Jay Erstling recently spoke on the evolving world of IP law at Dennemeyer’s Forum on The Future of IP Law & Technology in eight US cities. Here, he share some of his thoughts on the subject, as well as what was learned during the forum Q&A discussions.
Business method patents on software have had a tough time in the courts in recent years. But a recent ruling may now provide some hope for patent holders. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Trading Technologies Int’l, Inc. v. CQG, Inc. marks a rare example of the court finding software to be patent-eligible. The ruling provides valuable guidance on just what it takes for these patents to withstand judicial scrutiny.
Does a company that provides software perform a service that supports a service mark? In today’s technology-driven markets, this question is raised with increased frequency. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent decision in In re JobDiva, Inc. delivered good news to companies using this business model, although it also cited a caveat.
When the inventors of a new design process admitted that they had mentally performed the patented steps themselves, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals took them at their word. The patent holders in Synopsys, Inc. v. Mentor Graphics Corp. ultimately failed the two-step abstract ideas test.
The decision in Apple, Inc. v. Ameranth, Inc. probably wasn’t what the patent-holder ordered. Late last year, both the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (which hears all appeals in patent cases) reviewed Ameranth Inc.’s patents for a computerized restaurant menu system, ultimately sending Ameranth back to the kitchen.
Courts in infringement cases construe terms in patent claims by their plain and ordinary meaning — usually. As the patentee in Poly-America, L.P. v. API Industries, Inc., learned the hard way, the Federal Circuit doesn’t take that approach when the disavowal of claim scope applies.
Two firearms manufacturers came out shooting when a dispute arose over which one had the right to use the mark “SCAR” for guns and related items. The case, FN Herstal SA v. Clyde Armory Inc., raised the common trademark issue of priority of use, as well as the less-common unlawful use doctrine.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery — or so the saying goes. However, when it comes to copyrighted material, imitation can also be unlawful infringement if use of the work isn’t deemed a “fair use.” What constitutes fair use was central to a recent Second Circuit Court of Appeals case involving the incorporation of an iconic comedy routine into a Broadway play.
Cases regarding the patent eligibility of abstract ideas continue to pile up at the Federal Circuit, which hears all patent-related appeals. In its recent ruling in Affinity Labs of Texas, LLC, v. DIRECTV LLC, the court found that two patented inventions failed both parts of the patent eligibility test.