The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that a brewing company’s statements that a competitor’s beers were made with corn syrup were not false and misleading under the Lanham Act because the competitor listed corn syrup as an ingredient in its beers. Molson Coors Beverage Co. USA LLC v. Anheuser-Busch Cos., LLC, Case Nos. 19-2200, -2713, -2782, -3097, -3116 (7th Cir. May 1, 2020) (Easterbrook, J.).
The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed that a state court’s finding of “willful and malicious injury” in connection with the misappropriation of trade secrets entitled the plaintiff, in the defendant’s subsequent bankruptcy proceeding, to summary judgment of nondischargeability on collateral estoppel grounds. In re Hill, Case No. 19-5861 (6th Cir. May 4, 2020) (Donald, J.).
Addressing the disclosure-dedication doctrine, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit concluded that the disclosure-dedication doctrine barred a patent owner’s claim of infringement under the doctrine of equivalents because the asserted patents disclose, but do not claim, the alleged equivalent. Eagle Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Slayback Pharma LLC, Case No. 19-1924 (Fed. Cir. May 8, 2020) (Reyna, J.).
Addressing a variety of challenges to a judgment against defendants in a trade secret misappropriation action, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit found that the plaintiff had standing on the basis of lawful possession (as opposed to ownership) of the trade secret materials and that the damages awarded, including punitives, was supported by sufficient evidence. Advanced Fluid Systems, Inc. v. Huber, Case Nos. 19-1722; -1752 (3d Cir. Apr. 30, 2020) (Jordan, J.).
The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit applied KSR and its obviousness progeny, finding that patent claims directed to location plotting were obvious under 35 USC § 103. Uber Techs., Inc. v. X One, Inc., Case No. 19-1164 (Fed. Cir. May 5, 2020) (Prost, CJ).
X One sued Uber Technologies asserting a patent directed to exchanging location information between mobile devices, such that a user could add other mobile device users to a “Buddy List,” share her location with listed buddies or temporary “instant buddies,” and see the locations of her buddies on a map. The patent’s purported novelty lay in “two way position information sharing,” creation of location sharing “groups,” and “temporary location sharing” that “automatically expires.”
The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a complaint seeking a declaration of trademark abandonment, finding that the plaintiff (the co-owner of an online business that sells to customers in India and Thailand) was unable to demonstrate a case or controversy absent evidence that he was prepared to immediately bring his goods to market in the United States. Abdul Rehman Karim Saleh v. Sulka Trading Ltd., et al., Case No. 19-2461 (2d Cir. Apr. 30, 2020) (per curiam).
The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit addressed the copyright protection afforded to an information database and whether comments made to a reporter while litigation was ongoing violated the disparagement clause in a separation agreement. Ultimately, the Court affirmed a judgment against the defendant for copyright infringement and against its founder for breach of contract. In doing so, the Court upheld the findings that plaintiff’s database copyright was valid, even though it was only entitled to a narrow scope of protection, and that the defendant’s founder’s comments to a reporter violated his contract with the plaintiff. Infogroup, Inc. v. DatabaseUSA.com LLC, Case No. 18-3723 (8th Cir. Apr. 27, 2020) (Benton, J.).
The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the US Court of Federal Claims attorneys’ fees award for patent infringement by the United States solely based on its actions during litigation. Hitkansut LLC, Acceledyne Technologies, LTD, LLC v. United States, Case No. 19-1884 (Fed. Cir. May 1, 2020) (Prost, CJ).
Addressing whether a party can waive a challenge to the constitutionality of Administrative Patent Judges’ (APJs’) appointment, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that the issue is non-jurisdictional and therefore waivable. Ciena Corp. v. Oyster Optics, LLC, Case No. 19-2117 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 28, 2020) (O’Malley, J.) (reissued as precedential May 5, 2020).
Addressing the issue of Article III standing and obviousness in an appeal of an inter partes review (IPR) decision, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that the petitioner had standing to appeal because past activities created a controversy between the parties. Grit Energy Solutions, LLC v. Oren Techs., LLC, Case No. 19-1063 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 30, 2020) (Prost, CJ) (Newman, J., concurring in part, dissenting in part).