U.S. SUPREME COURT REFUSES TO HEAR CASE IN WHICH TLO INVALIDATED WHIRLPOOL’S PATENT
Posted in / Patents / - on July 13, 2018
Homeland Housewares LLC, the maker of the world famous NutriBullet blender, has prevailed in a patent dispute against Whirlpool Corporation. The case began as a challenge to the validity of Whirlpool’s 7,581,688 patent before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). The case concluded on June 4, 2018 when the Supreme Court denied Whirlpool’s petition for certiorari to review the Court of Appeals decision to invalidate Whirlpool’s patent.
In October 2014, Homeland, represented by Trojan Law Offices, sought reexamination of Whirlpool’s patent for a blender that controlled the speed of the blades according to a pre-programmed pattern. Whirlpool was represented by Morrison & Foerster LLP. Homeland contended that Whirlpool’s patent claims for automatic blending speeds were invalid because the programming was already known. The PTAB upheld Whirlpool’s patent in October, 2015. But in a published decision, the Federal Circuit reversed the PTAB’s decision on appeal in August, 2017, finding Whirlpool’s patent claims to be invalid. See Homeland Housewares, LLC v. Whirlpool Corp., 865 F.3d 1372, 1375 (Fed. Cir. 2017), en banc rehearing denied Dec. 6, 2017 (No. 2016- 1511), cert. denied, No. 17-1246, 2018 WL 1211219 (U.S. June 4, 2018)
Whirlpool requested re-hearing by the Federal Circuit, which was denied. Whirlpool petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case on constitutional grounds based upon a co-pending case before the Supreme Court in which the constitutionality of the PTAB’s patent review process was being challenged. See Oil States Energy Servs., LLC v. Greene’s Energy Grp., LLC, No. 16-712. The Supreme Court requested that TLO file an Opposition to the Petition. On April 24, 2018, the Supreme Court decided Oil States, in which the PTAB’s patent review process was found to be constitutional. Accordingly, Whirlpool’s Petition was denied.
With the rejection of Whirlpool’s Petition to the Supreme Court, the Nutribullet is free from the threat of Whirlpool’s improvidently granted patent.