Federal Circuit Restricts Joint Infringement Doctrine in Golden Hour Data v. emsCharts

Brandon Baum, partner in Mayer Brown and Practice Center Contributor, passed along this analysis on the Federal Circuit decision Golden Hour Data Systems, Inc. v. emsCharts, Inc.

In the recent case of Golden Hour Data Systems, Inc. v. emsCharts, Inc., the Federal Circuit reiterated—and arguably restricted—its jurisprudence concerning “joint infringement.”  The joint infringement doctrine is an exception to the general rule that “[d]irect infringement requires a party to perform or use each and every step or element of a claimed method or product.”  BMC Resources, Inc. v. Paymentech, L.P., 498 F.3d 1373, 1378 (Fed. Cir. 2007).  Where the steps or elements are performed by multiple actors, there may still be a finding of direct infringement under the joint infringement doctrine if the accused infringer had “direction or control” over the other actors.  Muniauction, Inc. v. Thomson Corp., 532 F.3d 1318, 1329 (Fed. Cir. 2008).  In a 2-1 panel decision, the court found that the fact that the defendants collaborated to sell their software together as part of a “strategic partnership” was insufficient, as a matter of law, to establish joint infringement.

In the underlying district court case, plaintiff Golden Hour Data Systems, Inc. (“Golden Hour”) accused two defendants, emsCharts, Inc. (“emsCharts”) and Softtech, LLC (“Softtech”) of acting jointly to infringe its patent (U.S. 6,117,073) on systems and methods for emergency medical management.  emsCharts provides software that charts patient diagnosis and billing information, but does no flight dispatching.  Softtech provides flight dispatch software used in emergency helicopters to coordinate patient pickup and delivery, but offers no billing, charting or diagnosis.  emsCharts and Softtech formed a strategic partnership to enable their two programs to work together, and collaborated to sell the two programs as a unit. (more…)

Article Of Manufacture Claims for Software Inventions: Should They Be Included in Your Patent?

Burt Magen, partner at Vierra Magen Marcus & Deniro LLP and Practice Center Contributor passed along this article he wrote entitled Article of Manufacture Claims for Computer Related Inventions.  According to Magen, article of manufacture claims can offer advantages over apparatus and process claims, including providing an easier mechanism for enforcement of the patent.  With the knowledge provided in his article, Magen says, “patent practitioners can efficiently draft appropriate article of manufacture claims to more effectively protect software inventions.”  Here is the Introduction:

The software industry is growing and becoming more important to the global economy.  As a result, the number of software patent applications has increased dramatically.  To maximize the value of software patents, it is important that the claims of such patents properly protect the invention.  Typically, software patents include apparatus claims, method claims, and/or article of manufacture claims.  Because of the nature of the software industry, for some inventions the article of manufacture claims may be the most important class of claims.  Yet, many software patents do not include article of manufacture claims or include an incomplete set of article of manufacture claims as an afterthought. (more…)