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  Intellectual Property - Legal News


The Supreme Court said Friday it will referee a high-profile copyright dispute between technology giants Oracle and Google. Oracle says it wants nearly $9 billion from Google.

The case stems from Google’s development of its hugely popular Android operating system by using Oracle’s Java programming language. A federal appeals court found that Google unfairly used Java without paying for it, the second appellate ruling in Oracle’s favor. A trial court has yet to assess damages.

The justices agreed to review the appeals court ruling, and arguments are expected early next year. The first Android phone went on sale in 2008 and Google says more than 2 billion mobile devices now use Android.

The dispute stretches back to 2010, when Oracle filed suit over Google’s use of 11,500 lines of Java code. In the first of two trials, a federal judge ruled that so-called “application programming interfaces” (APIs) weren’t protected by copyright.

After the appeals court overturned that ruling, a jury found in a second trial that Google had made “fair use” of the programming code.

“There is nothing fair about taking a copyrighted work verbatim and using it for the same purpose and function as the original in a competing platform,” Judge Kathleen O’Malley of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit wrote in a decision siding with Oracle.

Microsoft was among many parties that urged the Supreme Court to upend the appeals court ruling. The Trump administration, responding to a request from the court for its views, said the justices should stay out of the case.

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority seems prepared to allow the Trump administration to end a program that allows some immigrants to work legally in the United States and protects them from deportation.

There did not appear to be any support among the five conservatives in extended arguments for blocking the administration’s decision to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It currently protects 660,000 immigrants who came to the United States as children and are here illegally.


A U.S. appeals court says a shoe made by American footwear giant Skechers is nearly identical to an iconic Adidas shoe and would likely confuse consumers about the manufacturers.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld a lower court ruling blocking Skechers from selling its Onix shoe.
Adidas argued in a lawsuit that the Onix was a rip-off of its Stan Smith tennis shoe.

The 9th Circuit judges said the shoes had only minor differences, and there was evidence that Skechers intended to confuse consumers.
A spokeswoman for Skechers, Jennifer Clay, said the company does not comment on pending litigation.
The 9th Circuit allowed Skechers to sell its Cross Court shoe, saying Germany-based Adidas failed to show irreparable harm from the sale of that footwear.


The Supreme Court is making it easier for companies to defend themselves against patent infringement lawsuits.

The justices ruled unanimously on Monday that such lawsuits can be filed only in states where defendants are incorporated. The issue is important to many companies that complained about patent owners choosing more favorable courts in other parts of the country to file lawsuits.

The case involved an appeal from TC Heartland, an Indiana-based food sweetener company sued by Kraft Foods in Delaware. Lower courts refused to transfer the case to Indiana.

But the Supreme Court’s ruling will have the biggest impact on federal courts in eastern Texas, where more than 40 percent of patent lawsuits are now filed. Local rules there favor quick trials and juries tend to be more sympathetic to plaintiffs.

The ruling will have a major effect on lawsuits from so-called patent trolls — companies that buy up patents and force businesses to pay license fees or face expensive litigation. Many of those cases now may have a tougher time getting to trial or result in jury verdicts that are less generous.

Companies including eBay, Kickstarter and online crafts site Etsy had urged the high court to restrict where such cases can be filed, saying they have been sued repeatedly in courts hundreds or thousands of miles away from corporate headquarters. Even Texas Attorney General Scott Keller led a coalition of 17 states calling for an end to so-called “forum shopping” in patent cases.

Groups representing inventors and patent owners said new restrictions would place burdens on patent holders and encourage infringing behavior and piracy.




A small Charleston company that refills and resells empty toner cartridges could soon be defending itself before the U.S. Supreme Court in a dispute that could affect huge tech companies and pharmaceutical firms.

Lexmark, a Lexington, Kentucky-based printing corporation, sued Impression Products, accusing the company of patent infringement for selling its cartridges, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

At issue is what is known as the first-sale doctrine, a principle limiting a patent holder's rights after a product has been sold once.

Impression Products argued Lexmark's patents on its cartridges are no longer effective after the cartridges are sold, allowing the smaller company to sell them freely. Lexmark cartridges can cost up to hundreds of dollars, and Impression Products sells used ones at a lower price.

In February, a federal court sided with Lexmark, saying the corporation's patent rights weren't exhausted, regardless of whether the cartridges were being purchased from U.S. or foreign suppliers — Impression Products has purchased toner cartridges from Canadian suppliers in the past.

Last month, the federal government recommended the Supreme Court review the case.

Impression Products President Eric Smith explained that while this doesn't guarantee that the justices will review the case, it sharply increases the probability of it happening.

The implications of the case go beyond ink cartridges, as Samsung and Google have backed Impression Products' argument. The tech giants operate foreign supply chains that would have to jump through additional hoops if the first-sale doctrine did not apply for foreign purchases. Pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer have supported Lexmark, with a Lexmark victory likely giving their own patents greater protection.



The Supreme Court will resolve a patent dispute between companies that make adult diapers.

The justices said Monday they will hear an appeal from SCA Hygiene Products AB, which argues that it did not wait too long to file a patent infringement lawsuit against rival First Quality Baby Products LLC.

The divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled last year that SCA's six-year delay in bringing the lawsuit was unreasonable.

SCA is relying on a 2014 Supreme Court case that said unreasonable delay is not a defense against claims of copyright infringement. The company says the same reasoning applies to patent cases.

The court will hear arguments in the case when its new term begins in the fall.



The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from Nevada over a lawsuit that claims the state wrongfully bused indigent psychiatric patients to San Francisco without paying the costs of their medical care.
 
The justices on Tuesday let stand a lower court decision that said California state courts have authority to hear the case challenging Nevada's discharge policies.

San Francisco is seeking $500,000 in reimbursement costs for treating 29 patients who were given vouchers for one-way bus tickets to California. It also wants an order barring Nevada from sending over any more patients.

A California Superior Court judge ruled that Nevada could be sued in California because it knew San Francisco would have to spend money on the patients.

Nevada claims the lawsuit interferes with its sovereign powers.



A federal appeals court has overturned a jury decision awarding $920 million in damages to the DuPont Co. in a trade-secrets lawsuit involving high-strength synthetic fibers used in products such as Kevlar body armor.

The appeals court in Richmond, Va., said Thursday that a trial judge abused his discretion and prejudiced South Korea-based Kolon Industries in 2011 when he granted a pretrial motion by DuPont. The court said that in doing so, the judge excluded evidence material to Kolon's defense.


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