American Calcar v. Amer. Honda Motor Co. – Therasense Goes Out For a Test Drive

September 30th, 2014

On Friday, in American Calcar v. Amer. Honda Motor Co., App. No. 2013-1061 (Fed. Cir., September 26, 2014) a divided Fed. Cir. panel affirmed the district court’s ruling, following remand, that three patents on a multimedia system for vehicle information and control were invalid due to inequitable conduct (IC) by Calcar’s founder, Mr. Obradovich. The patents were all part of one family and the “priority patent” is U.S. Pat. No. 6,009,355. The primary evidence of inequitable conduct was the failure by Obradovich to disclose the owner’s manual of an Acura model that Calcar used as the basis of its specification. (A copy of the decision can be found at the end of this post.)

The Fed. Cir. had reversed the court’s earlier finding of inequitable conduct for a number of reasons, including judicial error in relying on jury findings of IC rather than ruling from the bench on equitable grounds, applying the “reasonable examiner” standard instead of the “but for” Therasense standard to resolve materiality, and use of a “sliding scale” to find intent based on a strong showing of materiality.

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PLANET BLUE v. NAMCO – Abstract at the “Point of Novelty”

September 29th, 2014

In McRO, Inc. d.b.a. Planet Blue v. Namco Bandai Games America, civ. No. CV 12-10322-GW (FFMx) (C. D. Cal., Sept. 22, 2014), the granted Defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings that US Patent numbers 6,307,576 and 6,611, 278, were invalid as attempts to claim an abstract idea. (A copy of the decision is available at the end of this post.)

The claims were directed to automatically animated lip synchronization and facial expression of 3D animated characters. The court read the claims in view of the admitted state of the prior art and located a single “point of novelty”: “[T]he idea of using rules, including timing rules, to automate the process of generating keyframes.” “So what the claim adds to the prior art is the use of rules, rather than artists to set the morph weights and transitions between phonemes [e.g., the change in the shape of the lips as words are spoken.]”

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Genetic Technologies v. LabCorp. – Mayo Redux.

September 16th, 2014

It was Mayo redux with a vengeance in the September 23, 2014 decision in Genetic Technologies Ltd. v. Laboratory Corp. of Amer. Holdings et al., Civil Action No. 12-1736-LPS-CJB (D. Del. 2014).  Magistrate Judge Burke released an opinion invalidating claim 1 of Genetic Technologies U.S. Patent No. 7,615,342 as claiming non-patentable subject matter under s. 101 that could have been stenciled from the PTO s.101 Guidelines. Claim 1 was directed to a method to predict potential sprinting, strength or power performance in a human. The claim had an “analyzing step” to look for variations in the ACTN3 gene of the human, a “detecting step” to determine the presence of two 577R alleles at a loci of the ACTN3 protein and (c) a “predicting step” positively associating two copies of the allele with the performance elements.

Citing Mayo v. Prometheus and PerkinElmer v. Intema copiously, the correlation between the alleles and athletic performance was held to be a natural law and the analyzing and detecting steps were the “employment of … routine conventional process[es]” that were not sufficient to transform an unpatentable law of nature into a patent-eligible application of such a law. The “predicting step” was dismissed as “’no more than an instruction [to] apply the [natural] law.’ Prometheus, 132 S Ct at 1297.”

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SLW Smashes 101 Rejections

September 12th, 2014