March 31, 2006
On Demand Machine Corporation (ODMC) owns 5,465,213, an invention of Harvey Ross, which goes to on-demand book publishing. Lightning Source, Ingram Industries and Amazon, sued by ODMC, were found to have infringed '213, and so appealed (CAFC 05-1074), based upon what they asserted was an erroneous claim construction provided to the jury at trial.
March 29, 2006
The eBay-MercExchange patent roadshow put on its dog-and-pony act for the Supreme Court today in oral arguments lasting an hour or so. Besides expressing the normal skepticism of jurists trying to dig to the essentials, some patent surreality was on display.
March 27, 2006
Phillips offers its pool of patents covering manufacturing compact discs (CDs) to licensees. Princo was one, starting in 1997, until it stopped paying the license fees. So Phillips sued.
March 26, 2006
Crushing Small Innovators
March 24, 2006
Toyota and Antonov, a Dutch patent licensing company, have been going at each other over Antonov's patents for hybrid car transmission technology. It's a good illustration of how international corporations fight patent enforcement.
March 23, 2006
Claim Construction Nightmare
Hillerich & Bradsby (H & B) went to bat for a declaratory judgment action against 5,415,398, owned by Wilson Sporting Goods, and got a solid hit with the trial court: noninfringement, plus costs & fees. Then it was Wilson's time at the plate in the appeals court (CAFC 05-1103). Owing to district court incompetence, this case is another log on the fire for a national patent court.
March 22, 2006
Leonard Kahn, trying to patent a reading machine for the blind, appealed his §103 rejection by the patent appeals board (PBAI) to the appeals court. The CAFC (04-1616) in this case further clarified the ground rules for obviousness rejection.
Founding Father Foolishness
Law professor Adam Mossoff has written an excellent, well-researched paper: "Who Cares What Thomas Jefferson Thought About Patents: Reevaluating the Patent "Privilege" in Historical Context" (available here).
March 21, 2006
A free, and most welcome, patent search and retrieval site is up: Patent Reader. Its .pdf patent number retrieval is wonderful, as you can get multiple .pdfs in a single throw. But, for power, Patent Reader's text search won't lose Delphion any customers.
March 20, 2006
Claim Construction Implant
Diro, owner of 5,749,731, sued Straumann for infringement of its dental implant apparatus. The Massachusetts district court tossed the case via summary judgment for noninfringement. Diro appealed (CAFC 05-1168). Part of Diro's problem was what was implanted in the preamble of the claim.
March 17, 2006
Computer Automation Not Patentable
An aspersion often cast towards business method patents is that such patents simply claim a known process that's been computerized. A common misconception is that automating a known process using a computer is per se patentable. It's not.
March 16, 2006
March 15, 2006
Microchip makes garage door opener (GDO) microprocessors and associated firmware. Chamberlain makes garage door openers. The two had tangled in the past over Chamberlain's patents, but settled into "patent peace". Then Microchip got paranoid and sought a declaratory judgment against Chamberlain.
March 13, 2006
Generating Claim Construction
Michael Scroggie et al filed 09/401,198, and have had a hell of a time with prosecution, so bad they had to take it all the way to the court of appeals (CAFC 05-1370). The '198 claims go to generating a web page. Given that, what do you suppose the limitation "generating page data" means? The patent office examiner and appeals board couldn't get a clue.
Mercury is the planet closest to our sun; very hot. Hotheads from Mercury immigrated here, settling in hot and sunny San Jose, California, and started their own news organ: The Mercury News. Having been on Earth for a while now, the hotheads are starting to form opinions, often not very good ones.
March 12, 2006
On Friday, the Office of the Solicitor General, the Federal Government's lawyer, filed an amicus brief with the Supreme court in the MercExchange v. eBay case, where the center ring issue is granting an injunction for patent infringement, particularly in the instance when the patent holder has indicated a willingness to license, and the patent holder arguably has not practiced the invention. Arguing on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Justice Department, and USPTO, the brief called on the Supreme Court to grant the injunction, a notable flip-flop from the NTP v. RIM case, where its self-interest ran the other way.
March 11, 2006
"[P]atents don't stimulate innovation; they stifle it. The notion of "intellectual property rights" is spurious. The principle of property is needed for physical objects because they are finite; hence property rights prevent conflicts over the use of things. But ideas can be reproduced infinitely and used simultaneously without conflict. Hence, as Thomas Jefferson realized, "Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property."" [from The Free Liberal, March 9, 2006]
March 9, 2006
Back in 1990, Shuji Nakamura, working for Nichia in Tokushima, southwest Japan, developed the blue LED. It was a crucial breakthrough, paving the way for LED screens, and with other uses as well. Nakamura was compensated ¥20,000 ($170) for the patent that came from his work. He wasn't satisfied.
March 8, 2006
Conflict of Interest
Andrews Corp. sued Beverly Manufacturing for patent infringement. While there is no presumption of willful infringement, a clearing opinion commonly provides evidence against such allegation. In this case, a law firm merger soiled Beverly's clearing opinion.
March 6, 2006
Chip maker Agere Systems is suing Sony for infringing eight patents [5,599,739; 5,670,730; 5,989,637; 6,153,543; 6,452,958; 6,472,304; 6,707,867; 6,992,972], targeting Sony's profit engine PlayStation video game player, as well as wireless LAN cards and other products.
March 3, 2006
RIM Off Hook
In a measure of graciousness, NTP let RIM off the hook for patent infringement for only $612.5 million, granting a perpetual license to NTP's patented wireless email technology. The whispered figure for settlement had been closer to $1 billion. RIM's graceless Jim Balsillie whined, "It's not a good feeling to write this kind of check."
Fiber Optic Designs sued Seasonal Specialties over 6,830,358, for festive LED light strings. Fiber Optic Designs wanted a preliminary injunction, but the trial court wasn't sure, so turned them down. Dissatisfied, Fiber Optic Designs appealed (CAFC 05-1488). The appeals court was dissatisfied too.
March 2, 2006
Claim Construction Myopia
Aspex Eyewear sued Miracle Optics for infringing RE37,545, over an eyeglass frame held together with magnets. The district court limited claim scope owing to prosecution estoppel. The CAFC (04-1138) reminded that a prosecution disclaimer of claim coverage required "reasonable clarity and deliberateness."
The Blame Game
Awakened from my slumbers reporting settlements between patent-laden computer companies and a Supreme Court ruling that patents by themselves weren't so great as to grant market power, I find blogging attorneys bit by Wall Street Journal venom.
Gateway, the company that thinks dairy cows make an effective high-tech marketing logo, got milked $47 million by HP, in a settlement that promises to let a lot of lawyers get a good night's sleep.
March 1, 2006
In a last-minute fit of rationality, just before trial was to begin, computer disk drive maker Quantum agreed to pay Sun Microsystems $25 million to settle patent infringement of two StorageTek patents; Sun bought StorageTek last summer for $4.1 billion.
In a nod to economic reality, and catching up with perceived Congressional intent, in Illinois Tool Works v. Independent Ink, the Supreme Court (04-1329) ruled that a patent does not necessarily confer market power.