Helferich Patent Licensing v. New York Times Co., No. 14-1196 (Fed. Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Helferich Patent Licensing, LLC, which owns several United States patents that cover a range of related wireless-communication technologies, filed this lawsuit against New York Times Co., G4 Media LLC, CBS Corporation, Bravo Media LLC, and J.C. Penney Corporation, Inc. (collectively, Defendants), alleging infringement of various claims of seven patents. The claims generally addressed systems and methods for storing and updating information and sending it to wireless devices such as mobile-phone handsets. Defendants jointly moved for summary judgment of non-infringement, asserting the affirmative defense of patent exhaustion. The federal district court ruled in Defendants’ favor, concluding that, because Helferich had conferred broad authority on mobile-phone manufacturers to sell handsets under its license agreements, its ability to assert its claims had been exhausted not only against handset acquirers but also against the defendant content providers who use presumptively distinct inventions to manage content and deliver it to handset users. The Federal Circuit reversed, holding that patent exhaustion should not be expanded to hold that authorized sales to persons practicing the handset claims exhaust the patentee’s rights to enforce the asserted content claims against different persons.