The patent litigation between Apple and Motorola has been stand out case among the many involving mobile device technology. The matter of Apple Inc. and NeXT Software Inc. v. Motorola, Inc., is occurring in varying districts of the United States as well as in several European courtrooms. The litigation of the case in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern District, appears to be the most watched within the United States. Federal Judge Richard Posner, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago, Illinois,volunteered to preside over the District Court trial. This move originally drew some attention as Judge Posner is of a quite distinguished status to be overseeing a jury trial.
In his March 10, 2012 Order, Judge Posner noted that his concern, “is that many of the proposed claims constructions are not in language intelligible to jurors…There is no point in giving jurors stuff they won’t understand.”
The hierarchy of the U.S. court system is well established, but recent patent law cases have challenged this hierarchy with the power of government agency – the USPTO to be exact. Scott McKeown, Partner at Oblon, Spivak, Practice Center Contributor and author of Patents Post Grant Blog, recently wrote two articles concerning the USPTO’s reexamination process and how its parallel nature to patent infringement cases resulted in conflict that’s occurred with the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Federal Circuit (CAFC) as well as with the U.S. District Court in the District of Connecticut. Scott explains the patent law issue:
Patent reexamination is often initiated in parallel with an ongoing infringement litigation. In the case of a parallel inter partes proceeding (IPX), the first of the proceedings to conclude (litigation or IPX) controls the outcome of the other by operation of statutory estoppel. As such, a final holding in the parallel court proceeding will end an ongoing IPX. Moreover, the losing party would be precluded from seeking IPX at a later date.
On the other hand, ex parte patent reexamination (EXP) has no such statutory “shut off valve.” Thus, even a party that was bound by IPX estoppel could file a request for ex parte patent reexamination. In this way, the infringer could attempt to “undo” the effect of the earlier, final, court judgement by invalidating the patent via the EXP filing. (more…)
The following post comes from Scott A. McKeown, partner at Oblon Spivak, Practice Center Contributor and writer for Patents Post Grant.
Threat of Injunction Dissolves in Flexiteek Litigation
The initiation of patent reexamination for patents subject to concurrent litigation can provide strategic benefits independent of the ultimate outcome of the reexamination. These litigation inspired applications of patent reexamination can be thought of as falling into one of two categories, namely, pre-trial maneuvers or post-trial, damage control.
Pre-trial Maneuvers are those patent reexaminations initiated to potentially enhance a defendant’s battle in the district court. For example, patent reexamination may be sought as an avenue to establish objectively reasonable behavior for use in preventing a willfulness finding. (see e.g., the yesterday’s Fairchild Semiconductor press release). Still other defendants initiate patent reexamination concurrent with litigation as a mechanism to leverage more acceptable settlement terms, provide additional fodder for claim construction, or to demonstrate the materiality of a reference subject to an inequitable conduct defense.
Post-trial (damage control) on the other hand, is a litigation inspired use of patent reexamination that seeks to undo the damage inflicted by the ruling of the district court. One of the more well known uses of a patent reexamination filed after a district court judgment was illustrated in In re Translogic Tech., Inc., 504 F.3d 1249, 1257 (Fed. Cir. 2007). Translogic had secured an earlier verdict for significant damages against Hitachi, the appeal reached the CAFC at the same time as the appeal rejecting all claims in reexamination, as a result, the infringement verdict was vacated. (more…)
Robert Faber, partner at Ostrolenk and Faber LLP and Practice Center Contributor, recently passed along a great article called Prosecution Ethics he wrote for the upcoming PLI program: Advanced Patent Prosecution Workshop: Claim Drafting and Amendment Writing. In the article, Faber discusses the Patent and Trademark Office Duty of Disclosure Rules and in partiuclar what types of failure to provide different forms of information to PTO Examiners have been found by Courts to be inequitable conduct. Faber explains that the duty of candor and good faith is breached when an affirmative misrepresentation of material fact, faliure to disclose material information or submission of false information occurs. He then discusses particular cases when the Court has found inequitable conduct.
I caught up with Faber and asked him about one particular inequitable conduct allegation that has recently been getting more attention – “Burying” (submitting information material to an Examiner’s examination of a patent application where that submission includes a large quantity of other less relevant material). (more…)
Reexamination requests are typically reported in the Official Gazette approximately three months after filing. Such a delay in reporting requests, particularly for requests that involve copending District Court litigation, is too long. We therefore report new ex parte and inter partes reexamination requests filed electronically the previous week as they appear on the Patent Office PAIR system. Information on concurrent litigation is also provided, where available.
Some reexamination requests are still filed by paper. Because of the time required for the Patent Office to review such paper requests before posting on PAIR, our report may come three weeks after filing. The information available from the Patent Office may be incomplete in a few cases because not all the reexamination request papers have yet been posted on PAIR. There may also be gaps in the Patent Office docket numbers listed because, for any of various reasons, a reexamination request has been assigned a docket number but is not ready for posting. (more…)