California Patent Attorney® Blog

August 2012 Archives

Ford Faces F-150 Truck Fuel Injection Patent Infringement Claims

August 30, 2012,

ford.jpgCalifornia - A fuel injection system maker on Wednesday hit Ford Motor Co. with a lawsuit alleging the auto maker ripped off his patented technology for the fuel injection system in its popular F-150 pickup trucks.

TMC Fuel Injection System LLC's complaint filed in Pennsylvania federal court claims that Ford heard about the company's patented fuel injection system from its inventor, and misappropriated the technology.

Inventor Shou L. Hou filed the patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on May 10, 2002, according to the complaint. Hou, who holds a Ph.D. in applied physics, is a named inventor or co-inventor on at least 27 patents worldwide, it says.

In a December 2004 phone conversation, Hou described the system outlined in the patent application to Chris Woodring, who was then the manager of Ford Fuel Systems, the complaint says. Hou continued discussions about licensing the invention to Ford in 2005, and submitted a confidential disclosure waiver to the company in March of that year.

In July 2005 Ford allegedly informed Hou that it was not interested in pursuing the fuel injection concept.

The patent itself, U.S. Patent Number 7,318,414, was issued on January 15, 2008 under the title "Constant-speed multi-pressure fuel injection system for improved dynamic range in internal combustion engine."

Following the issuance of the patent, Hou contacted Ford again several times in 2008 about potentially licensing the patented technology to the auto maker. Ford eventually responded that its fuel system technical specialists had reviewed the patented system and that the company was still not interested in pursuing it further, the complaint says.

Despite informing Hou that it had no interest in the patented technology, Ford has been and is currently infringing the '414 patent by selling motor vehicles including the F-150 that use the patented fuel injection system without any license, TMC asserts.

TMC is entitled to increased damages, moreover, because Ford's infringement has been willful and deliberate, the complaint says.

Ford representatives did not return emails seeking comment.

Google Patent For Computing By Touch Revealed

August 27, 2012,

google.jpgCalifornia - A recently-published patent granted to Google last year for methods of conveying and gathering digital information with a user's hand could form the basis for a computerized glove counterpart to the company's Google Glasses currently en route to the marketplace.

U.S. Patent Number 8,009,141, aptly titled "Seeing with your hand," covers methods like using a detector to record a series of images of an environment and detecting a predetermined motion by comparing two or more images in the series.

The patented methods may also include selecting a function based on the predetermined motion and triggering the function, using a first detector to record a first series of images of an environment and using a second detector to record a second series of images of an environment.

The method of detecting a predetermined relative motion by comparing one or more images from the first series with one or more images from the second series, and selecting or triggering a function based on the predetermined relative motion, is also covered by the patent.

The central claim of the patent is a glove, comprising a detector positioned on a fingertip which is configured to record a series of images of an environment, coupled with a a processor configured to stabilize the series of images to produce a stabilized series of images, and an output interface configured to trigger at least one function.

The processor also determines at least one predetermined motion of the detector by comparing at least two images in the stabilized series of images and, based on the predetermined motion, selects at least one function from a plurality of functions.

In one example cited in the patent summary, to allow a user to "see" an inaccessible environment, a user may wear a device equipped with one or more detectors on one of his or her hands, or on other areas of the user's body.

The detectors may record a series of images of the environment, and a display may display the series of images to the user. In this manner, the user may "see" the inaccessible environment as if the user's eyes were located on the user's hand or finger, or on the other area of the user's body, the patent summary says.

Inventors Liang-Yu Chi of San Francisco, California, Robert Allen Ryskamp of Zurich, Switzerland, Luis Ricardo Prada Gomez of Hayward, California, Harvey Ho of Mountain View, California and Google top dog Sergey Brin of Palo Alto, California filed their application for the patent in March 2011, and had it granted in August 2011.

Eli Lilly Alimta Patent Validity Upheld On Appeal

August 24, 2012,

pills.jpg California - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Friday affirmed a lower court's ruling that Eli Lilly & Co.'s patent for the chemotherapy drug pemetrexed, marketed under the name Alimta, is valid, overruling a challenge from generic pharmaceutical makers Teva Parenteral Medicines Inc., Barr Laboratories Inc. and APP Pharmaceuticals Inc.

The compound patent provides protection for Alimta in the U.S. through January of 2017, Eli Lilly said Friday. Pemetrexed won FDA approval in 2004 for use in treating mesothelioma and then in 2008 for treatment of non-small cell lung cancer.

"We are pleased with today's ruling from the Court of Appeals affirming the validity of the compound patent for Alimta," Eli Lilly senior vice president and general counsel Robert A. Armitage said. "By affirming the district court ruling, we believe that the Court fairly applied long-standing patent law principles."

"Protection of intellectual property rights is extremely important to the biopharmaceutical industry and the physicians and patients we serve, as these rights help support the development of the next generation of innovative medicines to treat unmet medical needs," he said.

Teva, Barr and APP had appealed a Delaware federal judge's ruling that U.S. Patent 5,344,932 is not invalid for obviousness-type double patenting.

The Delaware case centered on applications the generic pharmaceutical manufacturers filed seeking regulatory approval to market generic formulations of the chemotherapy agent pemetrexed.

The generics makers' abbreviated new drug applications with the FDA each included a certification asserting that the '932 patent was invalid, unenforceable, or would not be infringed by the proposed generic products. Eli Lilly responded with an infringement suit against the generics makers.

During the proceedings, Teva conceded infringement but maintained that the asserted claims of the '932 patent were invalid for obviousness-type double patenting over two earlier-issued claims: one claim of a related compound patent and one claim of a related intermediate patent.

The Delaware judge rejected Teva's arguments and held that the claims of the '932 patent were not invalid for obviousness-type double patenting over either the compound or the intermediate.

Judge Demands Google Disclose Who It Paid To Write About Oracle Case

August 21, 2012,

google.jpgCalifornia - A California federal judge told Google Inc. on Monday that the company had not adequately complied with his order to disclose the identities of any bloggers, journalists, authors or others who received money from Google while writing about its major patent infringement war with Oracle Corp.

Judge William Alsup, who is presiding over the Google-Oracle patent case, remonstrated Google for not fulfilling its obligations, and gave it until Friday at noon to turn over the names.

On August 7 Judge Alsup originally ordered Google and Oracle to each file a statement identifying all authors, journalists, commentators or bloggers who have reported or commented on any issues in the case and who have received money from the companies or their counsel during the pendency of the action.

"Although proceedings in this matter are almost over, they are not fully over yet and, in any event, the disclosure required by this order would be of use on appeal or on any remand to make clear whether any treatise, article, commentary or analysis on the issues posed by this case are possibly influenced by financial relationships to the parties or counsel," Judge Alsup said at the time.

The August 7 order was not limited to authors "paid . . . to report or comment" or to "quid pro quo" situations, but was designed to bring to light authors whose statements about the issues in the case might have been influenced by the receipt of money from Google or Oracle, Judge Alsup said Monday.

Oracle has disclosed that it retained a blogger as a consultant, the judge noted. Even though the payment was for consulting work, the payment might have influenced the blogger's reports on issues in the civil action, he said.

"Just as a treatise on the law may influence the courts, public commentary that purports to be independent may have an influence on the courts and/or their staff if only in subtle ways," Judge Alsup said. "If a treatise author or blogger is paid by a litigant, should not that relationship be known?"

Google has suggested that it has paid so many commenters that it will be impossible to list them all, according to the judge.

"Please simply do your best but the impossible is not required," he said. "Oracle managed to do it. Google can do it too by listing all commenters known by Google to have received payments as consultants, contractors, vendors, or employees."

Oracle and Google have been feuding since 2010 over whether Google's Android mobile operating system infringes its patents for the Java programming language.

Apple Applies For Patent On iPad Smart Cover

August 13, 2012,

iPad.jpgCalifornia - Apple announced last week that it has applied for a patent to protect its slick new iPad cover. The application lists the patent as "Cover Attachment with Flexible Display". The new technology offers such useful additions as a keyboard, an extra row of apps, and the option of having special notifications appear on the cover space.

Undoubtedly, iPad users have reason to be excited at the possibility of a new Apple issued accessory for the iPad. Some of the cool new features possibly offered will be an ambient power collector, a keyboard and touch screen integrated into the cover flap, a rear display with controls in the back of the iPad, and additional alerts that could be displayed on the cover such as calendar notifications. Many iPad users end up purchasing separate keyboards for use with their iPad, so the keyboard option could prove to be a useful addition when the user folds the cover back. In addition, ambient power has become a popular new option for consumers who would prefer to use solar power to boost displays, particularly when using the iPad outdoors. The cover alert portion of the patent would allow users to display calendar events, notifications and alerts on the cover. The rear display function seems like the least likely of the options to actually come to pass. Industry experts say that locating controls on the back of the product would be impractical since the user would constantly have to turn the product around to see what buttons they were pushing.

The timing of the patent is interesting considering the recently unveiled Microsoft Surface tablet which will be sold with a cover that includes a kick stand and keyboard. The Apple patent could result in a single cover for the iPad, or several smart covers with different feature options. The new iPad smart cover should come out in time for the 2012 Christmas shopping season. The manager of product design at Apple, Fletcher Rothkopf, is listed as the inventor.