California Patent Attorney® Blog

April 2012 Archives

California Based Apple Sued for Patent Infringement Over Touch Technology

April 24, 2012,

apple-logo-gray.jpgCalifornia - FlatWorld Interactives is suing Apple for patent infringement alleging that Apple's touch technology infringes one of FlatWorld's patents. The company out of Pennsylvania is seeking a permanent injunction from the infringement and for compensatory damages as well.

According to the complaint filed with the United States District Court for the Northern California District of California, FlatWorld is accusing Apple of knowingly infringing its patents with products such as its iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad. FlatWorld is a designer of touchscreen systems used in museum displays.

In addition to seeking a jury trial, FlatWorld is requesting an immediate injunction to ban Apple from the alleged infringement. Patent attorneys representing FlatWorld claim that Apple's infringement has been on such a large scale that it has caused the company irreparable harm. Flatworld is seeking monetary damages appropriate to the level of infringement, however the amount was not specified.

The FlatWorld patent at issue involves technology that allows users to manipulate images using gestures such as flicking images off the screen and selecting the image by touching it. The goal of the gesture recognition technique is for children to have an easier and more intuitive way of interacting with computers.

FlatWorld Interactive was founded in January 2007 by cognitive science and digital design professor Slavko Milekic. Ten years earlier in 1997, Milekic had filed a provisional patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the technology, claiming priority of use from that date. He was then granted U.S. Patent No. 6,920,619 in July 2005. After creating FlatWorld in 2007, Milekic assigned the patent to the company.

The companies are scheduled to appear in a case management conference later this year to discuss the important issues in the case to avoid an unnecessary and demanding discovery process when preparing for trial.

No comment was available from Apple on the pending litigation.

Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights Play a Pivotal Role in the U.S. Economy

April 19, 2012,

ideadice.jpgCalifornia - The Department of Commerce has released a new report titled "Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus," which sets out the pivotal role that intellectual property plays in the U.S. economy.

According to the report, IP related jobs are at the top of the list for newly created jobs and IP-intensive jobs are said to pay at least 42% higher in wages than other popular job sectors at this time. The Department of Commerce Secretary John Bryson stated, "It's clear that intellectual property protection is more critical than ever" and "When Americans know their ideas will be protected, they have greater incentive to pursue advances in technologies. That helps keep us competitive and makes us competitive into the future." According to the Commerce Secretary, "industries affected by intellectual property account for more than 40 million jobs, 61% of exports and more than $775 billion in goods and services."

Most companies want to protect their intellectual property rights whether it is through a patent, copyright, or trademark. A company's intellectual property portfolio is a vital asset to its growth. Therefore, jobs in IP related fields are widely expanding. According to the Economics and Statistics Administration and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, in 2010 the 75 IP-intensive related industries produced approximately 35 percent of the gross domestic product in the U.S. or about $5.06 trillion.

The report released from the Department of Commerce, which emphasizes the importance of intellectual property protection, comes just one year after the US International Trade Commission disclosed in a similar report that the lack of monitoring and enforcing of IP rights in China cost U.S. IP-intensive companies $50 billion a year. The report made by the Trade Commission also reports that the lack of worldwide IP protection might also jeopardize up to 2.1 million jobs.

Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stated, "In laboratories and studios and research hubs, and even in home garages, entrepreneurs and innovators are hard at work turning their ideas into real products," and "innovation can't create jobs without strong IP protection."

According to the Department of Commerce report, IP jobs in the U.S. are mainly clustered on the West and East Coasts.

Oracle Rejects $3 Million Offer from Google in Patent Infringement Dispute

April 11, 2012,

google.jpgCalifornia - Tech giant Oracle has rejected a three million dollar settlement offer from Google in an ongoing patent infringement lawsuit where Oracle is alleging that Google's Android operating system is infringing its Java patents. In addition to the $3 million offer, Google was also willing to pay Oracle one percent of revenue from its Android platform, which was also rejected by Oracle. It has been reported that Oracle is seeking billions of dollars in damages for the alleged infringement.

With its settlement attempts turned down, the two companies will present their cases in front of a federal grand jury later this month.

"Oracle cannot agree to Google's proposal that Oracle waive its constitutional right to a jury trial," stated lawyers for Oracle in a court document filed last week. They added, "Although there are issues for the Court to decide, there are substantial questions for the jury as well."

The original patent infringement claims against Google were filed back in August 2010, and alleged that the maker of the Android operating system "knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle's Java-related intellectual property" and sought "appropriate remedies." The specific patent at issue involves the technology for the Dalvik virtual machine used in the Android systems.

Google has challenged Oracle's claims of patent infringement and has used the argument that it had rights to use the Java patents in a pre-existing agreement with Sun Microsystems, who developed and owned the patents before the company was acquired by Oracle in April 2009.

Earlier this year, the most widely-used web-based search engine in the world suffered a major setback in the lawsuit when its bid to have an incriminating company email dismissed from evidence was denied by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington. The email was sent between Google engineers and strongly suggested that Google was indeed infringing the Java patents and that it should negotiate a licensing deal with Oracle, because no other technologies would be appropriate for use with Android and Chrome.

Both Oracle and Google denied to further comment on the issue.

U.S. Supreme Court Orders Review of Myriad Gene Patents

April 3, 2012,

courthouse.jpgCalifornia - Should human genes be allowed to be patented? This question has fueled the ongoing debate between organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union who argues that genes shouldn't be patented. On the other side of the fence are companies who pose the argument that a patent is a reward for time and money spent on research. Just last week the U.S. Supreme Court overturned two gene patents belonging to Myriad Genetics. The Salt Lake City, Utah based company uses BRACAnalysis testing which looks for mutations on the breast cancer predisposition gene. This testing is also known as BRCA, which locates mutations that are associated with much larger risks of breast and ovarian cancer.

In 2009, the ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation challenged Myriad's two patents known as BRCA1 and BRCA 2 when it sued Myriad in the U.S. District Court of New York. In 2010, a U.S. District judge in New York agreed with the plaintiff's and deemed the patents invalid. However, in 2011 the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. overturned the ruling in a 2-1 decision. The plaintiff's then brought the case to the U.S. Supreme Court where it ordered that there be further review of the gene patents case by a lower court.

In a similar case, the U.S. Supreme Court also recently ruled that Prometheus Laboratories was not eligible for a blood test patent because the patent "merely reflected a law of nature." It is still questionable as to just how much the Prometheus case will affect Myriad's chance of keeping its gene patents once and for all.

Peter Meldrum, Myriad Genetics CEO and President stated in a news release, "While this case should not have any direct impact to Myriad and its operations because of our extensive patent estate, it has great importance to the medical, pharmaceutical, biotechnology and other commercial industries, as well as the hundreds of millions of people whose lives are bettered by the products these industries develop based on the promise of strong patent protection."