Justia Daily Opinion Summaries

Intellectual Property
September 22, 2023

Table of Contents

Bliss Collection, LLC v. Latham Companies, LLC

Copyright, Intellectual Property, Legal Ethics, Trademark

US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Baxalta Inc. v. Genentech, Inc.

Drugs & Biotech, Intellectual Property, Patents

US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Columbia Sportswear North America, Inc.v. Seirus Innovative Accessories, Inc.

Intellectual Property, Patents

US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Elekta Ltd. v. ZAP Surgical Systems, Inc.

Drugs & Biotech, Intellectual Property, Patents

US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

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Intellectual Property Opinions

Bliss Collection, LLC v. Latham Companies, LLC

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Dockets: 22-5361, 21-5723

Opinion Date: September 21, 2023

Judge: Mathis

Areas of Law: Copyright, Intellectual Property, Legal Ethics, Trademark

In 1999, Latham, McLean, and Vernooy formed Bliss to sell children’s clothing under the name “bella bliss.” In 2003, Shannon left Bliss and started Latham to sell her own children’s clothing under the name “little english.” Bliss’s logo is a lowercase “b” drawn out as if stitched in thread. Bliss has registered trademarks for this logo. Bliss has several designs that it claims as signature looks of the bella bliss brand that have “become famous and widely known and recognized as symbols of unique and high-quality garments.” There has been previous litigation between the parties.

In 2020, Bliss filed federal claims for copyright, trademark, and trade dress infringement; false designation of origin and misappropriation of source; and unfair competition. The district court dismissed Bliss’s claims and granted Latham attorney’s fees for defending the copyright claim but found that Bliss filed its action in good faith and that the trademark and trade dress claims were not so “exceptionally meritless” that Latham merited a rare attorney’s fees award under 15 U.S.C. 1117. The Sixth Circuit affirmed in part. Bliss stated claims for federal and state trademark infringement but has not stated a claim for trade dress infringement. The district court did not err in denying attorney’s fees to Latham for defending the trademark and trade dress infringement claims.

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Baxalta Inc. v. Genentech, Inc.

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Docket: 22-1461

Opinion Date: September 20, 2023

Judge: Kimberly Ann Moore

Areas of Law: Drugs & Biotech, Intellectual Property, Patents

In a “key step” of the "coagulation cascade" that forms blood clots, an enzyme (Factor VIIIa) complexes with another enzyme (Factor IXa) to activate Factor X. Hemophilia A is a disorder where the activity of Factor VIII is functionally absent, impeding the body’s ability to effectively form blood clots. Historically, Hemophilia A has been treated by intravenously administering Factor VIII. Approximately 20–30% of Hemophilia A patients cannot benefit from that treatment because they develop Factor VIII inhibitors. Baxalta’s patent provides alternative means to treat Hemophilia A.

Baxalta sued, alleging Genentech’s Hemlibra® (emicizumab) product infringes the patent. Emicizumab is a humanized bispecific antibody that binds to Factor IXa with one arm and Factor X with the other arm, mimicking the function of Factor VIIIa. Following the district court’s construction of the claim terms “antibody” and “antibody fragment” to exclude bispecific antibodies, the Federal Circuit held the proper construction of “antibody” was “an immunoglobulin molecule having a specific amino acid sequence comprising two heavy chains (H chains) and two light chains (L chains),” and the proper construction of “antibody fragment” was “a portion of an antibody” and remanded. On remand, Genentech successfully moved for summary judgment of invalidity of multiple claims for lack of enablement. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The patent fails to teach skilled artisans how to make and use the full scope of claimed antibodies without unreasonable experimentation.

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Columbia Sportswear North America, Inc.v. Seirus Innovative Accessories, Inc.

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Docket: 21-2299

Opinion Date: September 15, 2023

Judge: Sharon Prost

Areas of Law: Intellectual Property, Patents

Columbia’s D093 patent, titled “Heat Reflective Material,” claims “[t]he ornamental design of a heat reflective material. Seirus markets and sells products (e.g., gloves) made with material that it calls HeatWave. Columbia sued Seirus for infringement. the district court granted summary judgment of infringement; a jury awarded Columbia $3,018,174 in damages. On remand, a jury found that Seirus did not infringe.

The Federal Circuit vacated the non-infringement judgment, first rejecting arguments concerning the preclusive effect of the prior proceedings. The district court erred by failing to instruct the jury as to the scope of the D093 patent claim (design for a heat reflective material) and, relatedly, the proper scope of comparison prior art. To qualify as comparison prior art, the prior-art design must be applied to the article of manufacture identified in the claim. Here, the issue is not whether the patent’s design (e.g., a wavy pattern) is dictated by function but whether the claimed article to which that design is applied is the same as another article. A natural, relevant consideration for distinguishing one article from another involves looking to the articles’ respective functions.

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Elekta Ltd. v. ZAP Surgical Systems, Inc.

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Docket: 21-1985

Opinion Date: September 21, 2023

Judge: Jimmie V. Reyna

Areas of Law: Drugs & Biotech, Intellectual Property, Patents

Elekta’s 648 patent, titled “Method and apparatus for treatment by ionizing radiation,” discloses a device for treating a patient with ionizing radiation for certain types of radiosurgery and radiation therapy. The invention uses a radiation source, e.g., a linear accelerator (linac), mounted on a pair of concentric rings to deliver a beam of ionizing radiation to the targeted area of the patient. ZAP Surgical Systems sought inter partes review (IPR). The Patent Trial and Appeal Board addressed Elekta’s arguments that a skilled artisan would not have been motivated to combine, and would not have had a reasonable expectation of success in combining, one prior art device (Grady) with the linac described in the prior art, Ruchala, and whether a skilled artisan would have been dissuaded from combining the devices because one device was an imaging device, rather than a radiation device, and because the linac’s weight would render the Grady device inoperable, imprecise, and unsuitable for treatment.

The Board concluded that a skilled artisan would have been motivated to combine Grady and Ruchala. The Federal Circuit affirmed, finding substantial support for the finding that a person of ordinary skill in the art would have been motivated to make the proposed combination.

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