Tagged: Intellectual Property Audits (IP Audits)

Artificial Intelligence System Cannot Be Listed as Inventor

On Friday, the Federal Circuit held that the Patent Act requires an inventor to be a natural person, in response to a patent applicant who alleged that an artificial intelligence system was the inventor of a patent application. Thaler v. Vidal, No. 2021-2347, 2022 WL 3130863 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 5, 2022). The patent applicant, Stephen Thaler, asserted that he develops and runs artificial intelligence systems that generate patentable inventions. Mr. Thaler then sought patent protection through two patent applications and listed the artificial intelligence system as the inventor. After the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) denied the patent applications for failure to identify a valid inventor, Mr. Thaler and the USPTO adjudicated the matter in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The District Court found that the Patent Act requires an inventor to be a natural person. Thaler v. Hirshfeld, 558 F. Supp. 3d 238, 249 (E.D. Va. 2021), aff’d sub nom. Thaler v. Vidal, No. 2021-2347, 2022 WL 3130863 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 5, 2022). In affirming the District Court’s decision, the Federal Circuit first indicated that it need not perform an “abstract inquiry into the nature of invention or the rights, if any, of AI [artificial intelligence] systems.” Rather, the court began and ended on the “applicable definition in...

Increasing Patent Damage Awards with Pre-Judgment Interest

In VLSI Technology LLC v. Intel Corporation, the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas recently awarded pre-judgment and post-judgment interest on a jury’s damage award in a patent infringement case. An issue examined by the court was whether the patentee was entitled to pre-judgment interest during periods in which the patentee did not own the patent. The defendant argued that since the patentee only acquired the patent rights in December 2018 and was not formed as an entity until 2016, pre-judgment interest from 2013 would be a windfall. The court dismissed this argument and indicated that the patentee “acquired the Asserted Patents and is therefore entitled to all the rights associated with patent ownership, including the rights to collect damages and interest from infringers.” The court then awarded pre-judgment interest beginning on the date of infringement (i.e., 2013) to the date of judgment. In support of this holding, the court cited the Federal Circuit’s decision in Energy Transp. Grp., Inc. v. William Demant Holding A/S, 697 F.3d 1342, 1358 (Fed. Cir. 2012) stating that “award of pre-judgment interest is the rule, not the exception.” The court also noted that there was no exceptional circumstances such as an undue delay in filing the lawsuit that would warrant denying pre-judgment interest in this...

Maximizing Bankruptcy Protection in Software and SaaS Agreements

In today’s digital age, cloud computing has lowered the barrier of entry into many marketplaces by providing network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources. Cloud services allow business to forego upfront capital costs on servers, network infrastructure, and software allowing companies to focus on establishing and differentiating its business instead of worrying about its IT resources. Additionally, it is typically a “pay as you go” service meaning that businesses can scale up or down as needed in real time. However, entrusting a third-party as the sole source of the company’s network, software, and data storage functionality puts the company at risk of losing these services should the provider enter bankruptcy.

Potential Delay Enough to Reduce PTA

The Federal Circuit recently addressed the issue of whether Patent Term Adjustment (“PTA”) can be reduced under 35 U.S.C. § 154(b)(1)(C) by conduct that does not actually cause delay in the conclusion of prosecution. Section 154(b)(1)(C) provides that PTA “shall be reduced by a period equal to the period of time during which the applicant failed to engage in reasonable efforts to conclude prosecution of the application.” The USPTO has interpreted the statute to mean that conduct that did delay or that could potentially delay the examination of a patent applications should be sanctioned. In Gilead Sciences Inc. v. Lee, Gilead Sciences, Inc. (“Gilead”) contested the USPTO’s interpretation and argued that the statue required actual delay in the conclusion of prosecution. The Federal Circuit held that Congress’s intent in enacting the statute was “to sanction not only applicant conduct or behavior that result in actual delay, but also those having the potential to result in delay irrespective of whether such delay actually occurred.”

Be Careful Identifying Your Licensed Patents and Products

On Friday, the Federal Circuit issued an opinion in Wi-LAN USA, Inc. v. Ericsson, Inc., which highlights the importance of using care when granting rights to or under patents. The interesting facts in this case resulted in two contradictory opinions from two district courts regarding the scope of an agreement pertaining to rights under certain patents. These opinions illustrate the potential dangers of unintended consequences that may arise from imprecise drafting in patent agreements.

PhRMA Opposes FTC’s Proposed Rules for Reporting Certain Pharmaceutical Licensing Transactions

We recently reported that during the August doldrums the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposed for comment amendments to the Hart-Scott-Rodino rules that would require reporting of licensing agreements under which a patent holder grants an “exclusive” license, but retains the limited right to manufacture solely for the recipient of the patent rights, or a right to assist in developing and commercializing the product covered by the patent (“co-rights”) and the value of the license exceeds the HSR minimum (currently $68.2 million).

FTC Proposes Rules to Codify Reporting of Exclusive Patent Right Transfers in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Is the sale or assignment of a patent reportable? The Hart-Scott Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (“HSR”) and related rules require that all acquisitions of voting securities or assets exceeding a threshold amount be reported to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), as well as the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice. The current threshold is $68.2 million.

Clock Ticking for Trademark Registrants Seeking to Block Registration of Their Marks on .XXX Domain

As has been widely reported by the mainstream press and most legal publications, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has approved a new “.XXX” top-level domain expected to be utilized by the adult entertainment industry. Given the connotation of the .XXX domain, companies and individuals around the globe are considering how best to protect their trademarks from the potential harms of registry misuse, including cyber squatters targeting this new domain to register well known trademarks. Although the creation of the .XXX domain will be a boon to those in the adult entertainment industry and domain registrars, it raises serious threats of infringement, brand dilution or tarnishing for trademarks uninvolved in those industries. If they have not already, all trademark owners should be considering the potential impact of the .XXX domain to their marks and determining whether to take the necessary steps to “opt-out” of .XXX domain registration by the October 28, 2011 deadline for doing so.

Proper Patent Valuation is Critical in Today’s Market

$12.5 billion for 17,000 patents! $4.5 billion for 6,500 patents! These purchases by Google and a group spearheaded by Microsoft and Apple represent a shift in the value of respective patents. However, valuing patents is not a simple task, but requires proper attorney diligence to ensure the purchase of patents is done in an efficient manner as not all companies have the resources of Google and the Microsoft group.

Corporate Reorganization Absent Assignment or License of Patent Rights Results In Preclusion Of Patentee’s Lost Profits Damages

In a decision that highlights the import of assigning or licensing intellectual property assets during corporate reorganization, a district court recently ruled that a plaintiff patentee was not entitled to lost profit damages based on the patent at issue in an infringement action. In Duhn Oil Tool, Inc. v. Cooper Cameron Corporation (CAED January 24, 2011) Duhn Oil Tool, Inc. filed suit against Cooper Cameron Corporation alleging patent infringement. Following discovery, the defendant filed a motion for partial summary judgment arguing that the plaintiff patentee was not entitled to lost profits damages.