The Supreme Court recently held in SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC that the defense of laches cannot be invoked against a claim for damages brought within the statutory six-year limit. The decision comes at little surprise given the Court's ruling in Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which considered a similar provision of the Copyright Act. The Court reasoned that Congress set forth an express limitations period in the patent laws, and giving effect to laches within the statutory period would amount to judicial overriding. In his lone dissent, Justice Breyer noted that the decision ignores the application of laches to reign in abusive pre-litigation conduct by a patent holder who unreasonably delays suit, knowing he can collect damages for the previous six years of infringement.
The USPTO recently introduced its initiative to "fast track" patent applications which cover immunotherapies for cancer. The program is designed to support the White House's National Cancer Moonshot, which aims to eliminate cancer with a $1 Billion call to arms to find new therapies and techniques for prevention. Eligible applications will be prioritized for examination, and, once accepted into the program, applicants can expect to receive a final decision in one year or less.
In Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the "Raging Bull" case, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the defense of laches, whereby the accused infringer alleges that the right holder sat on its rights for too long before bringing suit, cannot be used to shorten the three-year statute of limitations set forth in the Copyright Act. In the case of SCA Hygeiene Products, AK v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC, the Supreme Court has recently taken up the question as it pertains to the defense of laches and the six-year statute of limitations set forth in the Patent Laws. Follow the case here for updates.
Today, the US PTO issued revisions to the Rules of Procedure for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, at 81 Fed. Reg. 18750. This Federal Register Notice includes various changes to the duty of candor, the rules on pleading page limits, as well as grounds for instituting IPR and PGR proceedings.
In the unending saga of Samsung v. Apple, the Supreme Court has recently granted certiorari on a single question relating to damages in a case of design patent infringement, that is: where a design patent only covers a single component of an overall product, should a damages award be limited only to those profits attributed to that component? For more on this case, head over to SCOTUSblog.
The Supreme Court has granted writ of certiorari in a pending Inter Partes Review (IPR) challenge in Cuozzo Speed Tech v. Lee. The questions on review relate to whether the court of appeals erred in holding that in IPR proceedings, the PTAB may construe claims in an issued patent according to their broadest reasonable interpretation, rather than their plain and ordinary meaning, as well as on whether the PTAB's decision to institute an IPR proceeding is itself unreviewable.
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas recently granted a Motion for Summary Judgment seeking to dismiss a patent infringement suit on the basis that the asserted claims are directed to ineligible subject matter under the two-step test recently reaffirmed by the United States Supreme Court in Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014). Reportedly, one effect of the ruling was to dispose of 168 patent cases pursued by the same Plaintiff, asserting the same claims against separate Defendants. The Court has also requested briefing on an award of attorney's fees.
The equitable defense of laches can apply to claims of patent infringement damages suits, even when they are filed within the six year statutory period as defined by 35 U.S.C. §286, ruled the en banc Federal Circuit in SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC., Fed Cir., No. 2013-1564 (Sept. 18 2015). In this narrow 6-5 decision, the court sitting en banc affirmed its earlier summary judgment, which dismissed SCA's patent infringement suit for laches, from September of last year.
Inter Partes Review (“IPR”) was first made available via the America Invents Act (AIA) on September 16, 2012 as a counterpart to Post Grant Review. Accordingly, IPR is a procedure in which a third party may challenge the validity of patent claims based on existing prior art. Since its enactment, early statistics demonstrate that a staggering 87% success rate for the Petitioners to institute a trial with the Patent & Trial Appeal Board (“PTAB”) against the Patent Owners in the first year and equally favorable 76% success rate in the second year.
Google has recently announced an experiment to "remove friction from the patent market and improve the landscape" by offering The Patent Purchase Promotion. Between the period of May 8, 2015 and May 22, 2015, Google will be opening an online portal for patent holders to offer Google individual patent(s) for purchase. The seller sets a firm offer, and Google will respond with a simple yes or no. http://www.google.com/patents/licensing/#tab=pp