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Eric Caligiuri advises domestic and international clients through complex intellectual property disputes. Mr. Caligiuri’s practice at Weintraub Tobin focuses on patent and trade secret litigation in federal district courts, California state courts, and before the International Trade Commission (ITC).

On March 6, 2020, a Central District Court in UPL NA Inc. f/k/a United Phosphorous, Inc. v. Tide International (USA), Inc. et al, 8-19-cv-01201 (CDCA 2020-03-06, Order) (Ronald S.W. Lew), issued an order that may become more common place across courts.  At the request of the parties, the Court issued a temporary stay of all discovery in the action because of the threat posed by the Coronavirus.

Specifically, the Court noted that the parties had jointly stipulated that “discovery efforts are being significantly impacted by the outbreak of coronavirus. Both parties have sought materials and testimony from witnesses who are located outside of the United States, including in China, and given current travel restrictions and quarantine rules, obtaining the discovery sought at this time is impractical, if not impossible.”  Therefore, the Court found good cause to temporarily vacate the discovery dates presented in the parties’ joint request.
Continue Reading District Court Stays Discovery Deadlines Because of Coronavirus Threat but Keeps Markman Hearing on Calendar

In Guardant Health, Inc. v. Foundation Medicine, Inc., 1-17-cv-01616 (DDE 2020-01-07, Order), the Court rejected the Plaintiff’s argument that an inequitable conduct claim must be related only to the prosecution of the patent-at-issue in ruling on plaintiff’s motion to dismiss defendants’ infectious unenforceability counterclaims.  In the case, the Defendants’ theory as to the unenforceability of U.S. Patent No. 9,902,992 (the ’992 patent) was not based on inequitable conduct said to have occurred during the ’992 patent’s prosecution.  Instead, it rested on the relationship between the ’992 patent and the prosecution of other related patents.

As some background, inequitable conduct regarding any single claim in the prosecution of a patent renders the entire patent unenforceable, not just that specific claim. Moreover, a finding of inequitable conduct can affect not just the improperly-prosecuted patent, but can also render unenforceable any other related patents and applications in the same patent family. This concept is what courts have referred to as the doctrine of “infectious unenforceability.”
Continue Reading Inequitable Conduct Can Render all Patents in a Patent Family Unenforceable through Infectious Unenforceability

In a unanimous ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court in Peter v. NantKwest, case number 18-801, struck down the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) recent and often-criticized effort to recoup its legal fees – even in cases it loses – because it violates the so-called American Rule, which says U.S. litigants must typically pay for their own lawyers.

The Patent Act creates two mutually exclusive pathways to challenge an adverse decision by the USPTO. The first permits judicial review by direct appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. There is “no opportunity for the applicant to offer new evidence” in a §141 proceeding, and the Federal Circuit “must review the PTO’s decision on the same administrative record that was before the [agency].”
Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Strikes down USPTO’s Request for Attorney’s Fees

In Arthrex Inc. v. Smith & Nephew Inc. et al., case number 18-2140, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently considered whether the appointment of the Board’s Administrative Patent Judges (“APJs”) by the Secretary of Commerce, as currently set forth in Title 35, violates the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  The Federal Circuit held that the statute as currently constructed makes the APJs principal officers.  To remedy the violation, the Federal Circuit concluded that severing the portion of the Patent Act restricting removal of the APJs is sufficient to render the APJs inferior officers and remedy the constitutional appointment problem.  As the final written decision on appeal issued while there was an Appointments Clause violation, the appropriate course of action was for this case to be remanded to a new panel of APJs.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Holds Administrative Patent Judges Appointments Unconstitutional

In Curver Luxembourg SARL v. Home Expressions Inc., case number 18-2214, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently held that the claim language of a design patent can limit its scope where the claim language supplies the only instance of an article of manufacture that appears nowhere in the figures.

Plaintiff Curver had asserted U.S. Design Patent No. D677,946 (’946 patent), entitled “Pattern for a Chair” and claiming an “ornamental design for a pattern for a chair.” Curver sued defendant Home Expressions alleging that Home Expressions made and sold baskets that incorporated Curver’s claimed
design pattern and thus infringed the ’946 patent. The design patent’s figures, however, merely illustrate the design pattern disembodied from any article of manufacture.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Holds That Claim Language Can Limit the Scope of a Design Patent