Justia Communications Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Patents
Myco Industries, Inc. v. Blephex, LLC
Myco believed its competitor, BlephEx, made false and misleading statements about Myco’s product and whether it infringed BlephEx’s patent, entitled “Method and Device for Treating an Ocular Disorder.” The district court preliminarily enjoined BlephEx from making allegations of patent infringement and from threatening litigation against Myco’s potential customers.The Federal Circuit reversed. Federal law requires a showing of bad faith before a patentee can be enjoined from communicating his patent rights. A showing of “bad faith” must be supported by a finding that the claims asserted were objectively baseless. There was no adequate basis to conclude that allegations of patent infringement would be false or misleading. Even if the injunction were narrowly tailored to allegations of infringement and threats of litigation against Myco’s potential customers, the “medical practitioner immunity” provision of 35 U.S.C. 287(c) does not blanketly preclude a patent owner from stating that a medical practitioner’s performance of a medical activity infringes a patent. Myco asked the court to assume, without any supporting evidence, that a doctor would have interpreted general statements as an accusation of patent infringement and a threat of litigation against the doctor herself. View "Myco Industries, Inc. v. Blephex, LLC" on Justia Law
Customedia Technologies, LLC v. Dish Network Corp.
Customedia’s patents, which share a specification, disclose comprehensive data management and processing systems that comprise a remote AccountTransaction Server (ATS) and a local host Data Case Management System and Audio/Video Processor Recorderplayer (VPR/DMS), e.g., a cable set-top box. Broadcasters and other content providers transmit advertising data via the ATS to a local VPR/DMS. That data be selectively recorded in programmable storage sections in the VPR/DMS according to a user’s preferences. These storage sections may be “reserved, rented, leased or purchased from end user[s], content providers, broadcasters, cable/satellite distributor, or other data communications companies administering the data products and services.” On Dish Network’s petition for review, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board found various claims ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101 and other claims unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. 102. The Federal Circuit affirmed the ineligibility finding, applying the Supreme Court’s “Alice” holding that “[l]aws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas are not patent-eligible.” The claimed invention is at most an improvement to the abstract concept of targeted advertising wherein computers are merely used as a tool; the invocation of already-available computers that are not themselves plausibly asserted to be an advance amounts to a recitation of what is well-understood, routine, and conventional. View "Customedia Technologies, LLC v. Dish Network Corp." on Justia Law
Cox Commc’ns, Inc. v. Sprint Commc’n Co., LP
Sprint's patents concern voiceover-IP technology for transmitting calls over the internet, instead of through traditional telephone lines. The patents discuss the hand-off between traditional telephone lines (a “narrow-band network” or “circuit-switched network”) and a data network (a “broadband network” or “packet-switched network”), such as the internet. Both the “control patents” and the “ATM interworking patents” describe the use of a “processing system,” which receives a signal from a traditional telephone network and processes information related to the call to select the path that the call should take through the data network. In the control patents, a “communications control processor” selects the network elements and the connections for the path. In the ATM interworking patents, a “signaling processor” or a “call/connection manager” selects the virtual connections by which the call will pass through the ATM network and performs other functions, including validation, echo control, and billing. Both specifications disclose that logic for selecting a path resides in lookup-tables. The district court found the claims invalid as indefinite under 35 U.S.C. 112. The Federal Circuit reversed. The terms “processing system” does not prevent the claims, read in light of the specification and the prosecution history, from informing those skilled in the art about the scope of the invention with reasonable certainty. View "Cox Commc'ns, Inc. v. Sprint Commc'n Co., LP" on Justia Law
GPNE Corp. v. Apple, Inc.
GPNE’s patents relate to a paging system, using devices capable of both receiving messages and sending messages through a central control station, which can also receive a message from a telephone (e.g., a callback number, as in one-way pager operations) and send it to a recipient device. The specification discloses that “the invention provides a two-way paging system which operates independently from a telephone system for wireless data communication between users.” GPNE asserted infringement of claims referring to the network's devices as “nodes” and requiring that the “node” be “in a data network, the data network including a plurality of nodes,” have “at least one processor,” have “a memory providing code to the processor,” and have an “interface” that transmits and receives communication signals in a particular manner. The claims are otherwise silent as to what a “node” is. Apart from the Abstract, the specification does not refer to “node,” but refers to devices as “pagers” or “paging units.” The specification discloses that each “paging unit” includes a transmitter, a receiver, a beeper, a vibrator, an LCD display, a keyboard, and a “pager computer” which performs the processing for the device's operation. The Federal Circuit affirmed that the claims are not infringed, upholding construction of “node” as “pager with two-way data communications capability that transmits wireless data communications on a paging system that operates independently from a telephone network.” View "GPNE Corp. v. Apple, Inc." on Justia Law
Golden Bridge Tech., Inc. v. Apple Inc.
A Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) system wireless cellular network has a base station and mobile stations, such as cellular telephones. To establish communication between a mobile station and a base, the mobile station transmits a known signal (preamble) over a random access channel (RACH). The CDMA system allows multiple signals to be sent over the same RACH by using different numerical spreading codes that enable the stations to distinguish a particular wireless communication from other concurrent communications. If too many mobile stations transmit simultaneously at high power levels, the signals can interfere with each other. GBT’s patents disclose an improvement that reduces the risk of interference: a mobile station seeking to communicate with the base will transmit preambles at increasing power levels until it receives an acknowledgment signal from the base. Once the mobile station receives that acknowledgment, it stops transmitting preambles and starts transmitting message information, so that each data signal is transmitted at the lowest power necessary to reach the base, reducing the risk of interference. In Texas litigation, the court construed preamble as “a signal used for communicating with the base station that is spread before transmission” and granted summary judgment of anticipation, which the Federal Circuit affirmed. While appeal was pending, GBT sought new claims during reexamination of one patent and in a pending continuation application and submitted the claim construction order from the Texas litigation and filings setting forth GBT’s stipulated definition of preamble. The claims GBT asserted, in this case, against Apple were added during the proceedings. The district court construed the disputed terms, including preamble, and granted Apple summary judgment of noninfringement. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Golden Bridge Tech., Inc. v. Apple Inc." on Justia Law
Starhome GmbH v. AT&T Mobility, LLC
Starhome owns the 487 patent, titled “System and Methods for Global Access to Services for Mobile Telephone Subscribers,” aimed at solving a problem that arises when mobile phone users are in a network other than their home network (roaming). For example, in a home network, a mobile phone user might dial a short code, such as “121,” to access voice mail. While roaming, a network may not recognize the code, resulting in an error message. The 487 patent demonstrates a system providing roaming services and employing an “intelligent gateway” that contains information about multiple home networks, including short-code translation tables, subscriber profile data, and roaming patterns. Starhome sued AT&T. The court construed the term “intelligent gateway” to mean “a network element that transfers information to and from a mobile network and another network external to the mobile network” and the parties stipulated to a judgment of noninfringement. The Federal Circuit affirmed.View "Starhome GmbH v. AT&T Mobility, LLC" on Justia Law
K-Tech Telecomm., Inc. v. Time Warner Cable, Inc.
In 2011, K-Tech sued DirecTV for patent infringement against DirecTV. On the same day, K-Tech filed a similar action against TWC. The complaints named four patents identifying systems and methods for modifying a major channel number, a minor channel number, and/or a carrier frequency to identify a television program. The district court dismissed both complaints and K-Tech’s amended complaints, for failure to state a claim. The Federal Circuit reversed, finding that the district court applied the incorrect standard in evaluating the adequacy of K-Tech’s complaints. District courts must evaluate complaints alleging direct infringement by reference to Form 18 of the Appendix of Forms to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. K-Tech’s amended complaints satisfied those standards. DirecTV and TWC know what K-Tech’s patents claim, and they know what K-Tech asserts their systems do, and why. K-Tech has alleged that DirecTV and TWC must and do modify or “translate” digital signals they receive, and it has alleged that they do so using K-Tech’s patented methods and systems. View "K-Tech Telecomm., Inc. v. Time Warner Cable, Inc." on Justia Law
Function Media, L.L.C. v. Google, Inc.
FM sued Google for infringing three patents relating to advertising on multiple outlets such as newspapers and websites. The specification characterizes the prior art as inefficient because it requires advertisers to manually ensure that their ads conform to the differing requirements of each advertising venue. The invention is designed to eliminate this inefficiency by automatically formatting the ads to fit each publisher’s requirements and sending them out for publication. In each of the patents, a “central computer” coordinates interactions between sellers (wishing to place ads), media venues, and buyers (targets of the ads). The central computer hosts a number of databases and software processes, including the presentation rules database and the Presentation Generating Program. The district court invalidated of one of FM’s patents as indefinite and a jury found that two others were invalid and not infringed. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the court abdicated to the jury its responsibility to construe disputed claim terms; that the court incorrectly denied its motion for a new trial on the grounds that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence; and that the verdicts of infringement and invalidity are irreconcilable. View "Function Media, L.L.C. v. Google, Inc." on Justia Law
ActiveVideo Networks, Inc. v. Verizon Commc’n, Inc.
ActiveVideo asserted that Verizon’s video on demand (VoD) feature of the FiOS-TV system infringed its 578, 678, and 883 patents, which share a common specification and generally disclose and claim interactive television systems and methods for delivering interactive television to subscribers. Verizon counterclaimed that ActiveVideo infringed three of its patents. The jury found that Verizon infringed four ActiveVideo patents and that ActiveVideo infringed two Verizon patents and awarded damages to both. The court entered an injunction against Verizon but delayed enforcement for six months during which Verizon was ordered to pay a sunset royalty. The Federal Circuit reversed the injunction and the judgment of infringement against Verizon as to one patent; vacated the grant of summary judgment of invalidity as to one Verizon patent is vacated and remanded for further proceedings. The court affirmed other findings of infringement and the imposition of a sunset royalty. View "ActiveVideo Networks, Inc. v. Verizon Commc'n, Inc." on Justia Law
Leader Tech., Inc. v. Facebook, Inc.
Leader, a software company, owns the 761 patent, which discloses a system that manages data that may be accessed and created by multiple users over a network. The patent improves upon conventional systems by associating data "with an individual, group of individuals, and topical content, and not simply with a folder, as in traditional systems." The system achieves this improvement by having users collaborate and communicate through boards that are accessible through an Internet browser and appear as a webpage. To facilitate those user-facing functions, the data management system employs metadata, tagged to data being created, to capture the association between the data and its context. As users create and change their contexts, the data (files) and applications automatically follow. Prior to filing the 761 application in 2003, Leader developed Leader2Leader.® Facebook claimed that the earlier product, publicly used and on sale prior to December 10, 2002 fell within the scope of the asserted claims of the 761 patent, rendering them invalid under 35 U.S.C. 102(b). The district court ruled in favor of Facebook. The Federal Circuit affirmed, finding the verdict supported by substantial evidence. View "Leader Tech., Inc. v. Facebook, Inc." on Justia Law