Patent Law and the Supreme Court: Patent Certiorari Petitions Denied in 2016

Patent Law and the Supreme Court: Patent Certiorari Petitions Denied in 2016

Publications

WilmerHale compiles lists of certiorari petitions that raise patent-law issues. This page contains a consolidated list of all recently denied petitions, organized in reverse chronological order by date of certiorari petition. 

Recently pending, granted and denied certiorari petitions

DBN Holding, Inc. v. International Trade Com'n, No. 16-63

Questions Presented:

19 U.S.C. § 1337(a)(1)(B)(i) gives the International Trade Commission jurisdiction to investigate and to deal with the importation of “articles that . . . infringe a valid and enforceable” patent. Yet in a series of recent cases that have repeatedly and deeply divided the Federal Circuit, the Commission has been permitted to expand its jurisdiction to regulate the importation of articles that do not infringe any patent but are merely associated with the alleged infringing conduct of U.S. companies on U.S. soil. And in the decision below, the Commission exercised its expanded jurisdiction to enforce a patent that has been finally adjudicated to be invalid by the federal courts. The questions presented are:

  1. Whether the International Trade Commission's jurisdiction over the importation of “articles that . . . infringe a valid and enforceable” patent extends to articles that do not infringe any patent.
  2. Whether the Federal Circuit erred in affirming the Commission's assessment of civil penalties for the domestic infringement of a patent that has been finally adjudicated to be invalid.

Cert. petition filed 7/13/16, conference 11/22/16. Petition denied 11/28/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Grünenthal GmbH v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., 16-296 (vide 16-289)

Questions Presented:

The U.S. patent statute provides two separate bases for denying patentability over prior art, (1) lack of novelty (or anticipation) under 35 U.S.C. § 102, where the claimed invention is identically described in the prior art, and (2) obviousness under 35 U.S.C. § 103, where the claimed invention, though not identically described in the prior art, would nonetheless have been obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art. A critical distinction between these separate requirements is that objective evidence of patentability, such as trial and failure of others, skepticism, unexpected results, industry acclaim, and commercial success, must be considered in evaluating obviousness under § 103 but may be ignored in assessing lack of novelty under § 102. Thus, substantive rights hinge on properly applying § 103 in situations where the stringent identity test of § 102 is not met.

Given the importance of this distinction, courts have permitted resort to unappreciated “inherency” to fill voids in allegedly anticipating prior art disclosures only where the evidence unambiguously demonstrated that the missing feature was necessarily present in an otherwise anticipatory previously-disclosed embodiment.

Thus, the questions presented here are:

  1. Whether the Federal Circuit violated the statutory line between lack of novelty and obviousness in this case by finding invalidity under § 102 where the prior art did not describe at least two of the claimed elements of the invention, thereby improperly refusing to consider significant objective evidence of inventiveness; and
  2. Whether evidence from testing an alleged prior art embodiment that cannot anticipate can support a finding of “inherent anticipation” of an embodiment not described or tested?

Cert. petition filed 9/1/16, conference 11/10/16. Petition denied 11/14/16.

CAFC Opinion, No CAFC Argument

Purdue Pharma L.P. v. Epic Pharma, LLC, No. 16-289 (vide 16-296)

Question Presented:

The Patent Act states that, in determining whether a claimed invention, though novel, is impermissibly obvious, the touchstone is whether the “differences” between that invention and the prior art are such that the invention “as a whole” would have been obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the art. 35 U.S.C. § 103 (emphasis added); see also 35 U.S.C. § 103(a) (2006). As this Court has instructed, that inquiry is holistic and flexible, see KSR Int'l Co. v. Teleflex Inc., 550 U.S. 398 (2007), and, at least since Chief Justice Taft authored the Court's decision in Eibel Process Co. v. Minnesota & Ontario Paper Co., 261 U.S. 45 (1923), it has taken into account a patentee's discovery of a nonobvious source of the problem that the patent overcomes.

Here, the inventors discovered that, in the manufacture of the prescription pharmaceutical oxycodone, a previously unknown molecule was being created and causing unwanted amounts of a potential toxin to appear in the final drug product. The inventors' discovery of this previously unknown molecule allowed them to create the patented invention, the first-ever oxycodone substantially free of the potential toxin.

The question presented is:

Whether the inventors' discovery is relevant to the obviousness inquiry (as section 103 and Eibel Process command), or whether that discovery and other indicia of invention may be ignored as a matter of law, as the Federal Circuit did here.

Cert. petition filed 9/1/16, waiver of respondent Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Mylan, Inc. filed 9/29/16, conference 11/10/16. Petition denied 11/14/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Cooper v. Square, Inc., No. 16-76

Question Presented:

Whether 35 U.S.C. §318(b) violates Article III of the United States Constitution, to the extent that it empowers an executive agency tribunal to assert judicial power canceling private property rights amongst private parties embroiled in a private federal dispute of a type known in the common law courts of 1789, rather than merely issue an advisory opinion as an adjunct to a trial court.

This is the same question presented as in Cooper v. Lee, No. 15-955. As discussed below, these two Petitions by the same Petitioner (this one on direct review, the other on collateral review) should be held and decided together.

Cert. petition filed 7/13/16, waiver of respondent Square, Inc. filed 8/12/16, response requested 9/9/16, conference 11/10/16. Petition denied 11/14/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

In re Trading Technologies Intern., Inc., No. 16-446

Question Presented:

Given that 35 U.S.C. § 100(b) sets forth that a patent eligible “process” includes a “new use of a known process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter, or material,” did the Federal Circuit err by holding that an indisputably new and non-obvious use (i.e., game steps) of an existing manufacture (i.e., playing cards) was patent ineligible under Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int'l, 134 S.Ct. 2347 (2014)?

Cert. petition filed 9/29/16, waiver of respondent Michelle K. Lee, Director, United States Patent and Trademark Office et al., filed 10/14/16, conference 11/4/16. Petition denied 11/7/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

CSP Technologies, Inc. v. Sud-Chemie AG, No. 16-238

Question Presented:

Whether the Federal Circuit erred by limiting a claim term having an unambiguous plain and ordinary meaning to a narrow implicit definition used in connection with some but not all embodiments disclosed in the specification.

Cert. petition filed 8/22/16, conference 10/28/16. Petition denied 10/31/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Automated Creel Systems, Inc. v. Shaw Industries Group, Inc., No. 16-108

Questions Presented:

  1. Whether the Federal Circuit erred in holding that, even if the Patent Trial and Appeal Board exceeds its statutory authority in instituting an inter partes examination proceeding, the Board's decision whether to institute an inter partes review proceeding is judicially unreviewable at any time; and
  2. Whether it was proper for the Federal Circuit to endorse the Patent Office's disregard of controlling law, effectively overturning binding precedent without any justification.

Cert. petition filed 7/21/16, waiver of respondent Shaw Industries Group, Inc. filed 8/18/16, conference 10/28/16. Petition denied 10/31/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. v. Dickstein Shapiro, LLP, No. 16-305

Questions Presented:

In the 1980s, Petitioner Encyclopaedia Britannica (“Britannica”) developed a pioneering multimedia search system that, for the first time, was able to search through vast amounts of multimedia information and display this information in a user-friendly manner. When Britannica sought to enforce patents obtained on this system, it was discovered that certain patent application filing errors committed by Respondent Dickstein Shapiro, LLP (“Dickstein”) rendered these patents invalid. Almost a decade later, Britannica's malpractice case against Dickstein was dismissed on the pleadings in light of this Court's precedent in Alice Corp. Party Ltd. v. CLS Bank International, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014), despite the presence of a pending motion to conduct discovery and factual disputes regarding whether the patents at issue presented an “abstract idea” or lacked “an inventive concept.”

  1. Did the District of Columbia Circuit err in holding, in contrast to the Seventh Circuit, that the “case-within-a-case” portion of a malpractice action is governed by jurisprudence arising after the malpractice injury rather than at the time of the injury?
  2. Can a patent be invalidated under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and Alice on the pleadings, in the presence of factual disputes and a lack of evidentiary support that the patented invention is an “abstract idea” or that it lacks “an inventive concept?”

Cert. petition filed 9/8/16, waiver of respondent Dickstein Shapiro, LLP filed 9/12/16, conference 10/7/16. Petition denied 10/11/16.

No CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Geotag, Inc. v. Google Inc., No. 16-268

Question Presented:

Whether a compulsory counterclaim can satisfy the case or controversy requirement under Article III of the Constitution if there was no case or controversy at the time the complaint was filed?

Cert. petition filed 8/26/16, waiver of respondent Google Inc. filed 9/8/16, conference 10/7/16. Petition denied 10/11/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Merck & Cie v. Gnosis S.P.A., No. 16-125

Questions Presented:

  1. In light of Congress's design and the underlying policies for the America Invents Act, should judge-made fact-findings in inter partes review proceedings be reviewed on appeal for clear error, or may the appellate court rubber-stamp such fact-findings if supported by substantial evidence?
  2. Does the Federal Circuit exceed its authority when it upholds a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) invalidity decision based on a rationale or ground not explicitly made by the PTAB?

Cert. petition filed 7/25/16, conference 10/7/16. Petition denied 10/11/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

MCM Portfolio LLC v. Hewlett-Packard Co., No. 15-1330

Questions Presented:

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, Pub. L. No. 112-29, 125 Stat. 284 (2011), created a new proceeding that permits the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to institute inter partes review (IPR) proceedings to adjudicate the validity of granted patents. In these adversarial proceedings, intended as an alternative to litigation, the PTAB essentially plays the role of a court. In just a few short years, IPR proceedings have resulted in the invalidation of thousands of patent claims, including in this case.

This Court is considering procedural issues relating to IPR in Cuozzo Speed Technologies, Inc. v. Lee, No. 15-446 (argued Apr. 25, 2016). The Questions Presented by this Petition are:

  1. Does IPR violate Article III of the Constitution?
  2. Does IPR violate the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution?

Cert. petition filed 4/29/16, conference 9/26/16, conference 10/7/16. Petition denied 10/11/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Cooper v. Lee, No. 15-955

Question Presented:

Nearly 30 years have passed since this Court last applied Article III Separation of Powers principles to declare the authority of Congress to empower an executive agency to adjudicate a private dispute. More recently in a non-agency context, in Stern v. Marshall, 131 S. Ct. 2594 (2011), Justice Scalia's concurring opinion questioned the “multifactors relied upon today [that] seem to have entered our [public rights] jurisprudence almost randomly.”  Id. at 2621 (Scalia, J., concurring). The two other Stern opinions (majority and dissent) have all members of this Court expressing dissatisfaction with the clarity of Article III public rights jurisprudence: either it “has not been entirely consistent,” id. at 2611 (majority), or preceding cases “do not admit of easy synthesis.” Id. at 2624 (dissent) (citation omitted). Congress continues to pass laws against this murky backdrop, risking inappropriate expansion of the administrative state.

The question presented is whether 35 U.S.C. §318(b) violates Article III of the United States Constitution, to the extent that it empowers an executive agency tribunal to assert judicial power canceling private property rights amongst private parties embroiled in a private federal dispute of a type known in the common law courts of 1789, rather than merely issue an advisory opinion as an adjunct to a trial court.

Cert. petition filed 1/21/16, conference 5/12/16, conference 9/26/16, conference 10/7/16. Petition denied 10/11/16.

CAFC Opinion was unpublished, No CAFC Argument

Pactiv, LLC v. Lee, No. 16-205

Question Presented:

Congress has established an ex parte reexamination mechanism at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (“PTO”), which permits any individual to submit prior art references and request reexamination of a granted patent claim. Before initiating an ex parte reexamination, the PTO Director must first find that the prior art reference raises a “substantial new question of patentability.” If the Director determines that such a question is raised, “the determination will include an order for reexamination of the patent for resolution of the question.” 35 U.S.C. § 304 (emphasis added). The question presented is:

Whether, because Section 304 requires the Director to issue an order for a reexamination “for resolution of the question,” the “substantial new question of patentability” included in the Director's order delineates the scope of the ex parte reexamination.

Cert. petition filed 8/12/16, waiver of respondent Michelle K. Lee, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director, Patent and Trademark Office to respond filed 9/2/16, conference 9/26/16. Petition denied 10/3/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Essociate, Inc. v. Clickbooth.com, LLC, No. 16-195

Questions Presented:

A patent claiming simply an instruction to implement an abstract idea on a computer is ineligible for protection under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The courts below, and hundreds of other decisions, have broadened that holding to find abstract ideas and lack of inventive concepts even in patents that solve specific technological problems using new processes. Should this Court clarify the meanings of “abstract idea” and “inventive process”?

Cert. petition filed 8/8/16, waiver of respondent Kjell Olmarker filed 7/18/16, conference 9/26/16. Petition denied 10/3/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Genetic Technologies Ltd. v. Merial L.L.C., No. 15-1518

Questions Presented:

As of the priority date for U.S. Patent No. 5,612,179 in 1989, scientists identified DNA haplotypes through the direct identification of allelic variants within coding DNA regions. Scientists ignored non-coding DNA because they believed those regions were merely accumulated debris or “junk DNA.” Dr. Malcolm Simons discovered that, in the DNA of unrelated individuals, a polymorphism in a non-coding DNA region and a coding region allele could be inherited together. This natural phenomenon is known as “linkage disequilibrium.” The discovery prompted Dr. Simons to invent a new and useful process for detecting a coding region allele of a multi-allelic genetic locus by interrogating a non-coding DNA sequence that is in linkage disequilibrium with that multi-allelic genetic locus. Dr. Simons' invention, as reflected in claim 1 of the '179 patent, was advantageous for a number of reasons, including that it was more reliable and quicker than prior art identification processes that used direct identification of allelic variants.

On de novo review, a Federal Circuit panel evaluated the patent-eligibility of claim 1 in response to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion and under the framework established by Mayo Collaborative Servs. v. Prometheus Labs., Inc., 132 S. Ct. 1289 (2012), and Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int'l, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014). The panel found that claim 1 is directed to a “natural law” comprising both: (1) “the relationship between non-coding and coding sequences in linkage disequilibrium”—undisputedly a naturally occurring phenomenon; and (2) “the tendency of such non-coding sequences to be representative of the linked coding sequences”—which the parties disputed as a matter of fact, and GTG argued was Dr. Simons' application of the natural occurring phenomenon to achieve his intended purpose.

The panel also found the claimed laboratory techniques to be used in a routine and conventional manner, although it recognized “that at the time the '179 patent was filed, no one was 'using the non-coding sequence as a surrogate marker for the coding region allele . . .' [and claim 1] was found by the patent examiner to be novel over the prior art and survived multiple rounds of reexamination.”

The panel then affirmed the Delaware District Court's judgment that claim 1 is patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

The questions presented are:

  1. Whether the Federal Circuit properly concluded—in conflict with other decisions of the Federal Circuit and this Court—that the definition of a patent-ineligible concept under the Mayo/Alice framework may include both a natural phenomenon and an inventor's ingenuity in applying that natural phenomenon to a new and useful purpose?
  2. Whether a Rule 12(b)(6) motion may be properly granted based on patent-ineligibility—as the Federal Circuit determined below in conflict with other Federal Circuit decisions—when the record plausibly demonstrates that the claimed process inventively applies a natural phenomenon for a new and useful purpose, the claimed process does not improperly preempt the natural phenomenon, and the claimed process is not routine and conventional?

Cert. petition filed 8/8/16, waiver of respondent Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. filed 8/15/16, waiver of respondents Merial L.L.C. et al., filed 8/15/16, conference 9/26/16. Petition denied 10/3/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

In re Tobinick, No. 15-1544

Questions Presented:

  1. In an interference, whether the Patent Trial and appeal board can deny a Party's compelling request to file a motion and actual evidence showing that the opposing party committed inequitable conduct by submitting unmistakably false expert witness testimony.
  2. Whether, despite determining that the “inequitable conduct may be revisited,” the Patent Trial and Appeal Board erred in denying Tobinick's Motion 5 to exclude evidence (four affidavits by Olmarker's expert, Dr. Andersson) explaining that the unmistakably false testimony was submitted intentionally and as part of a deliberate scheme to mislead the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

Cert. petition filed 6/6/16, waiver of respondent Kjell Olmarker filed 7/18/16, conference 9/26/16. Petition denied 10/3/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Driessen v. Sony Music Ent., No. 15-1518

Questions Presented:

The federal courts in this case evaluated the plaintiffs' patent claims using a corollary to the inter partes review called a “mini-Markman hearing.” This type of trial proceeding has become a shortened alternative to fully litigated infringement disputes. In mini‑Markman proceedings, courts construe the meaning of claim terms prior to fact discovery without consideration of prior art, field of endeavor, anticipation of invention, or infringement. Some judges and patent lawyers have called it an “early claim dispositive” hearing with the goal of “quick” and “cost-effective” conclusion to the litigation. A characteristic of the proceeding is that any meaning that can be imparted from the claim terms or phrases themselves can be weighed contra preferentem against the patent holder.

Unlike the broadest reasonable interpretation standard as used in inter partes review, mini-Markman proceedings use what is known as the acontextual branch of the plain and ordinary meaning standard.  Procedural removal of the prior art field of endeavor from consideration while at the same time maintaining the rule against importation of limitations from the specification, by its very design, produces an imbalance between the meaning of claim terms in the claim itself and the meaning imparted by the invention. The guarding against importation of limitations from the specification stands alone and the invention carries no effect on the meaning of the claim terms.

In a quick decision styled “non-precedential” the Federal Circuit affirmed the early claim dispositive mini-Markman proceedings, withdrawing from the rule that we construe claim terms in light of the field of invention according to the understanding of a person having ordinary skill in the art. The result is that any and all dictionary definitions that could be implied from the claim itself will impart meaning to the claim. Federal Circuit approval will facilitate more mini-Markman proceedings, giving rise to the questions presented as follows:

  1. Whether the court of appeals erred in affirming the exclusion of the invention and field of endeavor from consideration of claim context during early dispositive claim construction proceedings using the plain and ordinary meaning standard?
  2. If eliminating the invention and art field from consideration of claim context during early dispositive claim construction is appropriate, whether the court of appeals erred in affirming the construing the scope of claims contra preferentem based on unreasonable dictionary implications when the doctrine of claim differentiation and reasonable implications gleaned from the specification and drawings give the claim terms meaning in light of the invention, while avoiding the importation of limitations from the specification?
  3. Whether the Court should hold the petition without action until an opinion may be delivered in Cuozzo Speed Techs. v. Lee, U.S. 15-446 and/or grant the petition, vacate the judgment below, and remand to the Federal Circuit for further consideration in light of a decision in Cuozzo Speed Techs. v. Lee?

Cert. petition filed 6/15/16, waiver of respondent Sony Music Entertainment et al., filed 7/15/16, conference 9/26/16. Petition denied 10/3/16.

CAFC Opinion, No CAFC Argument

Trading Techs. Intern. Inc. v. Lee, No. 15-1516

Question Presented:

Did the court of appeals err in denying mandamus and allowing the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) to conduct a trial outside of its jurisdiction in a covered business method (“CBM”) review on a patent that is clearly and indisputably not a CBM patent, in contravention of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“ALA”)?

Cert. petition filed 6/16/16, waiver of respondent Michelle K. Lee, Director, United States Patent and Trademark Office filed 6/30/16, conference 9/26/16. Petition denied 10/3/16.

No CAFC Opinion (appeal is from denial of write of mandamus), No CAFC Argument

Jericho Sys. Corp. v. Axiomatics, Inc., No. 15-1502

Question Presented:

Whether, under this Court's precedent in Alice Corp. Party Ltd. v. CLS Bank International, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014), and Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 132 S. Ct. 1289 (2012), a patent may be invalidated as an “abstract idea” under 35 U.S.C. § 101 when it claims a specific implementation and does not preempt other uses of the abstract idea.

Cert. petition filed 6/10/16, waiver of respondents Axiomatics, Inc. filed 6/15/16, conference 9/26/16. Petition denied 10/3/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

MacDermid Printing Solutions, LLC v. E.I. DuPont De Nemours & Co., No. 15-1499

Question Presented:

Whether the Federal Circuit has erred in holding that there “must” be a proven “reasonable expectation of success” in a claimed combination invention in order for it to be held “obvious” under 35 U.S.C. § 103(a).

Cert. petition filed 6/9/16, waiver of right of respondent E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company filed 6/14/16, conference 9/26/16. Petition denied 10/3/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Sys., Inc., No. 15-1446

Questions Presented:

  1. Must the Federal Circuit follow this Court's holding in Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133 (2000), a non-patent case, regarding which evidence must be disregarded and which evidence must be credited when reviewing a decision on judgment as a matter of law regarding patent infringement?
  2. Whether, and under what circumstances, the Seventh Amendment permits the Federal Circuit to refuse to credit the technical testimony of qualified expert—unchallenged under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993)—when overturning a jury's verdict on the factual issue of direct infringement.
  3. Whether, and under what circumstances, the Seventh Amendment permits the Federal Circuit to reject the evidentiary support for a qualified technical expert's testimony that the Accused Products operate in an infringing manner under the applicable claim construction and overturn a jury's verdict of infringement supported by that testimony.

Cert. petition filed 5/27/16, waiver of respondent Cisco Systems, Inc. filed 6/2/16, response requested 6/15/16, conference 9/26/16. Petition denied 10/3/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Inc., No. 15-1402

Question Presented:

The Hatch-Waxman Act safe harbor provides that “[i]t shall not be an act of infringement to . . . use . . . a patented invention . . . solely for uses reasonably related to the development and submission of information under a Federal law which regulates the manufacture, use, or sale of drugs[.]” 35 U.S.C. § 271(e)(1). The question presented is:

Whether the safe harbor protects a generic drug manufacturer's bioequivalence testing that is performed only as a condition of maintaining FDA approval and is documented in records that must be submitted to the FDA upon request.

Cert. petition filed 5/17/16, waiver of respondent Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Inc. filed 5/23/16, conference 6/9/16, response requested 5/31/16, conference 9/26/16. Petition denied 10/3/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Commonwealth Scientific and Indus. Research Organisation v. Cisco Sys., Inc., No. 15-1440

Question Presented:

The Patent Act provides that a “[u]pon finding for the claimant the court shall award the claimant damages adequate to compensate for the infringement . . . .”  35 U.S.C. § 284.  In contravention of this broad language, the Federal Circuit has erected a rigid set of legal rules to control the determination of damages by triers of fact.  As a result, the Federal Circuit now exercises de novo review over inherently factual questions, resulting in routine reversals.

This Court has held with regard to another patent remedies provision that it is improper for the Federal Circuit to “superimposed an inflexible framework onto statutory text that is inherently flexible.”  Octane Fitness, LLC v. ICON Health & Fitness, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 1749, 1756 (2014).  And this Court is considering related questions in relation to another portion of section 284 in Stryker Corp. v. Zimmer, Inc., No. 14-1520, and Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc., 14-1513 (argued Feb. 23, 2016).

The question presented is:

Is the Federal Circuit's promulgation of rigid legal rules to control the weight to be given by the trier of fact to evidence of patent infringement damages proper under 35 U.S.C. § 284?

Cert. petition filed 5/25/16, waiver of respondent Cisco Systems, Inc. filed 6/3/16, conference 6/26/16. Petition denied 6/27/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Interval Licensing LLC v. Lee, No. 15-716

Question Presented:

Can the Patent and Trademark Office appropriately apply the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard in construing patent claims in post-grant validity challenges?

Cert. petition filed 11/27/15, conference 4/15/16, conference 6/26/16. Petition denied 6/27/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Versata Dev. Group, Inc. v. SAP Am., Inc., No. 15-1145

Questions Presented:

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, Pub. L. No. 112-29, 125 Stat. 284 (2011) (“AIA”), created a new post-grant procedure at the US Patent and Trademark Office to address “the validity of covered business method patents.” Id. § 18(a)(1). The AIA defines a “covered business method patent” (“CBM”) as “a patent that claims a method or corresponding apparatus for performing data processing or other operations used in the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service.” Id. § 18(d)(1). The statute exempts “patents for technological inventions” from CBM review. Id. The questions presented are:

  1. Whether the phrase “covered business method patent”—and “financial product or service”—encompasses any patent claim that is “incidental to” or “complementary to a financial activity and relates to monetary matters.”
  2. Whether the Federal Circuit's standard for identifying patents falling within the “technological inventions” exception departs from statutory text by looking to whether the patent is valid, as opposed to whether it is “technological.”
  3. Whether a software-related invention that improves the performance of computer operations is patent-eligible subject matter.
  4. Whether, as this Court will decide in Cuozzo Speed Techs., LLC v. Lee, No. 15-446, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board should give claim terms their broadest reasonable construction in post-grant adjudicatory proceedings, or should instead give them their best construction.

Cert. petition filed 3/15/16, conference 6/23/16. Petition denied 6/27/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Sequenom, Inc. v. Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc., No. 15-1182

Question Presented:

In 1996, two doctors discovered cell-free fetal DNA (cffDNA) circulating in maternal plasma. They used that discovery to invent a test for detecting fetal genetic conditions in early pregnancy that avoided dangerous, invasive techniques. Their patent teaches technicians to take a maternal blood sample, keep the non-cellular portion (which was “previously discarded as medical waste”), amplify the genetic material within (which they alone knew about), and identify paternally inherited sequences as a means of distinguishing fetal and maternal DNA. Notably, this method does not preempt other demonstrated uses of cffDNA.

The Federal Circuit “agree[d]” that this invention “combined and utilized man-made tools of biotechnology in a new way that revolutionized prenatal care.” Pet. App. 18a. But it still held that Mayo Collaborative Servs. v. Prometheus Labs., 132 S. Ct. 1289 (2012), makes all such inventions patent-ineligible as a matter of law if their new combination involves only a “natural phenomenon” and techniques that were “routine” or “conventional” on their own. Multiple judges wrote separately below to explain that while this result was probably not intended by Mayo, it controlled, and only this Court could now “clarify” Mayo's reach to prevent a “crisis” in life-science innovation.

The Question Presented is:

Whether a novel method is patent-eligible where: (1) a researcher is the first to discover a natural phenomenon; (2) that unique knowledge motivates him to apply a new combination of known techniques to that discovery; and (3) he thereby achieves a previously impossible result without preempting other uses of the discovery?

Cert. petition filed 3/21/16, conference 6/23/16. Petition denied 6/27/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Stephenson v. Game Show Network, LLC, No. 15-1187

Question Presented:

Can the Patent and Trademark Office appropriately apply the “broadest reasonable interpretation” standard rather than the plain and ordinary meaning standard used by the federal courts in construing patent claims in inter partes reviews challenging patent validity?

Cert. petition filed 3/14/16, conference 5/26/16, conference 6/23/16. Petition denied 6/27/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Shukh v. Seagate Technology, LLC, No. 15-1285

Question Presented:

In FilmTec Corp. v. Allied-Signal, Inc., 939 F.2d 1568 (Fed. Cir. 1991), the Federal Circuit ruled without explanation that an agreement for the assignment of inventions that uses the words “hereby assign” automatically effects a present assignment of future inventions even though those inventions have not been conceived and do not exist at the time the agreement is signed.  The unexplained rationale, contrary to ancient rules of patent law and equity, was that such an assignment surrenders all concrete interests in an invention, thus depriving inventors of standing under 35 U.S.C. § 256 to correct inventorship of patents for those inventions from which they have wrongfully been omitted, and preventing the inventors from regaining their default ownership of the inventions and patents.

The question presented is whether FilmTec's “automatic assignment” rule should be overruled because it extinguishes inventors' constitutional and statutory rights to inventorship and ownership, especially in view of criticisms expressed by three Justices of this Court in Bd. of Trs. of theLeland Stanford Jr. University v. Roche Molecular Sys., Inc., 131 S. Ct. 2188, 2199 & 2203 (2011) (Stanford), and the reservation of that issue by the Court. Id. at 2194, n.2.

Cert. petition filed 3/16/16, conference 6/23/16. Petition denied 6/27/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Automotive Body Parts Ass'n v. Ford Global Technologies, LLC, No. 15-1314

Question Presented:

Whether a court order can be amended under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(a) based solely on the issuing judge's subsequent statement of intent when there is no contemporaneous record evidence or other circumstance supporting the issuing judge's subsequent statement of intent and a party's reliance interests are adversely affected by the amendment.

Cert. petition filed 4/21/16, waiver of respondent Ford Global Technologies, LLC filed 5/13/16, conference 6/23/16. Petition denied 6/27/16.

No CAFC Opinion, No CAFC Argument

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. v. Apple Inc., No. 15-1386

Question Presented:

Should the Court grant the petition, vacate the judgment below, and remand to dismiss the appeal as moot, in accordance with United States v. Munsingwear, Inc., 340 U.S. 36 (1950), where the Federal Circuit's opinion requiring a permanent injunction is mooted by a later Federal Circuit opinion eliminating all basis for liability by holding two of the three patents at issue invalid and the other one not infringed?

Cert. petition filed 5/13/16, conference 6/23/16. Petition denied 6/27/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Globus Medical, Inc. v. Bianco, No. 15-1203

Question Presented:

Did the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit have jurisdiction over an appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas rather than transferring the case to the Fifth Circuit, where that appeal presented only questions of state trade secret law, and the appeal therefore was not a “civil action arising under . . . any Act of Congress relating to patents” as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)(1) as amended by the AIA?

Cert. petition filed 3/22/16, waiver of respondent Sabatino Bianco filed 3/28/16, conference 4/22/16, respond requested 4/18/16, conference 6/16/16. Petition denied 6/20/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Newegg Inc. v. MacroSolve, Inc., No. 15-1369

Questions Presented:

  1. Whether, in resolving a motion for attorneys' fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285 brought by a defendant, the Eastern District of Texas and the Federal Circuit may disregard this Court's analytical framework provided in Octane Fitness, LLC v. ICON Health & Fitness, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 1749, 1756 (2014) (“Octane”), and create and apply a special, heightened burden of proof whenever the patent plaintiff avoids adjudication on the merits by unilaterally dismissing its case before judgment?
  2. Whether the Eastern District of Texas rule requiring proof by clear and convincing evidence that a lawsuit is frivolous improperly limits or circumvents Octane, in which this Court rejected both requirements?

Cert. petition filed 5/9/16, waiver of respondent MacroSolve, Inc. filed 5/16/16, conference 6/9/16. Petition denied 6/13/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Hospira, Inc., No. 15-1210

Questions Presented:

In Graham v. John Deere Co. of Kansas City, 383 U.S. 1 (1966), this Court recognized the relevance of “objective indicia” of nonobviousness (also known as “secondary considerations”)—including the long-felt need for the patented invention, the failure of others to arrive at the invention, and the invention's subsequent commercial success—in determining whether a patent's claims were obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art. In this case, the district court created, and the Federal Circuit affirmed, two categorical limitations on the consideration of objective indicia of nonobviousness that exist nowhere in the Patent Act or this Court's jurisprudence.

The questions presented are:

  1. Whether a court may categorically disregard objective indicia of a patent's nonobviousness merely because the considerations apply to one commercial embodiment of a patented invention, rather than all embodiments.
  2. Whether a court may categorically disregard objective evidence of a long-felt need for a patented invention merely because the need is not expressly recited in the patent claims.

Cert. petition filed 3/28/16, conference 5/26/16. Petition denied 5/31/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

WilmerHale represents petitioner Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Vehicle Intelligence and Safety LLC v. Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC, No. 15-1201

Questions Presented:

Vehicle Intelligence and Safety LLC respectfully petitions for a writ of certiorari to review the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, that while quoting the test in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int'l, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014) in deciding patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101, has however in actual practice, multiple-mutated this test into a universal pesticide to kill and invalidate virtually all patents. The first mutation makes every invention's inevitable use or application of an abstract idea (as a tool or stepping stone for a greater goal) in a claim element automatic, conclusive proof of preemption of the abstract idea by the entire patent claim. The second mutation demands teaching all the invention implementation details, which implicitly requires that every patent and every patent claim go back and re-teach in a vacuum the already known prior art all over again in order to have any qualifying inventive concepts for Alice test patent eligibility.

  1. Does the Supreme Court's Alice test for 35 U.S.C. § 101 patent eligibility, or 35 U.S.C. § 101, actually state that use or application of an abstract idea is automatic, conclusive proof of preemption of the abstract idea?
  2. Does the Supreme Court's Alice test for 35 U.S.C. § 101 patent eligibility actually require any patent which improves on already known prior art technology, to re-teach in a vacuum the already known prior art technology all over again in the specification and in each claim in order to have any inventive concepts that qualify for court recognition to satisfy the second step of the Supreme Court's Alice test?
  3. Doesn't a patent satisfy step two of the Supreme Court's Alice test for 35 U.S.C. § 101 patent eligibility by having independent patent claims that include multiple explicitly-stated inventive concepts?

Cert. petition filed 3/24/16, conference 5/26/16. Petition denied 5/31/16.

CAFC Opinion, No CAFC Argument

Dow Chemical Co. v. Nova Chemicals Corp. (Canada), No. 15-1160

Question Presented:

Whether factual findings underlying a district court's determination on the definiteness of a patent claim under the Patent Act, 35 U.S.C. 112, like a district court's factual findings underlying construction of a patent claim, are subject to appellate review only for clear error or substantial evidence rather than de novo review.

Cert. petition filed 3/16/16, conference 5/19/16. Petition denied 5/23/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Cloud Satchel, LLC v. Barnes & Noble, Inc., No. 15-1161

Questions Presented:

  1. Whether the decision below violates Article I, section 8 of the Constitution by ignoring the scope of patent eligibility adopted by Congress in 35 U.S.C. § 101 as interpreted by this Court?
  2. Whether the lower courts incorrectly applied both steps of the Alice Corporation v. CLS Bank framework for Section 101 to the patent claims at issue in contravention of this Court's jurisprudence on patent-eligibility, as well as 35 U.S.C. § 103, and related precedent of the Court on patent validity, including Graham v. John Deere?
  3. Whether the Federal Circuit's application of its modified Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 36 to affirm a trial court decision based on Alice effectively eliminate Cloud Satchel's right to appeal as set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)?

Cert. petition filed 3/16/16, waiver of respondent Amazon.com filed 3/22/16, waiver of respondent Barnes & Noble, Inc. filed 3/23/16, conference 4/22/16. Petition denied 4/25/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Taş v. Beachy,  No. 15-1089

Questions Presented:

Concerning a patent application claiming a new drug treatment of tumor-bearing human that produces a specific effect in the tumor cells and shrinkage or disappearance of the tumor, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decided that the statement of a paragraph copied from patent disclosures of others about uses of different compounds provides written description despite no evidence in the specification of the application for the claimed treatment and despite express teaching against the claimed effect on the basis of the described findings that teach also against the claimed therapeutic results. PTAB held that stating a disease as being treatable by administering a drug compound without evidence for the treatment and without specifying the conditions under which the claimed therapeutic results can be produced can satisfy 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 1. On appeal Federal Circuit held that PTAB correctly decided.

The question presented is:

Is not a patent claiming a new drug treatment required to provide evidence for that treatment, and is not a drug treatment patent without evidence of it at discord with the requirement of factual evidence for a proposed new drug treatment under 21 U.S.C. § 355 for its approval and with the required supplying of patent information about it by 21 U.S.C. § 355 and also impediment to the development of the new drug treatments prescribed by the statute?

Cert. petition filed 2/25/16, waiver of respondent Philip A. Beachy, et al. filed 3/11/16, conference 4/15/16. Petition denied 4/18/16.

CAFC Opinion, No CAFC Argument

Hemopet v. Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc.,  No. 15-1062

Questions Presented:

Section 101 of Title 35 defines patentable subject matter to include “any new and useful process . . . or any new and useful improvement thereof.”  Other provisions of Title 35 set forth specific conditions and requirements for the issuance of the patent itself, including that the description in the patent be sufficient “to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains” to make and use the invention. 35 U.S.C. § 112(a). The invention at issue in this case is a novel method for identifying, formulating, and producing pet food tailored to the genomic characteristics and gene expression of individual dogs and cats.

The questions presented are:

  1. Is an invented method of producing a new class of products patent-eligible under § 101 where it applies a groundbreaking insight of the inventor by using techniques in a novel and previously unknown combination to produce a previously unknown result?
  2. Whether the courts below erroneously conflated the patent-eligibility requirements of § 101 with the “enablement” requirements of § 112(a), thereby avoiding the more detailed analysis required under § 112 and denying overall patent eligibility on grounds not consistent with § 101 or this Court's precedents?

Cert. petition filed 2/18/16, waiver of respondent Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc. filed 2/25/16, conference 4/15/16. Petition denied 4/18/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Limelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Technologies, Inc. , No. 15-993

Question Presented:

In Limelight Networks, Inc. v. Akamai Technologies, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2111 (2014), this Court noted that, under existing Federal Circuit law, “a method's steps have not all been performed as claimed by the patent unless they are all attributable to the same defendant, either because the defendant actually performed those steps or because he directed or controlled others who performed them.” Id. at 2117. This Court then held that, on the assumption that rule was correct, “there has simply been no infringement of the method [at issue in this case], because the performance of all the patent's steps is not attributable to any one person.” Id.

After remand, the en banc Federal Circuit reiterated that “[d]irect infringement under § 271(a) occurs where all steps of a claimed method are performed by or attributable to a single entity.” App. 25a.  But it nevertheless unanimously held that Limelight could be held liable for direct infringement of Akamai's method patent—despite this Court's prior holding and even though nine out of the ten en banc court judges had previously held that Limelight could not be held liable under that rule. In so ruling, the Federal Circuit adopted a patent-specific conduct-attribution rule divorced from traditional vicarious-liability standards.

The question presented is:

Whether the Federal Circuit erred in holding that a defendant may be held liable for directly infringing a method patent based on the collective performance of method steps by multiple independent parties, even though the performance of all the steps of the method patent is “not attributable to any one person” under traditional vicarious-liability standards. Limelight, 134 S. Ct. at 2117.

Cert. petition filed 1/26/16, conference 4/15/16. Petition denied 4/18/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

WilmerHale represents respondents Akamai Technologies, Inc. et al.

MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC v. State of Vermont , No. 15-988

Question Presented:

Whether, pursuant to this Court's precedent in Ruhrgas Ag v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574 (1999) this case should be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction.

Conditional cross-petition filed 1/29/16, conference 4/15/16. Petition denied 4/18/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

State of Vermont v. MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC, No. 15-838

Question Presented:

In the America Invents Act, Congress amended the jurisdictional statutes relating to patent cases in response to this Court's decision in Holmes Group, Inc. v. Vornado Air Circulation Systems, Inc., 535 U.S. 826 (2002). In Holmes Group, the Court held that a defendant's compulsory counterclaim for patent infringement did not establish “arising under” jurisdiction for purposes of the Federal Circuit's appellate jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1295. The America Invents Act amended § 1295(a) to provide Federal Circuit jurisdiction over an appeal from a final decision of a district court “in any civil action arising under, or in any civil action in which a party has asserted a compulsory counterclaim arising under, any Act of Congress relating to patents.” Here, the Federal Circuit considered whether § 1295(a) afforded jurisdiction over an appeal from a district court order remanding this consumer-protection case to state court for the second time. The Federal Circuit interpreted § 1295(a) to provide jurisdiction based solely on a “counterclaim” that asserts federal preemption as a defense to the State's claim. The Federal Circuit reached—and wrongly decided—this jurisdictional issue despite holding that there were no grounds for the defendant's second removal to federal court. The question presented is:

Did the Federal Circuit erroneously take jurisdiction over this appeal of the remand order?

Cert. petition filed 12/28/15, conference 4/15/16. Petition denied 4/18/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Retirement Capital Access Management Co. LLC v. U.S. Bancorp, No. 15-591

Questions Presented:

In 2011, Congress enacted the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (hereinafter “AIA” or “the Act”), Pub. L. No. 112-29, 125 Stat. 284 (2011). The Act created three new post-grant administrative proceedings for challenging the validity of patents. It also created within the Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) a new tribunal called the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (hereinafter the “Board”) to preside over these new proceedings. One of the newly created proceedings is the transitional post-grant review, also known as “covered business method” or “CBM” review, for patents directed to a financial product or service. The AIA limits the Board's jurisdiction with respect to CBM review to challenges based on any ground that could be raised under paragraph (2) or (3) of 35 U.S.C. § 282(b). Paragraph 2 provides that a party may seek to invalidate a patent or claim on any ground specified in part II of Title 35 as a condition for patentability.

The questions presented arise from the Federal Circuit affirming, without comment, the Board's holding that 35 U.S.C. § 101 is a ground specified in part II of Title 35 as a condition for patentability and therefore constitutes a proper basis for review in a CBM proceeding, and from the Federal Circuit affirming the Board's application of § 101 to the patent claims at issue. They are:

1. Whether subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 is a ground specified as a condition for patentability under 35 U.S.C. § 282(b)(2).

2. Whether the Board errs when it invalidates issued patent claims posing no risk of preemption under the abstract idea exception to patent eligibility.

Cert. petition filed 11/5/15, conference 4/1/16. Petition denied 4/5/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Daiichi Sankyo Co., Ltd. v. Lee, No. 15-652

Questions Presented:

1. Whether the Patent and Trademark Office could properly rely on the limitations period for judicial review in denying administrative review to correct its own acknowledged errors, resulting in the loss of rights guaranteed by Congress.

2. Whether the limitations period for judicial review of the Patent and Trademark Office's final agency action is the six-year period made generally applicable by the Administrative Procedure Act, or a 180-day period that Congress established for review of an interim decision..

Cert. petition filed 11/13/15, conference 3/25/16. Petition denied 3/28/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

ParkerVision Inc. v. Qualcomm Incorporated,  No. 15-1092

Question Presented:

Whether and under what circumstances an inconsistency in expert testimony permits a court to set aside a jury verdict and grant the losing party judgment as a matter of law.

Cert. petition filed 2/29/16, waiver of respondent Qualcomm Incorporated filed 3/8/16, conference 3/25/16. Petition denied 3/28/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Biogen MA, Inc. v. Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, No. 15-607

Question Presented:

Whether the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, Pub. L. No. 112-29, 125 Stat. 284 (2011), eliminated federal district courts' jurisdiction over patent interference actions under 35 U.S.C. § 146.

Cert. petition filed 11/9/15, conference 3/18/16. Petition denied 3/21/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

WilmerHale represents respondents Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research

Morales v. Square, Inc., No. 15-896

Questions Presented:

Whether, The Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment requires judges to recuse themselves not only when actual bias has been demonstrated or when the judges have an economic interest in the outcome of the case, but also when extreme facts create a probability of bias, or create a probability of incompetence to rule.

Whether, The patent claim in this case should be used to constrain the freedom of interpretation of Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. [v. CLS Bank Int'l, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014)], to find a claim to be invalid under §101.

Cert. petition filed 12/11/15, conference 3/18/16. Petition denied 3/21/16.

CAFC Opinion, No CAFC Argument

Joao Bock Transaction Systems, LLC v. Jack Henry & Associates, Inc. , No. 15-974

Questions Presented:

  1. Did the District Court and Federal Circuit err by not identifying any abstract idea to which the claims-in-suit were directed, thereby misapplying step one of the Mayo/Alice test for patentability under 35 U.S.C. § 101?
  2. Did the District Court and Federal Circuit err by failing to consider the components recited in the claims-in-suit as an ordered combination, thereby misapplying step two of the Mayo/Alice test for patentability under 35 U.S.C. § 101?
  3. Did the District Court and Federal Circuit err by ignoring unrebutted evidence that the elements of the claims-in-suit recited specific components that, when viewed in combination at the time of the application, comprised a non-conventional solution to a problem created by internet banking, thereby misapplying steps one and two of the Mayo/Alice test for patentability under 35 U.S.C. § 101?
  4. Did the District Court and Federal Circuit err by ignoring unrebutted evidence that the inventions of the claims-in-suit do not monopolize any abstract idea, thereby undermining the fundamental premise of the Mayo/Alice test for patentability under 35 U.S.C. § 101?

Cert. petition filed 1/11/16, waiver of respondent Jack Henry & Associates filed 2/22/16, conference 3/18/16. Petition denied 3/21/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Briartek IP, Inc. v. Delorme Pub. Co. Inc.,  No. 15-1025

Question Presented:

Congress has empowered three different entities to resolve patent disputes: the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), the International Trade Commission (ITC), and the federal district courts. Although all three venues are open to a party ab initio, proceedings before a given venue may limit a party's options throughout all three bodies.  Critically, ITC investigations are often resolved through the entry of consent orders that limit how a party may challenge a patent's validity going forward.

The question presented is as follows:

Whether a binding consent order, entered between the federal government, the ITC, and an ITC respondent, deprives federal district courts of jurisdiction over a declaratory judgment action, seeking to invalidate the patent at issue, filed by the ITC respondent not against the ITC but rather against the patent holder: a non-party to the consent order.

Cert. petition filed 2/10/16, waiver of respondent DeLorme Publishing Company, Inc. filed 2/17/16, conference 3/18/16. Petition denied 3/21/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Universal Lighting Technologies, Inc. v. Lighting Ballast Control LLC, No. 15-893

Question Presented:

This petition presents the following important and unsettled question of federal patent law on the rules governing construction of patent claims:

When and how can expert testimony or other extrinsic evidence be used to avoid the construction of a patent claim otherwise dictated by the patent's intrinsic record, including in particular to avoid the restrictions imposed by 35 U.S.C. §112 ¶ 6 on functional claiming?

Cert. petition filed 1/11/16, waiver of respondent Lighting Ballast Control LLC filed 1/13/16, conference 2/19/16. Petition denied 2/29/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Alexsam, Inc. v. The Gap, Inc., No. 15-736

Questions Presented:

1. Did the Federal Circuit err by considering patent claims over which it had no subject matter jurisdiction?

2. Did the Federal Circuit err by misconstruing the 5th Circuit's standard of review for appeals of a Judgment as a Matter of Law (JMOL), and, as a result, improperly assumed the role of fact finder and overturned a jury verdict of no anticipation?

Cert. petition filed 12/7/15, conference 2/19/16. Petition denied 2/29/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Media Rights Technologies, Inc. v. Capital One Financial Corp., No. 15-725

Question Presented:

Whether, in accord with the statutory language, historical interpretation, congressional affirmation, and general claim construction principles, there is a strong presumption against construing as subject to 35 U.S.C. § 112, Paragraph 6 claims that do not recite “means”?

Cert. petition filed 12/3/15, waiver of respondents Capital One Financial Corporation, et al. filed 12/29/15, conference 2/19/16. Petition denied 2/29/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

ePlus, Inc. v. Lawson Software, Inc., No. 15-639

Questions Presented:

Following a jury trial, the district court permanently enjoined respondent Lawson Software, Inc., from infringing patent claims owned by petitioner ePlus, Inc. Lawson then abandoned its challenge to the validity of the key patent claim (claim 26). The Federal Circuit affirmed the judgment that Lawson infringed claim 26, and it upheld the injunction; it reversed with respect to some other patent claims.

Lawson flagrantly violated the injunction, and after a hearing, the district court entered an order of civil contempt. While Lawson's second appeal was pending, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cancelled claim 26 based on an invalidity ground that Lawson had not pursued in litigation. A divided Federal Circuit panel held that the cancellation order retroactively invalidated the contempt judgment.

The questions presented are as follows:

1. Whether civil contempt of a permanent injunction order that has been affirmed on appeal and is binding on the litigants under the law of judgments, may be set aside based on a legal development that came after both the permanent injunction and the contumacious conduct, and that did not call into question the correctness of the injunction when it was entered.

2. Whether, under Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm, Inc., 514 U.S. 211 (1995), the PTO, an administrative agency, may issue an order that retroactively overrides a federal court's judgment on a question of law that is not subject to further judicial review, so long as some other part of the litigation is pending.

Cert. petition filed 11/13/15, conference 2/19/16. Petition denied 2/29/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

STC, Inc. v. Global Traffic Technologies LLC, No. 15-592

Question Presented:

Whether marking the packaging of a patented article with patent notification satisfies the marking provision of 35 U.S.C. § 287(a) where the patented article itself is undisputedly capable of being marked.

Cert. petition filed 11/5/15, conference 2/19/16. Petition denied 2/29/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., No. 15-559

Question Presented:

To be liable for induced or contributory patent infringement, a defendant must “know” that the conduct it induced or contributed to constitutes infringement of a patent. Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Sys., Inc., 135 S. Ct. 1920, 1928 (2015). That knowledge requirement (and its equivalent, “willful blindness”) is stringent, “surpass[ing] recklessness and negligence.” Global-Tech Appliances, Inc. v. SEB S.A., 131 S. Ct. 2060, 2070 (2011). In Safeco Insurance Co. of America v. Burr, 551 U.S. 47 (2007), this Court held that a defendant does not commit a violation “knowingly” or “recklessly” if its actions are consistent with an understanding of legal requirements that was “not objectively unreasonable,” “whatever [its] subjective intent may have been.” Id. at 70, n.20. The question presented is:

Whether a defendant may be held liable under a “knowledge” standard where its actions were consistent with an understanding of relevant legal requirements that was not objectively unreasonable.

Cert. petition filed 10/30/15, conference 2/19/16. Petition denied 2/29/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Achates Reference Publishing, Inc. v. Apple Inc.

Questions Presented:

This petition presents a question raised in another currently pending petition before this Court. See Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Lee, No. 15-466, Pet. for Cert. (S. Ct. Oct. 6, 2015) (presenting same question as Question 1 herein). One week before this Petition was filed, the Cuozzo petition was distributed for this Court's January 8, 2016 conference.

In 2011, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, Pub. L. No. 112-29, 125 Stat. 284, created the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) in the Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”), to hear the newly-created Inter Partes Review (“IPR”) and Covered Business Method Patent Review adjudicatory proceedings for challenging patents previously issued by the PTO. Since the inception of these proceedings, patent challengers have filed over 4,000 petitions, nine out of ten of them IPRs. The Board has instituted review in over two-thirds of its IPR institution decisions.

Both Cuozzo and the case below involved determinations by the Federal Circuit that it lacks jurisdiction to review claims that the Board exceeded its statutory authority in instituting particular IPRs. In both cases, the Federal Circuit reached this conclusion without due consideration of this Court's precedents establishing a “strong presumption” of judicial reviewability of agency action. In the case below, the Federal Circuit dismissed the appeal as outside the purview of the courts even though the issue appealed was finally decided in the Board's final written decision, which is expressly reviewable under 35 U.S.C. §319.

The Federal Circuit has denied rehearing en banc in Cuozzo, and has treated the immunity from judicial review of the Board's view of its own authority as settled under Cuozzo and the case below.

The questions presented for review are the following:

  1. Whether the court of appeals erred in holding that, even if the Patent Trial and Appeal Board exceeds its statutory authority in instituting an IPR proceeding, the Board's decision whether to institute an IPR proceeding is judicially unreviewable.
  2. Whether the court of appeals erred in holding that, even if the Board's final written decision in an IPR proceeding readdresses its own earlier determination that it had authority to institute the proceeding, the Board's determination that it had such authority is still judicially unreviewable.

Cert. petition filed 12/29/15. Petition dismissed – Rule 46, 2/9/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Apls South, LLC v. The Ohio Willow Wood Company, No. 15-567

Questions Presented:

This case presents three related questions for review:

1. When post-complaint events establish plaintiff's prudential standing, may plaintiff cure a prudential standing defect existing when the original complaint was filed by filing a supplemental complaint in accordance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(d), or must it file a new case to assert its claim for relief?

2. If a district court exercises its discretion to allow a supplemental complaint pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(d), does the supplemental complaint become the operative complaint from which plaintiff's prudential standing to bring the action is determined?

3. Where an exclusive licensee acquires all substantial rights in a patent after bringing an infringement action, and it files a supplemental complaint, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(d), after acquiring those rights, does the exclusive licensee have prudential standing to proceed with a patent infringement action in only its name, when it did not own all substantial rights in the patent when it originally brought the infringement action?

Cert. petition filed 10/29/15, conference 1/15/16. Petition denied 1/19/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

Arunachalam v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., No. 15-691

Questions Presented:

1. Is the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) permitted to create a new protected class—a giant corporation—to take private property for public use without any compensation to the inventor, an icon of America Invents (who invented Web applications displayed on a Web browser, in ubiquitous use worldwide, from which the giant corporation has financially benefited excessively), by denying the inventor the protections of the Bill of Rights and 35 U.S.C § 282 of the Patent Act, thereby voiding the judgment?

2. Whether the CAFC erred in not honoring the law, after abridging liberty rights of a citizen, arbitrarily dismissing the appeal without a hearing or an opening brief or clear and convincing evidence from a giant corporation, depriving the citizen of patent property rights, was the citizen deprived of the protections of 35 U.S.C. § 282 of the Patent Act and the Bill of Rights, thereby voiding the judgment?

3. Whether the CAFC erred in not relieving a citizen of a final judgment for misrepresentation by a giant corporation or for any reason that justifies relief for a judge denying the citizen a hearing according to law, depriving the citizen of patent property rights, was Petitioner deprived of the protections of FRCP Rule 60(b)?

4. Whether the CAFC erred in abridging a citizen's liberty rights so that she could not address her medical condition to which the CAFC had been given proper notice, exacerbating her illness and arbitrarily dismissing the appeal without a hearing or an opening brief, depriving her of her patent property rights without any compensation from a giant corporation, was Petitioner deprived of the protections of the Bill of Rights and 35 U.S.C § 282 of the Patent Act, thereby voiding the judgment?

5. Whether the CAFC erred in not requiring a judge to avoid actual impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in denying a citizen a hearing according to law, depriving the citizen of patent property rights without any compensation from a giant corporation, after abridging liberty rights of a citizen, was Petitioner deprived of the protections of 28 U.S.C. § 455, Canons 2 and 3 and the Bill of Rights?

No CAFC opinion or argument. Appeal was dismissed for failure to file opening brief in compliance with the court's rules, waiver of respondent JP Morgan Chase & Co. filed 12/3/15, conference 1/8/16.

Cert. petition filed 11/19/15. Petition denied 1/11/16.

Morgan v. Global Traffic Technologies LLC, No. 15-602

Questions Presented:

As a case of first impression, does the procedure required when a patent, cited as prior art in and accused of infringing a subsequently issued patent, include construction of the scope of the claims of the subsequent patent in light of the prior patent plus comparison of differences between the accused device and the one claimed?

Does the standard set forth in Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 831 (2015) apply retroactively in this case, pending on appeal when Teva was decided?

Cert. petition filed 11/5/15, waiver of respondent Global Traffic Technologies LLC filed 11/20/15, conference 1/8/16. Petition denied 1/11/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

SpeedTrack, Inc. v. Office Depot, Inc., No. 15-461

Question Presented:

In Taylor v. Sturgell, 553 U.S. 880 (2008), this Court confirmed that there are “'uniform federal rule[s]' of res judicata.” 553 U.S. at 891. In the decision below, however, the Federal Circuit adopted its own unique form of patent-specific preclusion. This new form of preclusion bars entirely new issues and claims that no court has ever resolved. The Federal Circuit grounded this unique legal doctrine in its reading of Kessler v. Eldred, 206 U.S. 285 (1907), an anti-suit injunction case decided during “the heyday of the federal mutuality of estoppel rule.” MGA, Inc. v. Gen. Motors Corp., 827 F.2d 729, 733 (Fed. Cir. 1987). The Federal Circuit has directly acknowledged that its departure from generally applicable legal principles is “questionable” (Brain Life, LLC v. Elekta Inc., 746 F.3d 1045, 1057-1058 (Fed. Cir. 2014)), but the court has nevertheless now twice confirmed that it will not apply traditional preclusion rules “unless and until the Supreme Court overrules [Kessler].” App., infra, 23a; Brain Life, 746 F.3d at 1058. The rules of preclusion are accordingly “[dis]uniform” in the Federal Circuit alone.

The question presented is:

Whether, in direct conflict with the Third and Fourth Circuits, the Federal Circuit erred in construing Kessler to bar new issues and new claims that would survive the “uniform” rules of preclusion applied by every other circuit in all non-patent cases.

Cert. petition filed 10/8/15, waiver of respondent Office Depot, Inc. filed 10/14/15, response requested 11/3/15, conference 1/8/16. Petition denied 1/11/16.

CAFC Opinion, CAFC Argument

  

Patent certiorari petitions denied in: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009

For more information on this or other patent appeal matters, contact:

Joseph J. Mueller   +1 617 526 6396   [email protected]
Thomas G. Saunders   +1 202 663 6536   [email protected]
Leslie Pearlson   +1 617 526 6809   [email protected]