SCOTUS takes another patent case, Marvell verdict increased, UK progressing on plain packaging, Lenovo buys NEC patents – the week in IP
The Supreme Court hearing arguments in Alice v CLS and granting review of Teva v Sandoz, Lenovo buying more than 3,800 of NEC’s patent families, Carnegie Mellon’s damages being increased 31%, the UK making progress towards a plain packaging ban, and the USPTO creating a new international cooperation office were among the stories hitting the headlines this week
The biggest story this week was oral arguments in Alice v CLS being heard at the Supreme Court on March 31. You can read our round-up of what was said here and our analysis of the reaction to the oral arguments here (subscribers and trialists only for both stories – you can take a trial here). In addition, we collected how the arguments were viewed on the internet in a Storify story here.
That was not the only big case being heard this week. The latest trial involving Apple and Samsung got underway in California.
Below is a selection of other big IP stories in the past week.
SCOTUS takes another patent case
Monday was a busy day for patent watchers at the Supreme Court. Shortly before hearing oral arguments in the Alice v CLS case, it granted review in Teva Pharmaceuticals USA v Sandoz. The case will be heard in the Court’s next term, which begins in October.
The question presented is: “Whether a district court's factual finding in support of its construction of a patent claim term may be reviewed de novo, as the Federal Circuit requires (and as the panel explicitly did in this case), or only for clear error, as Rule 52(a) requires.”
The case involves Teva’s patents for its drug Copaxone, which treats multiple sclerosis. The Federal Circuit’s appellate decision rejected the lower court’s claim construction. As a result, it found several of its patents invalid.
“I’ll speculate here that the result will be a unanimous rejection of the Federal Circuit’s no deference policy,” predicted law professor Dennis Crouch on his Patently O blog.
dollars.jpg Marvell payout upped to $1.54 billion
Marvell Technology Group was ordered to pay $1.54 billion to Carnegie Mellon University by a federal judge this week. The figure is a 31% increase on the $1.17 billion awarded by a jury in December 2012.
Pittsburgh district court judge Nora Barry Fischer said the university merited higher damages because it had shown Marvell had deliberately copied its patents through “known wilful infringement”.
Marvell plans to appeal the decision. However, its share price increased 4% the day the award was announced. The figure is well below the maximum $3.75 billion Carnegie Mellon University was seeking.
lenovo20logo.jpg Lenovo buys NEC patents
Chinese technology firm Lenovo has bought a portfolio of more than 3,800 patent families from Japanese electronics firm NEC. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The portfolio includes standard essential patents for 3G and LTE mobile technologies as well as patents that cover a range of features and technologies used in smartphones.
“As Lenovo expands its mobile PC Plus business into new markets, this investment shows it is committed to having the IP we need for global success,” said Ira Blumberg, vice-president of intellectual property at Lenovo.
The latest deal follows Lenovo last month paying $100 million for 21 patent families from Unwired Planet. Lenovo agreed a $2.91 billion deal to buy Motorola Mobility from Google in January.
plain-pack-australia.jpg Plain talk in the UK
The UK government is moving ahead with a plan to ban branding on cigarette packs. Jane Ellison, the country’s public health minister, told MPs this week she was publishing draft regulations for a “short consultation”.
The consultation will apply to England and Wales, with Northern Ireland indicating it will follow. Scotland also has plans to introduce plain packaging.
Opposition party Labour accused Ellison of delaying the issue. She was accused by Labour of kicking the issue “into the long grass”.
The UK would become the first European country to ban branding on cigarette pack. It would join Australia, which introduced plain packaging in 2011.
USPTO creates cooperation office
The USPTO has created a new Office of International Patent Cooperation (OIPC).
The OIPC will be led by Mark Powell, who will serve as USPTO’s first deputy commissioner for international patent cooperation and report directly to the commissioner for patents Peggy Focarino.
The USPTO said the new office is part of its commitment to work with global stakeholders and intellectual property offices to increase quality and create new efficiencies within the processes of international patent rights acquisition, and its commitment toward global patent harmonization.
“The establishment of the Office of International Patent Cooperation reflects the USPTO’s strong commitment to the IP community in improving the international patent system,” said Michelle Lee, deputy director of the USPTO. “It will allow us to increase certainty of IP rights while reducing costs for our stakeholders and moving towards a harmonized patent system.”
Powell began his career at the USPTO as a patent examiner in 1986. For the past three years, he worked full-time through a series of detail assignments to the Office of Policy and International Affairs where he focused exclusively on international cooperative activities.