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December 2011
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Dealertrack, Inc. v. Huber

In a patent infringement action involving patents directed to a computer-aided method and system for processing credit applications over electronic networks, the district court's rulings on summary judgment motions are affirmed in part, vacated in part, reversed in part, and the case remanded, where: 1) the district court erred in granting summary judgment of noninfringement based on a construction of "communications medium" that carved out the Internet; 2) the court modified the claim constructions of "communications medium" and "central processing means," requiring it to vacate summary judgment of noninfringement and remand to the district court to determine infringement in the first instance applying the new constructions; 3) the district court legally erred in denying a motion for summary judgment of invalidity of certain claims for indefiniteness; 4) the district court correctly found that certain claims were patent ineligible abstract ideas.

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Washington State Republican Party v. Washington State Grange

In a suit involving the State of Washington's "top-two" primary election system, the district court's order granting the state's request for reimbursement of attorney's fees is reversed, and its summary judgment dismissal of the plaintiff's claims in other respects is affirmed, where: 1) the state showed that its primary system furthered an important regulatory interest in providing voters with relevant information about the candidates on the ballots, so as to defeat the plaintiffs' as-applied freedom of association claims; 2) the state's primary system did not violate its fundamental right of access to the ballot by making it difficult for a minor-party candidates to qualify for the general election ballot; 3) a plaintiff did not explain how the state infringed its trademark in connection with the provision of competing services; 4) a written settlement definitively resolved the state's liability for attorney's fees; 5) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying leave to amend the complaint to add a new claim; 6) the plaintiffs waived a claim concerning compelled speech because it was not included in any complaint; and 7) the primary system was severable from an unconstitutional provision of the same enacting legislation.

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US Supreme Court Rules that Congress Can Remove IP from Public Domain: Golan v. Holder

Download Golan v. Holder SCOTUS

Held:

1. Section 514 does not exceed Congress’ authority under the Copyright Clause. Pp. 13–23. (a) The text of the Copyright Clause does not exclude application of copyright protection to works in the public domain. Eldred is largely dispositive of petitioners’ claim that the Clause’s confinement of a copyright’s lifespan to a “limited Tim[e]” prevents the removal of works from the public domain. In Eldred, the Court upheld the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA), which extended, by 20 years, the terms of existing copyrights. The text of the Copyright Clause, the Court observed, contains no “command that a time prescription, once set, becomes forever ‘fixed’ or ‘inalterable,’ ” and the Court declined to infer any such command. 537 U. S., at 199. The construction petitioners tender here is similarly infirm. The terms afforded works restored by §514 are no less “limited” than those the CTEA lengthened. Nor had the “limited Tim[e]” already passed for the works at issue here—many of them works formerly denied any U. S. copyright protection—for a period of exclusivity must begin before it may end. Petitioners also urge that the Government’s position would allow Congress to legislate perpetual copyright terms by instituting successive“limited” terms as prior terms expire. But as in Eldred, such hypothetical misbehavior is far afield from this case. In aligning the United States with other nations bound by Berne, Congress can hardly be charged with a design to move stealthily toward a perpetual copyright regime. Pp. 13–15.

(b) Historical practice corroborates the Court’s reading of the Copyright Clause to permit the protection of previously unprotected works. In the Copyright Act of 1790, the First Congress protected works that had been freely reproducible under State copyright laws.Subsequent actions confirm that Congress has not understood the Copyright Clause to preclude protection for existing works. Several private bills restored the copyrights and patents of works and inventions previously in the public domain. Congress has also passed generally applicable legislation granting copyrights and patents to works and inventions that had lost protection. Pp. 15–19.

(c) Petitioners also argue that §514 fails to “promote the Progress of Science” as contemplated by the initial words of the Copyright Clause. Specifically, they claim that because §514 affects only works already created, it cannot meet the Clause’s objective. The creation of new works, however, is not the sole way Congress may promote“Science,” i.e., knowledge and learning. In Eldred, this Court rejected a nearly identical argument, concluding that the Clause does not demand that each copyright provision, examined discretely, operate to induce new works. Rather the Clause “empowers Congress to determine the intellectual property regimes that, overall, in that body’s judgment, will serve the ends of the Clause.” 537 U. S., at 222. Nothing in the text or history of the Copyright Clause, moreover, confines the “Progress of Science” exclusively to “incentives for creation.” Historical evidence, congressional practice, and this Court’s decisions, in fact, suggest that inducing the dissemination of existing works is an appropriate means to promote science. Pp. 20–22.

(d) Considered against this backdrop, §514 falls comfortably within Congress’ Copyright Clause authority. Congress had reason to believe that a well-functioning international copyright system would encourage the dissemination of existing and future works. And testimony informed Congress that full compliance with Berne would expand the foreign markets available to U. S. authors and invigorate protection against piracy of U. S. works abroad, thus benefiting copyright-intensive industries stateside and inducing greater investment in the creative process. This Court has no warrant to reject Congress’ rational judgment that exemplary adherence to Berne would serve the objectives of the Copyright Clause. Pp. 22–23.2.

The First Amendment does not inhibit the restoration authorized by §514. Pp. 23–32.

(a) The pathmarking Eldred decision is again instructive. There, the Court held that the CTEA’s enlargement of a copyright’s duration did not offend the First Amendment’s freedom of expression guarantee. Recognizing that some restriction on expression is the inherent and intended effect of every grant of copyright, the Court observed that the Framers regarded copyright protection not simply as a limitation the manner in which expressive works may be used, but also as an“engine of free expression.” 537 U. S., at 219. The “traditional contours” of copyright protection, i.e., the “idea/expression dichotomy” and the “fair use” defense, moreover, serve as “built-in First Amendment accommodations.” Ibid. Given the speech-protective purposes and safeguards embraced by copyright law, there was no call for the heightened review sought in Eldred. The Court reaches the same conclusion here. Section 514 leaves undisturbed the idea/expression distinction and the fair use defense. Moreover, Congress adopted measures to ease the transition from a national scheme to an international copyright regime. Pp. 23–26.

(b) Petitioners claim that First Amendment interests of a higher order are at stake because they—unlike their Eldred counterparts—enjoyed “vested rights” in works that had already entered the public domain. Their contentions depend on an argument already considered and rejected, namely, that the Constitution renders the public domain largely untouchable by Congress. Nothing in the historical record, subsequent congressional practice, or this Court’s jurisprudence warrants exceptional First Amendment solicitude for copyrighted works that were once in the public domain. Congress has several times adjusted copyright law to protect new categories of works as well as works previously in the public domain. Section 514, moreover, does not impose a blanket prohibition on public access.The question is whether would-be users of certain foreign works must pay for their desired use of the author’s expression, or else limit their exploitation to “fair use” of those works. By fully implementing Berne, Congress ensured that these works, like domestic and most other foreign works, would be governed by the same legal regime. Section 514 simply placed foreign works in the position they would have occupied if the current copyright regime had been in effect when those works were created and first published. Pp. 26–30. 609 F. 3d 1076, affirmed.

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Abbott Point of Care Inc. v. Epocal, Inc.

The district court's dismissal of a patent infringement suit for lack of standing is affirmed, where: 1) contracts between the plaintiff's predecessors and the defendant did not assign the patents to the plaintiff; and 2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying jurisdictional discovery.

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Streck, Inc. v. Research & Diagnostic Systems, Inc.

In a patent infringement case brought by a manufacturer of hematology control technology, the district court’s judgment and its decision entering a permanent injunction in favor of the plaintiff is affirmed, where: 1) the district court did not err in refusing to address the validity of unasserted claims; 2) the district court correctly denied the defendant's written description and enablement defenses as a matter of law; 3) the issue of priority was controlled by the court’s resolution of a related appeal; and 4) the injunction was not overbroad.

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MarcTec, LLC v. Johnson & Johnson

In a case in which a patent holder's infringement case was dismissed on summary judgment and the district court subsequently granted the defendants' motion for an award of attorney's fees and expert witness fees, judgment is affirmed where: 1) the district court did not err in declaring the case "exceptional" under 35 U.S.C. section 285 and finding that the patent holder's claims were brought in bad faith and were objectively baseless, and that the patent holder engaged in litigation misconduct; and 2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding expert fees because the patent holder's vexatious conduct and bad faith increased the cost of litigation in ways that were not compensated under 35 U.S.C. section 285.

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Judge not convinced by Apple's trade secrets argument, unseals docs

By Jacqui Cheng

A judge has denied Apple's request to keep certain court documents sealed in its copyright infringement case against Mac clone maker Psystar. In a late Tuesday filing, US District Judge William Alsup ordered that portions of the parties' summary judgement be unsealed and filed publicly without any redaction. The ruling came after another judge's comments in September, who argued that Apple had failed to articulate specific reasons for the documents to remain sealed.

Full story.

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