Jury finds Corel willfully infringed Microsoft Office patents

A jury from the Northern District of California recently awarded Microsoft Corporation a total of $278,000 in a patent infringement action against Corel Corporation and Corel, Inc. (collectively “Corel”). See Microsoft Corporation v. Corel Corporation et al (Case: 5:15-cv-05836-EJD). Microsoft had requested more than $1 million in damages for the infringement of patents related to Microsoft Office (i.e., the Microsoft Office patents).

Microsoft sued Corel in December 2015, asserting infringement of nine patents — 5 utility patents and four design patents. By the time the case was submitted to the jury on Friday, February 9, 2018, only six patents remained in the case…two utility patents and four design patents.

Microsoft argued that Corel willfully infringed those patents. The asserted Microsoft patents are directed to graphic user interfaces used in Microsoft products, such as Microsoft Office. Microsoft asserted that it has given its interfaces, including menus and toolbars, a distinctive look and feel, which Corel copied into the accused products, including WordPerfect X7. WordPerfect X7 even includes an option to use the product in the “Microsoft Word mode.” See Complaint para 3-5. Similarly, Quatro Pro X7 offers the option to use the product in the “Microsoft Excel mode.” See Complaint para. 6-8.

In the jury verdict form returned, the jury unanimously agreed that Corel had willfully infringed those patents. (more…)

Federal Circuit finds no problem with district court re-submitting case to jury

On January 19, 2018, the Federal Circuit issued a decision in Flexuspine, Inc. v. Globus Med. The appeal centered on the jury verdict form and how the jury specifically handled its duties in relation to that jury form.

The jury form included what is known as a “stop instruction,” which told the jury not to consider any of the invalidity defenses unless they first determined that the defendant was liable for infringement.  Globus, the defendant, did not object to the instruction prior to jury deliberations.

Upon reviewing the verdict form after deliberations ended, the district court determined that the jury had not followed the instructions and had filled out the verdict form incorrectly. The jury found no infringement, but did not stop there, and instead moved on to consider invalidity and damages. The jury form indicated that the jury found the claims invalid, and no damages should be awarded.


Judge finds Allergan patents invalid in Eastern District of Texas and opines on sovereign immunity issue

Recently, in a 135-page opinion, Judge William C. Bryson (left), sitting by designation as a trial judge for the United States Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, found that Allergan’s RESTASIS patents were infringed by Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, but that Teva had demonstrated invalidity of those RESTASIS patents by clear and convincing evidence.

“We are disappointed by the Federal District Court’s decision on the RESTASIS® patents. We are carefully reviewing the decision and are considering all options,” said Robert D. Bailey, Chief Legal Officer for Allergan. “Allergan remains committed to vigorously defending the intellectual property of our products, which allows us to continue to invest in developing and bringing forward new medicines for millions of patients.”

The patents include United States Patent Nos. 8,629,111; 8,648,048; 8,685,930 and 9,248,191. These patents, along with United States Patent Nos. 8,633,162 and 8,642,556, are listed in the Orange Book for RESTASIS® and expire on August 27, 2024.


PTAB ineffective at eliminating low-quality patents

Those who engage in patent assertion activity are not per se bad actors, or patent trolls, simply because they choose to exercise the exclusive rights granted by the federal government. In fact, the FTC recently acknowledged the term “patent troll” isn’t helpful. “In the Commission’s view, a label like ‘patent troll’ is unhelpful because it invites pre-judgment about the societal impact of patent assertion activity without an understanding of the underlying business model that fuels such activity,” the report reads.

Of course, it is true that the number of patent infringement lawsuits are up significantly compared to the 1980s. It is also true, however, that the increase in patent infringement lawsuits that came after passage of the America Invents Act (AIA) was deemed desirable by Congress. Indeed, it seems that Congress specifically envisioned more patent infringement cases (i.e., a higher volume) because they made the conscious choice to make it difficult (if not impossible) for patent owners to sue large numbers of infringers in the same lawsuit. Thus, the spike in cases that came after 2011 was an intentional feature of the AIA. Even that being the case, quarter after quarter we see patent litigation declining. See herehere and here, for example.


CAFC transfers case from Eastern Texas to Northern California

On Thursday, February 23, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit granted a mandamus petition filed by Google, and ordered a Texas federal court to transfer a patent infringement case to a federal court that covers Silicon Valley, as requested by Google. See In re: Google Inc. This extraordinary remedy was delivered in the form of a non-precedential opinion authored by Chief Judge Prost and joined by Judge Lourie. Despite the Federal Circuit’s designation of the decision as non-precedential, the Court should be prepared for the onslaught of mandamus petitions that will now be filed given that they have shown a willingness to step in and re-weigh transfer factors de novo.

This petition for writ of mandamus arose out of a patent infringement suit brought by Eolas Technologies, Inc. against Google and various other defendants involving U.S. Patent No. 9,195,507. On the day this lawsuit was filed against Google, Eolas also filed two related suits in the same district, accusing various Walmart and Amazon entities of infringement. The Walmart and Amazon entities, like Google, sought transfer to the Northern District of California under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) for convenience. Weighing the relevant transfer factors, the district court concluded that the Northern District of California was not clearly a more convenient forum than the Eastern District of Texas.