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December 2009
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Schindler Elevator Corp. v. Otis Elevator Co.

Schindler Elevator Corp. and Inventio AG (collectively “Schindler”) appeal the final decision of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which entered summary judgment in favor of Otis Elevator Co. (“Otis”) of noninfringement of U.S. Patent No. 5,689,094 (“the ’094 patent”). Schindler Elevator Corp. v. Otis Elevator Co., 586 F. Supp. 2d 231 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) (“Summary Judgment Order”); Schindler Elevator Corp. v. Otis Elevator Co., 561 F. Supp. 2d 352 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) (“Claim Construction Order”). Because we conclude that the district court erred in construing the terms “information transmitter” and “recognition device” to exclude any “personal action” by an elevator user other than “walking into the monitored area,” we vacate the grant of summary judgment and remand for further proceedings.

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Wyeth & Elan Pharma Int'l Ltd.v. Kappos

On summary judgment, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia held that plaintiffs Wyeth and Elan Pharma International Ltd. (collectively, “Wyeth”) were entitled to extended patent term adjustments under 35 U.S.C. § 154(b) due to the Patent and Trademark Office’s (the “PTO’s”) delay in prosecuting their patent applications. Because section 154(b) expressly permits this legal relief, this court affirms.

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Koninklijke Philips Elec., N.V. v. Cardiac Sci. Operating Co.

Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. (“Philips”) appeals from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington’s sua sponte dismissal of Philips’ civil suit against Cardiac Science Operating Co. (“Cardiac Science”). Pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 146, Philips sought review in the district court of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences’ (the “Board”) interference decision. Philips timely appealed the district court’s order dismissing Philips’ complaint with prejudice. We reverse and remand with instructions as outlined below.

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Allied Orthopedic Apps. Inc. v. Tyco Health Care Group LP

Plaintiffs in this antitrust suit are a group of hospitals and other health care providers that purchased pulse oximetry sensors from Tyco Healthcare Group LP after November 2003. They allege that they overpaid for the sensors because Tyco used two kinds of marketing agreements to foreclose competition from generic sensor manufacturers in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1. They also allege that by introducing OxiMax, a patented pulse oximetry system that is incompatible with generic sensors, Tyco unlawfully maintained its monopoly over the sensor market in violation of Section 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2.

The district court denied Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification and later granted Tyco’s motion for summary judgment on the Section 1 and 2 claims. We agree with the district court that Tyco’s agreements do not violate Section 1; there is no evidence that they foreclosed competition in a substantial share of the sensor market. We also agree that there is no Section 2 violation; the undisputed evidence shows that the patented OxiMax design is an improvement over the previous design. Innovation does not violate the antitrust laws on its own, and there is no evidence that Tyco used its monopoly power to force customers to adopt its new product. Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s judgment on the merits and have no need to reach the class certification issue.

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WARF v. Xenon Pharm., Inc.

This case arises out of a complex set of contractual relationships between the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the patent-management entity for the University of Wisconsin; certain research scientists at the University; and Xenon Pharmaceuticals, a Canadian drug company. The Foundation and Xenon jointly own the patent rights to an enzyme that can lower cholesterol levels in the human body. The enzyme’s cholesterol-reducing benefits were discovered and confirmed by scientists at the University whose research was sponsored in part by Xenon. In 2001, pursuant to an option agreement between the Foundation and Xenon, the Foundation gave Xenon an exclusive license to commercialize this discovery and market any resulting products in exchange for a share of the profits.

The Foundation brought this suit against Xenon alleging violations of its contract rights and seeking damages and declaratory relief. First, the Foundation alleged that Xenon sublicensed its interest in the patented enzyme to a third party but refused to pay the Foundation a percentage of the sublicense fees as required under the 2001 license agreement. Second, the Foundation alleged that Xenon wrongly asserted ownership over a set of therapeutic compounds developed from the jointly patented enzyme; the Foundation claimed that it owned rights to these compounds pursuant to its network of written agreements with Xenon and the University researcher who confirmed the therapeutic benefits of the compounds. Xenon counterclaimed against the Foundation, and on cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court ruled in the Foundation’s favor on the breach-of-contract claim and in Xenon’s favor on the dispute over ownership of the compounds. A jury awarded $1 million in damages for the breach of contract; the Foundation accepted $300,000 after Xenon successfully moved for remittitur. Both parties appealed.

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Hunton & Williams v. DOJ

This appeal centers on communications between the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") and a telecommunications company, in which the company allegedly lobbied DOJ to take its side in litigation with a client of law firm Hunton and Williams, LLC ("Hunton"). The district court upheld DOJ’s decision to deny Hunton’s request under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 (2006), ("FOIA") for records of those communications. Hunton contends that it is entitled to the records, regardless of whether they satisfied the requirements of the so-called common interest doctrine, which enables parties with a shared legal interest to pursue a joint legal strategy. DOJ argues not only that common interest communications are exempt from FOIA, but that we should defer to the agency’s invocation of the common interest doctrine without demanding any serious inquiry into the validity of its common interest claims.

Both sides have a point, though only a partial one. DOJ argues persuasively that FOIA does not strip the government of its civil discovery privileges or its valuable right to partner with other parties in litigation or in anticipation of the same. At the same time, however, Hunton correctly contends that common interest assertions by government agencies must be carefully scrutinized. For the doctrine to apply, an agency must show that it had agreed to help another party prevail on its legal claims at the time of the communications at issue because doing so was in the public interest. It is not enough that the agency was simply considering whether to become involved.

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Great Clips, Inc. v. Hair Cuttery of Greater Boston, LLC

This appeal is about a trademark dispute between companies in the hair care industry. The plaintiff is Great Clips, Inc. (a Minnesota corporation), which owns and operates hair salons throughout the United States and Canada; the two defendants--Great Cuts, Inc. (a Massachusetts corporation) and Hair Cuttery of Greater Boston, L.L.C. (a limited liability company organized under the laws of Virginia)--provide hair cutting and styling services in Massachusetts and elsewhere. The background events are essentially undisputed.

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The Forest Group, Inc. v. Bon Tool Co.

Bon Tool Company (Bon Tool) appeals a final decision from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. After a bench trial, the district court found that the Forest Group, Inc. (Forest) falsely marked its stilts with intent to deceive the public, and the district court fined Forest $500 for a single decision to falsely mark. The district court also determined that U.S. Patent No. 5,645,515 (the ’515 patent) was not invalid, that Bon Tool did not infringe the ’515 patent, and that Forest had not violated the Lanham Act. The court declined to find the case exceptional or award attorney fees. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm in part, vacate in part, and remand.

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