Two of patent litigants’ favorite topics come together in this afternoon’s essay by Judge Payne ruling on a defendant’s motion for partial summary judgment of willful infringement. (Ever wonder why “infringement” has an “e” and “judgment” doesn’t? I have, but just the once). So crack open a peanut butter cup, and let’s see what the Court had to say.
A release defense exists where, for example, a patent holder licenses its patent to a manufacturer. The manufacturer is released from future claims. If the agreement extended to the manufacturer and its customers, the customers would have a license defense against the patent holder. So, for example, let’s say Wile E. Coyote licenses a manufacturer of avian shoewear and its customers. His claims against the Roadrunner for selling the manufacturer’s shoes to his feathered friends would be released as well. This was the situation presented in a set of cases set to go to trial Monday week. This morning the Court granted the motion, which would have the effect of eliminating the plaintiff’s claims against other manufacturers’ products arising out of their use of parts from the original licensed party.
An improper inventorship defense rests on the statutory requirement that a patent is invalid if more or fewer than the true inventors are named.
A defense of “derivation”, on the other hand, requires proof of both prior conception of the invention by another and communication of that conception to the patentee.
Both defenses require proof by clear and convincing evidence.
This case presents an interesting situation in which the defendant claimed that the plaintiff wasn’t the inventor, but did not identify who else was. Given that the procedural context was the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment as to the defendant’s improper inventorship defense, the issue presented was thus whether Defendant had created a genuine issue of material fact regarding its defenses of improper inventorship and derivation.
On the derivation defense, the issue was whether the Defendant had adduced proof that the “entirety” of the invention was conceived by others.
Sometimes the reasons for the denial of a summary judgment motion are as instructive as the reasons for a grant. They can educate the reader on what sorts of grounds just aren’t going to work, and why. This was the case with a recent decision by Judge Payne in Marshall.
One of the most haunting moments of the season finale of the original Twin Peaks in 1992 was Jimmy Scott singing Under the Sycamore Trees as things got really, really weird. I think of this song whenever I read opinions in Sycamore IP Holdings v. AT&T, which gave us more to consider recently. Actually, much, much more.
Motions for summary judgment of infringement – as opposed to noninfringement – are rare, and this opinion illustrates why.
Defendants in this case filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on Statute of Limitations, Preemption, and Preclusion. Magistrate Judge Craven recommended that the motion be denied with two exceptions, and Judge Mazzant addressed the objections in the attached order.
This is a opinion from Judge Richard Schell resolving six motions in a case involving a defendant’s liability for cargo damage, including most notably, cross motions for summary judgment as to whether Defendant BNSF was liable for cargo damage following a derailment.
It’s often helpful to cut something open to see how it works. During World War II, the Navy cut open a damaged PBY Catalina flying boat and mounted it on a wall in a training facility in Pensacola to help train sailors who would be crewing its sister craft. The cutaway PBY was a local fixture from 1944 to 1997, and was eventually moved to the nearby National Museum of Naval Aviation to sit under a fully restored version, where my youngest son Parker (who’s a certified WW II plane nut) got to study it up close. (That I have a PBY on my work bench at the moment had nothing to do with the trip. Honest)
Readers will recall that I posted last month that a Marshall jury in Judge Roy Payne’s court returned a verdict last month in favor of Ericsson in a case brought against TCL Communications and set damages at $75 million. Two of the numerous pretrial rulings in that case were on the defendant’s motions for summary judgment under Section 101, and on the plaintiff’s claims of willful infringement, both of which Judge Payne denied.
Since the 101 ruling runs against the recent trend of more than half of 101 rulings going the defendant’s way, it is worth a review. But the one I really want to focus on is the willfulness ruling because, as the Court wrote, “it is helpful to explain the standard as it stands today [post-Halo]” which began a metaphorical popping off of the fuselage panels on the standard in order to spend several pages poking around on what the wilfulness standard requires, and what factors need to be considered when deciding whether to bifurcate a willfulness claim. When you’re done reading it, you might find yourself with the same thought I had after studying the interior of a full-size PBY – I have really not understood how this thing fits together, and I have really screwed up ….
Interesting case this week in which Judge Gilstrap granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment of a “fair use” defense in a copyright infringement case in which the defendant alleged various causes of action arising out of an employment termination, and attempted to use a purloined video clip as evidence. The facts look like something off Dr. Phil. In fact, they actually were.