Case Law Updates

Supreme Court Clarifies Separability Analysis for Copyright Protection of Elements of Industrial Designs

In a second Intellectual-Property-related decision in as many days, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a long-awaited ruling on March 22, 2017, in Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc. et al. (No. 15-866), confirming that copyright protection extends to pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works regardless of whether they were created as freestanding art or as […]

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Supreme Court Eliminates Laches Defense in Patent Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decisive ruling today in SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC (No. 15-927), eliminating the defense of laches in patent cases. This ruling continues the Supreme Court’s recent trend of overturning Federal Circuit precedent. Laches is an equitable defense in which a plaintiff is barred from […]

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Supreme Court Overrules Federal Circuit’s Seagate Test for Enhanced Damages

In a combined opinion for two cases, Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc. (No. 14–1513) and Stryker Corp. v. Zimmer, Inc.(No. 14–1520), a unanimous Supreme Court rejected the two-part test for awarding enhanced damages under 35 U.S.C. § 284. The Federal Circuit had pronounced this test nearly a decade ago in In re Seagate […]

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Supreme Court: 1) Upholds Use of Broadest Reasonable Interpretation during Inter Partes Review; and 2) Affirms that Inter Partes Review Institution Decisions are Not Appealable

On June 20, 2016, the Supreme Court issued a long awaited opinion in Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Lee, 579 U. S. ____ (2016). In its opinion, the Supreme Court squarely sided with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, approving of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (“PTAB”) use of the broadest reasonable interpretation […]

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An Unintended Consequence of Transferring All Substantial Rights in a Patent:

In a recent decision, Azure Networks LLC v. CSR PLC (hereafter “Azure Networks”), the Federal Circuit held that the title owner of a patent may not be joined as a co-plaintiff in a patent infringement suit for purposes of standing if the title owner has transferred all substantial rights in the patent. 771 F.3d 1336 […]

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Supreme Court Issues First Trademark Ruling In Ten Years, Holding That Trademark Tacking Is A Factual Determination

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a substantive trademark matter for the first time in ten years, holding in Hana Financial, Inc. v. Hana Bank (No. 13-1211) that trademark tacking is a factual determination properly reserved for the jury (the fact finder). This ruling resolved a split in the Circuits regarding who properly decides trademark […]

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Supreme Court Mandates Deference to District Court Factual Findings When Reviewing Claim Construction

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision today in Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc. (No. 13-854), altering the standard used by the Federal Circuit since 1998 to review claim construction determinations on appeal. This ruling is the latest in a series of recent Supreme Court decisions reversing practices previously established by the […]

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USPTO’s Interim Guidance on Patent Eligibility Relaxes Limitations

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued revised guidelines for determining patent eligible subject matter following recent groundbreaking precedent, including Alice Corp., Mayo, and Myriad. The guidance substantially alters the USPTO’s earlier, more restrictive examination procedures and instructions to examiners, and address the implications of those recent decisions in a more nuanced and […]

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Supreme Court’s Alice Decision Strikes a Blow Against Patent Trolls in Confirming that Adding the Words “Apply It With A Computer” Does Not Make an Abstract Idea Patentable

A unanimous Supreme Court today ruled that software patents based on abstract ideas that merely require generic computer implementation are ineligible for patent protection, affirming the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s recent en banc decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l. This ruling does not render all software-related inventions ineligible for […]

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Unfair Competition Claims Under the Lanham Act Not Precluded by the FDCA or FDA Food Labeling Regulations

In POM Wonderful LLC v. The Coca Cola Co., 572 U.S. ___ (Jun. 12, 2014), a unanimous Supreme Court held that a private suit brought by a competitor under § 43 of the Lanham Act is not precluded by the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and the FDA regulations. POM Wonderful LLC—a maker of […]

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