September 2016

Complaint Dismissed Two Uncharted Patent Claims Under Iqbal/Twombley Notice Pleading Standard

For those paying attention to the evolving law of notice pleading patent infringement, a Florida court confirmed that patent plaintiffs face a raised bar under Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) and Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)). The plaintiff, who provided a claim chart alleging a theory that one patent claim was infringed, could not survive a motion to dismiss the complaint with respect to two other patent claims that were not charted, ruled the court in Werteks Closed Joint Stock Co. v. Vitacost.com, Inc., No. 16-cv-60695-GAYLES (S.D. Fla. Sept. 20, 2016). The plaintiff alleged infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,350,077, but conceded that the claim chart attached to the complaint charted only claim 1, and not claims 2 and 3.  The plaintiff then argued that the infringement chart for claim 1 “puts the Defendants on sufficient notice ‘as to at least one claim alleged to be infringed and [to] have adequate information to respond to the Complaint.’” The court didn’t buy it: “[t]he pleading standard set forth in Iqbal and Twombly requires more than the legal conclusion that the Defendants have infringed on claims 2 and 3 of the ’077 Patent, and much more… Read More »Complaint Dismissed Two Uncharted Patent Claims Under Iqbal/Twombley Notice Pleading Standard

Federal Circuit Reminder that “Comprising” is Open-Ended in Patent Claims

Construing patent a patent claim whose preamble recited an “electrical power distribution plugstrip comprising in combination” a variety of elements listed in the body of the claim, the Federal Circuit overturned a finding of infringement based on a construction that “the claimed invention was limited to a single, fully-integrated device.”  Server Technology, Inc. v. American Power Conversion Corp., No. 2015-1605 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 23, 2016). Claim 15 of U.S. Patent No. 7,702,771 recites: An electrical power distribution device connectable to one or more electrical loads in an electrical equipment rack, the electrical power distribution device comprising in combination: an enclosure having a length that is longer than a width of the enclosure; a power input penetrating the enclosure; a plurality of power outputs disposed along an area on a face of said length of the enclosure, each among the plurality of power outputs being removably connectable to a corresponding one of said one or more electrical loads; a plurality of power control relays disposed in the enclosure, each among said plurality of power control relays being connected to said power input and to one or more corresponding power outputs among said plurality of power outputs; a digital current information display… Read More »Federal Circuit Reminder that “Comprising” is Open-Ended in Patent Claims

What Is a Party’s Burden in Seeking a Determination of Patent-Ineligibility?

A court denied a patent infringement defendant’s motion to dismiss under FRCP 12(b)(6); the defendant, alleging that four patents were invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 for failing to recite patent-eligible matter, failed in its burden of stating a representative claim.  JSDQ Mesh Technologies LLC v. Fluidmesh Networks, No. 1-16-cv-00212 (D. Del. Sept. 6, 2016). The patents at issue were US 7,286,828; US 7,916,648; RE43,675; and RE44,607.  The first question for the court was whether the plaintiff had met its burden of establishing a claim representative of all claims asserted across the four asserted patents.  A prior Delaware case had explained that the movant needed to show (1) that all of the claims related to the same abstract idea, (2) that claim construction was not needed, and (3) that there was some “set of facts that could be proven relating to preemption, questions of patentability, or whether the claims ‘solve a technological problem,’ that would result in a determination that one or more of the claims are patent-eligible.” The defendant had “describe[d] claim 47 as ‘disclos[ing] a method of “providing a radio communication route” among nodes “independent of a central computer.”’”  The defendant then alleged that all asserted claims were “substantially… Read More »What Is a Party’s Burden in Seeking a Determination of Patent-Ineligibility?

Patent Claims to Cellular Network Messaging Survive Summary Judgment

Case:  Comcast Cable Communications, LLC et al. v. Sprint Communications Company L.P., No. 12-859 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 24, 2016). Result: Summary judgment of patent-ineligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 denied (in the course of deciding a myriad of summary judgment motions). Patents: U.S. Patent No. 6,885,870 (“Transferring of a message”).  Claim 1 recites: A method for inquiring about information relating to a wireless terminal of a cellular network, from the cellular network by a messaging server external to the cellular network, wherein the method comprises: sending an inquiry from the messaging server to the cellular network to determine said information relating to the terminal, the inquiry comprising a first identifying said terminal, the first identifier being a specific identifier external to the cellular network; mapping said first identifier to a specific second identifier in the cellular network, the second identifier being an internal identifier of the cellular network; determining said information relating to the terminal with the aid of said second identifier; sending a response message in response to said inquiry from the cellular network to said messaging server external to the cellular network, in which response message the information relating to said terminal is indicated with the aid of… Read More »Patent Claims to Cellular Network Messaging Survive Summary Judgment

Claims to Software for Automating Manual Tasks Are Patent-Eligible, Says Federal Circuit

After characterizing the patents as “[e]ssentially . . . aim[ing] to automate a 3-D animator’s tasks,” the Federal Circuit held that claims of patents entitled “Method for automatically animating lip synchronization and facial expression of animated characters” are patent-eligible.  McRO, Inc. v. Bandai Namco Games America Inc. (Fed. Cir. Sept. 13, 2016). The Federal Circuit thus reversed a two-year-old decision from the Central District of California.  The lower court had granted a Rule 12(c) motion to dismiss on grounds that claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,307,576 and 6,611,278 were invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101.  The Federal Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Reyna, joined by Judges Taranto and Stoll, stated its holding “that the ordered combination of claimed steps, using unconventional rules that relate subsequences of phonemes, timings, and morph weight sets, is not directed to an abstract idea and is therefore patent-eligible subject matter under § 101.” The parties and the court agreed that claim 1 of the ’756 patent was representative: A method for automatically animating lip synchronization and facial expression of three-dimensional characters comprising: obtaining a first set of rules that define output morph weight set stream as a function of phoneme sequence and time of… Read More »Claims to Software for Automating Manual Tasks Are Patent-Eligible, Says Federal Circuit

A Federal Circuit Reminder on the Limits of Obviousness

The circumstances are few in which “common sense” can substitute for a claim limitation missing from the prior art in an obviousness rejection under 35 U.S.C. § 103, the Federal Circuit explained in Arendi S.A.R.L. v. Apple, Inc., No. 2015-2073 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 10, 2016) (opinion by Judge O’Malley, joined by Judges Linn and Moore).  In an Inter Partes Review proceeding, the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board had found that claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,917,843 were unpatentable as obvious over prior art under Section 103.  The Federal Circuit reversed “[b]ecause the Board misapplied [the] law on the permissible use of common sense in an obviousness analysis.” Claim 1 of the ’843 patent, agreed to be representative, recites a “method for finding data related to the contents of a document using a first computer program running on a computer.”  The PTAB found the ’843 patent claims obvious over a single reference, U.S. Patent No. 5,859,636 to Pandit.  Pandit “teaches recognizing different classes of text in a document and providing suggestions based on it.” The Appellants argued that Pandit failed to render obvious the limitation from claim 1 shown in italics below: providing an input device, configured by the first… Read More »A Federal Circuit Reminder on the Limits of Obviousness

Patent Damages Must Be Supported by Substantial Evidence

Judge Gilstrap of the Eastern District of Texas granted a new trial on damages after Core Wireless (“Core”) was awarded a $3.5 million judgment against LG Electronics (“LG”) for infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 8,434,020 and 8,713,476. Core Wireless Licensing v. LG Electronics, No. 2:14-cv-911-JRG (E.D. Tex. Aug. 23, 2016).  In granting LG’s motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59 for a new trial on damages (among a number of post-trial motions that the court considered), the court found that the damage award was not supported by substantial evidence. To grant a new trial under Rule 59, the court may find “the verdict is against the weight of the evidence, the damages awarded are excessive, the trial was unfair, or prejudicial error was committed in its course.” The court must ensure that a jury’s award is supported by substantial evidence, and will grant a new trial when a jury’s damages award is clearly not supported by the evidence. Core sought a reasonable royalty and provided testimony from a damages expert based on the value of the Android phones sold by LG at the time of an April 2013 hypothetical royalty negotiation. The expert used an estimated value of the… Read More »Patent Damages Must Be Supported by Substantial Evidence