPR2012-00022, the Patent Trial and Appeals Board ("PTAB") (A.P.J.s Tierney, Green and Robertson) issued a decision rejecting the Patent Owner Isis Innovation Limited's ("Patent Owner") motion for leave to challenge petitioner Arisoa Diagnostics' ("Petitioner") standing to file the petition for inter partes review. According to the Patent Owner, the Petitioner lacks standing because it raised the affirmative defense of invalidity as an affirmative defense to the Patent Owner's counterclaim for infringement of the asserted patent in a Declaratory Judgment Action filed by the Petitioner seeking a declaration of non-infringement in the Northern District of California, Case No. 3:11-cv-06391.

The Patent Owner argued that allowing the Petitioner to file an inter partes review under such circumstances would violate Section 315(a)'s prohibition against filing an IPR when a petitioner has filed a civil action challenging the validity of a claim of the asserted patent before filing the petition for inter partes review. While Section 315(a)(3) provides an exception to this rule in the circumstance when the petitioner's challenge to the patent's validity is in the form of a counterclaim in a suit initiated by the patent owner, the Patent Owner argues that this exception does not apply to the circumstances present here.

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Danisco v. Novozymes: Declaratory Judgment Action for Non-Infringement and Invalidity Improper and Dismissed Where Action Was Filed Prior to or Simultaneously with the Issuance of the Patent

January 16, 2013

Danisco US, Inc. ("Danisco") filed a declaratory judgment action asserting that its Rapid Starch Liquefaction products ("RSL products") do not infringe certain patents held by Novozymes and that the patent-in-suit is invalid. Danisco and Novoyzymes are two of the major competitors in the field of developing and supplying industrial enzymes used in the process of converting corn into ethanol fuel.

Novozymes moved to dismiss the action and asserted that Danisco did not allege, and could not allege, that Novozymes took any affirmative act to enforce the patent-in-suit against Danisco. Danisco asserted that there was an actual controversy between the parties because it could be reasonably inferred that Novozymes obtained the patent with the hopes of asserting it against Danisco's products.

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California Court: Allegations That Defendant Used Product Is Sufficient To Plead Claim for Direct Infringement of Method Claims

January 15, 2013

In a patent case pending before Judge Koh in the Northern District of California, Defendant Pinnaclife Inc. ("Pinnaclife") moved pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) to dismiss Plaintiff CreAgri, Inc. ("CreAgri") infringement claims under Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). The Court denied in part and granted in part CreaGri's motion finding that Pinnaclife's amended complaint alleged facts sufficient to plausibly state a claim for direct infringement, but failed to meet the pleading requirements for indirect infringement.

First, the Court held that the pleading standards for direct infringement are governed by Form 18, even though the patent claims at issue were method claims:

[A] claim for direct infringement of a method patent is still a claim for direct infringement, and is therefore governed by the Form 18 pleading standard. Nothing in Form 18 suggests that its applicability is limited to device patents, nor did the Federal Circuit, in confirming that pleading requirements for direct infringement claims are governed by Form 18, suggest that this holding should be limited to device patents.

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Eastern District of Texas Orders Severance of Multi-Defendant Action Sua Sponte to Avoid One "Massive" and "Unmanageable" Trial

January 14, 2013

In a patent infringement action brought by Alexsam, Inc. ("Alexsam") against thirteen separate defendants, grouped into seven issuers of electronic gift cards, the Eastern District of Texas decided to sever the defendants as the case got closer to trial. As explained by the court, "[t]his is the sixth lawsuit that Alexsam has pursued in the Eastern District of Texas alleging infringement of the patents-in-suit, U.S. Patent Nos. 6,000,608 ("the '608 patent") and 6,189,787 ("the '787 patent"), which relate to stored value/debit cards. The final pretrial conference is currently scheduled March 4, 2013, with a single trial to begin no more than four weeks later. Given the unique issues that exist within the defendant/defendant groups and the complexities involved in attempting to try this case in one trial in less than two months, the Court must sever the seven groups of defendants into their own separate cause of action."

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First Filed Inter Partes Review Granted With Mixed Results

January 10, 2013

Yesterday, the Patent Trial and Appeals Board ("PTAB") issued a decision in the first IPR filed, i.e., IPR2012-00001. Garmin International, Inc. ("Garmin") filed the IPR on a patent owned and asserted by Cuozzo Special Technologies LLC ("Cuozzo"), U.S. Patent No. 6,778,074 covering a speed limit indicator.

Central to Garmin's IPR Petition and the PTAB's decision was the meaning of the claim term "integrally attached" as used in the claim phrase "a speedometer integrally attached to said colored display." Garmin argued that, for the purposes of the petition, this term should be given the broad construction urged by the Patent Owner in the related litigation of the '074 Patent. Garmin did not identify its proposed construction. The PTAB rejected this approach.

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Allvoice v. Microsoft: Allvoice Loses Attempt to Modify Infringement Contentions after an Adverse Markman Ruling

January 9, 2013

In this patent infringement action, plaintiff Allvoice Developments US LLC ("Allvoice") moved to amend its infringement contentions against Microsoft. Allvoice sought the amendment to incorporate changes that related to two claim constructions by the district court that differed from those asserted by Allvoice and to provide technical corrections or clarifications that would avoid confusion. Allvoice asserted there was good cause for the amendments and there be no prejudice to Microsoft. Microsoft opposed the amendment on the grounds of undue delay and unfair prejudice.

The district court began its analysis of the motion by citing to the local patent rules. "Local Patent Rule 124 allows for amendments of infringement contentions 'only by order of the Court upon a timely showing of good cause.' W.D. Wash. Local Patent Rule 124. Non-exhaustive examples of circumstances that may, absent undue prejudice to the non-moving party, support a finding of good cause include: (a) a claim construction by the Court different from that proposed by the party seeking amendment; (b) recent discovery of material prior art despite earlier diligent search; and (c) recent discovery of nonpublic information about the Accused Device which was not discovered, despite diligent efforts, before the service of the Infringement Contentions."

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LSI Successfully Adds Accused Products to ITC Investigation Against Funai

January 7, 2013

Complainants LSI Corporation and Agere System LLC (collectively, "LSI" or "Complainants") filed a motion for leave to amend their amended complaint in order to clarify the scope of the accused products of Respondent Funai Electric Company ("Funai"). LSI sought to clarify that the scope of the accused products were not limited to Funai products that contain an integrated circuited component supplied by either Realtek or MediaTek.

In support of its motion, LSI argued that their would be no prejudice to Funai because LSI had consistently maintained that the scope of the accused products was not limited to Funai products incorporating solely MediaTek and Realtek components. Funai opposed the motion, asserting that LSI had not shown any new information that would justify the proposed amendment and that it would be prejudiced by the proposed amendments because LSI would be able to expand the scope of the accused Funai products at a late stage of the investigation.

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Motion to Substitute New Entity as Plaintiff and Dismiss Original Plaintiff Denied Where Defendant Was Entitled to Direct Discovery Against Original Plaintiff

January 2, 2013

Klausner Technologies, Inc. ("Klausner Technologies") filed a patent infringement action against Interactive Intelligence Group, Inc. ("Interactive Intelligence" or "IIG"). After the action was filed, Klausner Technologies assigned all of its interest in the patent-in-suit to IPVX Patent Holdings, Inc. ("IPVX"), including the rights to enforce the patent and to recover for past infringement of the patent. IPVX was incorporated only three days before the assignment. As a result of the assignment, Klausner Technologies moved to substitute IPVX for Klausner Technologies as the plaintiff and counter-defendant in the patent infringement action.

Interactive Intelligence agreed that IPVX should be joined as a plaintiff but opposed the dismissal of Klausner Technologies from the action. Interactive Intelligence asserted that because virtually all of the discovery would come from Klausner Technologies and its officers and employees, dismissing Klausner Technologies would cause added expense and delay as discovery would be needed from a third party. Klausner Technologies responded by arguing that it had agreed to provide all information regarding the patent to IPVX. Klausner Technologies also argued that it had to be dismissed because it no longer had standing to participate in the litigation as a result of the assignment of the patent.

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