New Patent Litigation Cases Dropped 10% in 2017
New patent litigation cases dropped by 10% over 2016. The decrease has been attributed to several factors, including fear of claim invalidation due to the Supreme Court's Alice decision, potential claim invalidation during inter partes reviews, and increased difficulty filing in the plaintiff friendly Eastern District of Texas.
Setback for Chinese GUI Patents
The status of Graphical User Interface (GUI) patents in China was diminished after the Beijing Intellectual Property court found that computers and software were different classes of products, making it difficult for GUIs to infringe patents. GUIs have been patentable since 2014, but the decision could make GUI patents difficult to enforce.
SiRF Tech. Inc. v. Int’l Trade Commission
This is an older decision, but it is in the United States Patent and Trademark (USPTO) list of decisions with subject matter eligible claims. The court found that a GPS is a machine and patent eligible.
"A GPS receiver is a machine and is integral to each of the claims at issue. Claim 1 of the ’801 patent is expressly directed in its preamble to “calculating an absolute position of a GPS receiver.” ’801 patent col.12 ll.28-29. It also refers to “computing absolute position” by updating an “estimate of position of the GPS receiver,” providing an estimate of the time at which a GPS receiver receives a plurality of satellite signals, and computing the position “of the GPS receiver.” Id. col.12 ll. 28-40. Further, claim 1 requires “pseudoranges” that estimate the distance from “the GPS receiver to a plurality of GPS satellites.” Id. col.12 ll.31-32. Pseudoranges, which are the distances or estimated distances between satellites and a GPS receiver, can exist only with respect to a particular GPS receiver that receives the satellite signals. Claim 1 of the ’187 patent is similarly tied to a GPS receiver. It requires the estimation of 'states” that are “associated with a satellite signal receiver,” and the formation of a “dynamic model . . . to compute [the] position of the satellite signal receiver.'”
1. A method for calculating an absolute position of a GPS receiver and an absolute time of reception of satellite signals comprising:
providing pseudoranges that estimate the range of the GPS receiver to a plurality of GPS satellites;
providing an estimate of an absolute time of reception of a plurality of satellite signals;
providing an estimate of a position of the GPS receiver; providing satellite ephemeris data;
computing absolute position and absolute time using said pseudoranges by updating said estimate of an absolute time and the estimate of position of the GPS receiver.
1. A method, comprising:
estimating a plurality of states associated with a satellite signal receiver, the plurality of states including a time tag error state, the time tag error state relating a local time associated with said satellite signal receiver and an absolute time associated with signals from a plurality of satellites; and
forming a dynamic model relating the plurality of states, the dynamic model operative to compute position of the satellite signal receiver.
Federal Circuit Finds Joint Enterprise Consideration Too Narrow in Travel Sentry v. Tropp
The Federal Circuit vacated a district court summary judgement ruling of non-infringement based on finding that the supplying of master keys and instructions to the TSA did not amount to a joint enterprise as part of the Akamai test in Travel Security, Inc. v. David A. Tropp. The court concluded that the TSA benefited from performing the third-party claim steps; "...whatever benefits flow to TSA from identifying luggage with Travel Sentry’s dual-access locks and from opening these locks with the passkeys that Travel Sentry provided can only be realized if TSA performs the final two claim steps." The decision also cited the memorandum of understanding, concluding "...drawing all justifiable inferences in Tropp’s favor, a reasonable jury could find that Travel Sentry has established the manner or timing of TSA’s performance." So the case will go before a jury. Read the decision here.
Federal Circuit Distinguishes between Internet and internet in AIP Acquistion
The Federal Circuit agreed with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that both "internet protocol" and "Internet protocol" referred to the same thing in the AIP Acquisition v. Cisco IPR review. AIP had argued that in the claim construction, both terms referred on the the IP of "TCP/IP." The court found "Neither claim term is mentioned in the specification, which refers instead to “transmission control protocol/Internet program” and “transmission control protocol/Internet program TCP/IP.” Read the decision here.