Next week, on March 15, 2017, the Federal Circuit Bar Association and the Intellectual Property Law Association of Chicago are hosting an Intellectual Property Law Symposium at the University Club of Chicago from 8:45am until 5:00pm.  Register here.  Speakers include Northern District of Illinois Judges Castillo, Feinerman, Holderman (Ret.), Kendall, and Pallmeyer; as

The Northern District and the Seventh Circuit have altered their hours of operation for the holidays.  Both courts will be closed on:

  • December 24, 2015;
  • December 25, 2015; and
  • January 1, 2016

The courts will also close at 3:00 pm on December 31, 2015.

The Northern District and the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association are seeking nominations (by April 3, 2015) for attorneys who have provided outstanding pro bono and public interest representation in civil and criminal matters before the Northern District that are complete and no longer pending.  In the words of the Northern District:


Se-Kure Controls, Inc. v. Vanguard Prods. Group, Inc., No. 02 C 3767, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jul. 5, 2012) (Castillo, J.).

Judge Castillo awarded costs as to each party in this patent infringement action after the Federal Circuit affirmed Judge Anderson’s entry of judgment in favor of defendants.  The Court awarded defendants costs and

Simonian v. Mead Westvaco Corp., No. 10 C 1217 Slip. Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 1, 2011) (Castillo, J.).
Judge Castillo granted defendant Mead Westvaco’s motion to dismiss plaintiff Simonian’s false patent marking suit claiming that Mead Westvaco marked envelopes with expired patents. Simonian’s general allegation of intent did not meet the Fed. R. Civ. P. 9 (b) heightened pleading standards. In fact, they mirrored the allegations held insufficient in BP Lubricant. And Simonian did not:
· Identify specific Mead Westvaco individuals with knowledge of the alleged false marking;
· Allege that Mead Westvaco sued a third party asserting the patents after they expired; or
· Allege that Mead Westvaco made multiple revisions to the packaging on the markings after the patents expired.

Continue Reading False Marking Requires More than General Intent Allegations

EnVerve, Inc. v. Unger Meat Co., No 11 C. 472, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Apr. 26, 2011) (Castillo, J.).
Judge Castillo denied plaintiff EnVerve’s motion for preliminary injunction in this copyright infringement action involving advertisements. The Court first held that EnVerve had only shown a minimal likelihood of success on the merits:
EnVerve’s arguments were “very conclusory” and that “brevity [was] fatal.”
There was a significant dispute regarding who owned the copyrights based upon a contract between the parties.
EnVerve’s evidence of copying was an unsupported conclusion that defendant use constituted copying.
EnVerve failed to address defendant’s best argument – that EnVerve’s claim sounded in contract, not copyright.
The Court also held that there was no irreparable harm:
Money damages were an adequate remedy and were readily calculable based upon the contract, EnVerve’s invoices and defendant’s payments.
EnVerve’s claims are reputational harm and defendant’s potential insolvency were too speculative to be considered irreparable harm.

Continue Reading “Conclusory” Arguments are Fatal to Preliminary Injunction

The patent pilot program started this month in the Northern District and across the country. The pilot program is a ten-year look at ways to handle patent cases more effectively. The main component of the pilot program is judges in pilot districts, including the Northern District, self-selecting as patent judges. Patent cases will continue to be randomly assigned to all Northern District judges. But when a non-patent judge is assigned a patent case that judge will have thirty days to order reassignment of the case. When reassignment is ordered, the case will be randomly reassigned to one of the patent judges. There will also be patent-related education and programs offered for the patent judges across the country.
One unanswered question about the pilot program remains: If a non-patent judge was assigned a patent case less than thirty days before the program kicked off on September 19, can the non-patent judge order the patent case reassigned pursuant to the pilot program? I have not seen it happen yet, but I suspect it could over the next week or two.
The Northern District issued the following list of judges who have self-selected as patent judges:
Chief Judge James F. Holderman
Judge Ruben Castillo
Judge John W. Darrah
Judge Gary S. Feinerman
Judge Virginia Kendall
Judge Matthew F. Kennelly
Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow
Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer
Judge Amy J. St. Eve
Judge James B. Zagel

Continue Reading Northern District of Illinois Patent Program Begins

Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Inc. v. Tech. Research Group, Inc., No. 09 C 3895, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 28, 2010) (Castillo, J.).
Judge Castillo construed the claim terms in this patent case involving methods for tracking Rolling Spot Currency contracts. Here are constructions of note:
The Court discounted the extrinsic evidence and focused on the intrinsic evidence to construe “principal market marker” as “an entity required to provide the following functions: (1) continuously maintain a two-sided bid/offer market of specified size and spread for its designated product(s); (2) maintain a public order book with respect to these assigned products; and (3) give priority to customer order execution over personal trading. As compensation for the fulfillment of these responsibilities, this entity is to receive priority volume benefits.”
Because “computer” had a very apparent ordinary meaning, the Court relied upon dictionaries to define “computer” as “a programmable electronic device that can store, retrieve, and process data.”
The preambles of each claim were limiting to the extent they identified a computer and the computer was not identified elsewhere in the claim. Where there was not a computer identified in the body of the claim, the preamble was a necessary aspect of the invention.
“Execute” was defined consistent with its ordinary meaning as “to carry out fully and completely.”
The Court refused to define “receive” or “directly receive.” But the Court held that doing so would improperly impart a claim limitation from the specification.
“Bid,” “offer,” “trade,” and “order”, were all defined based upon their dictionary definitions.
To sustain the validity of the claims, the Court defined “rolling spot” as how plaintiff’s Rolling Spot Currency contracts were defined as of the effective filing date.
“Currency futures” were construed based upon financial dictionaries as “contracts in the futures markets that are for delivery in a major currency such as U.S. dollars, British pounds, French francs, German marks, Swiss francs, or Japanese yen.”

Continue Reading Court Refers to Input “Directly” Its Claim from the Specification