Judge Casper granted Defendants’ renewed motion for attorneys fees, finding the case exceptional under 35 U.S.C. § 1117(a), which allows for the award of fees to the prevailing party in exceptional cases. She had previously granted summary judgment in favor of the Defendants on all issues. Judge Casper, applying the Supreme Court’s 2014 Octane Fitness guidance in the analysis of whether a patent case is “exceptional” pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 285, found that sanctions had already been imposed on the Plaintiff for their litigation conduct, repeatedly failed to meet court-imposed deadlines, submitted filings that failed to provide sufficient support for their positions, and otherwise engaging in unreasonable conduct. Moreover, she determined that the plaintiffs’ substantive positions following the completion of discovery were weak and that they failed to produce any evidence of damages. Judge Casper found that Defendants need to be compensated for discovery-related motion practice and for prolonging litigation after discovery through summary judgment. She ordered Defendant to submit its request for fees from the denial of their motion to dismiss forward, excluding fees that had already been awarded through discovery sanctions.
Judge Casper granted summary judgment in favor of the Defendants on the trademark infringement, false designation of origin, trademark dilution, unfair competition, and unfair and deceptive trade practices. The case arose over a dispute between a Chinese restaurant chain and a US company seeking to become a franchisee. The two entered an agreement whereby the US entity opened a restaurant using the Chinese companies’ “Little Lamb” trademark. Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants violated this agreement by not opening another restaurant within one year of opening the Boston restaurant, making their use of the mark infringing as unsanctioned. The Court disagreed, and further determined that the attempted rescission of the agreement by the Plaintiffs was not proper under the terms of the agreement. As the agreement authorized the use of the mark, infringement could not be found. In a footnote, Judge Casper also noted that the Plaintiffs had failed to produce any evidence of damages, and that no presumption of damages could be had under the Lanham Act, which would also support a denial of the motion for summary judgment. As the remainder of the claims for which summary judgment was sought relied on a finding of infringement, these claims were also denied. Summary judgment in the Defendants’ favor had already been granted on breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, fraudulent inducement and unjust enrichment claims, meaning that all of Plaintiffs’ claims have been denied.
Eric Bowers, a Kansas-based photographer, filed copyright infringement charges against JR Language Translation Service and unknown Does 1-10. He says that JR used one of his photographs of a Christmas tree in Crown Center, Kansas City, on its website www.jrlanguage.com in connection with articles on Christmas traditions. In addition to infringement, Bowers asserts violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s prohibition on removing or altering copyright management information. Judge Casper has been assigned to the case.
In a case before Judge Casper, TheBrain Technologies accuses OriginLab of willful infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,166,736. The patent, which issued on December 26, 2000, claims a graphical user interface that allows for multiple windows and increased ease in accessing multiple windows on a single display (which was apparently not so common when the priority application was filed in 1997). OriginLab sells software applications for scientific graphing and data analysis that are said to read on claims 1-4 of the ‘736 patent, and are accused of direct, contributory, and induced infringement. The allegations of willfulness are based on correspondence to OriginLab in October 2015 laying out which products infringed and providing claim charts in support. While the complaint seeks injunctive relief, the patent will expire on August 21, 2018 , leaving virtually no likelihood that the court will reach a decision on an injunction prior to expiration.
Schneider Electric USA and Keysight Technologies were sued by Great Boston Authentication Solutions, LLC (“GBAS”). In separate filings, GBAS accuses the two of infringing U.S. Patent Nos. 5,982,892, 6,567,793 and 7,346,583, all directed to remote authorization for unlocking electronic data. GBAS asserts that license management and authentication software employed by the two infringe each patent. All of the patents, which are related as family members to one another, expired in December; accordingly, while damages are sought, there is no prayer for injunctive relief. These new cases appear to be a part of a concerted effort to assert the patents that began just after they expired; for example, three additional cases were filed in Massachusetts in February. The Schneider case is before Judge Casper, while the Keysight case has been assigned to Judge Talwani.