“Reg. U.S. Pat. Off.”

Memorial City Hall, Marshall, Texas

The latest downtown renovation project in Marshall is Memorial City Hall, which is being renovated for us as historical museum and performance space. The city moved into a new city hall in 1994, and the auditorium has been unused probably since the city completed the Civic Center in 1976. The building has bad associations for me since I got separated from my parents in it after a Lions Loonies show when I was two or three, and was parked on the police station counter in the basement – in tears – until they came to get me.

But I digress. The old auditorium folding seats made by Heywood-Wakefield with a “M’ on the side are being replaced by new ones, and the city is selling off the old seats repurposed by a local business into benches to fund a portion of the renovation. So of course I went and got several for the Hub this morning, where they make splendid reception seating, as well as luxury, yet compact accommodations for brief bags in the conference and war rooms. Did I mention they have a “M” on the side?

Interestingly, in addition to the manufacturer’s stamp on the inside of each arm, the benches carry the words “Reg. U.S. Pat. Off.”

Before I realized that that’s probably just a service mark for the name of the company and has nothing to do with patents, I went down the rabbit trail of patents Heywood-Wakefield had at the time it was cranking out seats for the new Marshall city hall in the 1920s, and found a patent that the seats probably did practice – U.S. Patent No. 1,176,296 dealing with seat hinges, issued to the company in 1916.

Again, I now think the mark was for the company name, and there’s no patent number marking, but it’s an interesting note. Yes, I did check for trademarks, and found several for Heywood-Wakeman, but none prior to 1947, although they did – correctly claim first use of the name in 1897, coincidentally the date the Hub Shoe Store opened.

And the “BR”? Well, the “R” means “right” – the left hand side is always stamped “BL”. Looking back at how the seats were arranged, these must be aisle seats – the intermediate seats would have been arranged completely differently, especially when you look at the patented mechanism they’d contain.

And going out on a bit of a limb here, I think the “B” indicates “balcony”, since the seats sit level, as they would for the stadium seating (which the MCH balcony is) and not sloped main-floor seating. I’ll bet that the main floor aisle seats are labelled SR/SL (or MR/ML).

“As a final point, the Court does not observe, based only on the evidence presently before it, anything exceptional about the parties’ conduct in this case.”

In any context but patent litigation, this would be a bad thing. But this quote from an opinion granting in part a voluntary dismissal in a patent case but making clear that the Section 285 issues – NOT THAT THERE ARE ANY – are reserved for later reminded me of one of the epic scenes in a Monty Python film where John Cleese unsuccessfully tries to bring order to a stoning. But I guess I could talk about the order as well.

Counterclaims

The plaintiff in this patent case brought a motion to dismiss the defendant’s counterclaims of patent infringement (no, not noninfringement – I know what you’re thinking), promissory estoppel and unjust enrichment. The Court’s report and recommendations, later adopted by the district court, provides a useful foray into the “dancing backwards” world of counterclaims.

EDTexweblog renewals

Many subscribers’ accounts are up for renewal this month – an artifact of the new blog platform starting up in March two years ago – so I wanted to post instructions on how to renew when you get an “expired” message. If you previously selected auto-renewal, you don’t need to do anything. But if you didn’t, the best way to renew is to be logged out of the weblog and visit the sign-up page: https://edtexweblog.com/signup.php Make sure you use the same email and password as the current subscription. Again, individual subscriptions are $299, and there is a sliding scale for firms or IP sections wishing to purchase multiple subscriptions. Government accounts remain free, as is the daily email with information on the day’s posts. If you run into any issues, email me at michaelsmith@siebman.com and I’ll get them sorted out.

Oil field technology patent verdict

I’m posting a few pictures from our trip to the Capitol with the local Chamber of Commerce (and our two youngest boys, who served as House pages) last week as they seem appropriate for a verdict from a patent case involving oil field technology. The verdict came from Texarkana last week, where a jury in Judge Schroeder’s court rendered a defense verdict on infringement. Invalidity wasn’t submitted.

“In hilariously petulant move, Apple shuts Texas stores and reopens them few miles down the road – for patent reasons” – The Register

The article from the Register is good, and the title is great, but the image is magnificent. I’ve never pulled my credit card out faster to license an image. Go home and celebrate if you don’t have this face looking at you. Or even if you do. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/02/27/apple_texas_retail_stores_patents/

Retrial on damages

Back in September of 2016, after a five-day jury trial in this case, a jury unanimously found that the defendant had willfully infringed certain claims of two patents and that the claims were not shown to be invalid and awarded damages of $2.8 million, later enhanced by $456,000 (16% of the verdict – 8% of the potential enhancement under Section 284). Defendant filed a motion for new trial on damages issues dealing with apportionment, which was granted. On retrial, the jury awarded $3.49 million in damages, although using a different time period from the original trial. The decisions(s) in this case that I’ve posted below are full of information on patentable subject matter (of course), as well as damages, willful infringement and enhancement.

Apple is closing its Frisco and Plano stores and opening a new one in Galleria Dallas – analysis

Lots of news in the last days over Apple’s opening/closing of stores in the Dallas area, so I wanted to compile some links to articles about the change and provide some filing and other statistics that might provide some perspective, including whether any of the eight (8) cases filed in the EDTX against Apple last year (down from 43 the year before TC Heartland) might have had anything to do with it.