A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

Entries for tag: Prior Art

Casual readers might not be aware, but we at IP/DE have a long-running feud with the Swedish publication, "boat news." They think they're so great just because they're all so tall and they write about cool boats. Well, someone finally had the nerve to tell those ruggedly handsome jerks what for.

Wahhhhhhh! No one reads my boat magazine!
AI-Generated, displayed with permission

That brave soul was Judge Andrews in yesterday's opinion in MHL Custom, Inc. v. Waydoo USA, Inc., C.A. No. 21-92 (D. Del. Sept. 6, 2023) (Mem. Op.).

The defendant, Waydoo, alleged that the asserted patent was anticipated by a paper written by a bunch of Swedish engineering students as part of a project. Unlike the famous thesis in In re Hall, 781 F.2d 897, 228 USPQ 453 (Fed. Cir. 1986), the students project wasn't indexed in a library, but was simply placed on the website for the college course. Apparently, it was downloaded by 17 people.

A dispute thus arose as to whether this paper was "publicly accessible" (and thus prior art). In support of the contention that the paper was accessible, Waydoo noted that Boat News had written an article about the project that included a link to the paper (riveting, I'm sure). Waydoo contended that this article would have led the magazines many readers to the paper.

Judge Andrews, however, noted the obvious flaw ...

AI-generated image of a defendant relying on non-prior art documents as evidence of prior art
AI-generated image of a defendant relying on non-prior art documents as evidence of prior art Andrew E. Russell, displayed with permission

Judge Stark issued an oral order yesterday addressing a motion in limine in Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. v. Zenara Pharma Private Ltd., C.A. No. 19-1938-LPS (D. Del.).

According to the briefing, plaintiff sought to exclude two exhibits that were dated after the priority date of the patent.

The first was a 2005 "review article" published just months after the priority date. According to defendants' brief, "does not present original data" and instead "discusses the information known in the art before the priority date."

The second exhibit was published in 2021 and includes a "history of research …

Patrick Federi, Unsplash

Judge Andrews resolved what seems like a tough § 101 motion today, and I thought the claims of the patent (and the outcome) were interesting.

The patent involves a system for mixing gasoline and butane. The patent specification said that these fuels were previously mixed in multiple ways, including in a laborious process involving manually adding butane to a tank of gasoline and then stirring the two together.

There were a number of claims at issue, but the one that stands out most to me simply claims the whole system and what it does, without claiming how the components work:

A system for blending gasoline and butane at a tank farm comprising:
a) a tank of …

Copyright Symbol
Andrew E. Russell

We've talked before about how asserting invalidity based on system prior art (as opposed to written publications, for example) can be tricky, because accused infringers can face all kinds of sometimes-unexpected difficulties with proving up the prior art.

Parties often get into sticky evidentiary questions about exactly what kinds of evidence are sufficient to show that the relevant prior art was on sale before the priority date, and how the prior art functioned—and whether that all of that evidence has authenticity or hearsay issues.

On Friday, Magistrate Judge Burke issued a long oral report and recommendation to grant summary judgment of no invalidity based on a system prior art reference. In the case, the defendants relied …