Infringement : CAFC Alert

Nothing Lost but Nothing Gained: Generic Producer Evades Infringement but Fails to Invalidate Patent under §112.

Adele Critchley | April 3, 2014

Alcon Research Ltd., v. Barr Laboratories, Inc.

March 18, 2014.

Before Newman, Lourie and Bryson. Opinion by Lourie.

Summary:

The CAFC reversed the District Court’s judgment that Alcon’s patents lacked enabling disclosure and sufficient written description as Barr had failed to demonstrate that some experimentation was required, let alone undue experimentation.  Barr’s allegations that the claims were “too broad,” the specification was “too limited,” and the art was “too unpredictable,” was not sufficient without evidence to support that undue experimentation was required in order to practice the patented method.

The CAFC, however, affirmed the District Court’s judgment of non-infringement since Alcon had failed to prove that the polyethoxylated castor oil (“PECO)” in Barr’s product was present in a “chemically-stabilizing amount.”

The CAFC denied Barr’s judgment as a matter of law (“JMOL”) and Rule 59(e) (alter or amend a judgment) motions on non-infringement for the two patents that were omitted from the pretrial order and not litigated.


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Don’t Keep Limitations Not Needed To Distinguish the Prior Art

Sung-Hoon Kim | November 6, 2013

Integrated Technology Corporation v. Rudolph Technologies, Inc.

November 4, 2013

Moore (author), Rader, and Clevenger

Summary:

The CAFC reversed the denial of Rudolph’s motion for JMOL that its accused no-touch products do not infringe under the doctrine of equivalents.  The CAFC found that prosecution history estoppel (preventing ITC from recapturing through the doctrine of equivalents the subject matter that ITC surrendered during prosecution) presumptively applies, and that ITC failed to rebut the presumption because it failed to establish one of three exceptions by a preponderance of the evidence.


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CAFC Raises the Bar Higher Against Patentees Asserting Induced Infringement Claims: Enabling Defendants to Introduce “Good Faith” Invalidity Arguments

Stephen Parker | July 3, 2013

Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Systems, Inc.

June 25, 2013

Panel:  Prost, Newman and O’Malley.  Opinion by Prost.  Concurrences-in-part by Newman and O’Malley.

Summary

In this case, Commil USA, LLC (Commil) sued Cisco Systems, Inc. (Cisco) for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,430,395 directed to a wireless system.  In separate trials, the district court held that Cisco directly infringed the ‘395 patent and that Cisco infringed the patent by virtue of “inducement” of infringement.   Commil was awarded damages of $3.7 million for the direct infringement and of about $74.0 million for the induced infringement.   On appeal, the CAFC vacated the induced infringement award and ordered a new trial for the inducement claims on the basis that both 1) the trial court erred in instructing the jury as to the specific intent required for finding inducement – i.e., requiring an actual knowledge of infringement or a willful blindness (standards higher than mere negligence or recklessness) – and 2) the trial court erred in not considering evidence pertaining to Cisco’s good faith belief that the ‘395 patent was invalid as evidence that Cisco did not have the specific intent required for finding inducement.  While the CAFC had previously held that a good faith belief of non-infringement was evidence weighing against the specific intent for finding inducement, this case is the first instance in which the CAFC has held that a good faith belief of invalidity was similar evidence.  In a concurring-in-part opinion, Judge Newman criticizes the majority’s position that a good faith belief of invalidity weighs against the specific intent for finding inducement.     
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Divided Claim Construction Leads to Reversal of Jury Verdict Against Alleged Infringer

Cindy Chen | April 17, 2013

Saffran v. Johnson & Johnson

April 4, 2013

Panel: Lourie, Moore, and O’Malley.  Opinion by Lourie. Concurrence Opinions by Moore and O’Malley.

Summary

The Federal Circuit reversed a $482 million jury verdict against Cordis, a member of the Johnson & Johnson family. The reversal came as a result of the Federal Circuit’s significant narrowing of the district court’s construction of two key claim limitations. One claim term was narrowed because the Federal Circuit found that the patentee’s arguments made during prosecution of the asserted patent, for the purpose of distinguishing over cited prior art, amounted to prosecution disclaimer. Meanwhile, a structure identified in the specification by the patentee as the corresponding structure to a means-plus-function limitation was disregarded as such, because the specification failed to link the identified structure to the recited function with sufficient specificity.


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Direct infringement requires that party exercises “control or direction” over performance of each claimed step, but inducement does not have single-entity requirement

Shuji Yoshizaki | March 11, 2013

Move, Inc. v. Real Estate Alliance Ltd.

March 4, 2013

Panel:  Rader, Lourie and Moore.  Opinion by Lourie

Summary:

REAL owns the ’989 patent, directed to methods for locating real estate properties using a zoom-enabled map on a computer.  Move operates websites that allow users to search for available real estate properties.  REAL alleged that the functions employed by Move’s websites infringed REAL’s claims.  In the recent en banc decision of Akamai, CAFC decided an issue of divided infringement under § 271(b).  On the issue of direct infringement under § 271(a), CAFC found that there is no genuine issue of material fact that Move does not control or direct the performance of each step of the claimed method.  Therefore, Move is not liable for direct infringement.  However, CAFC vacated the summary judgment regarding indirect infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b).  In en banc in Akamai, all the steps of a claimed method must be performed in order to find induced infringement, but that it is not necessary to prove that all the steps were committed by a single entity.  Since the district court summarily concluded that because Move, as a single party, was not liable for direct infringement, it could not be liable for joint infringement.  However, in Akamai, a single-entity requirement is not required in the inducement context.

Real社はコンピュータ上で拡大することが可能な地図を使用して、不動産物件の所在地を示す方法に関する特許を所有していた。一 方、Move社らは、ユーザーが不動産物件を探すことができるウェブサイトを運営していた。Real社は、Move社のウェブサイト機能がReal社の特 許を侵害すると主張した。

CAFCは特許法271条(b)項における共同侵害の成立要件に関して、昨年、Akamai判決(大法廷)を下し たが、本件では、Move社はクレーム方法の各ステップの実行を監督したり指示したりしていないので、特許法271条(a)項の直接侵害に関しては事実関 係についての実質的な争いはない。したがって、Move社の直接侵害はないと判断した地裁判決は正しい。

しかしながら、誘発侵害成立のため には、方法クレームの全てのステップが実行されることが条件ではあるが、全てのステップが単独で被告によって実行されていることは必ずしも要件ではないこ とをAkamai判決では判示した。ところが、本件の地裁判決は、Move社が単独で直接侵害がないがゆえに、共同侵害もないと判断している。 Akamai判決に従うならば、被告が単独で全てのステップを実施したかどうかは誘発侵害成立の要件にはならない。よって、特許法271条(b)項の間接 侵害に関する地裁のサマリージャッジメントを破棄し、誘発侵害の認定を地裁に差し戻した。


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Entirely reasonable? “Black box” claim interpretation by split Federal Circuit panel leaves us in the dark

Nicolas Seckel | February 13, 2013

Harris Corp. v. Fed Ex Corp. (non-precedential)

January 17, 2013

Panel:  Lourie, Clevenger, and Wallach.  Opinion by Clevenger.  Dissent by Wallach

Summary:

Over a dissent, the Federal Circuit panel makes a strict interpretation of “antecedent basis,” which results in a reversal of the District Court’s claim interpretation, and a remand to re-evaluate the infringement issue.

Harris’s patents cover methods and systems for using spread spectrum radio signals to send flight data from a plane’s “black box” to an airport receiver at the end of the flight.  The invention includes steps of generating, accumulating and storing flight data in the plane during the flight, followed by a step of “transmitting the accumulated, stored generated aircraft data” once at the airport.

At the District Court, a jury found that Fed Ex willfully infringed Harris’s patents by using a “design-around” system that transmits all flight data except an optional 5-minute segment.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit panel majority holds that Harris patent claims are limited to the transmission of “all data generated during the flight,” not just any data subset representative of the flight.  The panel’s view is that the narrower interpretation is “entirely reasonable” since the transmitting step refers to the generating step.

In contrast, the dissent sees the claim language as open, so that it would be “counterintuitive” to require that all the generated data must be transmitted.


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Vitiation exclusion: a judicial determination ensuring that doctrine of equivalents does not overtake statutory function of claims in defining scope of exclusive rights

Rob Raheja | January 2, 2013

Deere & Co. v. Bush Hog

December 4, 2012

Panel:  Rader, Newman and Plager. Opinion by Rader.

Summary

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, among other things, construed the claimed term “into engagement with” of ‘980 Patent to require direct contact and construed “being secured to” of ‘980 Patent as “fastened or attached.” Based on this construction, the district court granted Bush Hog & Co. LLC’s and Great Plains Inc.’s motions for summary judgment of noninfringement by holding that Deere did not raise a genuine issue of material fact as to literal infringement because the upper deck walls do not come into contact with the lower deck walls in any of the accused products. In addition, the district court held that Deere could not assert infringement under the doctrine of equivalents because doing so would vitiate the “into engagement with” limitation. Because in the context of the ‘980 Patent “into engagement with” encompasses indirect contact, the Federal Circuit vacated the district court’s construction of this term, reversed the grant of summary judgment, and remanded for further proceedings. Also, the Federal Circuit found that the district court invoked vitiation exclusion in error by refusing to apply the doctrine of equivalents because “a reasonable jury could find that a small spacer connecting the upper and lower deck walls represents an insubstantial difference from direct contact.” Therefore, the Federal Circuit also vacated the grant of summary judgment of no infringement under the doctrine of equivalents.


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Liability for Induced Infringement of a Method Claim No Longer Requires Proof of Direct Infringement

Cindy Chen | September 14, 2012

Akamai Technologies, Inc. and MIT v. Limelight Networks, Inc.

McKesson Technologies, Inc. v. Epic Systems Corp.

August 31, 2012

Panel: Rader, Newman, Lourie, Bryson, O’Malley, Linn, Dyk, Prost, Reyna and Wallach (en banc)

Per curiam opinion, joined by Rader, Lourie, Bryson, Moore, Reyna, and Wallach.  Dissent by Linn, joined by Dyk, Prost, and O’Malley.  Dissent by Newman.

Summary

In a 6-5 en banc decision, the Federal Circuit rejected precedents and relaxed the standard of proof for finding induced infringement under 37 USC §271(b).  Traditionally, induced infringement requires a two-pronged showing of (1) knowing inducement to infringe and (2) actual direct infringement of the patent.  In fact, direct infringement had long been held as the sine qua non of indirect infringement liability. The court’s new standard, however, eliminates the direct infringement requirement. Now, in cases involving method claims, inducement liability follows if the accused infringer (1) had knowledge of the patent, (2) induced others’ performance of the steps of the method claims, and (3) the steps were actually performed. Liability also follows if the accused infringer performed some of the steps of the claims and then knowingly induced another to perform the remaining steps.


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Federal Circuit Judges Spar over Post-FDA-Approval Application of Hatch-Waxman Safe Harbor

Nicolas Seckel | September 4, 2012

Momenta Pharma v. Amphastar Pharma

August 3, 2012

Panel:  Rader, Dyk and Moore.  Opinion by Moore.

Summary:

Momenta sued Amphastar for infringement of Momenta’s drug testing method.  Amphastar argued that its use of Momenta’s patented method for testing Amphastar’s commercial batches is covered by the exception to infringement for activities related to FDA regulatory review under the “safe harbor” provision of section 271(e)(1). The District Court issued a preliminary injunction against Amphastar, holding that the “safe harbor” is limited to pre-FDA approval activities.  The Federal Circuit vacates the injunction.  Amphastar’s activities took place after FDA marketing approval of Amphastar’s product, but the plain language of the statutory “safe harbor” covers all uses of a patented invention that are “reasonably related” to submission of information under FDA regulatory review.  Since Amphastar’s manufacturing batch testing was mandated by FDA for commercialization, and not “routine” information gathered “voluntarily,” Amphastar’s use of Momenta’s patented method is exempted by the “safe harbor.”


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Seagate Objective-Reckless Standard is Question of Law to be Decided by Judge and Subject to De Novo Review

Sadao Kinashi | June 28, 2012

Bard Peripheral v. W.L.Gore (on rehearing)

June 14, 2012

Panel:  Newman, Gajarsa, and Linn.  Opinion by Gajarsa. Dissent-in-Part by Newman.

Summary:

Enhanced damages on willful infringement can be awarded under 35 U.S.C. § 284.   For determining willful infringement, In re Seagate established a two-pronged test requiring showing that (1) the infringer acted despite an objectively high likelihood of infringement, and that (2) the infringer knew or should have known the risk.  CAFC established the rule that prong (1) tends not to be met where an infringer relies on a reasonable defense.  According to CAFC, while an assessment of prong (2) may be a question of fact, determination of prong (1) entails an objective assessment of potential defenses based on the risk, and in considering prong (1) of Seagate, the court is in the best position for making the determination of reasonableness.  Thus, CAFC ruled that the objective recklessness is best decided by the judge as a question of law subject to de novo review, even though there are underlying mixed questions of law and fact.

米国特許法284条により、判事は故意侵害に対して損害賠償額を増額することができる。Seagate判決は、故意侵害の立証として、 (1)客観的に侵害可能性が高いにも関らず侵害者が行動したこと、及び(2)侵害者がそのリスクを認識していたこと、を求める二要因基準を確立した。また、侵害者が合理的な抗弁に依存している場合は、要因(1)は通常満足されないことも確立してきている。要因(2) は事実問題であるが、要因(1)の判断は、侵害のリスクに関する、潜在的な抗弁の客観的な評価を含む。したがって、客観的無謀さは、法律と事実の混合した問題に基づくものではあるが、法律問題として、判事が判断するのが最善であり、控訴において全面的に見直されるものである。

For our discussion of the CAFC’s previous holding in this case, please click here.


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