District courts have been abuzz with accused infringers asserting invalidity based on ineligible subject matter under section 101. This is a result of evolving jurisprudence developed by the Federal Circuit and Supreme Court over the last few years. Today, that continued with the Supreme Court unanimously holding in Alice Corp. Pty v. CLS Bank Int’l, 573 U.S. ___ (2014) that, for claims drawn to an abstract idea, “merely requiring generic computer implementation fails to transform that abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.”
Author: Charles H. Chevalier
NJ District Courts Bar Defendants’ Indefiniteness Argument During Claim Construction Because Not Alleged in Invalidity Contentions
We previously reported that New Jersey District Court Judges will limit a patent infringement defendant’s discovery to the claims and defenses identified in its Invalidity Contentions served under Local Patent Rule 3.3. For the same reasons, a defendant may be barred from taking certain positions during claim construction. In an opinion issued last week, Judge Jose L. Linares held in Auxilium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. & FCB I LLC v. Watson Laboratories, Inc., No. 12-3084 (JLL) that a defendant that does “not raise an indefiniteness defense in its invalidity contentions . . . cannot seek a determination that the patents-at-issue are invalid for indefiniteness through claim construction.”
Section 101 challenges continue to be front and center at the district court level, including three recent decisions in the United States District Courts for the Northern District of California and Eastern District of Virginia which reflect holdings falling on opposite sides of 101 patentability. In France Telecom S.A. v. Marvell Semiconductor Inc., the court denied defendant’s summary judgment motion because it failed to meet the “high level of proof” needed to succeed on an eligibility challenge under section 101. There, the patent involved correcting errors in telecommunication and other signals (caused by noise or interference which distorts the data) known as turbo coding. After summarizing relevant jurisprudence, the court identified the abstract ideas relevant to the subject matter of the patent claims at issue as “error-correction coding” or “decoding digital data elements.” The court then analyzed whether the claims contained “additional substantive limitations that narrow, confine, or otherwise tie [them] down.” Specifically, the court found that they provide “unique and detailed [error-detection coding or decoding] methods . . . or inventive concepts that exceed the prior art, namely, coding in parallel and a novel method of iterative coding.” Thus, the claimed inventions “provide the necessary substantive claim limitations beyond the mere recitation” of abstract ideas. The court also gave the claims a passing grade in the machine-or-transformation test: “[c]laim 1 takes digital data elements and turns them into a distinct series of coded data elements, which Claim 10 in turn decodes.” The court further found relevant (similar to the court in TQP Development we previously discussed) that the purpose of the patent was “to disclose a method for more accurate and efficient data transmission.”
Yesterday, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey held that patents listed in the Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations (the “Orange Book”), but not asserted under the Hatch-Waxman framework, are subject to declaratory judgment actions by later ANDA filers seeking to trigger the first ANDA filer’s exclusivity period.
On the heels of CLS Bank Int’l v. Alice Corp. Pty presently before the Supreme Court, the Federal Circuit and district courts in 2014 have continued to issue decisions analyzing computer-implemented inventions under 35 U.S.C. § 101. These courts have generally sought to answer similar questions: whether the claim is an abstract idea; whether this abstract idea preempts all other uses or can be performed in the human mind (or on a pen and paper); and whether the claim contains other limitations to narrow it sufficiently, such as being tied to a specific machine or transforming the data into a different thing.
This week, United States District Judge Sue L. Robinson issued a new Patent Case Scheduling Order dictating how patent cases will proceed in Her Honor’s Court. The District of Delaware is second only to the Eastern District of Texas in the number of patent cases filed; both of which have nearly three times the number of patent cases as the third busiest district, the Central District of California. In order to help streamline the hundreds of patent cases assigned to Her Honor, Judge Robinson issued a new Patent Case Scheduling Order, requiring the identification of key issues earlier in the case, which should improve overall case efficiencies.
A party needs to be cognizant of the infringing instrumentalities it identifies in its infringement contentions and any subsequent amendments. In LMT Mercer Group, Inc. v. Maine Ornamental, LLC et al, No. 10-4615, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5719 (D.N.J. Jan. 24, 2014), Judge Wolfson denied Plaintiff LMT Mercer Group’s (“LMT”) motion to amend its infringement contentions to add a product that it removed from its previous filings and then delayed in correcting that exclusion.
The United States Patent Trial and Appeal Board Determines That a Civil Action Dismissed Without Prejudice Does Not Bar a Petition for Inter Partes Review Under 35 U.S.C. § 315 (a)(1)
We previously reported on February 6, 2014, that the United States Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) determined that a “complaint alleging infringement of the patent” does not include arbitration proceedings for purposes of triggering the time bar under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b). This week, the PTAB also determined what constitutes a bar to filing an inter partes review petition under 35 U.S.C. § 315 (a)(1); specifically whether a civil action filed before a petition for an inter partes review that is subsequently dismissed without prejudice is a bar to the petition under 35 U.S.C. § 315 (a)(1). The PTAB held that it is not.
The United States Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) recently interpreted what constitutes a “trigger” under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b). The PTAB concluded that under the statute, a “complaint alleging infringement of the patent” does not include arbitration proceedings. Amkor Tech., Inc. (“Amkor”) and Tessera, Inc. (“Tessera”) executed a license agreement in 1996 (“Agreement”) under which Amkor had rights to use Tessera technology covered by U.S. Patent No. 6,046,076 (“the ‘076 patent”) in exchange for the payment of royalties. In 2009, a dispute arose regarding the payment of royalties under the Agreement. Amkor availed itself to the arbitration provision in the Agreement and initiated an arbitration proceeding seeking declaratory relief that it was fully compliant with the terms of the Agreement. In its answer to Amkor’s arbitration request, Tessera included counterclaims for patent infringement. In July 2012, the arbitration tribunal found that Amkor did fail to pay royalties on certain products covered by claims of the ‘076 patent.
Ranbaxy Laboratories, Ltd. (“Ranbaxy”) and Vertex Pharmaceutical, Inc. (“Vertex”) recently settled an inter partes review (“IPR”) proceeding regarding Vertex’s U.S. Patent No. 6,436,989 (“the ‘989 Patent”). Vertex had listed the ‘989 Patent in the FDA’s published Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations, otherwise known as the Orange Book, as covering its HIV drug, Lexiva®. The significance of this event is the rarity of the use of IPR on patents typically challenged under the Hatch-Waxman framework. Recent statistics show that the majority of IPR have involved electrical/computer patents. Less than 6% of IPRs have been directed to biotechnology/pharmaceutical patents. The likely reason for the limited use of IPR on pharmaceutical patents, particularly those listed in the Orange Book, is the estoppel provisions of the IPR proceedings. See 35 U.S.C. §§ 315(e).