Exit Smartphones, Enter Smart Contact Lenses

contact lenseBy Tyler Quillin

Remember Google Glass? The spectacles Google

developed that allowed users to have hands-free, smart technology integrated into their eyewear.

Well, Google Glass did not do as well as projected, and Google ceased production in 2015. However, Google and Samsung are now rumored to be taking “wearable technology,” like Google Glass, to another level.

Both Google and Samsung are reportedly developing similar “smart” contact lenses. News surfaced on April 5, 2016 that Samsung submitted a patent application  for contact lenses with built-in cameras and other features. And both companies’ patent applications describe contact lenses containing a camera, sensors to detect movement, and antennae to interface with smart devices. Some speculate that blinking could control the lenses, which poses potential concerns over accidental commands.  However, by placing the device directly on the eye, the companies hope to improve clarity and accuracy, features that Google Glass lacked. Continue reading

“But I Found It First!” Life Science Company Seeks SCOTUS Review Over Patent Eligibility of Natural Discoveries

materniBy Miriam Swedlow

On March 21, 2016, Sequenom, Inc. asked the Supreme Court to review a decision from the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals that rendered invalid the company’s patent directed towards detecting paternally inherited cell-free fetal DNA (cffDNA) in a pregnant woman’s blood.

In 1996, two doctors discovered the presence of cffDNA in maternal plasma and serum. Once discovered, the doctors used established laboratory techniques to separate and amplify the genetic material to identify paternally inherited DNA and perform genetic diagnostic tests on it. Sequenom, Inc. commercialized the method as its MaterniT21 prenatal diagnostic test. Utilizing the test allows pregnant women to screen for many prenatal defects without having to undergo dangerous and invasive procedures into the uterus. Continue reading

High Court Decides Whether to Change Standard for Treble Damages

Supreme.Court_.G-640x426By Vijay Kumar

The U.S. Supreme Court recently granted certiorari for two patent cases, Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc. and Stryker Corp. v. Zimmer, to decide whether to relax the standard that determines if a district court can award treble damages to a patentee after a finding of infringement.

The legal authority for whether treble damages should be awarded is set forth in 35 § USC 284, which gives the district courts broad discretion to “increase the damages up to three times the amount found or assessed.” To clarify the rule, the Federal Circuit’s In re Seagate decision in 2007 set forth a two-part test, requiring the patentee to show that the infringer: (1) acted despite an objectively high risk of infringement, and (2) knew, or should have known, the risk of infringement. By granting cert, the Supreme Court will review this objective/subjective two-part test to determine its appropriateness. Continue reading

Setting the Stage for another Fight of the Soul of Patent Law

Patent-WarsBy Don Wang

On September 18, 2015, the Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, rendered another divisive decision, SCA Hygiene Products AB v. First Quality Baby Products. In the very first paragraph of the dissent opinion, Judge Hughes harshly states, “[p]atent law is governed by the same common-law principles, methods of statutory interpretation, and procedural rules as other areas of civil litigation. Today, the majority adopts a patent-specific approach to the equitable doctrine of laches. In doing so, the majority overlooks Congress’ intent and Supreme Court precedent . . .” Ouch!

The Supreme Court’s 2014 “Raging Bull” copyright decision, Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc, prompted the issue. In that case, the Supreme Court eliminated the “judicially-created laches defense [in copyright cases] because Congress, through a statute of limitations, ha[d] already spoken on the timeliness of copyright infringement claims.” The Patent Act similarly provides a six-year rolling limitation period, but Federal Circuit precedent held that the statute of limitations and laches defense can coexist in patent law. Interestingly, the Supreme Court specifically remarked in the Raging Bull case that it had “not had occasion to review the Federal Circuit’s position [that laches can bar past damages in patent law].” Taking the cue from the Supreme Court, SCA Hygiene appealed to the Federal Circuit en banc review and argued that there is no “principled distinction” between the statute of limitations in the Copyright Act and Patent Act. Continue reading

An Action-Packed Summer for PTAB

uspto_seal_full_colorBy Don Wang

If you spent this past summer looking forward to the most recent Fantastic Four movie, I am deeply sorry for the utter disappointment. However, if you have been following the news of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) instead, this has been a truly great summer! Following the roll-out of the American Invents Act, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) started to solicit public comments for a proposed rule change package for trials before the PTAB and has proposed a pilot program to have a single Administrative Patent Judge determine the institution of an Inter Partes Review. Continue reading