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December 15, 2017
On August 4, 2017, we convinced the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. to invalidate a patent owned by Whirlpool relating to kitchen blenders having software that controls the speed of the blender. The ruling was issued as a published decision, setting patent law precedent for years to come. See Homeland Housewares, LLC v. Whirlpool Corporation, http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/node/22232
UPDATE: Morrison & Foerster, who represents Whirlpool, requested rehearing of the decision. The Federal Circuit invited us to brief the issues raised by Morrison & Foerster in Whirlpool’s request for rehearing. We are pleased to report that on December 6, 2017, the Federal Circuit denied the request for rehearing. This means the published decision will stand, unless Whirlpool is successful in convincing the Supreme Court to hear the case.
For patent nerds, the case has several impacts on patent law. For example, when the intrinsic evidence in the prior art invalidates the challenged patent claims, the patent owner cannot submit extrinsic evidence in the form of expert testimony to interpret the prior art in a contorted manner to avoid invalidation. If the intrinsic evidence is clear on its face, then the patent owner cannot use extrinsic evidence to make it unclear. Experts are frequently used to muddy the waters in cases in which the invalidity of the patent claims should be clear. This case helps reign in that abusive practice.
Homeland is owned by Capital Brands, Inc., which sells the MAGIC BULLET® and NUTRIBULLET® through its subsidiaries.