04.23.18

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District Courts’ Patent Cases, Including the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX/TXED), in a Nutshell

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 12:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It pays off to be a lawyer — not a practicing (technical) professional — in Texas

A ranch sign

Summary: A roundup of patent cases in ‘low courts’ of the United States, where patents are being reasoned about or objected to while patent law firms make a lot of money

THE Eastern District of Texas (EDTX/TXED) has made the US patent system almost synonymous with patent trolls. It’s the fault of the courts there, not the USPTO, which merely granted poor- or low-quality patents that judges in Texas are happy to affirm/uphold. “Ribbon (as Sonus Networks) filed two more lawsuits against Metaswitch on March 8, 2018, in the Eastern District of Texas,” according to this article from a few days ago. To quote:

Ribbon’s patent campaign against Metaswitch has a somewhat complicated history, starting with an infringement lawsuit filed in January 2014 under the case name Genband US v. Metaswitch Networks. Genband (Ribbon’s predecessor) asserted its patents against Metaswitch’s Perimeta Session Border Controller, a cloud native carrier-class virtualized SBC, as well as several other Metaswitch products. By today’s patent litigation success standards, Genband fared extremely well in that lawsuit. However, not satisfied with an $8.8 million royalty award after trial in January 2016, which was upheld on appeal and remand, Ribbon (as Sonus Networks) filed two more lawsuits against Metaswitch on March 8, 2018, in the Eastern District of Texas. Collectively Ribbon has asserted infringement of ten more patents against Metaswitch, on top of the seven patents that Metaswitch was found to infringe in 2016.

Notice how far back it goes: 2014. How much has it cost so far? Will there be justice? Not if patent lawyers make millions in the process, in which case the remaining question will be “who pay their bills?” rather than “should they be paid?”

“We generally believe that most if not all design patents are bunk; designs are already well covered by copyright law and to a certain degree by registered trademarks, e.g. on shapes.”Looking at another Eastern District, this time in Michigan up north, the courts too are getting involved. Ellie Mertens wrote that they “recently applied the brakes to the Automotive Body Parts Association’s efforts to invalidate Ford’s design patents…”

We wrote about this before. We generally believe that most if not all design patents are bunk [1, 2]; designs are already well covered by copyright law and to a certain degree by registered trademarks, e.g. on shapes.

Anyway, on we proceed to another case. The H2O, Inc v Meras Engineering, Inc. patent case’s “verdict was excessive,” according to this report about ‘damages’ being cut by almost three quarters (down from $12.5 million to $3.5 million). To quote the Docket Navigator:

Following a $12.5 million jury verdict for infringement of plaintiff’s water system disinfectant patent, the court granted defendants’ alternative motion for remittitur, subject to plaintiff’s acceptance of a $3.5 million award, because the verdict was excessive.

There are some other cases of interest being covered by Docket Navigator this month. In Columbia Sportswear North America, Inc. v Seirus Innovative Accessories, for example, a design patent is being scrutinised:

The court granted plaintiff’s motion for pre-judgment interest and rejected defendant’s argument that plaintiff was not entitled to any interest because the jury awarded design patent profits under 35 U.S.C. § 289.

Here’s a new motion to dismiss a case. citing the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC):

The court denied defendant’s motion to dismiss on the ground that plaintiff’s signal processing patent encompassed unpatentable subject matter under In re Nuijten, 500 F.3d 1346 (Fed. Cir. 2007).

In another new case (Nox Medical ehf v Natus Neurology Inc.) it seems clear that the patent aggressors are so very afraid of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). They would do anything to avoid their patents being properly checked/scrutinised. To quote this Docket Report:

The court denied in part plaintiff’s motion in limine to exclude certain obviousness theories due to IPR estoppel.

One last Docket Report (regarding Integra LifeSciences Corporation et al v HyperBranch Medical Technology, Inc.) deals with a motion to exclude a testimony:

The court denied defendant’s motion to exclude the testimony of plaintiffs’ damages expert regarding a reasonable royalty for failing to apportion damages on a claim-by-claim basis.

When they talk about “damages expert” they usually speak about grossly overrated people who make up a bunch of numbers. So basically, any effort to discard their testimony would be fine with us. Sometimes these people attempt to justify billions in so-called ‘damages’ using pseudoscience and urban myths.

Who always wins these cases at the end? Lawyers. They have nothing to lose, only to gain (more so by perpetuating such feuds).

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