The standard for willful patent infringement will be reviewed this term by the Supreme Court of the United States, as reported by SCOTUSblog. The Court agreed to accept two cases that involve the issue of enchanced damages in patent infringement litigation, Halo Electronics v. Pulse Electronics, and Stryker Corp v. Zimmer. Under the Patent Act, the owner of a patent may seek triple damages where willful infringement has been proven. The Supreme Court is expected to consider the proper framework for determining whether infringement in a particular case is willful. A decision in these consolidated cases will be rendered by June 2016.
Google has won a major victory in its ten-year legal fight with authors over its Google Library Project, which digitizes and indexes millions of copyrighted books for an online library without consent from the copyright owner. Since 2004, as part of the Google Library Project, Google has scanned, rendered machine-readable, and indexed more than 20 million books, which includes both public domain and copyrighted works, for its Google Books search engine. The search engine allows users to search words or terms that yields a list of all books in the database in which those words or terms appear, as well as the number of times the word or term appears in each book. The search also provides a brief description of each book which gives some basic additional information, such as a list of the words and terms that appear with most frequency in the book. Users are also allowed a limited viewing of the text of the book to see “snippets” of text containing the searched-for terms. The search sometimes provides links to buy the book online and identifies libraries where the book can be located.
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.
U.S. District Court Judge George H. King, has ruled that the lyrics to one of the most popular songs in the English language are not protected by a valid copyright. According to the opinion “Because Summy Co. never acquired the rights to the Happy Birthday lyrics, Defendants, as Summy Co.’s purported successors-in-interest, do not own a valid copyright in the Happy Birthday lyrics.”
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.
In an unanimous decision on remand from the Supreme Court, the Federal Circuit issued its opinion in Akamai Technologies, Inc. v. Limelight Networks, Inc. (2015), which effectively broadened the category of divided patent infringement of a method claim under 35 U.S.C § 271(a), holding that when all steps of a method claim are not actually being performed by one party, but by multiple actors, all of the steps can be attributed to a single actor even where the parties are acting purely in an arms-length relationship with each other.
Are you ready for some football? In the midst of preparing for football season, the National Football Association ("NFL") continues its fight to overcome cancellations of the Washington Redskins' trademarks. The NFL is appealing a district court decision to the Fourth Circuit.
Nine states, including Florida, have recently enacted "anti-patent troll" legislation in 2015, joining the seventeen states that passed similar legislation last year in 2014. Florida's HB 439 ch. 501 part VII ("Patent Troll Prevention Act"), enacted in the 2015 session, prohibits bad faith assertions of patent infringement from being made, and provides a number of factors that allow a court to consider whether an allegation was made in bad faith. A determination of bad faith includes damages and reasonable attorney fees.