Posts Tagged: "Federal Circuit Review"

Printed Matter Doctrine Implicates Matter That Is Claimed for What it Communicates

The Court held that printed matter must be claimed for what it communicates, and it is only afforded patentable weight if the claimed informational content has a functional or structural relation to the substrate. In this case, the Court held that the Board erred in finding that the origins of the web assets made them printed subject matter, because nothing in the claim called for the origin to be part of the web asset.

Patentee must show patentability over prior art from original case to amend in IPR

The Federal Circuit affirmed a patentee’s burden included showing patentability over prior art from the patent’s original prosecution history. Prolitec failed to show that its amended claim would still be patentable (non-obvious) over the combination of an original prior art reference and Benalikhoudja. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the Board’s finding of anticipation and obviousness. In her dissent, Judge Newman argued that the PTAB erred in denying Prolitec’s motion to amend, explaining the motion should have been granted because refusing to enter a proposed amendment that would resolve a dispositive aspect of claim breadth contradicted the America Invents Act.

CAFC uses de novo review because claim interpretation based solely on intrinsic evidence

On remand, the Federal Circuit used the de novo standard. Teva’s deferential “clear error” standard did not apply, because the district court did not make any factual findings based on extrinsic evidence in connection with its claim construction. Although extrinsic evidence may be used at trial, a district court must rely on subsidiary factual findings from that evidence to reach its claim construction, in order for any deference to arise on appeal. In this case, the Federal Circuit held that the intrinsic evidence led to a de novo conclusion that the district court conflated the claimed virtual machine with applications written to run on the virtual machine.

Federal Circuit Reverses PTAB Claim Construction in IPR

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board) cancelled the claims of the patent, finding them anticipated or obvious over several references. The Board construed “is connected” to mean that the computer be “active and online at registration,” even if the connection server’s database record was inaccurate, and the computer was no longer online. The Court reversed this construction, holding that the plain and ordinary meaning of the term “is connected” requires that the computer be connected to the network at the time the query is sent. The term “is” has a plain meaning, which requires concurrency. Where the claim language has a plain meaning that leaves no uncertainty, the specification generally cannot be used to infer a different meaning, absent clear redefinition or disavowal.

CAFC Overturns PTAB IPR Decision for Refusing to Consider Motivation to Combine

On appeal, Ariosa challenged the Board’s refusal to consider the background reference because it was not identified as a piece of prior art “defining a combination for obviousness.” The Federal Circuit agreed with Ariosa’s position that the background reference should have been considered by the Board, stating that background art must be considered even though such art is not true “prior art” presented as the basis of obviousness grounds for review. While the Court did agree that Ariosa’s articulation of the background reference’s impact on motivation to combine prior art references was lacking, the Court found the Board’s explanation for its failure to consider the reference equally lacking and thus warranting remand.

Negative Claim Limitations Do Not Have a Higher Written Description Standard

The Federal Circuit held that the written description requirement is met for negative claim limitations where the specification simply describes alternatives. In other words, the “reason to exclude” required by Santarus can be met without discussion of advantages of exclusion or disadvantages of inclusion. Further, alternative elements need not be explicitly described as alternatives, so long as the specification conveys to a person of skill in the art that those elements are, in fact, alternative or optional. Negative limitations are only unsupported where the specification provides no examples or suggestions that such limitations are alternative or optional.

Quality Control Testing of Drug is Not Patent Infringement

In a November 10 ruling, the Federal Circuit held that routine quality control testing of each batch of a generic drug as part of the commercial production process, after FDA approval, is not protected by the Hatch-Waxman safe harbor provision of 35 U.S.C. § 271(e)(1). However, infringement only occurs under 35 U.S.C. § 271(g), as a result of “making” a product, which does not include quality control testing.

Jury Instruction On Meaning Of Claim Term Cannot Be Challenged After Agreed To By Parties

According to Limelight, the district court’s construction of “tagging” was limited to using a “pointer” or “hook” to prepend or insert a virtual server hostname into a URL. The Court rejected “prepending” as a claim limitation because even though the ‘703 patent described prepending as a preference, there was no indication from the claims or prosecution history that tagging was limited to this preferred embodiment. The Court found no error in the jury instructions and held that Limelight was bound to the stipulated construction of “tagging” originally read to the jury.

CAFC Cautions Against Limiting Invention to One Embodiment in the Specification

Imaginal appealed, arguing that the district court improperly construed the disputed claim language, because: because it: (1) ignored the written description and claim language; (2) relied too heavily on general purpose dictionary definitions; and (3) improperly excluded a preferred embodiment. The Federal Circuit disagreed. It held that nothing in the patent claims or specification restricted the vision guidance system to only one particular system that is excluded from the claims (“without”). Accordingly, the Federal Circuit affirmed.

Infringement Under Doctrine of Equivalents Not Established by General Similarities

Advanced Steel sued X-Body Equipment for infringement of a method of loading shipping containers with bulk material. The “proximate end” of the claimed transfer base, for moving loaded material, was disputed by the parties. X-Body successfully argued on summary judgment that the piston-and-cylinder for its container packer was not connected to the proximate end of its transfer base, but instead was connected at a point on the bottom of the container packer. Under the district court’s construction of “proximate end” (which means “the extreme or last part lengthwise”), there was no literal infringement or infringement under the doctrine of equivalents.

CAFC Rejects Claim Construction on Plain Meaning when Context Leads to a Different Interpretation

The district court erred by relying entirely on the plain meaning of the claim where context-based interpretations were necessary. The Court held that the plural terms “intervals” and “remotes” in isolation could mean what must occur during each interval and what was applicable to all the remotes, but there was no requirement indicated in the remaining claim language or specification that at least one remote transmit and receive frames during at least one interval. The Court held that this evidence, together with other language in claim 21, and teachings in the specification, showed that each cycle in the claims must have intervals in which remotes were allowed to transmit.

CAFC Reverses Claim Construction on Operability Requirements of the Invention

The Federal Circuit reversed the district court’s claim construction, and held that the claim language does not require that the start and duration of remote-transmission intervals be communicated prior to the beginning of the cycle. St. Jude had not explained why, in accordance with the specification, it was not sufficient that a remote know roughly when to expect an upcoming cycle to begin, rather than its exact starting time, and why such interval information could not be communicated during a cycle. The Court postulated that a remote unit could power up its communications equipment for the entirety of a first cycle, receive interval information whenever it was transmitted, then only power up that equipment during its assigned interval for subsequent cycles.

CAFC Says Prior Art Reference Sufficiently Enabled Based on Applicant Admissions

As applied to Morsa’s application, the Court found that the specification made numerous admissions regarding the knowledge of a person of skill at the time of the invention. However, Judge Newman wrote in dissent that enablement of prior art must also come from the prior art, and that the majority improperly used information from the specification of the patent at issue to find that a prior art reference was enabling.

Reputational Injury Confers Standing to Sue For Correction of Inventorship

The Court expressly held that concrete and particularized reputational injury alone can give rise to Article III standing to correct inventorship under § 256. Recognition as an inventor of an important patent is as significant to an inventor’s career as is authoring a scientific paper. Further, pecuniary consequences may flow from being designated an inventor, particularly for professionals employed as inventors. Here, Dr. Shukh presented numerous questions of material fact concerning whether his omission from the contested patents caused him a reputational injury.

CAFC Finds Substantially Pure Isomer Obvious From Prior Art 50/50 Mixture

The issue on appeal was whether a mixture comprising at least 92% of the (6S) isomer of leucovorin would have been obvious when both the 50/50 mixture of isomers and the pure (6S) isomer were known in the art. Affirming the district court, the Federal Circuit agreed that “one of skill would have been motivated to modify the prior art 50/50 mixture to make the claimed mixture,” especially when it was known that the desired activity lies with the (6S) isomer. The Court found no evidence indicating that the claimed mixture “possess[ed] unexpected advantages over the prior art pure material” so as to overcome obviousness.

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