This morning the Federal Circuit issued one precedential opinion in a patent case, one nonprecedential opinion in a case sanctioning an attorney, and one nonprecedential opinion in a patent case. Here are the introductions to the opinions.
Munchkin, Inc. v. Luv n’ Care, Ltd. (Precedential)
Munchkin, Inc. filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Central District of California against Luv n’ Care, Ltd. and Admar International, Inc. (collectively, LNC) for trademark infringement and unfair competition claims based on LNC’s spillproof drinking containers. A year later, the district court granted Munchkin leave to amend the complaint to include new trademark infringement claims, trade dress infringement claims, and patent infringement claims based on U.S. Patent No. 8,739,993 (the ’993 patent) which is directed to a spillproof drinking container. While the litigation was ongoing, Munchkin voluntarily dismissed all of its non-patent claims with prejudice and then its ’993 patent was held unpatentable through an inter partes review (IPR) initiated by LNC at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (the Patent Board). After we summarily affirmed the Patent Board’s decision, Munchkin, Inc. v. Luv n’ Care, Ltd., 702 F. App’x 982 (Fed. Cir. 2017), Munchkin also dismissed its patent infringement claims.
The district court subsequently granted LNC’s motion for attorney’s fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285 and 15 U.S.C. § 1117(a), finding the case to be “exceptional” based on LNC’s arguments in its fee motion that the trademark and trade dress infringement claims were substantively weak, and that Munchkin should have been aware of the substantive weakness of its patent’s validity.
Munchkin appeals, contending that the district court’s determination that this was an “exceptional” case lacks a proper foundation because LNC’s fee motion insufficiently presented the required facts and analysis needed to establish that Munchkin’s patent, trademark, and trade dress infringement claims were so substantively meritless to render the case exceptional. We agree with Munchkin. None of these issues was fully adjudicated before the court on the merits, and given the limited arguments LNC made in support of its fee motion, we hold that the district court abused its discretion in granting the motion and we reverse the exceptional-case determination.
Lippert Components Manufacturing, Inc. v Mor/Ryde International, Inc. (Nonprecedential)
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana sanctioned Ryan M. Fountain under 28 U.S.C. § 1927 and struck some of his filings from the record. See Lippert Components Mfg., Inc. v. Mor/Ryde Int’l Inc., No. 3:14-cv-1999, ECF No. 90 (N.D. Ind. May 20, 2016); id., ECF No. 145 (N.D. Ind. Feb. 23, 2017); id., ECF No. 161 (N.D. Ind. Aug. 10, 2017). Mr. Fountain appeals these actions.
Because we determine that the district court’s 28 U.S.C. § 1927 sanction award was not based upon clear errors of fact and was not an abuse of discretion, we affirm the award. We further determine that we lack jurisdiction to review the district court’s striking of the filings from the record, which does not constitute a sanction of Mr. Fountain. Accordingly, insofar as this appeal challenges the district court’s striking of filings from the record, we dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.
Iron Oak Technologies, LLC v. Microsoft Corp. (Nonprecedential)
Iron Oak Technologies, LLC appeals from the Agreed Final Judgment of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Microsoft Corporation’s declaratory judgment action. Because resolving an appeal of the Agreed Final Judgment would require this court to adjudicate the issue of notice as to the defendants in ongoing consolidated cases, which are not parties to Microsoft’s declaratory judgment action, the entire appeal as presented is not from a final decision within the scope of 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)(1). Therefore, we affirm the district court’s decision only to the extent it held that Iron Oak did not provide sufficient notice under 35 U.S.C. § 287 to Microsoft. But to the extent the district court’s final judgment purports to extend beyond the only defendant in this case, Microsoft, and to the sufficiency of notice under § 287 to defendants outside of this case, we do not have jurisdiction.