Today, the Ninth Circuit ruled that yoga poses are not copyrightable under Section 102(b) of the Copyright Act because the Bikram sequence of 26 poses is an idea, process or system designed to improve health and copyright protects only the expression of this idea and not the idea of the sequence itself. The dispute arose after former Bikram Choudhury's students opened their own yoga studio and led clients through 26 poses just like the Bikram sequence. Choudhury sued for copyright violation under Section 102(b) for his 1979 book. In ruling against Choudhury, the Ninth Circuit reasoned that Section 102(b) expressly excludes protection of any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle or discovery regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated or embodied; and because the sequence is an unprotected idea, it was also ineligible for protection as a 'compilation' or 'choreographic work.'
On October 19, 2015, the United States Supreme Court granted cert. in two cases on Federal Circuit's standard for enhanced damages for willful infringement. Stryker Corp. v. Zimmer, No. 14-1520, and Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc., No. 14-1513. The questions presented in the two cases are: (1) whether the Federal Circuit erred by applying a rigid, two-part test for enhancing patent infringement damages under 35 USC 284 that is the same as the rejected test in Octane Fitness; (2) has the Federal Circuit improperly abrogated the plain meaning of 35 USC 284 by forbidding any award of enhanced damages unless there is a finding of willfulness; and (3) does a district court have discretion under 35 USC 284 to award enhanced damages where an infringer intentionally copied a direct competitor's patent invention, knew the invention was covered by multiple patents, and made no attempt to avoid infringing the patents.
On October 16, 2015, the Second Circuit found that Google's copying of published books for its Library Project and Google Books Project is fair use under 17 USC 107 and not infringing. Authors Guild v. Google, Inc., No. 13-4829 (2d Cir. Oct. 16, 2015). Particularly, the Second Circuit found that Google's copying is transformative use and therefore, communicates something new and different from the original, and serving copyright's overall objective of contributing to the public knowledge. According to the Court, making digital copies of published books to enable a search on a term of interest involved a high transformative purpose.
Federal Circuit denied a petition for en banc rehearing from a panel decision involving PTAB's procedures in PGR of a covered business method patent. Versata Development Group v. Lee, No. 14-1194 (Oct. 15, 2015). The panel decided that it was entitled to review the final decision as to whether the subject matter qualified as covered business method to determine the legal authority for the PTAB ruling even if that was part of the decision to institute the proceeding.
An expanded panel of the PTAB granted the joinder motion allowing the same party's serially-filed IPR petitions to be consolidated into a single proceeding when one of the petitions would have been time-barred but for the grant of the motion. Zhongshan Broad Ocean Motor Co., Ltd. v. Nidec Motor Corp., IPR2015-00762, Paper 16 (PTAB Oct. 5, 2015). Petitioner timely filed an IPR petition but due to certain deficiencies, filed a second petition more than one year after it had been served with a complaint. The second petition however was accompanied by a joinder motion under Section 315(c). A PTAB panel denied the joinder reasoning that the Petitioner could not be joined as a party to a proceeding in which it is already a party. On rehearing by an expanded panel, the expanded panel concluded that Section 315(c) permits both party joinder and issue joinder. In granting the motion, the expanded panel reasoned that the second petition merely seeks to rectify a procedural deficiency of the first petition and doesn't prejudice the patent owner.
Disclaimer: The content in this blog is solely for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice.