In the final written decisions of two related covered business method (CBM) patent reviews of the same patent, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (PTO) Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board) sided with the petitioner, canceling all claims under review. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. v. Progressive Casualty Insurance Co., Case Nos. CBM2012-00003, CBM2013-00009 (PTAB, Feb. 11, 2014).On the first day of eligibility under the America Invents Act (AIA), petitioner Liberty Mutual filed for CBM review of a patent that Progressive had previously asserted against Liberty Mutual. The claimed invention related to a vehicle monitoring system that included a data logging device and a communications device for linking the data logging device to a network of computers for determining a level of safety or cost of insurance related to the vehicle.Liberty Mutual initially petitioned for CBM review of all 20 claims of the patent, asserting 422 grounds of unpatentability. The Board issued … [Read more...] about PTAB (Patent Trial and Appeal Board) Reluctant to Exclude Evidence: Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. v. Progressive Casualty Insurance Co.
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In McMillin Albany, LLC v. Superior Court (available here), the Fifth Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal held that SB800 (Civil Code sections 895 through 945.5, the “Right to Repair Act”) is the only remedy available to a plaintiff in a residential construction defect case, supplanting common law remedies in new for-sale residential construction defect cases, whether or not resulting damage is alleged. The decision rejects the reasoning and outcome from Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. v. Brookfield Crystal Cove, LLC (see prior story.) The decision is so well crafted that Liberty Mutual appears to be dead, except perhaps in the Fourth Appellate District from which it originated. Even there its days may be numbered. With two competing interpretations of the statute from different appellate districts, the stage is set for possible review by the California Supreme Court. Implications for the HomebuildersWhat does the McMillin Albany decision mean for … [Read more...] about McMillin Albany, LLC v. Superior Court Rejects Reasoning and Outcome of Liberty Mutual on SB800
The U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down a Vermont statute requiring "all payers"—i.e., healthcare providers, insurers, and facilities—to report healthcare information to the State of Vermont on the ground that the statute was preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"). In this article, we review the Court's decision and also provide some perspective on the potential implications of the decision for plan sponsors and fiduciaries. BackgroundMany states have developed and implemented all-payer claims databases to address their need for comprehensive healthcare information, including costs, quality, utilization patterns, and access and barriers to care. One purpose behind these initiatives is to provide consumers and purchasers of healthcare services the ability to compare prices and quality as they make healthcare decisions.There has been no question about the ability of states to acquire such information from insured plans. Although ERISA … [Read more...] about ERISA Preemption after Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co
Recently, we reported on Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual, in which the Supreme Court invalidated the Vermont all-payer claims data base law. Applying what appeared to us as a straight-forward application of existing ERISA preemption jurisprudence, the Court determined that the Vermont law constituted plan administration and was thus preempted. Gobeille’s holding is significant. The decision materially shifts the Federal/state balance of regulatory power, at the expense of the states, in instances where the states seek to regulate ERISA-covered employee benefit plans. This post examines an alternative approach raised in Gobeille, but not pursued, under which states might seek to regulate service providers of plans rather than the plans themselves to avoid ERISA preemption. An Alternative ArgumentAs Gobeille wound its way to the Supreme Court, the State of Vermont made an argument that got little attention. The essence of the argument is that the Vermont law applied to, and imposed … [Read more...] about Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual: Dog That Didn’t Bark, and Next Front in Preemption War
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided (6-2, with Kennedy writing for the majority and Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissenting) the case of Gobeille v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. The matter before the Court involved Vermont law requiring certain entities, including health insurers, to report payments relating to health care claims and other information relating to health care services to a state agency for compilation in an all-inclusive health care database. In an important victory for pre-emption advocates, the Court held that this law was pre-empted by The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) which expressly pre-empts “any and all State laws insofar as they may now or hereafter relate to any employee benefit plan.” And that includes any state law that has an impermissible “connection with” ERISA plans, i.e., a law that governs, or interferes with the uniformity of, plan administration. In the context of this … [Read more...] about U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Liberty Mutual