California Patent Attorney® Blog

ITC Says It Will Act On Motorola's Patent Infringement Complaint V. Apple

September 18, 2012,

iphone-apps.jpg California - The U.S. International Trade Commission on Tuesday decided to institute an investigation of Apple Inc.'s iPhones, iPods, iPads and Apple personal computers for potential patent infringement in response to a Section 337 complaint Motorola Mobility LLC filed with the agency a month earlier.

Motorola's complaint against Apple alleges violations of Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the United States and sale of certain wireless communication devices, portable music and data processing devices, computers, and components that infringe Motorola's asserted patents. The company is requesting that the ITC issue an exclusion order and a cease and desist order.

"By instituting this investigation, the USITC has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case," the ITC said Tuesday. The Commission's Chief Administrative Law Judge will assign the case to one of the ITC's six administrative law judges, who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing.

The ALJ will make an initial determination as to whether there is a violation of section 337, which is then subject to the Commission's review.

"The USITC will make a final determination in the investigation at the earliest practicable time," the Commission said. A target date will be set for completing the investigation within 45 days after the investigation's institution, it said.

The products at issue include the iPod Touch, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and the new iPad, as well as the Mac Pro, iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

The specific patents Motorola cites in the complaint include U.S. Patent Numbers 5,883,580, 5,922,047, 6,425,002, 6,983,370, 6,493,673, 7,007,064 and 7,383,983.

The '580 patent generally relates to messaging devices, the '047 patent relates to communication and control systems for multimedia, the '002 patent and '673 patent relate to communication devices, and the '370 patent relates to communications systems for messaging clients. The '064 patent relates to wireless communications systems providing content to wireless communication devices, while the '983 patent relates to managing content between devices.

Citrix Slapped With Extra $5M On Top Of $10M SSL Patent Verdict

September 17, 2012,

citrix.jpg California - A Texas federal judge hit Citrix Systems Inc. Monday with an additional $5 million in enhanced damages to cap a $10 million jury verdict finding the company liable for infringing an SSL Services LLC patent for virtual private networking software.

SSL filed the action against Citrix in 2008 asserting infringement of U.S. Patent Number 6,061,796, and in May 2009 amended its complaint to add claims of infringement of U.S. Patent Number 6,158,011.

In June, following a five day trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict finding Citrix did not infringe the '796 patent, but did infringe several claims of the '011 patent. The jury also found that the '011 patent was not invalid and that Citrix's infringement is willful, and handed down lump-sum damages of $10 million.

Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the Eastern District of Texas noted that he had the authority to treble the jury's damage award given the circumstances of the case, but opted for a lesser enhancement of $5 million instead.

"The court believes that trebling the damages is not appropriate in this case," the judge said. "However, some lesser but meaningful enhancement is warranted in light of Citrix's willful infringement and its failure to investigate the '011 patent, despite having actual knowledge of the '011 patent . . . since 2000."

Enhanced damages are a punitive measure taken by a court to penalize a willful infringer for his or her increased culpability, but a court must refrain from awarding damages based on the weight of the evidence supporting willfulness and the closeness of the issues at trial, Judge Gilstrap said.

Citrix's failure to investigate the '011 patent year after year -- and after it became aware of the patent -- far outweighs any good-faith belief that it may have formed when it finally did investigate the patent and initiated the reexamination proceedings, he said.

ITC Rules For Apple In Samsung IPhone, IPad Patent Challenge

September 14, 2012,

samsung.jpg California -- Apple Inc.'s iPhones and iPads do not infringe on any Samsung Electronics Co. patents, a U.S. International Trade Commission judge said Friday, marking another win for Apple in its global patent war with its South Korean rival.

Samsung initiated the Section 337 investigation with the ITC last year, alleging Apple has been importing into the U.S. electronic devices including wireless communication devices, portable music and data devices and tablet computers, namely the iPhone and iPad, that infringe Samsung's patents.

ITC Administrative Law Judge James Gildea's initial determination in the case found no violations of Section 337 in the importation of Apple's devices as they relate to any of Samsung's asserted patents, U.S. Patent Numbers 7,706,348, 7,486,644, 6,771,980 and 7,450,114.

The ruling places one more victory in Apple's column in its battle with Samsung. In the biggest salvo of that battle yet, a $1 billion jury verdict handed down in August against Samsung in the Northern District of California sent shockwaves through the smartphone industry and the greater technology sector at large.

Samsung has also scored several wins for itself in other countries, though, including recent favorable court decisions in Japan and its home of South Korea.

Samsung's Galaxy S III phone and 20 other products came under attack from Apple Inc. in a new amended complaint filed in California federal court earlier in September.

Zillow Accuses Rival Trulia Of Home Value Estimate Patent Infringement

September 13, 2012,

brick_house.jpg California - Real estate information website operator Zillow Inc. sued its rival Trulia Inc. in Seattle federal court Wednesday accusing Trulia of infringing its patent for an automated method of determining a home's value based on user input.

"Trulia's blatant and ongoing copying of Zillow's innovative approach to
home valuation infringes Zillow's patent and Zillow is entitled to damages and an injunction against further infringement," Zillow's complaint in the Western District of Washington says.

Zillow.com launched in 2006, "revolutionizing the industry" by offering users the patented Zestimate home valuation service, according to the complaint.

The Zillow Zestimate allows home owners and real estate professionals to update automatic valuations of homes with additional home facts and information to refine the valuation. Over 33 million homes have been valued in this way, out of Zillow's database of over 100 million homes, which makes the Zillow database substantially more useful and accurate for users, Zillow says.

Zillow applied for a patent in February 2006 for its process for using users' data input to refine its automatic home valuations. U.S. Patent Number 7,970,674 issued in June 2011, titled "Automatically determining a current value for a real estate property, such as a home, that is tailored to input from a human user, such as its owner."

Trulia runs another real estate information website, Trulia.com, and offers mobile applications for smartphones and tablets, all of which compete with Zillow for web traffic and revenue, according to Zillow.

In September 2011 Trulia announced that it would start providing automatic home valuations using homeowner input to refine those valuations, calling its product "Trulia Estimates."

Like Zestimates, Trulia Estimates provide automatic valuations of properties based on recent sales of similar homes and home facts like number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, and other factors. Trulia Estimates also permits and relies on homeowners to claim their home and provide additional information about their properties to refine the automatic valuations.

When Trulia first launched Trulia Estimates, it was obvious to commentators that Trulia was merely copying Zillow, Zillow claims. Commentators accused Trulia of being a "copycat" of Zillow's Zestimate service and predicted that Trulia's copycat version might "ding" Zillow's web traffic, the company said.

J&J Birth Control Patent Upheld In Infringement Suit V. Lupin

September 12, 2012,

pills.jpg California -- Johnson & Johnson unit Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. was vindicated Tuesday in its efforts to prevent Lupin Pharmaceuticals Inc. from making and marketing a generic version of J&J's popular birth control drug Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, as a New Jersey federal judge ruled that the underlying patent is valid.

J&J sued Lupin for patent infringement in 2008 after the generic drug maker filed an Abbreviated New Drug Application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for an unbranded version of Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo. Lupin filed an accompanying certification asserting that U.S. Patent Number 6,214,815 is anticipated, obvious and invalid.

Based on the evidence presented at a bench trial earlier this year on Lupin's patent invalidity defenses to infringement, Judge Stanley R. Chesler ruled Tuesday that Lupin failed to prove the asserted claims of the '815 patent are invalid.

In 2010 the court entered a consent order in which J&J and Lupin stipulated that the filing of the ANDA constitutes an act of infringement, should the patent be found valid. Accordingly, Tuesday's ruling effectively counts as an infringement finding against Lupin.

"In making their anticipation case, defendants rely on a key unsupported proposition: if a prior art reference discloses a genus containing a large number of species, a challenger may reduce the size of the genus by asking which species would have 'stood out' to the skilled artisan," Judge Chesler said. "Defendants' anticipation case turns entirely on this proposition, and they have shown no legal support for it."

As far as obviousness is concerned, Lupin did not lay an adequate legal foundation for the proposition that the failure to provide scientifically valid evidence that Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo exhibits unexpected results should lead the court to find the patent invalid as obvious, the judge said.

"In short, for any number of reasons, defendants' attack on the scientific validity of the evidence of unexpected results fails to show this court any basis to find the '815 patent invalid as obvious," he said.

Federal Circuit Revives Some Santarus Generic Zegerid Patent Claims V. Par

September 5, 2012,

pills-tablets.jpgCalifornia - The Federal Circuit on Tuesday gave Santarus Inc. another chance to prove that its patents for the heartburn drug Zegerid are valid and that Par Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s proposed generic version would infringe those patents.

The district court erred by holding that some of the thirty-six asserted claims would have been obvious over the prior art, the Federal Circuit said in support of its partial reversal of a district judge's ruling. The appeals court affirmed the remainder of the lower court's rulings.

Santarus is the exclusive licensee of patents on specified formulations of benzimidazole proton pump inhibitors, which constitute a class of chemical compounds that inhibit gastric acid secretion and help prevent and treat stomach acid-related diseases and disorders.

U.S. Patent Numbers 6,489,346, 7,399,772, 6,780,882, 6,699,885 and 6,645,988 are for the inventions of Dr. Jeffrey Phillips, and are assigned to the University of Missouri. Santarus provides the PPI product omeprazole in the formulations covered by the Phillips patents, with the brand name Zegerid.

Par filed an Abbreviated New Drug Application for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to sell a generic counterpart of the Zegerid products. The district court found that Par's ANDA products infringe the Phillips patents, but held all of the asserted claims invalid on the ground of obviousness.

The district court also held certain claims invalid on the ground of inadequate written description. On the defense of unenforceability, it held that there was no inequitable conduct by Dr. Phillips, the University of Missouri, or their counsel in procuring the patents. Each side subsequently appealed the ruling against it.

The Federal Circuit reversed district court's ruling that the asserted claims of the '772 patent and two claims of the '882 patent would have been obvious, and the district court's holding that the claims of the '772 patent are invalid for lack of written description.

The appeals court affirmed the district court's ruling that Par failed to establish inequitable conduct, as well as the lower court's determination that several claims of the of the '882, '885, '346 and '988 patents would have been obvious over the prior art.

Circuit Judge Pauline Newman dissented in part from the majority ruling, saying while she agreed that there was no inequitable conduct, the appeals court made three major errors that misconstrue the established law.

The court created a new "written description" requirement for limitations in claims, a requirement with important consequences for patent content and prosecution, and that will taint large numbers of issued patents, she said.

The panel majority also held that the disclosure in a parent patent is a reference against the common disclosure in a continuation-in-part patent, again tainting many properly granted patents, according to Judge Newman.

Finally, the majority incorrectly held that most of the claims in suit are invalid on the ground of obviousness over references that explicitly teach away from the inventions in the Phillips patents, she said.

"The court's new rulings are contrary to statute, precedent, and common sense," Judge Newman said. "They simply add to the unreliability of duly granted patents, in new and unacceptable ways."

Apple Nets Patents For Multi-Touch Screen, Carbon Fiber Housing, More

September 4, 2012,

iPad.jpgCalifornia - Apple Inc. secured over two dozen new patents on Tuesday covering technology that includes a liquid crystal display capable of multi-touch functionality and a process for molding carbon fiber that could lead to future MacBook casings made of the material.

U.S. Patent Number 8,259,078, titled "Touch screen liquid crystal display," discloses LCD touch screens that integrate the touch sensing elements with the display circuitry.

Touch sensing elements can be completely implemented within the LCD stackup but not between the color filter plate and the array plate, under the patent. Alternatively, some touch sensing elements can be between the color filter and array plates with other touch sensing elements not between the plates.

In another alternative, all touch sensing elements can be between the color filter and array plates, which can encompass both conventional and "in-plane-switching" LCDs. In some forms, one or more display structures can also have a touch sensing function.

Techniques for manufacturing and operating such displays, as well as various devices embodying such displays are also covered by the patent.

The invention is credited to Steve Porter Hotelling of Los Gatos, California, Wei Chen of Palo Alto, California, Christoph Horst Krah of Los Altos, California, John Greer Elias of Townsend, Delaware, Wei Hsin Yao of Fremont, California, John Z. Zhong of Cupertino, California, Andrew Bert Hodge of Palto Alto, California, Brian Richards Land of Redwood City, California and Willem den Boer of Brighton, Michigan. The application for the invention was filed in June 2007.

U.S. Patent Number 8,257,075, meanwhile, titled "Carbon composite mold design," covers a mold assembly or system that includes a moldbase that holds mold inserts and has embedded fluid lines to facilitate cooling during part formation. The carbon molding technology could be applied to build sturdier housings for Apple's MacBooks and other computers.

"While many designs and methods of manufacture for providing composite molded parts and components have generally worked well in the past, there is always a desire to provide new and improved designs and processes that result in functional and aesthetically pleasing composite parts that can be mass produced," the patent description says. "In particular, it is desirable to provide a carbon composite molding apparatus and process that allows for a more automated mass production of consistent carbon composite parts, such as for computer housings and the like."

Paul Choiniere of Livermore, California, Glenn Aune of Bellingham, Washington, John DiFonzo of Emerald Hills, California, Daniel Hong of Cupertino, California and Kevin Kenney of San Jose, California filed the application for the carbon molding patent in November 2009.

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.

California Based Apple Granted Patent Dubbed "The Mother of All Smartphone Patents"

July 26, 2012,

iphone.jpgCalifornia - Apple had a busy week recently with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in which it was issued a whopping 25 patents for various new inventions. Within the last several months, Apple has been on somewhat of a patent spree with filings for everything from hardware, to software, to accessories.

Some would argue that the most important of these newly granted patents is one that applies to a "portable electronic device, method and graphical user interface for displaying electronic lists and documents". In particular, patent number 8,223,134 covers the graphical interface that Apple designed for use with telephones, email, cameras, video players, calendars and numerous other multi-touch applications. Filed in March 2012, experts are calling the patent extremely important and have dubbed it "the mother of all smartphone software patents". Additionally, Apple's newest smartphone patent is expected to provide significant competition for its main adversary Google Android.

In the years since the smartphone burst into the cell phone market, mobile phone technology has increased at such a rapid rate that consumers can hardly keep up. But savvy smartphone users have likely noticed a variety of similarities between the top products.

Before iPhone hit the market, smartphones used actual physical buttons and keys that had to be pushed to direct actions. However, the iPhone ushered in a period of new technology that advanced multi-touch graphical user interfaces that are a trademark of the iPhone today. Smartphone manufacturers have not hesitated to copy that design to the extent possible with new products in the marketplace today. Historically, Apple has taken drastic steps to protect its intellectual property, including extensive patent applications and numerous patent infringement lawsuits. Undoubtedly, the newest patent granted to Apple will play a part in ongoing litigation with companies such as Samsung, Motorola and HTC, who have chosen to battle it out in court with Apple over patent infringement.

California Jury Finds RIM Guilty of Patent Infringement

July 19, 2012,

cellphone_blackberry.jpgCalifornia - There was more bad news for the beleaguered creators of Blackberry last week. After a three-week trial and a week of deliberations, an eight-person jury found Research In Motion (RIM) guilty of patent infringement.

The decision, handed down last Friday in Northern California, was based on allegations that the Canadian Blackberry maker was illegally using patented technology created by New Jersey based Mformation for managing wireless devices. Initiated in 2008, the lawsuit alleged that the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) was based on Mformation's patents for wireless device management. The Mformation software was designed to allow companies to remotely access employee cell phones in order to erase data from stolen phones, update software or change passwords. The Canadian Blackberry Company was subsequently ordered to pay 147.2 million dollars in damages, approximately eight dollars for each of the 18.4 million Blackberry devices connected to the Blackberry Server from the day the lawsuit was filed to the start of litigation.

RIM has already suffered tremendous setbacks in the past year as its market share has further declined, revenues dropped and its stock is at a nine-year low. Experts speculate that RIM's struggles are undoubtedly a result of increasing Apple and Google smartphone popularity. At the height of its popularity, Blackberry captured 41% of the market share for its devices in 2007. However, that number reportedly dropped to under 4% in the first quarter of 2012. Once known for its cutting edge products, RIM has suffered as its consumers are gradually switching to iPhones and other smartphones that allow users to do more sophisticated applications beyond just checking emails and making phone calls.

Shareholders, employees and users are definitely watching anxiously to see how RIM will deal with its latest legal woes. In the wake of a year of negative news, RIM recently also announced it was cutting 5000 jobs, or roughly 30% of its workforce in an attempt to reduce operating costs. Blackberry further saw its opportunity to catch up with its competitors wane after reported delays in its Blackberry 10 Operating Systems. Representatives for RIM expressed disappointment with the court's decision and will likely appeal the decision. The judge involved in the case is reportedly still reviewing certain other legal issues related to the lawsuit.

California Gets U.S. Patent & Trademark Regional Office

July 18, 2012,

USPTO Image.jpgCalifornia - The U.S. Commerce Department made the announcement earlier this month that it has decided to open four regional United States Patent & Trademark Offices. The new offices will be located in Dallas, Texas, Denver, Colorado and Silicon Valley, California. These offices join the previously announced satellite office in Detroit, Michigan that is scheduled to open on July 13, 2012. According to the United States Patent & Trademark Office ("USPTO") website, the locations selected were based on significant studies that analyzed geographical diversity, regional economic impact, ability to recruit and retain employees, and the ability to engage the intellectual property community.

In September 2011, President Obama signed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011 (AIA), which requires the USPTO to select regions for its satellite locations. This Act will also change the U.S. rights for filing patent applications from as it stands today which is a "first-to-invent" system to a "first inventor-to-file" system. The changes regarding the "first inventor-to-file" will take effect on March 16, 2013.

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank stated regarding the USPTO changes, "Intellectual property protection and innovation are engines of economic growth and the bedrock of America's private sector. The Obama administration is committed to making certain that our businesses and entrepreneurs have the resources they need to grow, create jobs and compete globally. These new offices are an historic step toward further advancing our world's best IP system, and reinforcing the United States as the number one destination for innovation capital, and research and development around the world."

The USPTO's office in Silicon Valley will not only create jobs here in California but it is also expected to positively change the economy as well. The satellite office in Silicon Valley will be located among many of its Applicant's who hold enormous intellectual property portfolios. Among the top 100 companies listed on the 2012 Fortune 500 list include companies in Silicon Valley such as Palo Alto-based Hewlett Packard (HP), Santa Clara-based Apple, and San Jose-based Cisco Systems.

David Kappos, Director of the USPTO states, "By expanding our operation outside of the Washington metropolitan area for the first time in our agency's 200-plus year history, we are taking unprecedented steps to recruit a diverse range of talented technical experts, creating new opportunities across the American workforce. These efforts, in conjunction with our ongoing implementation of the America Invents Act, are improving the effectiveness of our IP system, and breathing new life into the innovation ecosystem."

With changes such as these that aim to boost the economy, things are looking a bit brighter here in the Golden State.