August 26, 2013
On the Bead
SinkMedica sued Histogen for infringing its dermatological patents; specifically, patent claims to culturing cells in three dimensions (6,372,494 & 7,118,746). The district court decided that to do so on beads was excluded from claim scope, because the patents mentioned this technique through prior art references, and somewhat disparagingly so. Two CAFC judges on a panel (Clevenger & Prost) went along on appeal (CAFC 2012-1560). In dissent Chief Judge Rader was frustrated, finding "the four references to beads relied on by this court are ambiguous," not the "clear and unmistakable disavowal" that case law requires.
August 18, 2013
The CAFC has become so inured to blithe invalidation of patents that the finer points of law no longer matter. In a dust-up between rivals Hamilton Beach and Sunbeam, HB's 7,947,928 slow-cooker patent was invalidated under the on-sale bar of § 102(b). Yet, as the dissent pointed out, the supposed invalidating action was not the requisite commercial offer for sale.
August 13, 2013
Computer parts maker O2 Micro decided to play dirty in its patent assertion against rival Monolithic Power Systems and its customers, most notably falsifying the priority date of its asserted patents. The courts found "bad faith" along with "litigation misconduct and unprofessional behavior." The tab, upheld by the CAFC (12-1221), was $8.4 million in legal fees suffered by defendants. It hardly holds O2 liable for a massive fraud.
August 7, 2013
3M v. Tredegar (CAFC 2012-1241) illustrates the inanity and caprice that comprises U.S. patent law. 3M's claims went to a particular laminate structure. The PTO grants Byzantine claim language, and the courts give it a pass by studiously ignoring statute requiring definiteness. In his panel opinion, Judge Plager whined that this was "an extreme example of problems with claim drafting and their ensuing consequences." Consensus was barely achieved in the process of partly overturning the district court's construction.
August 5, 2013
Apple of The Nation's Eye
For those of you laboring under the assumption that rule of law still breathes in this utterly corrupt nation, consider this. Samsung won an import ban on Apple products from the ITC, including the wildly popular iPhone and iPad. But that would crimp Apple's profits. So the Obama administration waved it away. "For my friends, anything. For my enemies, the law." ~ Peruvian politician Óscar Benevides