Here’s the latest.

After seven years, Apple loses iPad 2 Smart Cover import duty legal fight

Reported by Mike Peterson on

In Apple Inc. v. United States, the Federal Circuit upheld the Government’s classification of Apple’s iPad Smart Cover, thus subjecting Apple’s iPads to tariffs. The U.S. Customs and Border Control classified the models as “articles of plastic,” which is subject to an import duty, and Apple first challenged this classification in 2013. After losing the challenge in 2019, they appealed in May of 2019, arguing that the models should be classified as “parts and accessories,” which are duty-free. Peterson further reports:

Now, a year later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has rejected the appeal from Apple, stating that it had ‘considered Apple’s remaining arguments and find them unpersuasive.’ As a result, Apple is responsible for the 5.3% import duties on the iPad 2 Smart Cover.

For more information on this case, see our coverage.

Hulu Win Against Database Patent Affirmed by Federal Circuit

Reported by Blake Brittain on

The Federal Circuit also affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s decision invalidating a database management patent by Sound View Innovations, LLC in Sound View Innovations, LLC v. Hulu, LLC. Hulu and Unified Patents, LLC challenged parts of the patent, arguing that the database’s method for saving storage space had already been outlined in a textbook. The Federal Circuit agreed with the board, holding that the textbook disclosed the patent’s “monitoring” function. The Court rejected Sound View’s alternative argument that someone of ordinary skill could not create the invention based on the textbook alone. The Federal Circuit also rejected Sound View’s argument that inter partes review (“IPR”) of the patent was unconstitutional since IPR was enacted after the patent was issued. Brittain summarizes:

The PTAB’s review of a patent issued before Congress established the inter partes review process didn’t violate Sound View’s due process rights. ‘We have consistently held that the application of IPR to pre-AIA patents does not violate the Constitution,’ the court said.

For more information on this case, see our coverage.

Federal Circuit Vacates Denial of Attorneys’ Fees

Reported by Thomas Cotter on

Finally, in Electronic Communication Technologies, LLC v., the Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the district court’s denial of attorneys’ fees. Electronic Communication Technologies had asserted a patent infringement claim against and also asserted similar claims against hundreds of companies. The district court dismissed the complaint and then cited the wrong statute in denying the Defendant’s request for attorneys’ fees. The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that the court failed to consider evidence that ECT’s litigation practices were unreasonable. Evidence of unreasonable litigation practices included standardized demand letters, repeat patent infringement actions, and forced settlements. Cotter summarized the Federal Circuit’s conclusion:

In addition, the Federal Circuit concludes that the district court ‘clearly erred by failing to consider the objective unreasonableness of ECT’s alleging infringement of claim 11 against ShoppersChoice,’ and recommends that, on remand, the court apply 35 U.S.C. § 285 (the Patent Act provision on attorneys’ fees), not the Lanham Act–even though, the court states, ‘the exceptional case standard pertaining to 35 U.S.C. § 285 applies to 15 U.S.C. § 1117.’

For more information on this case, see our coverage.