In 2013, Cardiocom, LLC (“Cardiocom”), a subsidiary of Medtronic, Inc. (“Medtronic”), sought inter partes review of two patents owned by Robert Bosch Healthcare Systems, Inc. (“Bosch”). The Cardiocom petitions were denied in January 2014. Medtronic later sought another inter partes review of the same two patents, without naming Cardicom as an interested party… Section 314(d) bars review of questions regarding the application and interpretation of statutes “closely related” to the decision whether to institute an IPR, including reconsideration of the Board’s decision to institute.
A divided panel of the Federal Circuit affirmed the Board’s rejection of all pending claims as obvious in an appeal arising from a method for treating or preventing influenza by oral inhalation of zanamivir. The teaching here seems to be that references can be combined to show that it would have been obvious to zero in on one of a few options disclosed in the prior art. Judge Newman filed a dissenting opinion.
Claim differentiation does not broaden claims beyond their meaning in light of the patent as a whole, and cannot override clear statements of claim scope found the specification and prosecution history… Disavowal can occur when the specification plainly describes “the present invention” as having that feature. Here, the specification states that an important characteristic of the present invention is a “reduction in upper width … resulting from the extended short seals.” Disavowal can also occur when the specification distinguishes or disparages prior art based on a specified feature. The specification did that here, by stating that prior art bags are difficult to secure over trash receptacle lips and explaining how the described short seals solve this problem.
The Court reasoned that the claims were limited to straightforward steps that a skilled artisan could perform mentally and that the inventors admitted to doing so. The claims, on their face, do not call for computer implementation, and Synopsys did not advance a claim construction requiring a computer. Additionally, complex details in the specification are insufficient to transform broad claims from an abstract idea into patentable subject matter. Given the breadth of the claims, the Court declined to decide if a computer-implemented version of the invention would be patentable under § 101.
The Federal Circuit agreed with the district court that this evidence did not demonstrate a “clear and unmistakable” disclaimer in claim scope. The Court emphasized that disavowals must be evaluated in the context of the entire prosecution history. Thus, the term “cells derived from a vascularized tissue” included both parenchymal (organ) and non-parenchymal cells. The file history statements did not amount to an unmistakable disclaimer of non-parenchymal cells, in light of the full prosecution history and the claim language pending at the time of the alleged disavowal.
Using new or improved rules applied by a computer may be patent-eligible, and improving the operation of the computer itself may be patent-eligible, but using a computer to implement old practices is not patentable under § 101. Further, claiming a combination of data sources, or limiting claims to the computer field, does not transform an otherwise abstract idea into “something more” that is patent-eligible.
The Court found substantial evidence to support the jury’s finding of infringement. While Samsung’s expert offered conflicting testimony, a reasonable jury could have credited Apple’s expert. Thus, there was no error in the district court’s conclusion that substantial evidence supported the jury verdict of infringement… Note that the underlying dispute in this case does not concern design patents that were also asserted against Samsung, and which are currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court.
Drone sued Parrot for indirect infringement of two patents relating to remote-controlled drones… The Federal Circuit sided with Drone and refused to substantively examine inventorship, where Drone’s claim to title was not otherwise in dispute. Inventorship of an issued patent is presumed correct, and Parrot provided no persuasive reason why the Court must litigate inventorship as part of the standing analysis. Alternatively, Parrot may challenge inventorship as an invalidity defense, but doing so under the guise of standing is improper.
The Federal Circuit affirmed a district court’s dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to meet the pleading standards for joint patent infringement, holding that Form 18, from the Appendix to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, does not apply to a claim of joint infringement… Form 18 is not sufficient per se, and pleadings must adhere to the Twombly/Iqbal pleading standard, and must do so for each element of the allegedly infringed patent claim. This is particularly true for pleading joint infringement.
This case concerned the subject matter eligibility of patents under 35 U.S.C. § 101, for a computer-related invention. The Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision that two patents were ineligible, and reversed the court’s decision that one patent was eligible. All three patents at issue were held to be drawn to abstract ideas, and none of them had a patentable inventive concept… There was no inventive concept because the ’142 claims provided only generic computers performing generic functions. The proper inquiry is whether each step in a claim does more than require a generic computer to perform generic computer functions, not whether the prior computers already applied that concept.
The Federal Circuit dismissed Husky’s appeal, finding that it lacked jurisdiction to review the Board’s determination of whether assignor estoppel barred institution of an inter partes review for two reasons. First, Husky’s appeal did not fall into any of the three categories of challenges that were reviewable by the Federal Circuit: there were no constitutional concerns at issue, the question of assignor estoppel did not depend on other less closely related statutes, and there was no question of interpretation reaching beyond § 314(d). Second, Husky’s challenge only implicated the question of who may ask the Board to evaluate the validity of a patent, not the Board’s authority to invalidate a patent.
Under the doctrine of inherent disclosure, it is not necessary for an earlier application to explicitly describe the later patent. There is adequate written description to support a later patent where it is undisputed that the invention inherently described in an earlier application was the same subject matter included in the claims of the later patent.
The Federal Circuit Court found that the source of the purported indefiniteness (“processing system”) played no role in defining the claims. Since the asserted claims are method claims, patentability resides with the method steps and not with the machines performing those steps.
The Court affirmed the Board’s finding that two previous patents render the ‘695 Patent obvious. The Court rejected ClassCo’s argument that “[a] basic characteristic of a KSR combination is that it only unites old elements with no change in their respective function.” Slip op. at 7 (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court instead emphasized KSR’s flexible approach to a § 103 analysis.
Affinity Labs of Texas, LLC, lost two cases at the Federal Circuit last week, both in decisions authored by Judge Bryson, which Chief Judge Prost and Judge Wallach joining the opinions. Although the patents at issue in the two cases were different, they shared a similar specification. In the DirecTV decision, the Federal Circuit followed the Alice/Mayo framework and found the claims patent ineligible. Perhaps of note, the Court rebuffed Affinity’s arguments regarding novelty, explaining patent eligibility does not turn on novelty of the claims. In the Amazon decision the Federal Circuit ruled that basic user customization is insufficient to qualify as inventive under Mayo and Alice.