Technology Law and Electronic Media Update

Federal Circuit Blocks Apple Injunction against Samsung. October 11 2012. In a decision with potentially wide-ranging implications, the U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, decided in Apple v. Samsung  that the preliminary injunction that issued against Samsung in the highly scrutinized Apple patent case was improper. The court decided that Apple did not show that the search capability claimed in their patent and allegedly present in the Android system (“Quick Search Box”) was what drove demand for the Galaxy tablet.  This decision has some important ramifications in computer patent infringement cases.  Many computer patent infringement cases are related to software functionality that is merely one of many functions going on in the computer.  The Federal Circuit has now opened the door to the notion that in these sorts of cases, where that functionality cannot be shown to drive the demand for the allegedly (or actually) infringing computer product, neither  a preliminary nor a permanent injunction will issue even if the patent owner wins the infringement case.

It is also worth noting that the Federal Circuit also vacated the District Court’s interpretation of the patent claim at issue—an interpretation that adopted Apple’s argument about what their patent claim meant.

So regarding the decision in the Apple v. Samsung case this past August, it ain’t over till the Federal Circuit sings.

Federal Circuit Opens Up Internet Websites to Wider Patent Infringement Risk.  August 31, 2012.  In a case with important implications for Internet websites, the Federal Circuit in Akamai v. Limelight overruled prior precedent and held that a defendant could be liable for patent infringement for a patented computer process even if the different steps of the patented process occurred on computers controlled by unrelated parties.  Until this decision,  a patent claim to a computer process where one step was performed by a remote user and the other steps by a website server were effectively unenforceable because no one party performed (or controlled) all of the steps of the patented process. Now, an owner of such a patent claim can bring a case alleging that the Internet website is inducing patent infringement by the remote user in combination with the website’s operations.

Retired Federal Appellate Judge Blasts New Patent Law. October 25, 2012. Retired Chief Judge Michel, who for years sat on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, the appellate court with exclusive jurisdiction over patent law, told attendees at the American Intellectual Property Law Association that the new patent law was created without any input from judges regarding what would improve the resolution of patent infringement cases. In addition, he took aim at several critically important provisions in the new law that used vague terms that weren’t defined by the statute, noting that it would take “twenty years” of court decisions to settle what they mean. He suggested that the statute was the creature of large corporations, and that small inventors and small companies would be harmed by these provisions.