Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
August 17, 2001, 9:00 AM ET, Alert No. 251.
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DOJ Approves 3D DTM Merger, but Requires Patent Licensing
8/16. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division allowed 3D Systems Corporation to purchase DTM Corporation, provided that 3D and DTM license their Rapid Prototyping (RP) patents to a company that will compete in the U.S. market.
3D (Nasdaq: TDSC) and DTM (Nasdaq: DTMC) announced their plans to merger on April 3, 2001. See, 3D release and DTM release. 3D, Systems, based in Valencia, California, makes solid imaging products and services. DTM, based in Austin, Texas, makes rapid prototyping and manufacturing systems.
On June 6, the DOJ filed a complaint [PDF] in U.S. District Court (DDC) against 3D and DTM alleging violation of Section 7 of the Clayton Act, as amended, 15 U.S.C. § 18. The DOJ alleged that "The acquisition would combine the two largest manufacturers of RP systems in the United States, and would result in the combined company having a domestic market share of approximately 70% by revenue. It would entirely eliminate the existing competition between 3D Systems and DTM in the development, production, and sale of RP systems -- competition which has resulted in technological improvements to RP systems as well as lower prices to companies that purchase these systems." The DOJ asked that the merger be declared unlawful, and enjoined. The Presidents of both companies called the lawsuit "without merit". See, 3D release.
"Companies, universities and government agencies rely upon rapid prototyping to develop and create models of next generation products," said Charles James, AAG for the Antitrust Division, in an August 16 DOJ release. "This resolution preserves competition and promotes innovation by allowing a firm presently competing abroad to enter the U.S. market."
The procedure to be followed is the filing of a proposed consent decree and competitive impact statement with the court, along with the publication in the Federal Register. Any person may submit written comments to the DOJ within 60 days of publication. The Court may then enter final judgment.
Qualcomm Makes $300 Million Committment to NextWave
8/16. Qualcomm announced a "commitment to make a $300 million strategic investment in NextWave Telecom, which is currently deploying a CDMA2000 wireless network designed to provide high-speed wireless Internet access and voice communications services." Qualcomm also stated that this "is in connection with the equity financing provided for in NextWave's plan of reorganization that was filed on August 6, 2001, and is subject to NextWave's successful consummation of its plan of reorganization." See, Qualcomm release.
NextWave obtained spectrum licenses at FCC auctions in 1996. The FCC permitted NextWave to obtain the licenses, and make payments under an installment plan, thus creating a debtor creditor relationship between NextWave and the FCC. NextWave did not make payments required by the plan, and filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition. The FCC cancelled the licenses. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) ruled in its June 22, 2001, opinion that the FCC is prevented from canceling the spectrum licenses by § 525 of the Bankruptcy Code. The FCC has indicated that it may petition the Supreme Court for writ of certiorari.
New Documents
USCA: opinion in Thornton v. McClatchy re ADA and keyboard related repetitive stress injuries, 8/15 (PDF, USCA).
9th Circuit Rules on ADA and Keyboard Related Repetitive Stress Injury
8/15. The U.S. Court of Appeals (9thCir) issued its opinion [PDF] in Thornton v. McClatchy, in which it held, two to one, that repetitive stress injuries that limit one's ability to use a computer keyboard do not constitute a disability within the meaning of the ADA.
Facts. Thornton worked for the Fresno Bee, a McClatchy newspaper, as a writer. This required her to work with a keyboard. She suffered from work related repetitive stress disorder and could not operate a keyboard or write by hand for more than brief periods. McClatchy concluded that she could not perform her job, and terminated her employment.
District Court. Thornton filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court (EDCal) against McClatchy alleging violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act for terminating her on the basis of disability. The District Court granted McClatchy summary judgment on the grounds that she was not disabled.
Court of Appeals. The Appeals Court affirmed the summary judgment on the ADA claim. It wrote that "Thornton was able to perform a wide range of manual tasks, including grocery shopping, driving, making beds, doing laundry, and dressing herself. Her inability to type and write for extended periods of time is not sufficient to outweigh the large number of manual tasks that she can perform. The ADA requires a "substantial limitation" in performing manual tasks ..." However, it reversed on the state law claim. Judge Hawkins wrote the opinion of the Court, in which Judge Kozinski joined.
Dissent. Judge Berzon wrote a lengthy dissent regarding computer use and the ADA. She wrote that "The fact that using a computer is so essential to modern life that teaching that skill universally has become embedded in our national educational policy must inform our understanding of the ADA's disability definition, for two reasons: First, the ADA is a statute addressed generally to the opportunities of the disabled for success in modern society. That a particular manual skill is of such importance to success in life that it is now taught to most children and used pervasively throughout their schooling is surely some indication that, like reading, spelling, and adding, it is a skill essential to such success. Second, and critically, the ADA definition of disability at issue in this case applies not only in the employment context but in educational and testing settings as well, to determine whether reasonable accommodations are required. ... The sum of the matter is that the ability to use one's arms and hands to operate a computer and handwrite is, in the modern world, a skill that is essential both in getting an education and in earning a living, and is useful in carrying out many activities of daily life. The question before us is whether Congress, in enacting the ADA, blinkered this reality and, as the majority holds, determined that individuals who cannot carry out the manual tasks involved in written communication are not substantially impaired in carrying out manual tasks as long as they can carry out a number of other tasks requiring the use of their arms and hands."
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People and Appointments
8/16. President Bush announced his intent to nominate Arden Bement to be Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) at the Department of Commerce. He is currently head of the School of Nuclear Engineering at Purdue University. He has been at Purdue since 1993, first as a Professor of Engineering and Director of the Midwest Superconductivity Consortium, and then as a Professor of Nuclear Engineering and head of Purdue's School of Nuclear Engineering. Previously, he worked at TRW. See, White House release.
8/16. Rep. Floyd Spence (R-SC) died. He was Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Patent Infringement Cases
8/16. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) issued its opinion in Monsanto v. Mycogen, a patent infringement case involving genetically altering plants to make them more resistant to insects. Monsanto appealed from a final judgment of invalidity and noninfringement of its U.S. Patent No. 5,500,365. The Appeals Court affirmed.
8/14. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) issued its opinion in Mycogen Plant Science v. Agrigenetics, a petition for rehearing of the Court's initial opinion, in which it held that Mycogen is not entitled to invoke the doctrine of equivalents with respect to claims 13 and 14 of Mycogen's U.S. Patent No. 5,380,831 titled "Synthetic insecticidal crystal protein gene". The Appeals Court denied the petition for rehearing.
8/15. The U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) issued its opinion in Generation II Orthotics v. Medical Technology Inc., a patent infringement case involving post operative knee braces. Generation II appealed the District Court’s claim construction and resulting judgment of noninfringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 5,302,169 and 5,400,806. The Appeals Court affirmed in part, and vacated in part.
More News
8/16. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) published in its web site a report on the establishment of the .name Top-Level Domain (TLD).
8/16. Microsoft announced the filing of three complaints in U.S. District Court (EDNY) against software resellers alleging distribution of counterfeit and/or infringing Microsoft software. See, Microsoft release.
8/16. Andersen issued a release in which it stated that it had conducted a study that "shows that many U.S. multinational corporations doing business internationally have made little progress in adopting and implementing minimum worldwide standards for ensuring the privacy of individuals' personal data." Andersen stated that it studied 75 Fortune 500 companies to determine whether they meet the "Safe Harbor" privacy guidelines for complying with the EU Directive on Data Protection. It found that none were in full compliance.
Tuesday, August 21
Deadline to submit comments to the FCC in response to its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the concept of a unified intercarrier compensation regime, including reciprocal compensation, and alternative approaches such as "bill and keep." See, notice in Federal Register, May 23, 2001, Vol. 66, No. 100, at Pages 28410 - 28418.