Thursday, March 10, 2011

Northern California Daily Digest

A drawing from U.S. Pat No. 6,118,976
at issue in AT&T v. TiVo.
Here are some of the other cases I found in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Dytch v. Yoon is a discrimination complaint under Title III of the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Mr. Dytch claims to suffer from muscular dystrophy and requires the use of a wheelchair.  He went to Pho Anh Dao restaurant in Oakland California, but could not fit in the door or used the restroom.  He is suing Mrs. Yoon, the proprietor, to require her to make the facility barrier free and for statutory damages and attorney's fees.  Mrs. Yoon (I believe pro se) has filed a motion to dismiss arguing that her building was made before the ADA passed in 1990 and that enforcement of the law is an ex post facto law.

Magistrate Timothy Bommer disagreed:
The ADA provided an 18-month notice period in which businesses could comply with the Act's requirements, and no liability was imposed prior to the end of that period.  See 42 U.S.C. § 12181 note (Supp. II 1990). Small businesses were given an even lengthier notice period. Id. Plaintiff’s Complaint was not filed until July 1, 2010, nearly twenty years after the ADA was passed on July 26, 1990. Thus, the requirements of Title III do not subject Plaintiff to retroactive legislation.
He denied the motion to dismiss.

AT&T Intellectual Property v. TiVo is a patent infringement lawsuit involving patents 5,809,4925,922,0456,118,976 and 6,983,478.  You can read the patents but basically they deal with how computers, phones, and televisions communicate with one another.  AT&T filed suit on March 12, 2010 alleging infringement of the patents listed.  On December 3, 2010 TiVo sought inter partes reexamination of the '478 patent and ex partes reexamination of the other three patents.  As Judge Saudra Brown Armstrong explains, "An inter partes reexamination allows third parties to have a role in the reexamination whereas an ex parte reexamination does not."  So, why do this?

Patents are presumptively valid absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, but the standard is only a preponderance of the evidence at reexamination, so by filing for reexamination, TiVo gets a bite at a smaller apple.

Now, TiVo has filed a motion to stay the action pending reexamination, which AT&T has opposed.  Judge Armstrong explains,
In determining whether to grant a stay pending reexamination, courts consider 1) whether discovery is complete and whether a trial date has been set 2) whether a stay will simplify the issues in question and trial of the case; and 3) whether a stay would unduly prejudice or present a clear tactical disadvantage to the non-moving party.
With regard to the final factor Tivo explains that it took some time to file its reexamination request.  Judge Armstrong agreed
Defendant states that the reexamination requests raise eleven substantial new questions of patentability regarding all four patents-in-suit and all forty-eight claims asserted by plaintiffs, and that the requests constitute a combined 2,295 pages including exhibits.
She granted the motion for a stay.

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