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What makes SCOTUS’s assertions in patent law jurisprudence that there are these “exceptions” or additional “requirements” particularly annoying to many of us in the patent bar is that patent law is essentially statutory. In other words, there should be no “federal common law of patents” that allows SCOTUS (or any other court for that matter) to make “exceptions” to or make additional “requirements” for what is already expressly written in the patent statutes. Indeed, in other areas of federal law, SCOTUS has made it abundantly clear that “federal common law” doesn’t exist. The most famous example is Erie v. Tompkins where SCOTUS overturned its prior view of a “federal common law” applicable in cases involving diversity jurisdiction. So we in the patent bar may rightly ask: why does SCOTUS believe it can create what is, in essence, a “federal common law of patents” to supplant or modify the existing patent statutes?
This week on Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives will host almost every hearing that will relate to technology and innovation, including three hearings originally scheduled for last week but moved due to the national day of mourning for former President George H. W. Bush. Hearings in the House will focus on topics including advanced fuels for next generation engines, efforts to speed the development of innovative medical treatments, legislation for freeing up broadband Internet spectrum for public use and government IT acquisition processes. Over in the Senate, there will be a hearing in the middle of the week on Chinese espionage that will explore how entities in that country have been involved in cyberattacks and Internet piracy against American targets.
On the morning of Tuesday, December 4th, the U.S. Supreme Court held oral arguments in the case of Helsinn Healthcare S.A. v. Teva Pharmaceutical USA (transcript of oral arguments here). This case asks the nation’s highest court to determine whether the sale of a patented invention which required the purchaser to keep the invention confidential (i.e.: a “secret sale”) qualifies as invalidating prior art under the on-sale bar found in 35 U.S.C. § 102(a)(1)... Justice Samuel Alito said that the most serious argument for Jay to deal with was the plain meaning of the new statutory language under the AIA; if “on sale” meant on sale publicly and privately, then the “or otherwise available to the public” language wouldn’t make much sense in the context of the statute.
The Qualcomm decision is unique in that it appears to be the first decision to require a SEP holder to license its patented technology to its competitors, and not just its downstream customers, on FRAND terms. This decision casts doubt on the longstanding practice, common in industries such as the telecommunication and automotive industries, in which SEP holders seek to secure “FRAND” licenses with downstream companies that make finished products, while refusing to license (or licensing on non-FRAND terms) those same SEPs to their competitors or other companies further up the supply chain (such as component suppliers). The decision also emphasizes U.S. courts’ focus on the express language of SSOs’ IPR policies and the willingness to review the SSO guidelines in interpreting the agreements SEP holders enter into with SSOs. In this regard, the decision may bode well for SEP implementers, given the court’s broad understanding of what it means to “practice” a relevant standard and its view that SEP holders’ FRAND obligations extend to all potential licensees, irrespective of their position in the supply chain.
Obtaining a patent can be the best business move you could ever make. On other hand, it may wind up costing you time, energy and a lot of money that you didn't need to spend. The investment placed into getting a patent may be wise, but it is important to realize that no one is simply going to show up on your doorstep with a money dump truck and unload lottery like winnings onto your stoop. The road to riches in the invention world is hazardous, has many detours and seldom goes as planned. That is why the first question you absolutely must ask yourself before you rush off to your friendly neighborhood patent attorney is this: Why do you want to get a patent?
Nokia Corporation announced it entered into a patent licensing agreement with Chinese mobile consumer electronics firm OPPO. Although terms of the deal weren’t disclosed by Nokia, the company did state that under the agreement, OPPO would make payments over a multi-year period... OPPO may not receive the same kind of attention that its domestic rivals Xiaomi and Huawei receive, but it has become a major competitor in the Chinese smartphone market in recent years. OPPO had the greatest market share of smartphone makers in terms of Chinese sales during 2016 when the company shipped 78.4 million units to achieve a 16.8 percent market share within the country.
The Federal Circuit recently affirmed the District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee’s dismissal of a declaratory judgment action based on a finding of lack of personal jurisdiction over the defendant. The Federal Circuit held that a defendant’s request for an injunction in a different forum, which may extend into the present forum if granted, does satisfy the “minimum contacts” prong of the test for personal jurisdiction. The Federal Circuit also made a distinction between (1) merely sending infringement notice letters into a forum and (2) sending a letter andtravelingto the forum state to discuss the alleged infringement. The Court held that letters alone do not satisfy the “minimum contacts” prong of the test.
The Federal Circuit issued a nonprecedential decision in Indivior Inc. v. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, S.A., which vacated a preliminary injunction handed out by the District of New Jersey in a Hatch-Waxman patent infringement case brought by British pharmaceutical firm Indivior. The Federal Circuit panel majority concluded that the district court had abused its discretion in granting the injunction. The majority found that the ‘305 patent’s specification disparaged, and therefore disclaimed, the method of drying the films with the use of conventional methods which only dry the top of the film. Judge Pauline Newman authored a dissenting opinion in which she explained she would have found the district court’s preliminary injunction grant sustained on appeal. According to Judge Newman, the majority’s decision imported the drying limitation from the ‘514 patent claims into the ‘305 patent claims despite the fact that the ‘305 patent was amended specifically to remove this limitation.
Last week, in Ancora Technologies v HTC America, the Federal Circuit reversed a lower court’s invalidity ruling under 35 USC §101 by concluding that Ancora’s claimed subject matter was concrete—not abstract—because it assigned specific functions to specific parts of a computer to improve computer security... This case is yet another in a string of post-Alice cases suggesting that patents should be drafted with an emphasis on the technical problem and technical solution delivered by the claims.
On Monday, December 3rd, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for writ of certiorari in Carl M. Burnett v. Panasonic Corporation, declining to take up the case on appeal from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. This is now the latest case involving questions of patent-eligibility for an invention under 35 U.S.C. § 101 declined by the nation’s highest court. In this case, however, the Supreme Court hasn’t addressed the patentability of the relevant subject matter, namely electronic data and electromagnetic analog and digital signals, since 1853.