The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas recently granted a Motion for Summary Judgment seeking to dismiss a patent infringement suit on the basis that the asserted claims are directed to ineligible subject matter under the two-step test recently reaffirmed by the United States Supreme Court in Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014). Reportedly, one effect of the ruling was to dispose of 168 patent cases pursued by the same Plaintiff, asserting the same claims against separate Defendants. The Court has also requested briefing on an award of attorney's fees.

U.S. District Court Judge George H. King, has ruled that the lyrics to one of the most popular songs in the English language are not protected by a valid copyright. According to the opinion “Because Summy Co. never acquired the rights to the Happy Birthday lyrics, Defendants, as Summy Co.’s purported successors-in-interest, do not own a valid copyright in the Happy Birthday lyrics.”

Monday, 21 September 2015 21:36

Federal Circuit Rules Laches Can Limit Patent Damages

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The equitable defense of laches can apply to claims of patent infringement damages suits, even when they are filed within the six year statutory period as defined by 35 U.S.C. §286, ruled the en banc Federal Circuit in SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC., Fed Cir., No. 2013-1564 (Sept. 18 2015).  In this narrow 6-5 decision, the court sitting en banc affirmed its earlier summary judgment, which dismissed SCA's patent infringement suit for laches, from September of last year.

In an unanimous decision on remand from the Supreme Court, the Federal Circuit issued its opinion in Akamai Technologies, Inc. v. Limelight Networks, Inc. (2015), which effectively broadened the category of divided patent infringement of a method claim under 35 U.S.C § 271(a), holding that when all steps of a method claim are not actually being performed by one party, but by multiple actors, all of the steps can be attributed to a single actor even where the parties are acting purely in an arms-length relationship with each other.

Are you ready for some football? In the midst of preparing for football season, the National Football Association ("NFL") continues its fight to overcome cancellations of the Washington Redskins' trademarks. The NFL is appealing a district court decision to the Fourth Circuit.

Nine states, including Florida, have recently enacted "anti-patent troll" legislation in 2015, joining the seventeen states that passed similar legislation last year in 2014.  Florida's HB 439 ch. 501 part VII ("Patent Troll Prevention Act"), enacted in the 2015 session, prohibits bad faith assertions of patent infringement from being made, and provides a number of factors that allow a court to consider whether an allegation was made in bad faith.  A determination of bad faith includes damages and reasonable attorney fees.

Yellow Pages Group appealed from a $123,000 judgment entered against it, in favor of Yellow Pages Photos following a jury verdict in a copyright infringement trial in district court. Yellow Pages Photos cross appealed, raising several claims of error. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Yellow Pages Group’s renewed motion for a judgment as a matter of law and also concluded that Yellow Pages Photos arguments on cross appeal lacked merit and thus did not warrant a new trial on damages.

The latest chapter in the Apple v. Samsung saga, previously blogged about here, involves an amicus brief filed by several large technology firms in support of a rehearing on the amount of damages owed to Apple by Samsung. If granted, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit will hear again arguments that those damages should be based on profits attributable to only the infringing portion of the Samsung device, rather than profits made on the entire device. If the Federal Circuit is persuaded, the decision could lower exposure for patent infringement across the industry. 

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