Brian Higgins’s Maryland IP Law Blog post about the progeny of In re Seagate, 497 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2007), inspired me to do follow up posts identifying Northern District cases discussing recent major IP decisions — click here for my post on injunctions after eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C., 126 S.Ct. 1837, 164 L.Ed.2d 641 (2006). There have been a number of obviousness decisions in the Northern District since KSR Int’l Co. v. Teleflex Inc., __ U.S. __, 127 S.Ct. 1727 (2007). Here they are:*
Abbott Labs. v. Sandoz, Inc., No. 05 C 5373, 2007 WL 1549498 (N.D. Ill. May 24, 2007) (Coar, J.). — Holding that the Court’s pre-KSR analysis need not be reconsidered in light of KSR because an element was missing from the prior art, regardless of what standard was used.
Herman Miller, Inc. v. Teknion Corp., No. 05 C 2761, 2007 WL 2230042 (N.D. Ill. Jul. 30, 2007) (Gettleman, J.). — Noting that, in light of KSR, plaintiff issued a statement of non-liability and certain patents were removed from the suit.
Lexion Medical, LLC v. Northgate Techs., Inc., No. 04 C 5705, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 8, 2007). — Holding that the pre-KSR jury’s decision would not have changed if given a KSR obviousness instruction.
These opinions suggest that KSR is not changing obviousness law in the Northern District much. I suspect that is not true. Once we have a larger sample of cases, including more where the initial analysis was not done pre-KSR, we will see more patents held invalid based upon obviousness.
* A brief note on methodology: this was not a thorough study and does not include cases that granted or denied injunctions without discussion. For a more complete list of post-KSR decisions nationwide, go to the Fire of Genius.

Continue Reading Obviousness Post-KSR

As I mentioned several days ago, Northwestern’s excellent IP Law Week series begins Monday, January 14. The student IP group is hosting a panel each day next week. The Monday through Thursday panels will run from noon until 1:15. Friday’s panel starts at 1:40 and ends at 2:35. All events will be held in Rubloff 140. The panels are listed below and promise to be very interesting. I am part of Monday’s Patent Reform panel, and I look forward to seeing you there.
Monday: Patent Reform – Motivations, Impact and Controversy
Tuesday: Balancing the Right to Life vs. the Right to Patent
Wednesday: Copyright Law and Media Distribution over the Internet
Thursday: Patent and Pharmaceutical / Drug Issues
Friday: KSR v. Teleflex and Patent Prosecution

Continue Reading Nortwestern’s IP Law Week Starts Monday

I have been meaning to highlight the University of Michigan Law Review’s recent Supreme Court, Federal Circuit, and Patent Law edition for some time. The day before the Michigan-Ohio State match-up for the Big Ten title and a trip to the Rose Bowl seems like an appropriate time to do it. The article contains excellent analysis of the future of patent law and the effects of recent Supreme Court rulings, in particular KSR. The specific articles are:
Rebecca S. Eisenberg, The Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit: Visitation and Custody of Patent Law
John F. Duffy, KSR v. Teleflex: Predictable Reform of Patent Substance and Procedure in the Judiciary
Harold C. Wegner, Making Sense of KSR and Other Recent Patent Cases
Robert A. Armitage, Now That the Courts Have Beaten Congress to the Punch, Why Is Congress Still Punching the Patent System?
Stephen G. Kunin & Andrew K. Beverina, KSR’s Effect on Patent Law
Each article is worth the read, perhaps as you watch the game tomorrow.

Continue Reading Michigan Law Review on SCOTUS, the Federal Circuit and Patent Law

Herman Miller, Inc. v. Teknion Corp., No. 05 C 2761, 2007 WL 2230042 (N.D. Ill. Jul. 30, 2007) (Gettleman, J.).
Judge Gettleman construed the claims of the asserted patents covering features of swivel office chairs and granted partial summary judgment of infringement for plaintiff on one of the two patents, U.S. Patent No. 6,588,741 (the “‘741 patent”), with the exception of claim 10 which plaintiff admitted was not literally infringed, and summary judgment of noninfringement for defendant as to claim 10 of the ‘741 patent and the second patent, U.S. Patent No. 6,588,842. But the most interesting part of this opinion is not the Court’s constructions or infringement analysis, but what appears to be plaintiff’s reasonableness – a trait seldom displayed at this stage of the case in my experience. At the beginning of its opinion, the Court noted that the case originally included two other patents and that the parties had filed and briefed cross summary judgment motions regarding those patents as well. But in light of the KSR v. Teleflex decision, plaintiff issued a statement of non-liability as to those patents and the parties voluntarily dismissed all of their claims and counterclaims related to those patents. It must have been an exceptionally strong obviousness case. I have read several post-KSR decisions and this is the first case in which I have seen a plaintiff voluntarily dismiss its claims in light of the “new” obviousness standard.

Continue Reading Plaintiff Dismisses Patent Claims in Light of KSR

Lexion Medical, LLC v. Northgate Techs., Inc., No. 04 C 5705, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 8, 2007).*
Judge Rosenbaum (a visiting judge, who is the Chief Judge for the District of Minnesota) denied defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) for relief from the Court’s judgment. The Court held a trial in October 2006 resulting in a jury verdict that defendants’ insufflator (a device that blows a powder, gas or vapor into a body cavity) infringed plaintiff’s patent (you can read more about the case in the Blog’s archives). In their motion, defendants argued that the Supreme Court’s April 2007 obviousness decision, KSR Int’l Co. v. Teleflex Inc., __ U.S. __, 127 S.Ct. 1727 (2007), dramatically changed obviousness law and conflicted with the jury instructions which “nullif[ied] the jury verdict.” Defendants moved the Court to invalidate two claims of the patent in suit or to order a new trial on obviousness. But the Court held that even under the KSR standard, the jury’s verdict was fully supported by evidence at trial. Because a corrected instruction would not have changed the result, the erroneous instruction was harmless.

Continue Reading Pre-KSR Validity Verdict Upheld Under KSR Standard

Abbott Labs. v. Sandoz, Inc., No. 05 C 5373, 2007 WL 1549498 (N.D. Ill. May 24, 2007) (Coar, J.).
Judge Coar denied defendant Sandoz, Inc.’s (“Sandoz”) motion to stay the Court’s preliminary injunction pending appeal to the Federal Circuit pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 62(c). The Court previously granted plaintiff Abbott’s motion for a preliminary injunction (you can read more about that decision and related cases in the Blog’s archives). The PI enjoined defendant Sandoz from selling a generic version of Abbott’s patented extended release antibiotic (clarithromycin, an erythromycin derivative which Abbott markets as Biaxin XL). Sandoz argued that the PI should be stayed pending appeal because of conflicting Federal Circuit law regarding the Court’s claim construction and because of the Supreme Court’s KSR decision.
First, Sandoz argued that two different Federal Circuit panels had issued differing rulings construing the claims at issue. Judge Coar rejected this argument because the construction relied upon in the PI ruling was the Federal Circuit’s second, broader claim construction. The Court explained that the “only rational assumption” was that the second panel was aware of the constructions in the first, but relied upon something different in the record or identified a fact missed by the first panel. Further, the Court predicted that the Federal Circuit would not retreat from its second opinion to its first, prior opinion.
Second, the Court held that the KSR decision did not change its analysis of Sandoz’s likelihood of success on its obviousness argument. The Court provided a detailed explanation of KSR and its reasoning, but differentiated the current case because the Court held that one of the limitations in the Abbott claims did not exist in Sandoz’s cited combination of prior art references. Because the references did not disclose one of the elements of the claims, whether or not the Court used a strict application of the Federal Circuit’s teaching, suggestion or motivation test did not change the outcome of its analysis. Both the Federal Circuit’s and the Supreme Court’s standards required that all elements be disclosed by the combined prior art references.
Finally, the Court held that Sandoz had not provided sufficient evidence that it would be irreparably harmed. Sandoz argued that if it could not enter the market at the same time as other generics, which are not subject to PI’s, pharmacists would be reluctant to later restock their shelves with Sandoz’s generic version of the drug. But the Court reasoned that the lure of generics is their prices, not their brand recognition, so Sandoz should have no trouble re-entering the market at a later date should it prevail.

Continue Reading Neither Federal Circuit Split Nor KSR Warranted Stay of a Preliminary Injunction Pending Appeal

Leapfrog Enterprises, Inc. v. Fisher-Price, Inc., No. 06-1402, Slip Op. (Fed. Cir. May 9, 2007).
The Federal Circuit issued its first opinion analyzing an obviousness determination based upon the Supreme Court decision in KSR v. Teleflex, 550 U.S. __, 2007 WL 1237837 (2007). The Court affirmed the district court’s holding that the claim was invalid based upon obviousness and explained that obviousness is not determined by “a rigid formula disassociated from the consideration of the facts of a case.” You can download a copy of the Federal Circuit’s decision here.

Continue Reading First Post-KSR Fed. Cir. Obviousness Analysis