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Defend Trade Secrets Act Supports Sealing Information on Appeal

Addressing whether purported trade secret information ought to remain under seal on appeal, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in a one-judge order that the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) provided a statutory basis that overcame the presumption of public access. Magnesium Machine, LLC v. Terves, LLC, Case No. 20-3779 (6th Cir. Dec. 10, 2020) (McKeague, J.) This case presented the issue of what part of a record may be sealed on appeal—normally a routine question—in litigation that was anything but routine. According to the verified complaint, Magnesium Machine discovered a particular salt-based treatment for use on oil and gas tools. According to Magnesium, in the course of litigating a patent infringement suit against one of Magnesium's suppliers, Terves and its counsel, McDonald Hopkins, obtained information reflective of Magnesium's alleged trade secret from a third party pursuant to subpoena. Specifically, Magnesium claimed that...

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An Early Holiday Present for Generics? Legislation Requiring Greater Disclosure by Brands Passes the Senate

Earlier this month, two bills intended to promote generic competitiveness by presenting a clearer idea of the patent landscape covering reference products passed the full Senate, albeit with amendments. These laws, if enacted, will require brand pharmaceutical companies to submit more information about their innovator products. Potential Changes to Orange Book Listing Requirements for Non-Biologics Drugs As part of its current obligations, an innovator product manufacturer must submit to the FDA the patent number and expiration date of any patents that claim the drug or a method of using the drug. The FDA then performs the ministerial function of listing the information in the Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations, known as the Orange Book. The Hatch-Waxman Act permits generic manufacturers to file a counterclaim to delist a patent that they believe is improperly listed. Over the years, FDA has issued technical regulations expanding...

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PTAB Designates Three Opinions as Precedential

In RPX Corp. v. Applications in Internet Time, LLC, Case Nos. IPR2015-01750, -01751, -01752 (Oct. 2, 2020) (Boalick, CAPJ) (designated precedential on Dec. 4, 2020), the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board) terminated institution of RPX's petitions for inter partes review (IPR) because Salesforce—served with a complaint more than one year before—should have been named as a real party-in-interest (RPI) to the proceedings. As a result, RPX's petition was time-barred under § 315(b). The Board's determination came after remand from the Federal Circuit, which vacated the Board's prior finding that Salesforce was not an RPI. (IP Update, Vol. 21, No. 8). The Federal Circuit instructed the Board to use the common law understanding of "real party-in-interest" and a "flexible approach that takes into account both equitable and practical considerations, with an eye toward determining whether the non-party is a clear beneficiary that has a pre-existing, established...

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US Courts Can Compel Parties to Transfer Ownership of Foreign Patents

Addressing a district court decision agreeing to transfer ownership of certain US patents, but declining to do likewise for the related foreign patents, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit explained that US courts have authority to compel litigants before them to transfer ownership of their patents and held that ownership of the foreign patents should have been transferred as well. SiOnyx LLC v. Hamamatsu Photonics K.K., Case Nos. 19-2359, 20-1217 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 7, 2020) (Lourie, J.). In 1998, a professor at Harvard discovered a process for creating black silicon with unique properties and launched a company, SiOnyx, to commercialize the invention. SiOnyx eventually met with Hamamatsu, a manufacturer of silicon-based photodetector devices, and entered into a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) to share confidential information to explore a potential joint venture. SiOnyx provided information to Hamamatsu under the NDA, but the joint venture plans never...

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Reprints Do Not Change Earlier Publication Date

Addressing the entirety of the evidence standard, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a Patent Trial and Appeal Board finding that responsive evidence can be properly considered to demonstrate the public availability of a reference relied upon in an inter partes review (IPR) petition. VidStream LLC v. Twitter, Inc., Case Nos. 19-1734, -1735 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 25, 2020) (Newman, J.) Youtoo Technologies sued Twitter for infringement of a patent directed to recording and publishing content on social media websites. In response, Twitter filed two IPR petitions challenging the asserted patent claims as obvious. The IPR petitions relied on a textbook (Bradford) as a primary reference in both petitions. Bradford was first published in 2011, but the copy provided with the petitions indicated a reprint date of 2015. The Board granted the IPR petitions and ultimately found all claims unpatentable over combinations of art including Bradford. VidStream,...

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Apportionment Unnecessary When Royalty Is Based on Comparable License

Rejecting a defendant's request for a new trial on a variety of grounds, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a damages award and explained that apportionment was unnecessary because a sufficiently comparable license was used to determine the appropriate royalty. Vectura Ltd. v. GlaxoSmithKline LLC et al., Case No. 20-1054 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 19, 2020) (Prost, C.J.) Vectura owns a patent directed to the production of composite active particles for use in pulmonary administration, such as in dry-powder inhalers. Vectura filed a lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) alleging infringement of the patent by GSK's Ellipta-brand inhalers. At trial, a jury found the patent valid and infringed, and awarded $90 million in damages. After GSK's motion for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) on infringement was denied, GSK appealed. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting all of GSK's arguments. The Court rejected GSK's argument that, based on a claim...

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Making Waves: Post-Employment Contract Assignment Provision Invalid Under California Law

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit invoked “precedents that are relevant but not directly on point" to examine when employment contract provisions may require assignment of inventions conceived post-employment and without use of the former employer's confidential information, finding that an intellectual property assignment provision in the employer's predecessor's employment agreement was void under California law. Whitewater West Industries, Ltd. v. Richard Alleshouse, et al., Case No. 19-1852 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 19, 2020) (Taranto, J.) Richard Alleshouse began working for Wave Loch in 2007 as an engineer in the field of large-scale sheet-wave water attractions, which are surf and wave simulators sometimes seen on cruise ships and in water parks. Alleshouse's many duties for the company included the inspection, assessment and improvement of the company's wave rides; the development of new rides; and product management of the company's branded...

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Covered Business Method Threshold Review Is Not Appealable

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that in view of the Supreme Court of the United States' 2019 decision in Thryv v. Click-to-Call, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board's threshold determination that a patent qualifies for covered business method (CBM) review is closely tied to the institution decision and is therefore not appealable. SIPCO, LLC v. Emerson Electric Co., Case No. 18-1635 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 17, 2020) (Chen, J.) SIPCO owns a patent directed to a communication device that uses a two-step communications path, where a remote device first communicates through a low-power wireless connection to an intermediate node, which in turn connects to a central location. Emerson filed a CBM petition arguing that the claims were obvious over the prior art. The Board instituted a CBM review and issued a final written decision finding the challenged claims obvious over the prior art. SIPCO appealed. SIPCO argued that the Board overstepped its...

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Wave Goodbye to Lost Arguments: Waiver Versus Forfeiture Law

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit concluded that a patent owner forfeited claim construction arguments on appeal by not presenting them first to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board for consideration. In re: Google Tech. Holdings LLC, Case No. 19-1828 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 13, 2020) (Chen, J.) Google submitted an application to the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) seeking patent claims covering certain means and methods for transferring content to video-on-demand systems. During examination, the examiner rejected Google's proposed claims based on obviousness in light of certain references. After receiving a final rejection, Google appealed to the Board, relying heavily on block quotes from the references and proposed claims to argue that the examiner improperly found obviousness. The Board affirmed the examiner's rejection. Applying the broadest reasonable interpretation standard, the Board construed two claim terms: “costs" and “network impact." In...

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“Gradual” and “Continuous” Includes Step-Wise

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a priority decision in favor of the senior party, upholding a claim construction that was based upon a verbatim definition set forth in the patent specification of the application from which the count in interference was copied. Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. University of Wyoming Research Corp., Case No. 19-1530 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 4, 2020) (Schall, J.) (Newman, J., dissenting). Wyoming Research provoked a patent interference proceeding by copying into its pending application a claim from Chevron's pending patent application. Under the now-discontinued interference statute, the patent for an invention claimed by more than one party was awarded to the first-to-invent party. If the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board)determined there was an interference in fact—that is, two patent applications claimed the same subject matter—then the Board could proceed to determine priority of inventorship. A finding of...

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