Patent Law

Patent Rulings Favoring Defendants

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Courts are citing a recent U.S. Supreme Court case to justify rulings in favor of companies defending patent infringement claims.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in KSR International Co. v. Teleflex Inc. three months ago made it easier to invalidate patents for obvious inventions. The court said an invention is not entitled to a patent if it is the result of only “ordinary innovation” and “does no more than yield predictable results.” (This post reports on the ruling.)

Technology companies, frequently accused of patent infringement, were pleased with the ruling since it can be used to challenge patents held by plaintiffs. High-tech companies are already using the ruling as a shield in litigation.

Last week a federal judge reversed course and dismissed a suit against RealNetworks Inc. that claimed infringement for the way it organized and played video and audio files, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports. Judge William Schwarzer of San Francisco said KSR required him to reverse his earlier decision in the case.

Judges in New York City and San Diego also discussed KSR when finding patents to be obvious, although the Manhattan judge said he would have ruled the same way even before the Supreme Court decision.

Vonage Holdings has also cited the ruling in a motion for a retrial in a patent infringement suit by Verizon Communications. (See this post for details.)

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