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Posts Tagged ‘patent lawsuit’

Alston & Bird Hit With Malpractice Suit Despite Successful Litigation

December 7th, 2014 Alexander No comments

Alston & Bird LLP was slapped with a malpractice suit by a government subcontractor claiming the firm mishandled an easily winnable intellectual property suit that ended up drowning the company in $10 million in unnecessary bills.

The suit began when Brookwood was sued by Nextec Applications Inc. in 2007 on allegations that clothing it provided to fulfill a U.S. Army contract for cold weather gear used technology developed and patented by Nextec.

Brookwood Companies Inc. state Alston, along with partner Blas Arroyo, pocketed $4 million in a suit the firm should have filed to dismiss from day one and got the company so tangled in the litigation that it ultimately had to spend $10 million before prevailing at trial.

“Such conduct clearly fails to reflect the ordinary reasonable skill and knowledge commonly possessed by a member of the legal profession,” according to the complaint, “Defendants’ negligence and breaches of duty did not merely make them $4 million richer, it made their client $10 million poorer.”

The case was an easy win, Brookwood contends, because Nextec was prohibited by federal statute from suing a company that infringes a patent during the performance of a government contract. The company alleges Alston demonstrated knowledge of the statute via a letter sent to Nextec counsel when the plaintiff initially threatened to sue.

However, that knowledge did not prevent the company from waiting over a year to file for summary judgment, Brookwood claims. The motion it did eventually file sought to toss only some of the claims from the suit and made it clear that partner Arroyo, who had little experience in New York federal courts, was out of his depth.

“[T]hey bungled the motion so badly that simple negligence would not seem to explain it,” Brookwood said.

The firm’s negligence was prompted by a desire to keep churning bills, the complaint alleges.

An Alston representative called the allegations meritless and said the firm was “proud of its representation of Brookwood.”

“Before Brookwood decided to retain successor counsel, Alston & Bird lawyers had obtained the dismissal of the vast majority of claims asserted against Brookwood and had laid the foundation for the defenses that proved successful at the trial of the remaining claims,” the representative responded, adding that the firm was “surprised” the company decided to pursue malpractice claims based on a case that was successfully litigated.

For more information, see Law360.

Categories: Uncategorized


Judge Rips ‘Ridiculous’ Nokia Bid To Seal

November 26th, 2014 Alexander No comments

A California federal judge denied and ripped into Nokia Corp.’s latest “ridiculous” request to seal documents in its fight with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. over the leaking of patent licensing terms between Nokia and Apple in Samsung’s ongoing patent war with the iPhone maker.

Judge Paul Grewal’s order declines Nokia’s request for leave to file a reconsideration of his earlier order denying seal on certain documents. This marks the latest instance of the judge making no secret of his exasperation with a flurry of seal requests from all the parties in the suit, which Nokia was brought into after Samsung disclosed the confidential details of a licensing deal between Apple and Nokia.

“The undersigned is not quite sure, but sealing in this case may just have officially passed from the sublime to the ridiculous,” Judge Grewal’s order says.

Among the portions Nokia wants blacked out are certain passages of publicly available news stories estimating the terms of Apple’s patent license with Nokia despite the fact that the articles are “available to anyone on the planet with a web browser and basic internet access,” Judge Grewal says.

The court may have been more forgiving of Nokia’s request if this were the second, third or fourth time, “but at some point, the cost of such unwarranted sealing requests to the taxpayers, the press and other parties with equally important claims to the court’s resources must take priority.”

Also in June, Judge Grewal addressed all the parties’ then-recent requests to seal dozens of documents, largely keeping them unsealed. He said there still was a backlog of requests stemming from 26 separate administrative motions to seal 134 documents.

At that time, he said that although “old dogs, it turns out, can learn new tricks” when it comes to exercising restraint with seal requests, Nokia’s seal requests were not narrowly tailored to confidential business information.

These disputes arise as part of the larger patent infringement suit Apple filed against Samsung, accusing it of infringing several design and utility patents pertaining to iPhone and related technology. A $930 million district-court verdict against Samsung is pending on appeal before the Federal Circuit.

For more information, see Law360.

Categories: Intellectual Property


LinkedIn Victory Over AvMarkets Patent Infringement Suit

November 14th, 2014 Alexander No comments

In February 2013, AvMarkets Inc. filed suit against accussing LinkedIn of infringing a patent, the claims of which are directed to creating a product catalog to generate sales leads over the Internet.

AvMarkets, which runs AvMarkets.com, describes itself as a technology and aviation services company whose core product is its online marketplace, where aviation and aerospace companies buy and sell their products and services.

In June 2013 LinkedIn filed a petition for covered business method patent review of the patent in suit under Title 35 of the U.S. Code’s Section 101, a section of federal patent law pertaining to what is eligible for patent protection. In the following November, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board granted a review and held an oral hearing in June.

The board has handed LinkedIn a win in the company’s petition for a covered business method patent review of a Web sales lead generation patent held by a company whose core product is an aviation and aerospace marketplace, ruling that the challenged claims are too abstract to be patentable.

The board found that LinkedIn has proven that the patent’s claims, which describe a “method for generating increased numbers of leads via the Internet,” are directed to the abstract idea of creating a product catalog on the Internet and are unpatentable subject matter under the standard clarified in the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International.

The claims “lack limitations that meaningfully limit the abstract idea” of the patent, the board said.

Under Alice, a patent’s claims were invalid because they were tied to an abstract idea and that implementing the claims on a computer did not render them a patentable invention.

LinkedIn argued that the claims in the patent are directed toward an abstract idea and do not implement a practice application warranting patent protection. The limitations in the claims only add “conventional and routine limitations to the underlying abstract idea” and only require technology that already existed in 2007, when the patent was filed, LinkedIn said.

AvMarkets rejected that argument, saying that the claims cannot be performed on a general-purpose computer and require specially programmed Web servers in order to function.

The board found that the claimed invention only required a general-purpose computer, and furthermore, the limitations AvMarkets identified as meaningful “represent merely routine computer technology” used in conjunction with a conventional network such as the Internet in a conventional manner, generating Web pages when a hyperlink is clicked, according to the decision.

AvMarkets had also contended that since other methods of providing product catalogs exist on the Internet, the claims are not an inherent attempt to preempt all ways of creating a product catalog and providing it over the Internet.

However, according to the board, that argument didn’t render the claims patentable because limiting an abstract idea to a specific field of use or adding some token post-solution activity does not render an abstract concept patentable.

Receiving part numbers, listing them on a Web page and generating a Web page for any activated part number link all represent such “insignificant post-solution activity as they do not represent significant meaningful limitations on the claims,” the board said.

“The fact that AvMarkets’ claims could be written differently does not demonstrate that the limitations added to the abstract idea are meaningful,” the board said.

For more information, see Law360.



Apple Triumphs in GPNE’s $94M Patent Trial

November 8th, 2014 Alexander No comments

Apple Inc. triumphed in GPNE Corp.’s $94 million patent trial when a California federal jury unanimously found that Apple’s iPhones and iPads did not infringe two data-communications patents. On the down side, Apple failed to convince jurors that those patents are invalid.

The jury, comprised of seven women and one man, reached its verdict in the two-week trial after less than a day of deliberations. Their only question was whether a decision on a patent’s validity or invalidity would “apply only to Apple, or to the patent in general.”

Apple championed the verdict in a statement slamming GPNE as a “patent troll.”

“We are pleased the jury in California saw through GPNE’s attempt to extort money from Apple for 20 year old pager patents that have expired, wasting time for everyone involved,” Apple said. “GPNE is a patent troll with no active business other than patent litigation. They have sent more than 300 demand letters in the past year to everyone from truckers and farmers to roofers and dairies threatening costly legal entanglements if these small businesses didn’t pay them off — this isn’t right.”

GPNE’s attorney was disappointed in the jury’s decision, but is not giving up hope. “It was a hard fought trial with a tough claim construction in a case in which our firm was hired a few months ago. We strongly believe the judge will address the underlying legal issues in post-verdict motions,” he said.

At the start of the trial, GPNE’s attorney said Apple’s mobile devices infringe inventions that date back to 1993 but were updated in GPNE’s Patents that were assigned in 2010 and 2009. Both describe how a mobile device can “reserve” space to send out a message on a cellular network.

“These are very valuable patents that enable people who use iPhones and iPads to communicate and transmit lots of data,” GPNE’s attorney said said. “But Apple isn’t paying for it … Apple’s use of GPNE’s property without permission is why we’re here.”

In a previous blog post, we mentioned how GPNE is a Honolulu, Hawaii-based company and was born out of two other companies, first Pioneer Tech Development Ltd. and later Digicomm Ltd. GPNE chairman invented the technology described in the patents in the early 1990s while trying to come up with a reliable way to communicate between mobile devices in Hawaii, where cell reception was poor and mountains often got in the way.

The invention allowed devices to maximize their use of the airwaves while seamlessly transmitting data, which could minimize both the need for more infrastructure and the costs associated with that infrastructure, she said. But recently, GPNE discovered that a number of mobile companies, including Apple, were using its technology. Other companies such as Nokia, Samsung, and Motorola have licensed GPNE’s patents.

GPNE’s damages expert, studied GPNE’s licensing agreements with other mobile-phone makers, including Samsung and HTC, and learned those companies had paid royalties of roughly $1 per phone to license the company’s patents. Apple sold nearly 94 million allegedly infringing iPhones and iPads, leading GPNE to conclude that Apple should pay $94 million in damages.

Apple’s attorney argued that its iPhones and iPads don’t infringe GPNE’s patents because the inventions only cover mobile communications from pagers, which are named specifically in both patents. Two-way paging systems function differently from cellphone systems, providing more powerful signals that can reach places mobile phones can’t, such as basements and elevators.

While Apple’s attorney was stymied at trial by Judge Lucy Koh for calling GPNE a “patent troll” he found other ways to describe the company to the jury.

“It’s a company that doesn’t make anything. It’s a company that doesn’t sell anything,” he said, noting that GPNE sent roughly 300 letters to a variety of companies, threatening to sue for patent infringement if the targets didn’t license GPNE’s patents. “That’s legal. What are they interested in? Are they just trying to get money?”

For more information, see Law360.



GPNE Seeks $94M In Damages From Apple

October 23rd, 2014 Alexander No comments

Apple Inc. bashed GPNE Corp.’s $94 million damages demand as “extreme” and “unreasonable” during closing arguments in GPNE’s trial accusing Apple of selling almost 94 million iPhones and iPads that infringe two data-communications patents. Apple went on to tell the jury that Apple did not infringe any of GPNE’s patents and it should not pay anything.

The patents in question describe how a mobile device can “reserve” space to send out a message on a cellular network. GPNE invented the technology described in the patents in the early 1990s while trying to come up with a reliable way to communicate between mobile devices in Hawaii, where cell reception was poor and mountains often got in the way.

“Apple respects patents, and it respects innovation. It will not capitulate to a company that’s stretching its patents. It’s not right, and it’s not fair,” Apple’s attorney argued.

Apple’s attorney further stated that other companies that licensed GPNE’s patents paid a fraction of what the company says Apple owes for allegedly infringing its patents. Those companies that took licenses did so because GPNE had threatened them with “costly legal entanglements” if they refused.

GPNE’s damages expert testified that he had studied some of GPNE’s licenses with other companies that make and sell mobile devices, including Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC Corp., and determined that they had paid a license of approximately $1 per device.

Much of Apple’s defense in the trial has focused on the fact that GPNE’s patents described pagers, not the smartphones and tablets accused in the lawsuit. GPNE’s attorneys contend that the mentions of pagers in the patents are meant only as an example of a mobile device that sends and receives data.

“Would we have had a trial over the past two or three weeks if it were as simple as whether or not this is about a pager?” GPNE’s attorney argued. “Our patent expert showed how Apple’s devices contain each and every element of each and every asserted claim.”

For more information, see Law360.



Comcast Victory In Patent Suit With Sprint

October 20th, 2014 Alexander No comments

The present lawsuit, filed in February 2012, marked the latest dispute between the subsidiaries of two communications giants. Comcast accused Sprint of infringing its patents covering various methods and apparatuses for wireless voice and texting operations.

Among Comcast’s targets was Sprint’s mobile messaging service, which provides mobile email, wireless video mail and other text messaging services. The lawsuit also went after Sprint’s voice and data telephone offerings, including its Any Mobile, Anytime wireless plans.

The lawsuit, came months after Sprint Communications fired off separate complaints against Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc., Cox Communications Inc. and Cable One Inc. in December 2011 over alleged infringement of patents that allow users to make phone calls over the Internet.

Sprint claimed that the companies sold phone services that violated 12 of its voice over packet patents, which facilitate the transfer of data, such as voice messages, phone calls and faxes, over packet networks such as the Internet.

In the present suit, a Delaware federal jury found that Sprint had infringed a total of six claims from three different patents. The jury did not decide in favor of Sprint on any of the assertions in the suit. The jury also decided that Sprint owes Comcast $7.5 million in damages for infringing the Comcast patents.

The decision came less than a month after the New York Public Service Commission pushed back its deadline for reviewing Comcast’s proposed $45 billion merger with Time Warner after state officials worried that the cable companies still weren’t doing enough to improve “deficiencies” with their current service.

The transaction has faced significant opposition since it was announced, despite Comcast’s promise to send about 3.9 million subscribers to Charter Communications Inc. in a $7.3 billion deal designed to ease competition concerns about the merger.

Comcast has argued that the deal won’t threaten competition because the two companies do not compete head-to-head for customers in any local markets.

For more information, see Law360.



Microsoft Seeks Dismissal of Enfish Database Patent Claims

October 14th, 2014 Alexander No comments

The dispute centers on Microsoft’s .NET Framework, which Enfish alleged infringes its patents. However, Microsoft urged a federal judge to dismiss the patent-infringement suit brought by Enfish, saying the patent claims covering improved database structures are too generally drawn and abstract to survive in the wake of the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s Alice Corp. decision.

Under Alice, to determine whether software can be patented, the analysis is two-fold: (1) determine if the claim covers an “abstract idea”, and (2) determine if there is an additional “inventive concept” that turns the abstract idea into a patent-eligible application.

Microsoft argued that the database patents are “very abstract” and would cover essentially any kind of table containing multiple rows and columns to store data, paired with an index.

“Under Alice, claims directed to such abstract ideas are unpatentable unless they further include elements that individually or collectively transform the idea into something that in practice would be significantly more than a patent on the abstraction itself,” Microsoft stated.

“For hundreds of years, human beings have been using tables to organize data. … It’s fundamental to the way we interact with data on a routine basis. … That’s abstract. That’s fundamental. That’s something a person could do with a pen and paper,” said Microsoft.

Enfish contends that its software is actually a novel improvement in the architecture of memory that has a “transformative impact” on the computer. “It’s not just an abstract idea,” said Enfish.
Enfish stated that two of its patents overcome Alice because they claim improvements in database structures, cover a particular approach to organizing digital information for storage and quick retrieval, and present no risk of preempting any abstract idea.

“The asserted claims are the antithesis of claims covering abstract ideas because they claim a specific and concrete data structure in computer memory,” Enfish said. “The claims do not simply recite an abstract idea and say ‘apply it.’”

Further, Microsoft’s contention that the asserted claims can be practiced either mentally or with pencil and paper is “grossly misleading and inaccurate,” according to Enfish.

For more information, see Law360.



Fujitsu Ordered To Hand Over Documents In IP Dispute

October 10th, 2014 Alexander No comments

In an ongoing legal battle, Tokyo-based Fujutsu launched a suit mid-2012 against the Illinois-based Tellabs, accusing the telecommunications company of infringing four of its patents covering optical transport systems technology. Fujitsu claimed Tellabs violated their patents by the sale of Tellabs 7100 Optical Transport Systems and Tellabs 7100 Nano Optical Transport Systems. The allegedly infringing products are optical signal amplifiers and optical signals attenuators.

This case is one of several in which the two companies have sparred over purportedly infringed patents. In September, Tellabs urged Judge Holderman to hold that an optical communications patent owned by Fujitsu was not enforceable against the company, following a finding that the patent is standard-essential and Fujitsu failed to license it on reasonable terms. Further, a prior ruling in May upheld a Fujitsu patent for optical communications technology but determined that Tellabs didn’t infringe the disputed intellectual property.

In this case, the Federal Circuit denied Fujitsu’s petition for a writ of mandamus to vacate an order compelling production of over a dozen documents that the company had claimed were protected by attorney-client privilege. The documents at issue contained entries regarding an investigation conducted by Fujitsu based on Tellabs products purchased from eBay.

The Federal Circuit stated that in order to obtain mandamus, Fujitsu had to establish a “clear and indisputable” right to relief and that they “lack adequate alternative means to obtain the relief” they seek. Additionally, even if both of those prerequisites are met, the Court must use its discretion to determine if the writ is appropriate under the given circumstances.

Following the Court’s ruling, Judge Holderman issued an order saying Fujitsu has been in contempt of his order that the documents be turned over since September — the date they were due to Tellabs’ counsel.

Judge Holderman mandated that Fujitsu produce legible, unredacted and translated copies of the subject documents to Tellabs’ counsel or face a $4,000 civil penalty. That civil penalty would be doubled and compounded daily for each day Fujitsu remained in contempt of the order.

For more information, see Law360.



Marvell Owes France Telecom $1.7M for Patent Infringement

October 7th, 2014 Alexander No comments

In 2008, France Telecom suspected Marvell Semiconductor Inc. of infringing one of their patents after Marvell unveiled a mobile device chip with 3G technology. According to France Telecom’s attorney, “the telecommunications technology wouldn’t work without turbo encoding.” When France Telecom approached Marvell to license the patent, Marvell strung the company along for more than three years before eventually refusing. Thus, France Telecom felt they had no choice but to launch its suit.

A California federal jury determined that Marvell infringed a France Telecom SA patent on the error-correction code used in many mobile phone chips, but the infringement was not willful. Although the jury did rule in France Telecom’s favor on the direct infringement claims, the jurors let Marvell off the hook on induced infringement and contributory infringement claims, in addition to finding that Marvell’s direct infringement of the patent was not willful.

The jury ultimately agreed with arguments made by Marvell’s attorney, who said that its damages expert found the company sold far fewer chips in the U.S. than France Telecom claimed. Furthermore, he claimed that if Marvell must pay anything, it should be less than $2 million.

The jury also upheld the validity of France Telecom’s patent, rejecting Marvell’s contention that the patent was invalid as obvious in light of prior art and failed to meet requirements to name all actual inventors.

France Telecom sought approximately $10 million in damages from Marvell for signing deals to supply mobile devices with 3G chips that infringed their patent. However, the jury only ordered Marvell to pay $1.7 million in damages, well below the damages France Telecom sought.

For more information, see Law360.



Apple Devices May Infringe Flash Memory Patents

September 30th, 2014 Alexander No comments

The Ireland-based company, Longitude Licensing Ltd., owns and manages more than 6,500 semiconductor and storage patent and patent applications. However, they recently sued Apple Inc. in California federal court alleging its iPads, iPhones and iPods are infringing 13 patents related to flash memory technology. Longitude acquired the 13 patents as part of a portfolio from SanDisk Corp. 

In addition to unspecified damages, the Plaintiffs request a judgment that Apple has infringed the patents and future royalties payable on each infringing Apple product sold in the future and on all future products that are similar to the products found to infringe. Plaintiffs also want a judge to permanently enjoin Apple from further infringement of the patents and to award them litigation costs and further relief.

Is this a case of déjà vu for Apple? Longitude’s allegations are similar to claims that San Diego-based e.Digital Corp. made in early 2013, accusing Apple’s iPod, iPhone, iPad and MacBook of infringing three patents relating to flash memory for handheld recording devices. The parties eventually reached an undisclosed settlement.

For more information, see Law360