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Sound the Alarm: Reasonable Royalty Apportionment Analysis Overlooks “Sleep State”

After a jury found infringement of two patents and awarded almost $2.2 billion in damages, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the infringement finding for one asserted patent, vacated the damages award for the other asserted patent, and reversed the district court’s refusal to allow the alleged infringer to add a licensing defense. VLSI Technology LLC v. Intel Corporation, Case No. 22-1906 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 4, 2023) (Lourie, Dyk, Taranto, JJ.)

VLSI sued Intel for infringement of two patents. During the litigation, third party Finjan underwent a change in control after which it was controlled by the same parent entity as VLSI. Intel sought to amend its answer to add a licensing defense based on the broad definition of “affiliates” in its license agreement with Finjan, arguing that as a consequence of the change in control Intel was licensed to patents owned by VLSI. The district court denied the motion to amend.

At trial, the jury found literal infringement of one patent and infringement under the doctrine of equivalents (DoE) for the other patent. The jury awarded $2.2 billion in damages. Intel appealed.

The patent that the jury found infringed under the DoE was directed to devices, such as computer processors, having the ability to operate at a variety of frequencies. Depending on the operating conditions, a master device can provide a trigger input to a controller in response to a desired increase in device performance, and the controller can then adjust the clock frequency accordingly. Intel argued that the evidence of equivalents presented to the jury was legally insufficient to support a finding of infringement.

The Federal Circuit agreed and reversed the jury’s finding under the DoE. The Court stressed that for a patent owner to prevail under a DoE assertion, it must provide “particularized testimony and linking argument as to the insubstantiality of the differences between the claimed invention and the accused device.” While VLSI’s proof of equivalence was limitation specific, the testimony provided during the trial was insufficient to explain the “insubstantiality” of the differences between the claims and the Intel products. The Court specifically cited trial testimony by VLSI’s expert, who characterized the differences as “a difference of where an engineer draws the line . . . it’s a design choice.” In its explanation of why the analysis and testimony was insufficient, the Court explained that “[i]t is not enough [] to say that the different functionality-location placements were a ‘design choice.’ . . . VLSI had to prove—with particularized testimony and linking argument—that the elements of the Intel arrangement were substantially the same as the elements of the claimed arrangement. But VLSI offered no meaningful testimony doing so.”

Intel also appealed the damages award based on the patent that was found to be literally infringed. That patent was directed to certain features that provide separate scalable (as opposed to fixed) power supply voltages for both processors and memory devices, depending on the need of the device. VLSI’s expert presented a calculation of damages based [...]

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Federal Circuit Tosses Shaw: IPR Estoppel Applies to All Grounds That Reasonably Could Have Been Raised

March 2022 Update: The Federal Circuit has issued an errata to this decision. Read about it here.

Addressing inter partes review (IPR) estoppel after the Supreme Court of the United States’ 2018 decision in SAS Institute, Inc. v. Iancu, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overruled its decision in Shaw Industries Group v. Automated Creel Systems, stating that the only plausible reading of 35 U.S.C. § 315(e)(2) estops a party from raising all claims and grounds that reasonably could have been included in the party’s petition for IPR. The Court also rejected the district court’s two-tier damages model as contrary to customary patent damages calculations. California Institute of Technology v. Broadcom Limited, Case Nos. 20-2222; 21-1527 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 4, 2022) (Lourie, Linn, Dyk, JJ.) (Dyk, J., dissenting in part).


California Institute of Technology (Caltech) filed suit against Broadcom and Apple, alleging patent infringement directed to the generation and repetition of information in a wireless data transmission system. Wireless transmission systems generally use data repetition so that the transmitted information may be decoded even when data loss occurs. The patented circuitry discloses a form of irregular data repetition in which portions of the information bits may be repeated a varying number of times.

Apple filed multiple IPR petitions challenging the validity of the claims at issue. The Patent Trial & Appeal Board (Board) concluded in all cases that Apple failed to show that the challenged claims were unpatentable as obvious. At the district court, Apple and Broadcom raised new arguments of obviousness not asserted in the IPR proceedings. The district court granted Caltech’s motion for summary judgment of no invalidity, precluding Apple and Broadcom from raising arguments at trial that they reasonably could have raised in their IPR petitions.

At trial, the district court instructed the jury that “repeat” means “generation of additional bits, where generation can include, for example, duplication or reuse of bits.” Apple and Broadcom argued that the Broadcom chips (which were integrated into Apple devices) did not infringe the asserted claims because they did not repeat information at all. With respect to one of the asserted patents, the district court did not provide a jury instruction relating to its construction that the claim language “information bits appear in a variable number of subsets” requires irregular information bit repetition. The jury found infringement of all asserted claims. Apple and Broadcom filed post-trial motions for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) and a new trial, both of which the district court denied.

The district court adopted Caltech’s proposed two-tier damages theory, explaining that Broadcom and Apple’s products were different and therefore possessed different values simply because they were “different companies at different levels in the supply chain.” The district court ultimately entered judgment against Broadcom for $288 million and against Apple for $885 million. Broadcom and Apple appealed.

The Appeal

Broadcom and Apple argued that the district court’s construction of “repeat” was inconsistent with the claim language and specification. The Federal Circuit [...]

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