Category: Litigation

1
PTAB’s Motion to Amend Patentability Powers
2
Protection of store layout under copyright law: the KIKO case
3
Court finds ‘flagrant’ copyright infringement of ‘Love is in the Air’
4
Kraft v Bega: Australian appeal court decision reaffirms the perils of relying on unregistered trade mark rights
5
Misappropriators Beware: Motorola Court Embraces Extraterritorial Application of the Defend Trade Secrets Act
6
POP Provides Clarity Regarding Level of Proof for Printed Publications Before the PTAB
7
Unconstitutionality of PTAB judges corrected by Federal Circuit decision
8
A Win is a Win!
9
Don’t B Late; Federal Circuit Interprets the B Delay Calculation
10
IPR of pre-AIA patent not an unconstitutional taking

PTAB’s Motion to Amend Patentability Powers

In a 2-1 split decision on Wednesday, July 22, 2020, the Federal Circuit confirmed that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB“) had the authority to reject substitute claims under 35 U.S.C. §§ 101 and 112, statutory grounds not available to the PTAB for evaluating patentability of granted patent claims in inter partes review (“IPR“). (Uniloc 2017 LLC, v. Hulu, LLC et al., Case No. 2019-1686, slip op. at 3 (Fed. Cir. July 22, 2020).)

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Protection of store layout under copyright law: the KIKO case

The Italian Supreme Court decision on the KIKO case (Cass. 780/2020) is the most recent judgement made in the wake of the Cofemel decision (case C-683/17) and follows the UK IPEC decision in Response Clothing (click here for our previous blog post).

In this latest development, KIKO S.p.a, a well-known make-up store was able to secure copyright protection for its signature store layout, made of its open space entrance with digital screens, the white/black/pink/purple color combination, the disco lighting effects, the size, proportions, materials and position of furniture.

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Court finds ‘flagrant’ copyright infringement of ‘Love is in the Air’

In its recent judgment (Boomerang Investments Pty Ltd v Padgett (Liability) [2020] FCA 535), the Federal Court of Australia has found that an American electronic musical duo copied the celebrated Australian disco song ‘Love Is In The Air’. The decision confirms that the sound of lyrics as sung forms part of a musical work. Furthermore, a short sung lyric with attending music can be the ‘essential air’ of a song.

While determining only “modest” levels of copyright infringement occurred and dismissing most claims for damages, Justice Perram described the copying as “flagrant” and indicated there will be a further hearing to assess damages.

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Kraft v Bega: Australian appeal court decision reaffirms the perils of relying on unregistered trade mark rights

In the case Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC v Bega Cheese Limited [2020] FCAFC 65, the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia has dismissed Kraft’s appeal of a decision entitling Bega to exclusive use of the iconic yellow lid and yellow label with a blue or red peanut device on its peanut butter jars.

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Misappropriators Beware: Motorola Court Embraces Extraterritorial Application of the Defend Trade Secrets Act

On March 5, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois entered a final judgment on a jury verdict of approximately $764.6 million in a high profile trade secret misappropriation case — Motorola Solutions, Inc. v. Hytera Communications Corp. Ltd.[1]  This judgment was made possible, in large part, by an earlier order from the district court holding that the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) applies to misappropriation that occurs outside the United States if (1) the misappropriator is a U.S. citizen or entity, or (2) “an act in furtherance of” the misappropriation occurred domestically.[2]  While Motorola is not the first case to recognize that the DTSA provides a private right of action for foreign misappropriation,[3] it appears to be the first substantive analysis of extraterritorial application of the DTSA to date.[4]   

Case Background

The Motorola case centered on allegations that Hytera, a Chinese rival of Motorola, misappropriated Motorola’s trade secrets to develop and sell a competing digital radio.[5]  Motorola claimed that Hytera hired three engineers away from Motorola’s Malaysian office, and that those engineers stole thousands of technical, confidential Motorola documents containing trade secrets and source code.[6]  According to Motorola, Hytera used Motorola’s trade secrets to develop a state-of-the-art digital radio that was functionally indistinguishable from Motorola’s digital radios.[7]  Hytera proceeded to sell its newly developed radios both internationally and in the United States.[8]  While the key actions that enabled Hytera’s acquisition of Motorola’s trade secrets took place overseas, certain actions related to the misappropriation occurred in the United States.[9]  In particular, Hytera advertised, promoted, and marketed products embodying the allegedly stolen trade secrets at numerous domestic trade shows.[10]

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POP Provides Clarity Regarding Level of Proof for Printed Publications Before the PTAB

The PTAB’s Precedential Opinion Panel (“POP”) issued a decision in Hulu, LLC v. Sound View Innovations, LLC, IPR2018-01039, on Friday, December 20, 2019. The issue at hand: “What is required for a petitioner to establish that an asserted reference qualifies as ‘printed publication’ at the institution stage?” Hulu v. Sound View, IPR2018-01039, Paper 29 at *2 (P.T.A.B. December 20, 2019).

This decision provides clarity on an issue that was often addressed inconsistently across panels regarding the “requirements for institution involving issues of public accessibility of an asserted ‘printed publication.’” Id. at 2.

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Unconstitutionality of PTAB judges corrected by Federal Circuit decision

In a Halloween decision, the Federal Circuit issued its opinion in Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc. et al., an appeal from IPR2017-00275. Without wading into the technical merits of the decision, the three judge panel of Judges Moore, Reyna, and Chen, issued a decision that, at first glance, sent tremors through those who practice before the PTAB in AIA-based post-grant review proceedings: finding the appointment of PTAB judges unconstitutional.

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A Win is a Win!

B.E. Technology LLC v. Facebook, Inc., Appeal No. 18-2356 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 9, 2019) identifies what it means to win in a case.  More particularly, the Federal Circuit explained how to determine whether a party is “the prevailing party.”  B.E. Technology (“B.E.”) brought a patent infringement suit in district court against Facebook and the case was stayed pending inter partes review.  The Patent Trial and Appeal Board ultimately held the claims of the patent in question to be unpatentable, which was confirmed on appeal.

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Don’t B Late; Federal Circuit Interprets the B Delay Calculation

Mayo Foundation v. Iancu reads more like an arithmetic problem than a Federal Circuit decision. The reason is the case involves the Patent Term Adjustment Act (PTA) (see 35 U.S.C. § 154(b)). PTA determinations require calculating how many days of delay, from the effective filing date to the Notice of Allowance, are attributable to the applicant and how many to the PTO. Under one PTA scenario, the applicant is entitled to an adjusted term, recovering every day the application is pending beyond three years past the effective filing date for the balance of delay attributable to the PTO. This is called a “B Delay” (§154(b)1)(B)). However, the B Delay is subject to several exclusions. The disputed exclusion in Mayo concerned a Request for Continued Examination (RCE) of the application, which Mayo filed before the PTO declared an interference. 

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IPR of pre-AIA patent not an unconstitutional taking

In a notable, albeit not surprising, U.S. Federal Circuit decision today, the panel in Celgene Corp. v. Peter confirmed that an inter partes review finding of unpatentability of a pre-AIA patent is not an unconstitutional taking. (slip op. 2018-1171 (July 30, 2019)).

Noting an opening in the recent Supreme Court decision in Oil States, the Federal Circuit deemed the circumstances exceptional as their basis for review of an issue not before the PTAB in the underlying proceeding. The panel reasoned that the proceeding being “curative” in nature, and the approximately forty year period of time in which PTAB proceedings have existed subjecting granted patents to potential cancellations for that duration weighted against any unconstitutionality.

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