In a unanimous decision issued on March 23, 2020, the Supreme Court held that Congress’ attempt to strip states of their sovereign immunity from copyright infringement suits “lacked a valid constitutional basis.” (Slip Op. at 1.) Justice Kagan’s opinion in Allen v. Cooper, 589 U.S. ___ (2020), follows closely the Court’s prior decision in Florida Prepaid Postsecondary Ed. Expense Bd. V. College Savings Bank, 527 U.S. 627 (1999). That case held that Congress’ parallel attempt to abrogate sovereign immunity in the patent context was also unconstitutional.
In American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc., v. Neapco Holdings, LLC (Fed. Cir. Oct. 3, 2019), a split Federal Circuit panel affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment holding claims from plaintiff’s patent ineligible under § 101. Even among the many post-Alice Federal Circuit decisions that have fractured the court, American Axle stands out for several reasons. Some background on the technology at issue helps to illustrate why.
In Curver Luxembourg, SARL v. Home Expressions, Inc. (Fed. Cir. September 12, 2019), the Federal Circuit held that claim language can limit the scope of a design patent to a specific article of manufacture even where the patent’s drawing figures never depict that article. In doing so, the court rejected the patentee Curver’s argument that patent coverage should be defined solely by the patent drawing figures, which showed an ornamental surface design disembodied from any article of manufacture. After limiting the design patent’s scope to the article of manufacture mentioned in the claim, the Federal Circuit affirmed the grant of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion that dismissed Curver’s infringement claim.
Earlier this year, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) initiated a new series of reports, WIPO Technology Trends. The first report in the series, entitled Artificial Intelligence, looks at artificial intelligence (AI) patenting trends and issues across industries and around the world.
Since the Supreme Court decided Octane Fitness, LLC v. ICON Health & Fitness, Inc., 572 U.S. 545 (2014), motions for attorneys’ fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285 have become increasingly common under the new more relaxed standard for demonstrating an “exceptional case.” In roughly this same time period, post-issuance challenges such as IPRs have also became a key strategy for many patent infringement defendants.
In MyMail, Ltd. v. OoVoo, LLC, IAC Search & Media, Inc., 934 F.3d 1373 (Fed. Cir. August 16, 2019), a split Federal Circuit panel held that the district court erred by declining to resolve the parties’ claim construction dispute before deciding patent subject matter eligibility under Section 101
35 U.S.C. § 251 governs claims that are broadened through a reissue. Specifically, Section 251(a) provides:
Whenever any patent is, through error, deemed wholly or partly inoperative or invalid … by reason of the patentee claiming more or less than he had a right to claim in the patent, … the Director shall … reissue the patent for the invention disclosed in the original patent …
Two Circuit Courts of Appeal have recently released significant decisions regarding the scope and application of 17 U.S.C. § 1782. Section 1782 provides that a federal district court may, upon application by any interested person, provide for discovery for use in a proceeding before a foreign or international tribunal.
35 U.S.C. § 315(b) states that “[a]n inter partes review may not be instituted if the petition requesting the proceeding is filed more than 1 year after the date on which the petitioner … is served with a complaint alleging infringement of the patent.” In a recent precedential decision, GoPro, Inc. v. 360Heros, Inc., No. IPR2018-01754 (P.T.A.B. Aug. 23, 2019), the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) held that § 315(b)’s one-year time bar is triggered by the service of process of a claim for infringement even if the party alleging infringement had no standing to bring such a claim.