Cisco Loses Supreme Court Patent Case: Intellectual Property

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The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Commil USA LLC in its claim that Cisco Systems Inc. infringed its patent for wireless transmission technology and induced others to do the same by selling the equipment at issue.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit had said the trial court erred in excluding Cisco’s evidence that it had a good-faith belief the disputed patent was invalid.

In an opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court held that believing a patent to be invalid is no defense to infringement.

“The question the court confronts today concerns whether a defendant’s belief regarding patent validity is a defense to a claim of induced infringement,” Kennedy wrote. “It is not.”

Kennedy said those accused of inducing others to infringe a patent have remedies, such as filing a declaratory judgment action.

The case is Commil USA LLC v. Cisco Systems Inc., 13-896.

Smartphone ‘Cold War’ Seen in Asian Moves on Patent Licensing

A new front is opening in what’s been dubbed the smartphone wars. This one involves countries, not companies.

South Korea and China are adopting antitrust policies that may require companies such as Apple Inc. and Qualcomm Inc. to license inventions to rivals more easily and cheaply, potentially, giving Asian companies a leg up against foreign competitors. Brazil and India are considering similar paths.

The clampdown on patents has the potential to alter the balance of power in the global mobile-phone industry, which generated $412 billion last year, according to IDC. These new rules may weaken the ability of Apple, Microsoft Corp. and Qualcomm -- typically among the top 15 U.S. patent recipients each year -- to compete in China, the world’s largest mobile-phone market, and other countries that follow.

“We’re going back to the Cold War and the domino theory,” said Bradley Lui, an antitrust lawyer at Morrison & Foerster in Washington. “The authorities in China see the potential use of patents that might affect companies in China, including state-owned enterprises. It might be an impetus for drawing rules more broadly than we would in the U.S.”

Asian regulators were spurred by the smartphone wars, in which tech giants battled over billions of dollars on four continents for more than four years. Governments including South Korea’s and China’s have been looking more closely at their patent policies, emboldened by debates in Washington over whether patents hinder rather than spur innovation.

“The domestic debate that is supposed to be specific to our country is being latched on to by foreign governments,” said Sean Murphy, Qualcomm’s international government affairs counsel. “It’s giving them justification to take action.”

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Ninth Circuit Overturns Summary-Judgment Ruling on Zebra Stripe

A federal appeals court in California overturned a district court’s ruling on the copyright of a company’s zebra stripe design on a motion for summary judgment.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that the trial court shouldn’t have decided these issues on the motion, but instead should have left it to a jury.

The case is Meridian Textiles Inc. v. Topson Downs of California Inc., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Pasadena, California).

Administration Wants Supreme Court to Reject Google Case

Lawyers for the Obama administration are urging the Supreme Court to reject Google’s appeal in a copyright suit brought by Oracle over the Android operating system.

The U.S. Supreme Court in January had asked the Obama administration for advice in the litigation. Oracle has accused Google of copying its Java programming platform to develop Android, and Google is asking the court to review a ruling that revived Oracle’s claims.

The case has split the industry between companies that write interface code and those that rely on it to develop software programs.

In the filing Tuesday, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli says Google’s argument that computer code can’t be copied “lacks merit.” The Supreme Court is likely to decide the case next month.

The case is Google v. Oracle, 14-410. For more on the litigation, click here.

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