Posts Tagged ‘ip’

Supreme Court to Review Post-Expiration Date Royalties in Kimble v. Marvell

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Despite a negative brief from the Solicitor General’s Office, on Friday the Supreme Court granted cert. in Kimbell v. Marvell, 727 F.3d 856 (9th Cir. 2013) (a copy can be found at the end of this post). The single question presented is “Whether the Court should overrule Brulotte v. Thys” (379 U.S. 29 (1964)). This decision held that a patentee’s use of a royalty agreement extending royalty payments beyond the expiration date of the patent is unlawful per se. This decision had, in some cases, been extended to void licensee’s contract obligations when “hybrid royalty payments” where involved, e.g., when royalties due to both the use of patent and non-patent rights were involved but had not be clearly delineated, and in the case of deferred payments for profits obtained before patent expiration, but paid after expiration. On the other hand, cases like Aronson, which provided for reduced royalties after a fixed period of time if no patent ever issued, were found to be enforceable, since such agreements did not involve patent licenses.

Brulotte has been widely criticized since it issued – after all, expired patents can be practiced for free by any and all – unless a licensee sees something of value and contracts away its rights – and the Supreme Court may well have taken this case due to the cogent summary of the issues by the 9th Circuit. The decision, due in 2015, will be of particular interest to the “patent and licensing offices” of universities, which have long struggled with questions of best practices in obtaining some royalty stream from early-stage technologies whose maximum earning potential may not be realized until the patents covering them have expired, or are about to expire.

Kimble v Marvel

Commil USA v. Cisco Systems – Induced Infringement In For Clarification

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Supreme Court granted cert. to resolve the question of whether or not a defendant’s belief that a patent is invalid is a defense against a charge of inducing infringement. The question appears to rest on Judge Newman’s characterization given in her dissent from the majority opinion (Proust, O’Malley). (A copy of this decision can be found at the end of this post.) However, the majority opinion appears more nuanced to me:

“Under our case law, it is clear that a good-faith belief of non-infringement is relevant evidence that ends to show that an accused infringer lacked the intent required to be held liable for induced infringement.”

I read this as simply stating that the belief can provide evidence of lack of specific intent to induce acts of infringement. The evidence may be “strong,” such as a competent opinion rendered before the offending acts, or “weak,” e.g. the opinion of a non-attorney or a just incompetent opinion. In fact, the majority makes an effort to “spank”‘ Judge Newman in footnote 1:


C.I.T. v. Hughes Comm. – Survival Guide for Software?

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

On November 3, 2014, in Cal. Inst. Of Tech. v. Hughes Communications., 2014 U.S.. Dist. LEXIS 156763 (C.D. Cal. 2014), Judge Mariana Pfaelzer penned the most thorough defense of software claims attacked under s. 101 that I have seen since State Street Bank. The opinion is also useful since it both continuously cites – and often distinguishes or explains Mayo—and because it is very critical of the analytical framework employed by the same court in McRO (Planet Blue) v Namco, a September decision on which I posted earlier. (A copy of this decision can be found at the end of this post.)

The heart and soul of the opinion is the Judge’s dismissal of the “point-of-novelty” approach that she finds was used in McRO, as opposed to “purpose” test that she applies in this opinion:


Genetic Technologies v. Bristol Myers – 101 At Work

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

In the recent memorandum opinion, the court invalidated claim 1 of U.S. Pat. No. 5,612,179, owned by Genetic Technologies, Ltd., as “impermissibly [claiming] a natural phenomenon.” (Genetic Technologies, Ltd. v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, C.A. No. 12-394-LPS (D. Delaware, Oct. 30, 2014), copy of which can be found at the end of this post).

If you have been following the Mayo/Myriad/Intema trail of tears, you could probably write 98% of this opinion “from memory.” A number of aspects of this very lengthy and predictable opinion stand out, however.

The claims were directed to a method of detection of at least one coding region allele of a multi-allelic genetic locus by amplifying genomic DNA via PCR, with a primer pair that spans a non-coding region sequence. The primer pair defines a DNA sequence which is in genetic linkage with the genetic locus and contains a sufficient number of non-coding region sequence nucleotides so that PCR produces an amplified DNA sequence characteristic of said allele; “and analyzing the amplified DNA sequence to detect the allele.” The claim was based on the discovery that there can be a correlation between variations in non-coding introns and coding region alleles; that is, that SNPs in non-coding DNA regions can also be in linkage disequilibrium with SNPs in coding regions of DNA . The genotypes of two SNPS in non-coding regions and two SNPs in a coding region are correlated so that the SNPs in the non-coding region can serve as “surrogate markers’ for the SNPs in the coding region.