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.
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.
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.
Rushmore Photo & Gifts, Inc. (RPG), the Niemann family, and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. are celebrating a victory over Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. (SMRI) in a controversial, six-year trademark dispute over the name “Sturgis.” On March 10, the Court found that RPG and Wal-Mart had valid equitable defenses to SMRI’s trademark claims. The Court vacated and dismissed the entire jury damage award of $912,500, ruling that “SMRI is barred from recovering damages and profits from the defendants for the time period prior to October 30, 2015.”
A patent lawsuit can be one of the harshest realities facing your innovative business. Whether enforcing or defending one, a patent lawsuit undoubtedly brings cost and uncertainty—two things all companies wish to avoid. For small and medium sized businesses, these lawsuits can be devastating. Fortunately, you can limit this cost and uncertainty by talking to an intellectual property attorney. Timing is everything when it comes to protecting your business and IP. Here are three examples of when it may make sense to do so:
Obtaining patent protection is the culmination of hard work and perseverance—from the engineers/inventors/R&D team who develop the invention to company leadership who make the financial investment to the attorneys who take the idea through the patent process. The result is an intangible asset that provides the patent owner with an advantage over the competition and one that should be jealously guarded.