Patent Litigation

February 11, 2014, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – Drone Technologies, Inc., a Taiwanese company that specializes in the manufacture of remote controlled drone devices is taking Parrot Inc. to court for allegedly infringing on some of its patents.  After squabbling back and forth about the alleged infringement since 2012, Drone Technologies has decided to file a formal complaint in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh.

According to the lawsuit, the company made Parrot aware of the infringement over two years ago.  Specifically, it claims that two of its patents, which surround the use of magnetometers and accelerometers in smartphones to control drones, were infringed upon by Parrot’s FreeFlight App.  Parrot, which sells toy drones, encouraged users to download the application to use their phones and tablets to control the movements of their toys.

When it brought the infringement to Parrot’s attention, Drone Technologies claims that Parrot recognized the issue and made a temporary attempt to eliminate the infringement by modifying its application to use technology other than magnetometers and accelerometers to navigate the drones.   Once Parrot drone users started complaining that the new app did not work, however, Parrot went back to using the magnetometers and accelerometers, thereby again infringing on Drone Technologies’ patents.  Now Drone Technologies is demanding an injunction preventing Parrot from using the technology at issue, as well as compensatory damages resulting from the infringement.

Parrot has yet to issue a response of any kind to the pending case.  The French-based company, which was launched in 1994, has seen a swath of recent success, most notably with its popular AR.Drone 2.0.  It is estimated that since the original AR.Drone was released, over 500,000 have been sold, making it the post popular toy drone ever.  Its success has been much attributed to its ease of flight and sleek design.  Though with a price tag starting at $200, the toys are an expensive hobby.

In addition to its best selling, lightweight toy drone, Parrot sells an array of other innovative devices, most of which are controlled by Parrot-created smartphone and tablet apps.  Some of Parrot’s best known products outside of the drone market are headphones, stereos and GPS devices.

July 17, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – Car manufacturer Mazda Motor of America, Inc. was hit with a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Delaware on July 9, when Activision TV, Inc. filed a complaint alleging patent infringement.

Activision, a Delaware Corporation, claims that Mazda infringed its patents for electronic displays in its new line of vehicles.  The patents, U.S. Patent Nos. 7,369,058 and 8,330,613 are both titled “Remote Control Electronic Display System” and were granted in 2008 and 2012, respectively.  Activision develops flat-screen displays with computers fully integrated into the screen.

The allegedly infringing use has to do with Mazda’s “digital signage systems” which are located in its car dealerships across the country.  Mazda is a Japanese-based car manufacturing company with American headquarters in Irvine, California.

Activision claims that it notified Mazda of the infringement on February 7 and claims that all continued use of the infringing technology beyond that date constitutes willful infringement.  It argues that such willful infringement entitles the company to payment of enhanced damages by Mazda.

In the complaint, the company claims that it suffered irreparable injury from Mazda’s infringement, which can only be remedied by a court injunction.

Activision has been on a tear in district court as of late, bringing patent infringement lawsuits against Harley-Davidson, Inc., CenturyLink, Inc., and Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. all in the past month.  All of the related cases claim patent infringement for the same two patents, Nos. ‘058 and ‘613, which are also  named in the case against Mazda.  While the lawsuits against Harley-Davidson and Build-A-Bear were filed in Delaware, the case against CenturyLink will proceed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas.

Mazda claims that it obtained the infringing technology from a supplier not affiliated with the company, and would expect Activision to resolve its claims with the supplier directly.

This is not the only patent infringement claim currently pending against Mazda.  The automaker was named along with other major American automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan North America, Inc. and Ford Motor Co. in a patent infringement lawsuit by Rydex Ltd. in 2011.  That lawsuit is now pending in Federal Circuit court.

Activision is demanding a jury trial as well as judgment against Mazda that includes payment of damages and legal fees.

June 20, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles –  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in a landmark case Thursday that natural human genes cannot be patented.  The case, Association for Medical Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, was originally brought in federal court in the Southern District of New York in 2010, but made its way through appeals to the nation’s top court.

The ruling came in a contentious battle over two genes that were identified as markers for increased risk of breast cancer and patented by biological research company Myriad Genetics.  Myriad Genetics held a patent for both the natural form of the gene isolated from the rest of the genome, and also the synthetic version of the gene, known as cDNA.  The justices ruled that while Myriad Genetics could continue to patent synthetic versions of the genes they isolate, patents for naturally occurring genes in the body could not be enforced.

This decision by the Justices has broad implications, as more than 20 percent of the human genome has been patented in the last 30 years.  This decision has helped to update the parameters for determining what is eligible for patent protection in the advanced field of biotechnology where there is an increasingly fine line between what is natural or synthetic.

This fight over gene patents was particularly contentious because Myriad Genetics’ patent meant that no other companies could pursue research on these genes.  From its research into the genes, Myriad has developed two tests to identify potential abnormalities of these genes that could lead to cancer.  The company’s patent meant that no other companies could develop tests of their own.

Myriad Genetics’ two tests consist of one basic test, BRAC, that is widely available and BART, a more advanced test that can cost thousands of dollars.  Plaintiffs in the case alleged that this second, more advanced test was only available if the patient had a strong history of cancer, or had the ability to pay for the test out of pocket.

Actress Angelina Jolie recently spoke out about her decision to undergo a double mastectomy after the results of her BART test showed that she was genetically disposed to breast cancer.  Advocates argue that this test should be more widely available so that all women at risk could have the opportunity to take this test, regardless of their ability to pay.

The Supreme Court’s ruling means that the field is now open for other companies to develop their own, potentially cheaper, versions of the test.

The scientific community has long been divided over the role of patent protection for inventions versus discovery for the public good.  Myriad Genetics argued that it spent years and millions of dollars pursuing this research, and having patent protection would have helped to recoup its costs and would justify further expenditures.  Genetics corporation advocates fear that this decision could stymie future genetics research because of the enormous cost and lack of protection over the results.  Other genetic researchers, however, are excited for the opportunity to research these genes that had long been off-limits due to patent protection.

June 4, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – Keurig, Inc., a Massachusetts corporation well known for its single-serve coffee makers and cartridges, was dealt a blow in Massachusetts federal court Friday when its patent infringement lawsuit against Rogers Family Company was dismissed.  The dispute was over patents held by Keurig for its single-serve coffee cartridges, which the company claimed Rogers copied.

Rogers Family Company, a San Francisco-based LLC, designed a single-serving coffee cartridge for use in Keurig brand coffee making machines.  Rogers has been selling its OneCup line of coffee pods under its San Francisco Bay brand since Fall 2011.

The lawsuit, filed in November 2011, claimed that Rogers’ coffee cartridge infringed on three of Keurig’s patents, one for design and two utility patents related to methods.

U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV made an unfavorable ruling against Keurig on the case brought against JBR, Inc., the holding company for Rogers Family Co.  With respect to the design patent, he reasoned that the coffee cartridges were different enough that they did not rise to the level of infringement.  He further found that the method patents could no longer be enforced.

Keurig claimed in the lawsuit that Rogers’ pod was too similar to its protected design.  Keurig was issued its design patent, U.S. Patent Number D502,362, in 2005 for “an ornamental design for a disposable coffee cartridge.”  Judge Saylor disagreed with Keurig’s argument, stating that the Rogers’ cartridges look different enough that an ordinary person could tell them apart and therefore that they did not violate Keurig’s patent.

The other issue raised in the lawsuit was Keurig’s claim that by designing a pod to use in Keurig coffee makers, Rogers violated the method patents held by Keurig. The method patents, U.S. Patent Numbers 7,165,488 and 7,347,138 both titled “Brew chamber for a single serve beverage brewer,” describe the process of inserting the Keurig cartridge into the coffee machine and operating it.  Keurig argued that its method patents should prevent other companies from designing a product for use in a Keurig brand coffee maker.

Judge Saylor flatly denied this claim, arguing that once Keurig began selling their brewing machines, they exhausted their method patent.  Accepting Keurig’s logic, he argued, would mean that any customer who bought the machine would be liable for patent infringement if they did not use a Keurig brand cartridge to brew coffee.

Los Angeles – Once again, Apple Inc. is the target a patent infringement lawsuit concerning its FaceTime app.  The Plaintiff is National Cheng Kung University in Tainan City, Taiwan.  The claim is based on U.S. Patent No. 7,561,078, issued in 2009, which relates to a system “for compressing a video data set” that provides a “coding strategy with parameter searching” which optimizes performance.  National Cheng Kung University believes that FaceTime, among other similar applications, is an infringement.

Apple’s  FaceTime is a downloadable software application for iOS devices such as iPhones, iPads and Macs which allow users to videoconference through a built in camera on the device.  According to National Cheng Kung University, FaceTime uses “block-oriented motion compensation video compression” which infringes on its patent.

This is not the first time that Apple has been accused of patent infringement regarding FaceTime.  Last year Apple lost out in a long and drawn-out lawsuit filed in Texas by VirnetX Holding Corporation and was ordered to pay $368 million in damages related to patent infringement.  Apple also lost its attempts to appeal the verdict and have the judgment reduced.  Then VirnetX came after Apple again hitting it with another lawsuit citing the same patents, but targeting Apple’s newest product models.

This also is not the only patent infringement lawsuit that National Cheng Kung University has filed against Apple.  In another case also filed in Texas federal court, the charges against Apple concern the voice-recognition software application it developed called Siri.  Siri, also designed for iPhones, iPads and Macs, acts as an intelligent personal assistant.

Apple has been no stranger to litigation since its inception by Steve Jobs who established the company in Cupertino, California in 1976.  Most of the court battles involve either protecting or defending the company’s Intellectual Property rights.  The most notable of the recent cases is an ongoing patent battle with Samsung.  Also, for 30+ years Apple has had continual trademark disputes with Apple Corps, founded by the Beatles rock group.

National Cheng Kung University currently owns over 100 different patents registered in the United States.

April 22, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Elizabeth LaPorte recently ruled that Avocet Sports Technology Inc. waited an unreasonable amount of time, 6 years, to initiate a patent infringement case against Polar Electro, Inc.  Thus, she dismissed the case due to the doctrine of laches.

Avocet Sports Technology Inc., a Palo Alto, California company, tried to convince the Judge that the 6-year delay was due to a lack of funds needed to pursue litigation, but the Judge dismissed the excuse as having “no authority” to uphold it.  She further stated that Avocet’s claim of lack of knowledge was unjustified because Avocet Sports should have taken action sooner if it knew of possible infringing activity by Polar Electro.

Avocet Sports filed the complaint a year ago against Polar Electro in a California federal courtroom alleging that Polar infringed on one of its patents.  The patent at issue, U.S. Patent Number 5,058,427, issued in 1991 for “Methods for selectively accumulating altitude changes”.  The patent involves a strap-on device which Avocet Sports developed as a GPS-type of monitor which tracks a hiker, cyclist, or runner’s variations in altitude while on a trek.

Avocet Sports has been an innovator of outdoor sports products including compact cycling computers, altimeters, heart rate monitors and other related equipment since 1977.  Avocet Sport’s complaint against Polar Electro claimed the two companies had discussed the possibility of a partnership or license to the technology, but that Polar Electro had branched out on its own, copied the design, and then sold its own similar device.

Polar Electro, which focuses on sports, physiology and electronics has been developing heart rate monitors since 1977.  It now sells its products in over 80 different countries, employing 1200 people.  Polar Electro has been aggressively marketing and selling the elevation-tracking device since 2004, spending significant sums of money, unaware they may have been infringing on Avocet Sport’s patent.  Because of this, the Judge felt Polar Electro would be unduly prejudiced by Avocet’s long delay in filing an action against it.

Now that the case has been dismissed, it may never be determined if Polar Electro had in fact infringed the patent.

April 4, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – Last Thursday, ResMed Inc. filed lawsuits against two companies alleging patent infringement related to devices that help prevent sleep breathing disorders.  Taiwan based Apex Medical Corp., the alleged manufacturer, and Medical Depot Inc., the alleged distributor, who are doing business together as “Drive Medical Design and Manufacturing”, are the target of a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court and a complaint filed with the International Trade Commission.

ResMed Inc., which is headquartered in San Diego, California, alleges that the companies are selling or importing sleep disorder breathing treatment systems that infringe seven patents covering products such as humidifiers, flow generators, and respiratory masks.  ResMed has developed many devices and methods for treatment for sleep apnea and other related sleep breathing disorders.  One ResMed product at the center of the dispute is a special mask designed to promote air flow.

ResMed currently has a portfolio of 95 trademarks and 54 registered patents and has been active in protecting its intellectual property, though this is the first time that ResMed has been forced to file a lawsuit related to the patents named in the lawsuit.  Sleep apnea can cause serious health problems if left untreated including high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, heart problems, trouble concentrating, and stroke.  Roughly 20% of all adults have sleep apnea.

The ITC Complaint states that the defendants manufacture the allegedly infringing products in Taiwan and then arrange for their importation into the U.S.  ResMed is requesting that the ITC permanently bar Apex and Medical Depot from importing the alleged infringing breathing treatment apparatuses into the U.S.

In the District Court case, ResMed is seeking damages in addition to an injunction.  The complaint states that Apex’s XT Fit, iCH Auto, and its Wizard 210 and Wizard 220 masks all infringe its patents. The complaint contains four claims of infringement each against Apex and Drive Medical related to masks, and three more claims against Apex over other devices.  The complaint also seeks damages based on allegations that Apex and Medical Depot’s face-mask type of breathing inventions infringe Resmed’s patents.  The “acts of infringement have caused and will continue to cause irreparable harm to ResMed unless and until enjoined by this court,” the complaint said.

March 5, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – A Texas federal judge upheld a $368 million patent infringement judgment against Apple Inc. last week, but the judge refused to issue an injunction against Apple over the FaceTime app that would have prevented Apple from offering its video chat product on the market.

In November, a Texas jury found that Apple had infringed four patents owned by VirnetX Holding Corp. with its FaceTime application that is available for use on various Apple products, including the iPad and iPhone.

After the $368 million judgment against Apple in November, the technology giant filed several post-trial motions attempting to eliminate or reduce the verdict against it, which U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis denied.  The judge also ordered Apple to pay pre- and post-judgment interest to VirnetX, though he denied VirnetX’s request for attorney’s fees.

Judge Davis, however, rejected VirnetX’s bid for a permanent injunction that would prevent Apple from providing the popular videotelephony software application on its various devices.  As the app is already on millions of phones and tablets, Judge Davis said an injunction would be too drastic, resulting in unnecessary inconvenience and expense.

“The most recent estimates project the cost [for Apple] to comply at $50.8 million,” the judge said.  “Additionally, though VirnetX only seeks to enjoin the use of the infringing feature and not the entire devices, an injunction would not only harm Apple, but also its customers and other third parties.”

However, Judge Davis did order the two companies into mediation to determine a fair royalty rate that Apple will pay in order to use the technology in its products.

VirnetX originally filed the lawsuit against Apple in August 2010, alleging that Apple was infringing four patents.  The FaceTime app allows users to make video calls to others who also have Apple products with FaceTime.

VirnetX said in a statement that it was pleased with the judge’s decision to uphold the ruling against Apple and said that it would drop the related lawsuit it filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission and pursue relief through the federal courts.

February 15, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – MyMedicalRecords Inc. filed a lawsuit in California federal court against the health information company WebMD Health Corp., claiming that WebMD has created an online portal for patient records that infringes one of its patents.

The online health records provider claimed that WebMD launched its new patient’s records portal after talks regarding MyMedicalRecords assisting WebMD revamp its old portal fell through.  It also claimed that the new portal infringes its patent that covers technology that allows patients to securely access personal health files stored remotely.

MyMedicalRecords filed the lawsuit on Monday in the Central District of California in Los Angeles and Judge Christina A. Snyder will hear the case.

MyMedicalRecords is a subsidiary of Los Angeles-based MMRGlocal Inc.  Its website allows users to store all of their medical information securely online and allows them to access and add to the records from anywhere.  The company also offers other methods for securely storing medical records and has seven patents to protect the technology.

WebMD provides health information to the general public, health care providers and health plans through both public and private portals.  The New York-based company approached MyMedicalRecords in May 2007 requesting assistance in developing a secure patient information portal, according to the complaint.

At the time, WebMD’s patient portal only allowed users to enter personal information, which could be compared against a database to give the user an assessment of his or her health.  WebMD admitted to MyMedicalRecords that its portal was limited and sought its advice on improving the portal, as WebMD wanted to have a system similar to MyMedicalRecords’ system.

The companies signed nondisclosure and confidentiality agreements and began talks.  According to MyMedicalRecords, WebMD halted the talks a few months later and then began altering its portal to include features of MyMedicalRecords portal.

According to the complaint, WebMD’s current portal allows users to integrate different forms of health information from various sources and store those records securely, which MyMedicalRecords claims directly infringes its patent.

MyMedicalRecords is seeking a judgment declaring that WebMD has willfully infringed its patent and an injunction forcing WebMD to cease infringing the patent in addition to damages, treble damages, interest, costs and attorney’s fees.

February 13, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – Tela Innovations Inc. filed a lawsuit against Nokia Corp, LG Electronics Inc., and several other companies with both the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Delaware federal court accusing the companies of infringing seven patents owned by Tela that cover technology related to integrated circuit manufacturing processes.

In addition to Nokia and LG, Tela filed separate lawsuits against Motorola Mobility LLC, HTC Corp., and Pantech Co. Ltd. in Delaware federal court and a joint complaint against all five companies with the ITC accusing the companies of copying Tela’s technology for optimizing the layout of integrated circuits in its smartphones without a license from Tela.

“Tela has, and continues to, create technology to address critical technical and economic challenges facing the semiconductor industry.  Our products enable designers to achieve the best performance, area and power characteristics possible as semiconductor processes continue to scale,” Scott Becker, CEO of the California-based Tela, said in a statement.  “Given the significance of our company’s investment in this technology and associated products, it was necessary to take legal action at this time.”

Tela, which is headquartered in Santa Clara County, said its patents protect improvement for the manufacture of integrated circuit chips, which are utilized in nearly all electronic devices including smartphones, tablets and laptops.  The manufacturing techniques allow manufacturers to perfect printing of a circuit layout on tiny chips.

In the complaints, Tela claims that each of the five companies have imported and sold smartphones or tablets that contain integrated circuits that infringe some combination of seven patents held by the company.

“Tela has been irreparably harmed by the defendants’ infringement of its valuable patent rights,” the complaint said. “Moreover, defendants’ unauthorized and infringing uses of Tela’s patented technology have threatened the value of this intellectual property.”

In the lawsuits filed in federal court, Tela is seeking damages and an injunction to prevent the companies from importing goods in the future that infringe its patents.  The ITC complaint is seeking a declaratory judgment that the companies have imported infringing goods and therefore have breached Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930.  If the ITC rules in favor of Tela, it could result in an exclusion order banning the companies from importing their devices into the United States.

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