Category Archives: patent infringement

GROUNDLESS THREAT OF PATENT INFRINGEMENT

Introduction

Infringement proceedings involve high costs of litigation in defending the same with the possibility that any temporary injunction granted in the due course thereof would lead to revenue loss, loss of employment and several other impediments to the business. Moreover, embroilment in infringement proceedings or the mere possibility thereof leads to disrepute of the business. Thus, keeping in mind the serious effects and consequences associated with infringement proceedings for which no person should unnecessarily be subjected to baseless threats of infringement, groundless threats of Infringement has been kept as a civil wrong or offence.

Groundless Threat of Infringement

Groundless threat, also connoted to as unjustified/wrongful threat is a threat whereby the owner or any person (depending on the statute) threatens another with legal proceedings without basing the threat on any reasonable basis. IP laws provide protection to the victims of unjustified threats, by preventing the person(s) making the threats from doing the same. Examples of such provisions in IP statutes include Section 60 of the Copyright Act, 1957, Section 142 of the Trademark Act, 1999 and Section 106 of the Indian Patents Act, 1970.

Relief under Patents Act, 1970: –

The Court has the power to grant relief in cases of groundless threat of patent infringement under Section 106 of the Indian Patents Act, 1970. The scope of this provision includes a threat given by any person (who is entitled to or interested in a patent or not)  to any other person by circulars or advertisements or by communication, oral or in writing with proceedings for infringement of a patent. It is important to note that a mere notification of the existence of a patent does not constitute a threat of proceeding within the meaning of this section. The person aggrieved thereby may bring the suit praying for the following reliefs:

  • a declaration to the effect that the threats are unjustifiable;
  • an injunction against the continuance of the threats; and
  • such damages, if any, as he has sustained thereby.

 

LG Electronics India Pvt. Ltd. v. Bharat Bhogilal Patel & Others[1]

 

In this case the plaintiff approached the Hon’ble Delhi High Court on the premise that complaint preferred by Defendant No. 1, Bharat Bhogilal Patel, against the Plaintiff before Defendant No.2, Customs Office, on the basis of which said Customs department is acting upon and interdicting the goods imported by the plaintiff without approaching the Court in accordance with Patents Act, 1970 amounts to groundless threats. The defendant claimed to have obtained a patent in respect of “Process of manufacturing engraved design articles on metals or non-metals”.

Upon receiving show cause notice from defendant no. 2 Customs department, the plaintiff requested for the documents pertaining to the impugned patent and on perusing the same, found that the claims of CS(OS) No.2982/2011 Page No.3 of 10 the impugned patent allegedly lacked novelty as well as any inventive step. Accordingly, plaintiff filed revocation petition before the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) challenging validity of the impugned patent. The Customs department continued interdicting the consignments of the plaintiff despite having been informed of the pendency of revocation proceedings. Subsequently, the case came up for hearing and the Court passed interim order in favour of plaintiff, staying the operation of complaint of Defendant No. 2 the Customs office.

Clause 4 of IPR (Imported Goods) Enforcement Rules, 2007: –

“It is pertinent to mention that while the mandatory obligations under Articles 51 to 60 of the TRIPS dealing with border measures are restricted to Copyright and Trade Marks infringement only, the said Rules deal with Patents, Designs and Geographical Indications violations as well, in conformity with the practice prevailing in some other countries, notably EU countries. While it is not difficult for Customs officers to determine Copyright and Trade Marks infringements at the border based on available data/inputs, it may not be so in the case of the other three violations, unless the offences have already been established by a judicial pronouncement in India and the Customs is called upon or required to merely implement such order. In other words, extreme caution needs to be exercised at the time of determination of infringement of these three intellectual property rights”.

Order passed by the Court: –

The Court explained the role of Customs officer in view of clause 4 of IPR rules and under para 95 of the judgement, “I do not agree with the statement made in the written statement by the Defendant No.2 Custom department that unless the stay orders are passed in the Revocation petition, they can proceed with the complaint filed by the owner of patent despite of any merit or demerit in the Revocation proceedings”.

The Court further explained the aspects of groundless threat and stated that “the custom shall act on the notice of the court, therefore if any proprietor or the right holder issues a notice to the custom officials and the custom officials act upon the same by causing restricting the imports of consignments of any party without the determination (prima facie or otherwise) of the factum of infringement of patent by the appropriated designated authority which is civil court under the governing law, then such notice by the right holder to the third party which is customs and the actions thereof by the customs either in the form of notice to that party or otherwise calling upon the party to explain its stand which no such position exists in law are all unnecessary illegal threats to that party”.

Conclusion

From the above discussion, it is clear that complaint to Customs and show cause notice sent by Customs Authority without adjudication of quantum of infringement by Civil Court amounts to groundless threat of patent infringement in light of clause 4 of aforesaid IPR (Imported Goods) Enforcement Rules, 2007.

Authors: Avadhi Joshi and Pratik Das, Legal Interns, Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys and can be reached at info@khuranaandkhurana.com

References :

[1] 2012 (51) PTC 513 (Del) available at https://indiankanoon.org/doc/48055807/

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BLACKBERRY SUES NOKIA FOR PATENT INFRINGEMENT: AN OVERVIEW

The once powerful mobile phone companies BlackBerry and Nokia are in the headlines again, not for their new technological developments but because of their legal battle.

The Valentine’s Day card for Nokia was in the form of complaint entailing 11 items that Blackberry did not like about it. The complaint listed out the 11 patents of Blackberry infringed by Nokia. The company has not commanded an injunctive relief, i.e. asking Nokia to stop using the patents; instead it has asked for compensation for the unauthorized usage of the said patents. Let’s have a brief overview of the case.

Blackberry:

Headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, Blackberry Limited, formerly known as Research In Motion (RIM), was founded by two engineering students, Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin in 1984. It is a multi-national wireless telecommunications software and mobile hardware company, currently chaired by John S. Chen. It had taken over the smart phone market with its flagship QWERTY keypad range of mobile phones. Blackberry uses its own operating system, and had recently entered the Android arena of smart phones. It had ruled the gadget market with its classy, easy and appealing technology and applications for over two decades until its plunge with the launch of Apple iPhone and other Android phones. It had also developed key innovations that underlie 3G and 4G mobile communication technologies, such as Long-Term Evolution (LTE), including LTE Advanced and Universal Terrestrial Radio Access Network (UTRAN) technologies, and Universal Mobile Telecommunication Systems (UMTS). Blackberry’s contribution to innovation, including investment in research and development has exceeded a total of $ 5.5 billion, and has protected the technical innovations by seeking patents from the US office.

Nokia:

In a paper mill in 1865, Nokia was created by Fredrik Idestam and Leo Mechelin in South-west Finland. It is a multinational communications and information technology company, considered to be one of the most important Fortune 500 organizations. Nokia launched Mobira Cityman in 1987, the world’s first handheld phone. The most famous Nokia’s first GSM handset, Nokia 1101, was a swift hit in the market when it was launched in 1992. The partnership of Nokia with Microsoft It is presently chaired by Rajeev Suri. With the ingression of new companies, Nokia has tumbled down.

Connecting the dots:

Rockstar Consortium Inc. (also Rockstar Bidco) was formed in 2012 to settle and negotiate patent licensing acquired from the bankrupt multinational telecommunications and data networking equipment manufacturer Nortel. It comprises of five members: Apple Inc. Blackberry, Ericsson, Microsoft and Sony.

Rockstar Consortium bought Nortel’s IP in 2011 for $ 4.5 Billion, and created a special-purpose-patent-assertion company to use them. The IP consisted of over 6000 patents covering 4G wireless innovations and a range of technologies. Nokia had also made an attempt to buy Nortel’s IP in 2009, but was unable to obtain them due to the latter’s bankruptcy proceedings. In 2012, Rockstar Consortium was also listed, by the Business Insider, as the 3rd most fearsome (out of 8) “patent trolls” in the industry.

Rockstar initiated a lawsuit against 8 companies in 2013, including Google, Smasung, and other Android phone makers. When the IP was purchased by it, Google anticipated this scenario. The complaint encompassed 6 patents, all from the same patent family. The case was settled on confidential terms.

untitled

Blackberry sues Nokia: Case name:

Blackberry Limited   [Plaintiff]

Vs.

Nokia Corporation, Nokia Solutions and Networks Oy, Nokia Solutions and Network Holdings USA Inc., and Nokia Solutions and Networks US LLC                 [Defendants]

Case number and Court:

17- 155, United States District Court for the District of Delware (Wilmington). This Court has personal jurisdiction over each of the defendants under the Delware Long-Arm Statue, 10 Del. Code § 3014, and the U.S. Constitution. The Court has jurisdiction over this controversy under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1338(a). The action for patent infringement has arisen under the patent laws of the United States, 35 U.S.C. § 1 et seq., including but not limited to 35 U.S.C. § 271.

Allegations:

Blackberry has filed this complaint against Nokia due to the latter’s unauthorized usage of the former’s contributions to innovation technologies. Blackberry holds the following 11 patents, known as “Asserted Patents” (enforcement of patent by the owner who believes that his patent has been infringed) which are the subject matter of the case:

  1. ‘418 Patent: United States Patent No. 6,996,418 is entitled “Apparatus and Method for PFDM Data Communications” and was issued on February 6, 2006.
  2. ‘246 Patent: United States Patent No. 8,254,246 is entitled “Scattered Pilot Pattern and Channel Estimation Method for MIMO-OFDM Systems and was issued on August 28, 2012.
  3. ‘090 Patent: United States Patent No. 8,494,090 is entitled “Detecting the Number of Transmit Antennas in a Base Station” and was issued on July 23, 2013.
  4. ‘305 Patent: United States Patent No. 7,529,305 is entitled “Combination of Space-Time Coding and Spatial Multiplexing, and the Use of Orthogonal Transformation in Space-Time Coding” and was issued on May 5, 2009.
  5. ‘433 Patent: United States Patent No. 8,861,433 is entitled “Method for Accessing a Service Unavailable through and Network Cell” and was issued on October 14, 2014.
  6. ‘697 Patent: United States Patent No. 9,426,697 is entitled “Method for Accessing a Service Unavailable through and Network Cell” and was issued on August 23, 2016.
  7. ‘772 Patent: United States Patent No. 9,253,772 is entitled “System and Method for Multi-Carrier Network Operation” and was issued on February 2, 2016.
  8. ‘192 Patent: United States Patent No. 8,897,192 is entitled “System and Method for Discontinuous Reception Control Start Time” and was issued on November 25, 2014.
  9. ‘202 Patent: United States Patent No. 9,125,202 is entitled “Multi-Beam Cellular Communication System” and was issued on September 1, 2015.
  10. ‘683 Patent: United States Patent No. 8,243,683 is entitled “Method and Apparatus for State/Mode Transitioning” and was issued on August 14, 2012.
  11. ‘829 Patent: United States Patent No. 8, 644,829 is entitled “Method and Apparatus for Signaling Release Cause Indication in a UMTS Network” and was issued on February 4, 2014.

Blackberry is the owner of all rights, title and interest in the aforementioned patents, with the full and exclusive right to bring suit to enforce them, including the right to recover for past infringement. Blackberry and RIM have publicly declared to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), an industry organization that promulgates wireless telecommunication standards specified by 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project), that the Asserted Patents may be or may become essential to LTE Standards and/or UMTS/UTRAN Standards [practising wireless telecommunication standards], and the declaration is in public domain, accessible on a search engine provided and maintained by ETSI (https://ipr.etsi.org/).

Nokia has taken action intending to cause others to directly infringe the patents, including by selling or offering for sale the Infringing Products to third parties in the United States while expressly promoting these products’ capability to practice the LTE Standards, knowing that using these products to practice the LTE Standards would constitute direct infringement of the ’418 patent.

Infringing Products:

The 3GPP specifications that enumerate LTE and UMTS/UTRAN Standards are and have been implemented in Nokia’s products like Nokia’s Flexi line of products, alone or in combination with Nokia software such as the Nokia Liquid Radio Software Suite (collectively, the “Infringing Products”).  The Infringing Products include, without limitation, the following products, alone or in combination:  Nokia’s Flexi Multiradio and Multiradio 10 base stations, the Flexi Zone (small cell) Micro and Pico base stations, Femtocell base stations, Flexi Network Server, the Flexi Radio Antenna System, Nokia radio network controllers, and Nokia Liquid Radio Software Suite.

Knowledge:

Blackberry alleges that Nokia had knowledge of the existence of the applications for or the family members of the Asserted Patents as it had used the same in various patent prosecutions of its own.

  • The family members of the ‘246 patent were cited in an international search report and were also cited by Nokia and by an examiner during prosecution of a number of patent applications assigned to Nokia. Hence, it had notice of this patent before the filing of this action.
  • The publication of parent application of the ‘090 patent was cited in an international search report, and was also cited by Nokia during prosecution of a number of patent applications assigned to it. Hence, it had notice of this patent before the filing of this action.
  • The publication of parent application of the ‘772 patent was cited by examiners during prosecution of a number of patent applications assigned to it. Hence, it had notice of this patent long before the filing of this action.
  • The publication of parent application of the ‘192 patent was cited by the examiner during prosecution of at least one patent application that was assigned to Alcatel-Lucent, which was acquired by Nokia. Hence, Nokia had notice of this patent long before the filing of this action.
  • The publication of the priority application of the ‘202 patent was cited by examiners during prosecution of a number of applications that were assigned to Alcatel entities, which were acquired by Nokia. Hence, it had notice of this patent long before the filing of this action.
  • Long before the filing of this action, Nokia knew or should have known from the prosecution of its own patent applications and those of Alcatel-Lucent that the asserted ’246, ’090, ’772, ’192, and ’202 patents covered LTE features used by their Infringing Products.
  • The publication of the application that resulted in the issuance of the ‘683 patent was cited by the examiner during prosecution of a Nokia patent application. Hence, Nokia had notice of this patent long before the filing of this action.
  • The publication of the application that resulted in the issuance of the ‘829 patent was cited by Nokia during prosecution of a Nokia patent application. Hence, Nokia had notice of this patent long before the filing of this action.
  • Long before the filing of this action, Nokia knew or should have known from the prosecution of its own patent applications that the asserted ‘683 and ‘829 patents covered UMTS/UTRAN features used by their Infringing Products.
  • By April 10, 2012, RIM had acquired the ’418, ’246, and ’305 patents and had caused to be recorded at the USPTO the assignments of ownership of these patents to RIM. Currently, the assignment of these patents to Blackberry has been recorded in the USPTO. Nokia has knowledge of the same through its due diligence of Nortel U.S. patents.

Infringement Claims:

Nokia knowingly and intentionally encourages and aids at least its end-users to directly infringe the asserted patents. Nokia has been, and currently is, an active inducer of infringement of these patents under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b) and a contributory infringer under 35 U.S.C. § 271(c). It has been willfully blind to the existence of the patents. Nokia’s infringement has been, and continues to be, willful and deliberate, and has caused substantial damage to BlackBerry. Nokia developed, commercialized, demonstrated, and/or tested the Infringing Products despite its evaluation and knowledge of the Nortel patent portfolio, including the application that led to the issuance of some patents, and its knowledge of family members of a few of the 11 patents from prosecution of its own patent applications. In spite of Nokia’s knowledge of the patents, Nokia has continued making, using, offering for sale/lease, and/or selling or leasing in the United States, and/or importing into the United States, the Infringing Products that are compliant with the LTE Standards, without a license from BlackBerry.  Nokia’s egregious infringement behavior warrants an award of enhanced damages.

Prayer for relief:

Blackberry prays that the Court:

  • Render judgment declaring that Nokia directly infringed, induced others to infringe, and/or contributed to the infringement of the asserted patents.
  • Award BlackBerry damages adequate to compensate it for Nokia’s infringement of the asserted patents.
  • Award an ongoing royalty for Nokia’s ongoing infringement of the asserted patents.
  • Render judgment declaring Nokia’s infringement of the asserted patents willful and deliberate, and award BlackBerry enhanced damages pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 284.
  • Award BlackBerry pre-judgment and post-judgment interest to the full extent allowed under the law, as well as BlackBerry’s costs and disbursements.
  • Enter an order finding that this is an exceptional case and awarding Blackberry its reasonable attorneys’ fees pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 285.
  • Award any other relief as the Court deems fit.

Conclusion:

Both the companies are having a downfall in their sales. Blackberry has stopped making smart phones, and Nokia has had a huge decrease in sales of its one-of-a-kind Lumia phones, manufactured in collaboration with Microsoft. Blackberry has started licensing its software and brand assets to others so that its name in the market continues. Also, it pledged to license these patents as they form essential elements for mobile telecommunication standard.  As is evident from the prayer of the complaint, no injunction has been claimed for. Instead, Blackberry has claimed damages and royalty for the unauthorized use of its patents. This is a smart move by the smart phone maker to commercialize on its leftover assets. Nokia has not responded to this complaint as of now, and is looking into the matter, as per a news article. Nokia’s counter is acutely awaited.

About the Author :

Ms. Aditi Tiwari, intern at Khurana and Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys. Views expressed in this article are solely of the intern and do not reflect the views of either of any of the employees or employers.Queries regarding this may be directed to swapnils@khuranaandkhurana.com

 

FRAND-ING PATENT LICENSES AND ITS IMPLICATION IN LANDMARK CASES IN INDIA

Everyday, a number of products are being invented all over the world, some cascading over the improvement of existing inventions, and the others, portraying a unique set of methods and products unknown to man at large. Simultaneously, there is an eruption of infringements that remain unnoticed or noticed following an incredulous load of proceedings and exorbitant costs. It is essential to protect the rightful rights of these owners against such infringements and unlawful interference to avoid any possible losses or damages in their peaceful functioning of their entities. In the field of protection of inventions, the adoption of Agreement of Trade Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the Patent Act, 1970 and related amendments aim to let these owners benefit from their inventions without any unnecessary disturbance.

1. DEFINING STANDARDS

In our day-to-day activities, we try to sculpt our needs as per certain benchmarks to achieve our desired results. Similarly in the field of patents, every invention requires certain targets to abide by in order to facilitate an irreplaceable position in the market. To put it technically, standards are technical specifications that seek to provide a common design for a product or process[1]. Ensuring that the products conform to standards facilities almost definite reliability, quality, stability when purchasing the products and subsequently, an increase in their demand. To lay it down simply, a standard is a document that exhibits certain requisites for a particular product, element, system or service or elaborately describes a specific method. Formal standards are declared by Standard Setting Organizations (SSOs) and include establishments such as the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and various other ad hoc informal organizations[2].   Standards can also be of two different kinds- those with are mandatory or those that are up to one’s discretion[3].

2. STANDARD ESSENTIAL PATENTS

The concept of Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) cropped up when controversies between smartphone giants came about. Standard Essential Patents are basically, patents that inform the users or anyone else that the particular invention conforms to a particular standard denoted by that patent. SEP was also defined by the Washington District Court in Microsoft Corp. v Motorola Mobility, Inc.[4], as “A given patent is essential to a standard if use of the standard required infringement of the patent, even if acceptable alternatives of that patent could have been written into the standard”. It is a universal truth that consumers prefer standard compliant products as they deliver an incorrigible quality. Thus, in order to save a spot in the demand market, the inventors are forced to adopt technologies conferred by Standard Essential Patents. In turn, these SEP holders gain a huge competitive edge in the market and do not face any competition until they expire and move into the public domain.

3. FAIR, REASONABLE AND NON-DISCRIMINATORY TERMS (FRAND)

Due to the ubiquitous yearning for snowballing sale of one’s products, the market players are in a constant struggle to find the most desirable, the most profitable, and the most economically efficient techniques to garner demand for their brands. For this reason, SEPs play an unparalleled role to fulfill such wishes of the inventors. However, this also means that they have unbridled power in the market. Creating a monopoly of such SEP holders would be detrimental to the inventors, as they will have no say in the unfair and discriminatory terms brought before them. They will be forced to succumb to such terms for meeting the primary objective of every company in the market. There are a number of issues that rise during the event of licensing SEPs to other companies that inevitably cause a disruption in the unadulterated functioning of licenses in the country. A commonly occurring issue is patent holdup when an SEP holder realizes his irreplaceability in the market and consequently, causes a rise in the royalty rates to order to unjustly profit from his dominance, thereby burdening the licensee companies. Another frequent issue is royalty stacking where the companies are forced to pay for all the patents held by the SEP holder, patents that are not even incorporated by them in their products, purely under the coercion by the SEP holders of revoking the license

Hence, in order to evade such prejudiced demands of the SEP holders, the concept of FRAND was incorporated. The SSOs stress the requisite for such holders to enter into a promise to not cultivate any unwanted competitive strategies and misuse of the power granted to them. This promise is to coincide with the FRAND terms. Following the licensing strategies stated under the FRAND terms forms the basis of the standard development process. Conformance to FRAND terms guarantee that the SEP holders do not abuse their dominant position in the market and they license SEPs to desiring companies in a ‘fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory’ manner.

4. THE ERICSSON AND MICROMAX CASE

On the 4th of March, 2013, Ericsson filed a case of patent infringement against Micromax for eight of its SEPs which related to its 2G, 3G and EDGE devices, in the Delhi High Court. In response, on the 19th of March 2013, the Court passed an order stating that both the companies would enter into a contract under FRAND terms for the next month purely under an ad-interim arrangement, with prescribed royalties given in the table below.

A mediator was appointed to resolve the disputes between the two companies, but it was in vain. As a result, on the 24th of June 2013, Micromax filed information under Section 19(1)(a) of the Competition Act, 2002, alleging Ericsson to have inculcated an abusive and unfair mode of setting royalties. On the 12th of November 2014, the Court agreed to a new set of interim arrangement for the parties wherein Micromax was asked to pay the royalty on different terms given in the table below.

 

Phones/devices Capable of GSM Capable of GPRS + GSM Capable of EDGE+ GRPS+GSM WCDMA/HSPA, calling tablets
From 19/03/2013(earlier interim order) 1.25% of sale price 1.75% of sale price 2% of sale price 2% of sale price Dongles or data cards- USD 2.50
From date of filing till 12/11/2015 (later interim order) 0.8% of net selling price 0.8% of net selling price 1% of net selling price 1% of net selling price
From 13/11/2015 to 12/11/2016 0.8% of net selling price 0.8% of net selling price 1.1% of net selling price 1.1% of net selling price
From 13/11/2016 to 12/11/2020 0.8% of net selling price 1% of net selling price 1.3% of net selling price 1.3% of net selling price

 

With regard to the complaint filed by Micromax, it was stated that Ericsson was allegedly demanding an unfair royalty for its SEPs relating to the GSM Technology. It contended that the royalty should be based on the patents relating to the chipset technology and not arbitrarily calculate the royalty as a percentage of the sales price of the licensed downstream product[7]. It also stated that Ericsson was confident that there was no alternate technology for its patents in the market and hence, Ericsson believed that it had the right to charge such royalty for its patents. Moreover, Ericsson also wanted Micromax to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement, which was restrictive and was not in conformance with the FRAND terms. On the 12th of November 2013, under Section 26(1) of the Competition Act, 2002, in pursuance to the complaint filed by Micromax, the CCI laid down the following:

  1. Ericsson was the largest holder of SEPs in the country with regard to 2G, 3G and 4G patents used for smart phones, tablets, etc. Due to this, it undoubtedly held a dominant position in the market for devices that use the GSM and CDMA standards.
  2. While FRAND licenses were primarily meant to prevent patent hold-up and royalty stacking, the competitive endurance showcased by such SEP holders might prove detrimental to their integrity.
  3. Ericsson’s royalty rates were excessive and absurd, and these royalties had not linkage to the patented products. Thus, it was clear that there were discriminatory and contrary to the FRAND terms.

Due to these inferences, CCI ordered for an investigation on the same matter by the Director General, which was challenged by Ericsson in the court. What happened to the case from this point shall be discussed in detail in combination with two other cases with Ericsson.

 5. ERICSSON AND INTEX CASE

In 2013, Intex had filed a suit against Ericsson on the same terms as in the case of Micromax, about setting discriminatory and unreasonable royalties for the SEPs. The CCI, on its account, ordered for an investigation along with the complaint filed in the previous case. Ericsson filed a writ petition against this move for an investigation. Alongside, it filed a suit against Intex for the alleged patent infringement of the same eight patents and demanded damages of Rs. 56 crores.

6. ERICSSON AND BEST IT WORLD (INDIA)

In November 2011, Ericsson had sent a letter to Best IT World that it had infringed the same eight patents as in the previous cases due to its GSM and WCDMA related products. Ericsson suggested both the companies get into a Global Patent Licensing Agreement (GPLA) for all the infringed patents. Best IT stated that it was interested in entering the said agreement only under the condition that Ericsson discloses the alleged infringed patents in order to find out whether the allegations were valid and enforceable in the country. Ericsson intentionally refused to respond to that request and went ahead to impose the need to draft an NDA with ten years confidentiality agreement wherein all the confidential information would be shared only with the company affiliated to it, and any disputes arising out of the same would be settled in Stockholm, Ericsson’s location of its headquarters, which was evidently onerous and one-sided.  It further stated that the license agreement to be entered into would have to apply to the previous and future sale of the company. In September 2015, Best IT filed a suit under Section 4 of the Competition Act, 2002 against Ericsson for an abuse of dominant position.

Thus, as occurred in the cases above, the CCI ordered for an investigation to take place. Ericsson challenged the order of CCI and claimed that the order was ‘arbitrary in nature and without jurisdiction’. It was noticed by the Delhi High Court that the plea by Best IT ought to be disregarded as it had not entered into the licensing agreement with Ericsson and that it was evident that it used Ericsson’s SEPs.

ANALYSIS OF THE ABOVE ERICSSON CASES

Extracting the detail from the Micromax v Ericsson case, Intex v Ericsson case and Best IT World (India) v Ericsson case about Ericsson filing writ petition against the order of CCI for investigations, as per the judgment laid down by the Delhi High Court on the 30th of March 2016, the CCI had the authority to direct the investigations as in the event of an abuse of dominance, jurisdiction lies within the scope of Competition Act. The court agreed to use the net sales prices of the downstream product as the royalty base, and ordered that the royalty for licenses based on FRAND must be derived from sound economic reasoning.

In the Micromax case, the court ordered Micromax to pay the royalties as per the rates stated in the later interim order, rates mentioned in the table.

By the judgment delivered on the 13th of March, 2015, the Delhi High Court ordered that the royalties which were stated in the case of Ericsson v Micromax shall be applicable in this case too. The only difference that lies is that the court ordered Intex to pay 50% of the royalty as per total selling price per device and not chipset, from the date of filing of the suit till 1st of March, 2015, shall be paid directly to Ericsson by way of a bank draft within four weeks from the date of the judgement. The balance shall be secured with a bank guarantee within the said four weeks with the Registrar General, who would invest the same in an FDR for twelve months.

As per the order passed on the 2nd of September, 2015, the court declared that Best IT World must restrict importing mobiles, handsets, devices, tablets, etc. all articles that infringe the patents of Ericsson, which would be operative from the 9th of September, 2015.

7. ERICSSON AND XIAOMI TECHNOLOGY

Ericsson had filed a patent infringement suit for eight of its patents essential to 2G and 3G standards registered in India, against Xiaomi in December 2014. Ericsson had requested to obtain license from it before it sold the infringing products in India, but Xiaomi had entered into an agreement with Flipkart Internet Private Limited to sell the products under Xiaomi’s name. It had begun launching such products from the month of July 2014. Subsequently, the court had issued an injunction order against Xiaomi to restrain the import or sale of its infringing device. Xiaomi appealed to the injunction stating that it had entered into a ‘Multi Product License Agreement’ with Qualcomm Incorporated and used the chipset, which in turn was licensed to Qualcomm by Ericsson. Thus, it argued that it had not infringed any of Ericsson’s patents. As an interim measure, on the 16th of December 2014, the court allowed Xiaomi to sell only those devices that contained the chipsets, which were licensed by Qualcomm and had to deposit Rs.100 per device with the Registrar General of the Delhi High Court.

On the 22nd of April, 2016, the Court revoked the interim injunction on Xiaomi on account of concealment of significant information regarding the alleged infringing patents, by Ericsson. It laid down that Xiaomi was using the 3G patents licensed by Qualcomm, which in turn was licensed to it by Ericsson. The amount of royalty paid by Xiaomi to Qualcomm was provided to Ericsson as royalty and hence, there lay no requirement of paying royalty directly to Ericsson.

8. ERICSSON AND LAVA INTERNATIONAL PRIVATE LIMITED

Ericsson challenged Lava in a suit for patent infringement related to its AMR, GSM and EDGE technologies. On an order passed by the Delhi High Court in March 2015, both the companies tried to negotiate an agreement on FRAND terms but it was in vain. An interim order was passed by the Delhi High Court, operative from the 21st of June, 2016, ordering an injunction to prevent the import, export, manufacture and sale of mobile phones that use the concerned patents of Ericsson. The final order on the case is still pending before the Court.

With the judiciary at the brim of delivering justice to the deserving, the SSOs and various organization striving to protect the rights and inventions of the lawful owners, the Intellectual Property Appellate Board to discuss matters of concern of the distressed, and the laws on various aspects merging to bridge the gap between the people and justice, it is almost impossible to fathom a situation wherein the aggrieved parties could not be redressed. The only aspect which have to be looked into by these mechanisms is its clear and untainted practice. The salvo of the dominance and power of multi-national companies being fired at domestic companies who strive to maintain a position in the market have to be adjudicated in a fair manner, without any involvement of duress and coercion. The elixir of righteousness lies in the hands of these deciding authorities. The real question here is ‘Would the adjudicators choose impartiality and morality, or would they surrender to dominance?’

About the Author : Ms. Anjana Mohan, Symbiosis Law School, Pune, intern at Khurana and Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys. Views expressed in this article are solely of the intern and do not reflect the views of either of any of the employees or employers. Queries regarding this may be directed to swapnil@khuranaandkhurana.com or swapnils@khuranaandkhurana.com.

9. REFERENCES

1. ONLINE NEWSPAPER/ MAGAZINE/BLOG ARTICLES

a. Narula, Ranjan. “Standard Essential Patents.” Rouse The Magazine, 2015. Available On Http://Www.Rouse.Com/Magazine/News/Standard-Essential-Patents/?Tag=India

b. Rao D And Shabana N, Standard Essential Patents, Singhania & Partners, Available On Http://Www.Singhania.In/Wp-Content/Uploads/2016/04/Standard-Essential-Patents.Pdf

c. Lakshane R, “Compilation of Mobile Phone Patent Litigation Cases in India”, The Centre for Internet & Society, Available on http://cis-india.org/a2k/blogs/compilation-of-mobile-phone-patent-litigation-cases-in-india

d. Chawla K, “Ericsson v. Intex, Part 1- SEPs, Injunctions, and gathering clouds for Software Patenting?”, SpicyIP, available on http://spicyip.com/2015/03/ericsson-v-intex-part-1-seps-and-injunctions-and-a-new-era-of-software-patenting.html

2. ONLINE JOURNALS AND OTHER GUIDELINES

a. Sidak G, Frand In India: The Delhi High Court’s Emerging Jurisprudence On Royalties For Standard-Essential Patents, Journel Of Intellectual Property Law & Practise, 2015, Vol. 100, No.8, Available On Https://Www.Criterioneconomics.Com/Docs/Frand-In-India-Royalties-For-Standard-Essential-Patents.Pdf

b. Meniere Y, ‘Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory (Frand) Licensing Terms’, Jrc Science And Policy Report, 2015, Available On Http://Is.Jrc.Ec.Europa.Eu/Pages/Isg/Euripidis/Documents/05.Frandreport.Pdf

c. Department Of Industrial Policy And Promotion, Ministry Of Commerce & Industry, Government Of India, Discussion Paper On Standard Essential Patents And Their Availability On Frand Terms, Available On Http://Www.Ipindia.Nic.In/Whats_New/Standardessentialpaper_01march2016.Pdf

d. Agreement On Technical Barriers To Trade, Annexure I, Available At Https://Www.Wto.Org/English/Docs_E/Legal_E/17-Tbt.Pdf

e. Delhi High Court Cases, available on http://delhihighcourt.nic.in/

f. Indiankanoon, available on http://indiankanoon.com/

Teva held responsible for Induced Infringement of Eli Lilly’s Blockbuster drug ALITMA

In Teva Parenteral Medicines, Inc.; APP Pharmaceuticals LLC; Pliva Hrvatska D.O.O.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; and Barr Laboratories, Inc. (hereinafter referred to be as Defendants/Appellants/Teva) Vs. Eli Lilly & Co. (hereinafter referred to as Plaintiff/Appelle/Eli Lilly) decided by United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on January 12, 2017, Plaintiff had filed Hatch Waxman suit against defendant to prevent them from launching generic version of the lung cancer drug whose rights are reserved with the plaintiff. The decision from CAFC came after an appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in No. 1:10-cv-01376-TWPDKL, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt.

Eli Lilly owns a patent US 7772209 (hereinafter referred to as US‘209) issued in 2010, relating to method of treatment administering the chemotherapy drug pemetrexed disodium (hereinafter referred to as “pemetrexed”) (used to treat certain types of lung cancer and mesothelioma) after pretreatment with two common vitamins—folic acid and vitamin B12 (reduce the toxicity of pemetrexed in patients). Eli Lilly markets pemetrexed under the brand name ALIMTA®.

In 2008-2009, Defendants notified Eli Lilly that they had submitted ANDA seeking approval to market generic version of ALIMTA®. After issuance of US’209 patent, Teva sent additional notice that they had filed Para IV certifications, declaring that US’209 patent was invalid, unenforceable, or would not be infringed. Subsequent to which Eli Lilly alleged Teva of induced infringement. Eli Lilly asserted that Teva’s generic drug would be administered with folic acid and vitamin B12 pretreatments and thus will result in infringement of the 209 patent.

Eli Lilly asserted claims 9, 10 (dependent on claim 1), Independent claim 12, and its dependent claims 14, 15, 18, 19, and 21 of the US’209 patent at trial.

Independent claims 1 and 12 have been reproduced below for reference:

Claim 1:

A method of administering pemetrexed disodium to a patient in need thereof comprising administering an effective amount of folic acid and an effective amount of a methylmalonic acid lowering agent followed by administering an effective amount of pemetrexed disodium, wherein the methylmalonic acid lowering agent is selected from the group consisting of vitamin B12, hydroxycobalamin, cyano-10-chlorocobalamin, aquocobalamin perchlorate, aquo-10-cobalamin perchlorate, azidocobalamin, cobalamin, cyanocobalamin, or chlorocobalamin.

Claim 12:

An improved method for administering pemetrexed disodium to a patient in need of chemotherapeutic treatment, wherein the improvement comprises:

  1. a) administration of between about 350 μg and about 1000 μg of folic acid prior to the first administration of pemetrexed disodium;
  2. b) administration of about 500 μg to about 1500 μg of vitamin B12, prior to the first administration of pemetrexed disodium; and
  3. c) administration of pemetrexed disodium.

It is important to note that current case involves issue of induced infringement i.e. a type of indirect infringement that may be committed under section 271 (b) (dealing with infringement of Patents).

In June 2013, Defendants conditionally conceded induced infringement under then-current law set forth in Akamai Technologies, Inc. v. Limelight Networks, Inc. (Akamai II) which at that time was the subject of a petition to the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari. The parties’ stipulation included a provision reserving Defendants’ right to litigate infringement if the Supreme Court reversed or vacated Akamai II.

District court had rejected contentions of the defendant that Patent was invalid for obviousness or obviousness-type double patenting and also due to indefiniteness of the term vitamin B12.

Defendants filed an appeal on invalidity. While that appeal was pending, the Supreme Court reversed Akamai II, holding that liability for inducement cannot be found without direct infringement, and remanding for CAFC court to possibly reconsider the standards for direct infringement. In view of that development, the parties in this case filed a joint motion to remand the matter to the district court for the limited purpose of litigating infringement. CAFC granted the motion.

The district court held a second bench trial in May 2015 and concluded in a decision issued on August 25, 2015 that Defendants would induce infringement of the US’209 patent. This was after considering the effect of Akamai V decision, which had broadened the circumstances in which others’ acts may be attributed to a single actor to support direct infringement liability in cases of divided infringement.

Defendants appealed.

Below given factors are taken into consideration while deciding cases of induced infringement:

  • Whoever actively induces infringement of a patent shall be liable as an

Infringer;

  • There cannot be indirect infringement without direct infringement;
  • Patentee needs to prove alleged infringer knew or should have known his actions would induce actual infringements; and
  • Standard of proof required by Patentee to claim relief under induced infringement is ‘preponderance of the evidence’.

It was agreed by parties that Defendants’ proposed product labeling would be materially the same as the ALIMTA® product labeling and consists of two documents: the Physician Prescribing Information and the Patient Information. District court found that both the documents included instructions regarding the administration of folic acid—the step that the district court found would be performed by patients but attributable to physicians.

According to Akamai V, where no single actor performs all steps of a method claim, direct infringement only occurs if the acts of one are attributable to the other such that a single entity is responsible for the infringement. The performance of method steps is attributable to a single entity in two types of circumstances:

  • when that entity “directs or controls” others’ performance, or

 

  • when the actors “form a joint enterprise.”

In Akamai V, CAFC had held that directing or controlling others’ performance includes circumstances in which an actor:

(1) “conditions participation in an activity or receipt of a benefit” upon others’ performance of one or more steps of a patented method, and

(2) “establishes the manner or timing of that performance.”

District court found taking folic acid in the manner recited by the asserted claims is a critical and necessary step to reduce potentially life threatening toxicities caused by the Pemetrexed amounts to receive the benefit of the patented method.

Regarding first of the two pronged test, the court found, based on the product labeling, that taking folic acid in the manner specified is a condition of the patient’s participation in the Pemetrexed treatment. Regarding the second prong, the court found that physicians would prescribe an exact dose of folic acid and direct that it be ingested daily. Hence court held all steps of the asserted claims would be attributable to physicians.

Court further observed that the mere existence of direct infringement by physicians, while necessary to find liability for induced infringement, is not sufficient for inducement but there has to be also specific intent and action to induce infringement. Court went on to find intent on the part of physician for the inducement and held that there was no error in district court’s decision. Some important observations of court have been mentioned below.

CAFC made two important observations as below:

  • The intent for inducement must be with respect to the actions of the underlying direct infringer, here physicians.

 

  • Second, it is not required to show evidence regarding the general prevalence of the induced activity. When the alleged inducement relies on a drug label’s instructions, the question is not just whether those instructions describe the infringing mode,..but whether the instructions teach an infringing use such that we are willing to infer from those instructions an affirmative intent to infringe the patent. Court further observed that the label must encourage, recommend, or promote infringement and it is irrelevant that some users may ignore the warnings in the proposed label.

Court went on to observe a label that instructed users to follow the instructions in an infringing manner was sufficient even though some users would not follow the instructions, but vague instructions that require one to look outside the label to understand the alleged implicit encouragement do not, without more, induce infringement.

On the issue of invalidity on the indefiniteness of the term “vitamin B12”, CAFC hold that a person of ordinary skill in the art would understand the scope of the claim term “vitamin B12” with reasonable certainty. Applying Nautilus (outcome of this decision) in this case did not lead CAFC to a different result from the district court’s conclusion on the question of indefiniteness.

Regarding issue of invalidity due to obviousness, CAFC was not convinced that the district court committed clear error in concluding that Defendants failed to carry their burden of proving that it would have been obvious to a person of ordinary skill to use vitamin B12 pretreatment to reduce Pemetrexed toxicities.

Thus CAFC affirmed district court decision.

About the Author :  Ms. Rashmi Goswami, WOS-C at TIFAC, intern at Khurana and Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys and can be reached at swapnil@khuranaandkhurana.com

PATENT INFRINGMENT SUIT BY DOLBY AGAINST OPPO AND VIVO

Anjana Mohan, an intern at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys deals with the updates in the Patent Litigation between Dolby International and two Smartphone companies Oppo and Vivo over the patented technology by Dolby.

Dolby filed suits vide Suit no CS(COMM) 1425/2016 and CS(COMM) 1426/2016 against various parties including the two major Chinese companies Oppo and Vivo, and their number of affiliated local entity, at the Delhi High Court alleging patent infringement of its technology and for illegally selling phones with Dolby technology  without paying appropriate royalties for use of its patented technologies.

The defendants had filed applications, without prejudice to their rights and contentions, state that to enable them to continue manufacturing and selling goods with the technology in which the plaintiffs claim patent, that they are ready and willing to deposit in this court the royalty as computed and stated in the plaint. The applicants/defendants offer to deposit royalty in this court at the rate of Rs.32/- per unit manufactured /sold/imported. However the counsel for the Plaintiff contended that they have specified the standard royalty charged by them from all licensees and which is graded as per the volume of manufacturing/sales/imports. It was also contended on behalf of Plaintiff that the royalty at the highest rate would work out to about Rs.38/- per unit and that the defendants should be directed to pay royalty at the said rate directly to the plaintiffs in US Dollars, as is being paid under interim orders in a large number of other suits, a compilation whereof is handed over in the court. It was also contended that the defendants should pay also the arrears of the royalty due with effect from the date the defendants started manufacture/sale/import of the goods with the subject technology.

As per the order on the 27th of October 2016, the court ordered that the defendants should furnish the particulars regarding the manufacture, importation and sale of the products on the 5th of the succeeding month. Moreover, the defendants are required to pay on the 8th of the succeeding month the royalty at the rate of Rs.34/- and in return, would allow the continuance of the importation/sale/manufacture of the goods. The directors of the said companies have agreed to be bound by the undertaking of the court.

Further, after much deliberations/arguments/contentions pertaining to the rate of royalty to be paid interim, the Plaintiffs and Defendants has represented to the Hon’ble Court that the parties have worked out an interim arrangement during the pendency of the suit. They have in Court handed over a draft of the interim arrangement which had been perused and found acceptable by the Court. The said terms envisaged the appointment of a Mediator. The counsels state that this Court may appoint any retired Judge of this Court as Mediator and they would pay lump-sum remuneration of Rs.5,00,000/- for mediation, to be shared equally between the plaintiffs and the defendants. Chief Justice A.P. Shah (Retd.) has agreed to mediate as per the recent order dated 14th December 2016.

In the light of the above it would be interesting to note the final verdict in the matter and thus is much awaited.

References:

Does Focusing on Single Embodiment Limits the Patent Specification?

This issue was handled by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the SCRIPTPRO LLC, SCRIPTPRO USA, INC., Plaintiffs-Appellants v. INNOVATION ASSOCIATES, INC., Defendant-Appellee decided on August 15, 2016. This was an appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Kansas in No. 2:06-cv-02468-CM, Judge Carlos Murguia. United States District Court for the District of Kansas had granted summary judgment that claims 1, 2, 4, and 8 (“asserted claims”) of U.S. Patent No. 6,910,601 are invalid for lack of written description. This decision was appealed by ScriptPro, LLC and ScriptPro USA, Inc. (collectively “ScriptPro”).

Details of the patent at issue:

US20040039482

This patent relates to a collating unit operable to automatically store prescription containers dispensed from an automatic dispensing system for subsequent retrieval by an operator.

Parties agreed that claim 8 is representative of the asserted claims. Claim 8 has been reproduced below for the convenience:

Claims 8:

A collating unit for automatically storing prescription containers dispensed by an automatic

dispensing system, the collating unit comprising:

an infeed conveyor for transporting the containers from the automatic dispensing system

to the collating unit;

a collating unit conveyor positioned generally adjacent to the infeed conveyor;

a frame substantially surrounding and covering the infeed conveyor and the collating unit conveyor;

a plurality of holding areas formed within the frame for holding the containers;

a plurality of guide arms mounted between the infeed conveyor and the collating unit conveyor and operable to maneuver the containers from the infeed conveyor into the

plurality of holding areas; and

a control system for controlling operation of the infeed conveyor, the collating unit conveyor,

and the plurality of guide arms.

In 2006, ScriptPro had sued Innovation Associates, Inc. (“Innovation”) for patent infringement in 2006. After ScriptPro filed suit, Innovation petitioned for, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) instituted, inter partes reexamination. During reexamination, ScriptPro amended the asserted claims, adding language to claims 1 and 2, and rewriting claim 4 into independent format. Claim 8 was not amended. District court granted summary judgment that the asserted claims are invalid for lack of written description. Details of the decision are: ScriptPro, LLC v. Innovation Assocs., Inc., 762 F.3d 1355, 1356 (Fed. Cir. 2014) (“ScriptPro I”). This decision was reversed by the federal circuit which held that district court erroneously determined that the specification limits the invention to a collating unit that requires use of sensors to determine whether a holding unit is full.

On remand, Innovation moved again for summary judgment that the asserted claims are invalid for lack of written description. In this second appeal, Innovation argued that the specification “unambiguously limits the manner in which the collating unit achieves automated storage of prescription containers . . . based on the availability of an open storage position and patient-identifying information” but the asserted claims “broadly claim a collating unit for ‘automatically storing’ absent any limitation that makes [them] commensurate with the invention” as described in the specification. In response, ScriptPro argued that the specification describes associating stored containers with a specific patient as one, but not the only, goal of the ’601 patent, such that the specification does not limit the claimed invention to sorting and storing based on patient-identifying information. The district court granted Innovation’s motion.

Federal circuit de novo reviewed the grant of summary judgement. In second appeal, ScriptPro argued that the district court erred by interpreting the ’601 patent’s specification as limited to sorting by patient-identifying information. The problem, according to ScriptPro, was that the district court’s focus on one purpose of the ’601 patent caused it to erroneously determine the scope of the invention. Federal circuit agreed with ScriptPro that the specification does not limit the claimed invention to sorting and storing prescription containers by patient-identifying information. The ’601 patent discloses multiple problems that the invention solves and many, of these solved problems involve sorting prescription containers by patient-identifying information, not all of them do.

Federal circuit agreed that as innovation argues, that much of the ’601 patent’s specification focuses on embodiments employing a sorting and storage scheme based on patient-identifying information. But a specification’s focus on one particular embodiment or purpose cannot limit the described invention where that specification expressly contemplates other embodiments or purposes. This is especially true in cases, where the originally filed claims are not limited to the embodiment or purpose that is the focus of the specification.

Federal Circuit reversed the decision of the court and remanded back the matter to the district court again with the costs to ScriptPro. Copy of the judgement can be accessed here.

About the Author: Swapnil Patil, Patent Associate at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys and can be reached at: swapnil@khuranaandkhurana.com.

Only Common Sense Not Sufficient to Prove Obviousness Over Prior Art

Can the grant of patent be rejected on the obviousness criteria based only on common sense? This issue has been handled by United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the case of ARENDI S.A.R.L., Appellant v. APPLE INC., GOOGLE INC., MOTOROLA MOBILITY LLC, Appellees, decided on August 10, 2016. On December 2, 2013, Apple Inc., Google, Inc. and Motorola Mobility LLC (collectively “Appellees”)) filed a petition for inter partes review (“IPR”) of U.S. Patent No. 7,917,843 (the “’843 patent”), which is owned by appellant Arendi S.A.R.L. (“Arendi”). On June 9, 2015, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) issued a decision finding claims 1-2, 8, 14-17, 20-21, 23-24, 30, 36-39, and 42-43 would have been obvious.

Details of the patent at issue:

US20080313159

This patent is related to a method, system and computer readable medium for name and address handling, and more particularly to a touch screen, keyboard button, icon, menu, voice command device, etc. provided in a computer program, such as word processing program, spreadsheet program, etc., and coupled to an information management source for providing address handling within a document created by the computer program.

The parties agreed that claim 1 of the ’843 patent is representative of the claims on appeal.

Claim 1:

Claim 1 has been reproduced below for the A computer-implemented method for finding data related to the contents of a document using a first computer program running on a computer, the method comprising:

displaying the document electronically using the first computer program;

while the document is being displayed, analyzing, in a computer process, first information from the document to determine if the first information is at least one of a plurality of types of information that can be searched for in order to find second information related to the first information;

retrieving the first information;

providing an input device, configured by the first computer program, that allows a user to enter a user command to initiate an operation, the operation comprising (i) performing a search using at least part of the first information as a search term in order to find the second information, of a specific type or types, associated with the search term in an information source external to the document, wherein the specific type or types of second information is dependent at least in part on the type or types of the first information, and (ii) performing an action using at least part of the second information;

in consequence of receipt by the first computer program of the user command from the input device, causing a search for the search term in the information source, using a second computer program, in order to find second information related to the search term; and

if searching finds any second information related to the search term, performing the action using at least part of the second information, wherein the action is of a type depending at least in part on the type or types of the first information.

The sole prior art reference on appeal was U.S. Patent No. 5,859,636 to Pandit (“Pandit”). Pandit was filed on December 27, 1995, and teaches recognizing different classes of text in a document and providing suggestions based on it.

Arendi had sued Appellees and several other technology companies alleging infringement of claims of the ’843 patent and related patents. Appellees responded by filing a petition requesting an IPR of claims 1-44 of the ’843 patent. The Board instituted review of claims 1, 2, 8, 14-17, 20, 21, 23, 24, 30, 36-39, 42, and 43, and declined to institute review of the other challenged claims.

PTAB found that it would have been obvious, as a matter of common sense, to modify Pandit to include the required preliminary step of searching for the identified number in the address book in order to avoid multiple entries of the same address.

The single question at issue at Federal Circuit was whether the Board misused “common sense” to conclude that it would have been obvious to supply a missing limitation in the Pandit prior art reference to arrive at the claimed invention. Federal Circuit agreed that common sense and common knowledge have their proper place in the obviousness inquiry.

According to the Federal Circuit, the Appellees failed to show why it would be common sense for the “Add to address book” function to operate by first searching for entries with the same telephone number.

Federal circuit observed that Rather than clearly explaining with concrete examples what benefit searching for entries with the same number would achieve, Appellees keep returning to their general mantra that Arendi’s argument against searching for a number would apply equally to a search based on a name. Yet the burden is Appellees’ to provide more than a mere scintilla of evidence of the utility of a search for a telephone number before adding the number to an address book, where such a search is not “evidently and indisputably within the common knowledge of those skilled in the art.

Federal circuit observed that reasoned analysis and evidentiary support are important in obviousness analysis.

About the Author: Swapnil Patil, Patent Associate at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys and can be reached at: swapnil@khuranaandkhurana.com.

Can Inventors Who Contribute to Only One Claim or One Aspect of One Claim of a Patent, may be Listed on Patent?

This question was handled by United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the case of VAPOR POINT LLC, KEITH NATHAN, KENNETH MATHESON, Plaintiffs-Cross-Appellants DON ALFORD, JEFFEREY ST. AMANT, Counterclaim Defendants-Cross-Appellants v. ELLIOTT MOORHEAD, NANOVAPOR FUELS GROUP, INC., BRYANT HICKMAN, Defendants-Appellants, decided on August 10, 2016.
Vapor Point, L.L.C., Keith Nathan (“Nathan”), and Kenneth Matheson (“Matheson”) (collectively “Vapor Point”) had sued Elliott Moorhead (“Moorhead”), NanoVapor Fuels Group, Inc., and Bryant Hickman (“Hickman”) (collectively “NanoVapor”) in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, seeking to have Nathan and Matheson recognized as joint inventors under 35 U.S.C. § 256 on NanoVapor’s U.S. Patent Nos. 7,727,310 (“the ’310 patent”) and 8,500,862 (“the ’862 patent”). NanoVapor responded by suing Vapor Point, seeking to have Moorhead recognized as a joint inventor under 35 U.S.C. § 256 on Vapor Point’s U.S. Patent Nos.7,740,816; 7,803,337; 8,337,585; 8,337,604; 8,337,763 and for declaratory relief regarding inventorship of NanoVapor’s ’310 and ’862 patents. After a four-day evidentiary hearing, the district court issued an order granting Vapor Point’s motion for correction of inventorship and denying each of NanoVapor’s motions. Vapor Point moved for exceptional case status and attorneys’ fees. The district court issued a final judgment correcting inventorship, dismissing the action with prejudice, and denying Vapor Point’s motion for exceptional case status and attorneys’ fees. NanoVapor appealed the district court’s order on inventorship and its dismissal of the case. Vapor Point crossappealed the same order to the extent it holds that the case is not exceptional and that an award of attorneys’ fees is not warranted.
The patents-in-suit are generally directed “to the removal of volatile fuel vapors, also known as volatile organic compounds (‘VOCs’), from storage tanks and other holding vessels, generally in the oil and gas industry.
“NanoVapor is an industry leader in the field of [VOC] containment, including a process called Vapor Suppression System developed by Moorhead that aims to control or eliminate combustible and toxic gases in fuel storage and transfer operations. After working with Moorhead to help market this technology, Nathan became Chief Operating Officer of NanoVapor in 2007. NanoVapor later hired Matheson to help with the “commercial embodiment” of the technology being developed.
Consistent with § 256, the district court held a four-day evidentiary hearing to determine inventorship of the patents-in-suit. After the hearing, the district court issued an order denying NanoVapor’s claims of inventorship and granting Vapor Point’s to the extent Nathan and Matheson sought to be added to the ’310 and ’862 patents as additional inventors. In that decision, the district court addressed the “four key concepts in the ’310 and ’862 patents”: (1) using biodiesel as a vapor capture medium; (2) removing VOCs from a vessel containing fuel vapors and introducing them into a vapor capture medium (such as biodiesel); (3) using a particulatizer to create micro-sized VOC particles for treatment; and (4) using diffusion plates to distribute micro-sized particles across the vapor capture medium. The district court found that Nathan contributed to the conception of the first three of these four key concepts and that Matheson contributed to the third and fourth concepts. The district court denied NanoVapor’s claim that Moorhead should be a named inventor on Vapor Point’s patents. Because NanoVapor did not join Nathan and Matheson—now deemed to be two of the inventors of the patents-in-suit—in the infringement claims against Vapor Point, Vapor Point argued that NanoVapor “did not have standing to pursue [its] claim for infringement of the ’310 patent, eliminating any claim against Vapor Point.
Federal circuit found that the district court did not err in dismissing the case after determining inventorship. Federal circuit further found that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Vapor Point’s motion for exceptional case status and attorneys’ fees. Therefore, federal circuit affirmed the decision by holding that all inventors, even those who contribute to only one claim or one aspect of one claim of a patent, must be listed on that patent. A co-inventor does not need make a contribution to every claim of a patent. A contribution to one claim is enough.

About the Author: Swapnil Patil, Patent Associate at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys and can be reached at: swapnil@khuranaandkhurana.com.

CO2 Solutions Wins Patent Challenge Against Akermin in Denmark

CO2 Solutions Inc, a leader in the field of enzyme-enabled carbon capture technology, has successfully defended its broad intellectual property (IP) rights to its enzyme-enabled carbon capture technology in a case brought against it by U.S.-based Akermin Inc. in Denmark.

Based in Quebec City, CO2 Solutions Inc. is an innovator in the field of enzyme-enabled carbon capture and has been actively working to develop and commercialize the technology for stationary sources of carbon pollution. CO2 Solutions’ technology lowers the cost barrier to Carbon Capture, Sequestration and Utilization (CCSU), positioning it as a viable CO2 mitigation tool, as well as enabling industry to derive profitable new products from these emissions. CO2 Solutions has built an extensive patent portfolio covering the use of carbonic anhydrase, or analogues thereof, for the efficient post‐combustion capture of carbon dioxide with low‐energy aqueous solvents.

The Danish PTO’s decision came in response to a challenge filed by Akermin Inc., a U.S. company that had intended to utilize similar CO2 capture technology for a biogas-related project in Denmark, known as ENZUP. CO2 Solutions had notified Akermin’s Danish ENZUP partners of their impending infringement of the CO2 Solutions’ registered Utility Model BR 2014 00144, subsequent to which Akermin Inc. filed a request for re-examination with the Danish PTO for invalidating the CO2 Solutions’ utility model.

The Danish Patent and Trademark Office (DKPTO), after reexamination, upheld the validity of the issued claims in the CO2 Solutions’ registered Utility Model BR 2014 00144 entitled “System For CO2 Capture Using Packed Reactor and Absorption Mixture with Micro-particles including Biocatalysts”. In the re-examination decision, the DKPTO held the claimed subject matter was novel and distinct over the prior art, and maintained all the claims of the registered utility model in un-amended form.

Independent Claim 1 of DK 2014 00144 (U1) reads as follows:

A system for capturing CO2 from a CO2-containing gas comprising a packed reactor configured for contacting the CO2-containing gas with an absorption mixture within, the absorption mixture comprising a liquid solution and micro-particles, the micro-particles comprising a support material and biocatalysts supported by the support material and being sized and provided in a concentration such that the absorption mixture flows through the packed reactor and that the micro-particles are carried with the liquid solution to promote dissolution and transformation of CO2 into bicarbonate and hydrogen ions, thereby producing a CO2-depleted gas and an ion-rich mixture comprising the micro-particles.

“This decision is the third in Denmark upholding all of our intellectual property claims in the face of vigorous opposition by Akermin and other ENZUP partners,” stated Evan Price, President and Chief Executive Officer of CO2 Solutions.

“The decision clearly confirms our ownership of the IP related to enzyme-enabled carbon capture, the most economical and cleanest commercial technology available to date for this purpose. While we offered the ENZUP partners a single commercial license for use of the CO2 Solutions’ IP in their project, it appears that, pursuant to this decision, Akermin has indefinitely ceased operations and the ENZUP project itself, in Denmark, has been cancelled. CO2 Solutions welcomes initiatives to implement carbon capture technology, but shall defend the Corporation’s IP wherever we observe actual or imminent infringement on our rights, as we have done successfully in Denmark.” Evan Price further stated.

With 70% of global energy demand currently met through the burning of carbon-based fuels, and the demand predicted to double by 2035, the world faces a growing challenge that includes reducing climate change causing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions while not damaging a fragile global economy that is sustained by these abundant fossil fuels. Additionally, substantial opportunities exist for the utilization of CO2 in a broad range of industrial applications from enhanced oil recovery, to beverage carbonation, pulp and paper production, greenhouses, and chemical production, many of which also provide a carbon sequestration opportunity.
CO2 Solutions is addressing these challenges as the leader in the field of enzymatic CO2 capture. CO2 Solutions’ patented technology allows for the low-cost capture of CO2 from stationary emissions sources such as oil production operations, power and steam plants and metals production facilities, while leveraging existing solvent-based gas scrubbing approaches already known to industry. In turn, CO2 Solutions is positioning CO2 capture and sequestration as a viable climate change mitigation tool as well as enabling industrial customers requiring CO2 to lower their acquisition costs for existing and new applications.

About the Author: Antony David, Senior Patent Associate at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys and can be reached at:antony@khuranaandkhurana.com.

Federal Circuit Rules 180-Day Post-Licensure Notice is Mandatory in Biosimilar Litigation

In Amgen v. Apotex (No. 2016-1308), the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on July 5, 2016 affirmed a district court’s ruling that a biosimilar applicant must provide a reference product sponsor with 180 days’ post-licensure notice before commercial marketing of a biosimilar product begins, regardless of whether the applicant provided the § 262(l)(2)(A) notice of USFDA review.

            In Amgen v. Apotex, the Federal Circuit rejected Apotex’s contention that the 180-day pre-marketing notice requirement does not apply to biosimilar applicants who participated in the “patent dance” procedure of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (“BPCIA”), expanding on its decision in Amgen v. Sandoz that the 180 days notice provision under § 262(l)(8)(A) is mandatory in all circumstances, whether or not the applicant engages in the patent dance.

Background:

            The biologic product at issue is Amgen’s Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim). Pegfilgrastim is a PEGylated form of the recombinant human granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (GCSF) analog filgrastim. Pegfilgrastim treatment that can help patients make white blood cells after receiving cancer treatment. After Apotex filed a Biologic License Application (BLA) seeking FDA approval to market a biosimilar version of Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim), the parties began the BPCIA’s patent information exchange process, known as the “patent dance”, and as a result, Amgen concluded that two patents U.S. Patent Nos. 8,952,138 and 5,824,784 will be infringed by Apotex’s biosimilar version of Neulasta®. Those infringement claims are being litigated in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, although the ‘784 patent has been dropped since it expired.

            Apotex sent Amgen a letter on April 17, 2015, stating that it was “providing notice of future commercial marketing pursuant to § 262(l)(8)(A), though Apotex lacked an FDA license.” Amgen sought a preliminary injunction to “require Apotex to provide … notice if and when it receives a marketing license from FDA and to delay any commercial marketing for 180 days from that notice.” The district court granted that motion, citing the Federal Circuit’s decision in Amgen v. Sandoz that notice cannot be given before the biosimilar product is approved. Apotex appealed.

What is Biosimilar Patent Dance:

            The US Biosimilars Act sets forth several requirements for biosimilar applications, including the so-called “Patent Dance” which describes the process by which the biosimilar applicant and the reference product sponsor (“RPS”) exchange patent-related information for resolving any patent disputes before a biosimilar product can enter the US market.  This procedure has strict timing and sequencing requirements and involves several rounds of information exchanges between the reference product sponsor and the biosimilar applicant. Some of the key steps of this process include:

  • Within 20 days after the FDA has accepted its abbreviated application, the biosimilar applicant must provide the reference product sponsor with confidential access to the biosimilar application and relevant manufacturing information for the proposed biologic.
  • Within 60 days of receiving these materials, the reference product sponsor must provide to the biosimilar applicant: (1) a list of patents it believes are infringed, and (2) identify which, if any, of these patents it would be willing to license to the biosimilar applicant.
  • Within 60 days of receipt of the patent list, the biosimilar applicant must provide the reference product sponsor a statement describing, on a claim-by-claim basis, the factual and legal basis as to why each patent is invalid, unenforceable, and/or not infringed. Within this same 60 day period, the biosimilar applicant may provide to the reference product sponsor a counter list of patents that the biosimilar applicant believes could be subject to a claim of patent infringement.
  • Within 60 days of receiving these materials, the reference product sponsor must provide a reciprocal statement describing, on a claim-by-claim basis, the factual and legal basis that each patent will be infringed, as well as a response to any statement regarding validity and enforceability.
  • The parties then have up to 15 days to negotiate in good faith to arrive at a list of patents, if any, that should be subject to a patent infringement action.

– If the parties reach agreement, then the reference product sponsor must bring an infringement action within 30 days for each patent on the negotiated list.

– If the parties do not reach agreement, the biosimilar applicant must notify the reference product sponsor of the number of patents it will provide in a second list, and the parties then simultaneously exchange within 5 days of this notice a list of patents that each party believes should be the subject of the infringement litigation. Within 30 days after this exchange, the reference product sponsor must bring an infringement action on all the patents on the simultaneously exchanged lists.

The Federal Circuit’s decision in the Amgen v. Apotex case:

            Two provisions of the BPCIA were at play in the Federal Circuit’s decision.  First, under § 262(l)(2)(A), the biosimilar applicant initiates the statutory “patent dance” by providing a copy of its biosimilar application and information about how its product is manufactured.  Second, under § 262(l)(8)(A), the applicant must provide a notice to the innovator 180 days before the first commercial marketing of the biosimilar product.

            In Amgen v. Apotex, Apotex argued that it had followed the patent dance procedure and made its (2)(A) disclosures to Amgen, and that the (8)(A) notice of commercial marketing is only mandatory if the applicant failed to provide the information required by (2)(A).

            The Federal Circuit rejected this argument and upheld the district court’s grant of an injunction to Amgen.  The court held that (8)(A) is mandatory in all circumstances, whether or not the applicant engages in the patent dance.

            The Federal Circuit looked to the text of the law, finding that the “language of (8)(A) is categorical”, and there is “no other statutory language that effectively compels a treatment of (8)(A) as non-mandatory.”  The court further noted that § 262(l)(8)(A) “contains no words that make the applicability of its notice rule turn on whether the applicant took the earlier step of giving the § 262(l)](2)(A) notice that begins the patent dance (i.e. information-exchange) process,” and stood by its holding in Amgen v. Sandoz that the statute is “‘a standalone notice provision’ not dependent on the information-exchange processes that begin with (2)(A).” The court held that “the (8)(A) notice must be a notice given after FDA licensure of the biosimilar product, not before, and that pre-licensure notices are of no legal effect for purposes of (8)(A)”. The court explained that the 180 days period gives the reference product sponsor a period of time to assess and act upon its patent rights.

            In sum, the Federal Circuit concluded that a biosimilar applicant must provide a reference product sponsor with 180 days’ post-licensure notice before commercial marketing begins, regardless of whether the applicant provided the (2)(A) notice of FDA review.

The Federal Circuit’s order can be found at the following link:

http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/16-1308.Opinion.6-30-2016.1.PDF

About the Author: Antony David, Senior Patent Associate at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys and can be reached at: antony@khuranaandkhurana.com.