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Ryan Schermerhorn is a registered patent attorney who helps clients in all stages of patent prosecution. Mr. Schermerhorn is experienced in preparing and prosecuting domestic and foreign patent applications in mechanical, electrical, medical, e-commerce and business method arts. He has counseled clients on patentability, freedom to operate and patent invalidity and has reviewed and interpreted licensing and joint research agreements. Read full bio here.

On June 30th, the Federal Circuit granted a petition for re-hearing en banc in LKQ Corp. v. GM Global Tech. Operations LLC.[1] LKQ, an auto parts repair vendor for GM, successfully petitioned for inter partes review of GM’s design patent for a front fender design,[2] arguing it was anticipated by a prior art reference (Lain) and obvious over Lian alone or in combination with a brochure for the 2010 Hyundai Tucson. The PTAB ultimately affirmed the patentability of GM’s claimed design, prompting LKQ to appeal to the Federal Circuit. On appeal, LKQ argued that the PTAB’s obviousness analysis utilized tests overruled by the Supreme Court’s decision in KSR, and, as such, the obviousness standard for design patents should mirror the standard for utility patents set forth in KSR. However, a three-judge panel of the Federal Circuit disagreed, noting in relevant part that “it is not clear the Supreme Court has overruled” the tests for obviousness applied by the PTAB.Continue Reading Federal Circuit to Decide Whether KSR Applies to Design Patents

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In Donner Technology, LLC v. Pro Stage Gear, LLC, Appeal. No. 20-1104 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 9, 2020), the Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the PTAB’s decision that the Petitioner, Donner Technology, did not sufficiently prove unpatentability because a printed publication on which it relied was not sufficiently analogous to the claimed subject matter.  In doing so, the Federal Circuit reminded the PTAB, and practitioners alike, of the proper standard for determining whether a reference is “analogous,” as well as how to appropriately apply that standard.
Continue Reading PTAB Plays Wrong Tune On Whether Reference is Analogous Art

In Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, (“Ericsson”), v TCL Corporation, (“TCL”), 2017-2381, -2385 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 7, 2019), the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s decision that canceled claims in an Ericsson patent that TCL challenged based on its subsidiary finding that a German journal article TCL presented was indeed prior art.  The decision is important because it offers guidance in assessing what type of evidence may be persuasive in a PTAB’s assessment of the public accessibility of a journal article whose publication date is close to the challenged patent’s critical date.
Continue Reading Raiders of the Lost Art

In ATI Technologies v. Iancu, 920 F.3d 1362 (Fed. Cir. 2019), the Federal Circuit reversed the PTAB’s decision that the Patent Owner had not presented sufficient evidence to swear behind several prior art references.  In doing so, the Federal Circuit reminded the PTAB, as well as practitioners alike, of the proper standard of proof for demonstrating the diligent reduction to practice of an earlier purported conception.
Continue Reading PTAB Failed to Apply Standard of Diligence Properly

The PTAB Bar Association’s Annual Conference in March included a panel of Administrative Patent Judges who offered commentary on best practices in ex parte appeals from original examination and reexaminations. The participating APJs were Lead Administrative Patent Judge Rae Lynn Guest and Administrative Patent Judge James T. Moore.
Continue Reading PTAB Judges Weigh in on Best Practices for Ex parte Appeals

PTAB Failed to Properly Apply Incorporation by Reference Doctrine

In Paice LLC, The Abell Foundation, Inc., v. Ford Motor Company, Appeal No. 2017-1406 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 1, 2018), the Federal Circuit reversed a PTAB decision for failing to properly apply the doctrine of incorporation by reference, thereby reminding the PTAB as well as practitioners alike of the proper standard for invoking and applying that doctrine.
Continue Reading PTAB Failed to Properly Apply Incorporation by Reference Doctrine

Last fall, the Federal Circuit reversed a PTAB decision that affirmed an Examiner’s rejection of various claims in an ex parte reexamination because the Examiner’s interpretation of the claims, which the PTAB upheld, was unreasonably broad. In re Smith International, Inc., Appeal No. 2016-2303 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 26, 2017). The court’s decision is noteworthy because it reinforces the bounds of the broadest reasonable interpretation claim construction standard the Patent Office must apply when assessing patentability, bounds that do not encompass the broadest possible interpretation.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Again Reminds PTAB that BRI Must Be Reasonable

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In Wasica Finance GmbH v. Continental Automotive Sys., Inc., (Fed. Cir. Apr. 4, 2017), the Federal Circuit affirmed-in-part and reversed-in-part two PTAB final written decisions cancelling some but not all challenged claims  of U.S. Patent No. 5,602,524 (“the ‘524 patent”). The PTAB and court decisions are interesting because together they highlight the consequence of not supporting seemingly strong arguments with expert witness testimony. Further, the decisions highlight the consequence of not explaining how facts implicate esoteric nuances in the patent laws.Continue Reading Federal Circuit Signals that PTAB Correctly Construed Most Signal Terms but Misconstrued one Other

Apple Icon ImagesA little more than a month after the Delaware district court narrowly interpreted the IPR estoppel provision to suggest that it may not be necessary to include all known grounds so as to avoid estoppel in district court litigation, the same court issued a decision suggesting that the IPR estoppel provision may not be so narrow after all.  The decision adds to the growing confusion over the scope of the estoppel provision Congress wrote into the AIA.

On December 20, 2013, Parallel Networks Licensing, LLC (“Parallel Networks”) sued International Business Machines Corporation (“IBM”) in the Delaware district court for infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 5,894,554 (“the ‘554 Patent”) and 6,415,335 (“the ‘335 Patent”).  Parallel Networks Licensing, LLC v. International Bus. Machs. Corp., Case No. 13-2072 (D. Del.).  IBM answered and counterclaimed seeking declaratory judgments of non-infringement and invalidity based on anticipation and obviousness.
Continue Reading Joinder Does Not Prevent Application of IPR Estoppel Provision

The Federal Circuit has once again vacated and remanded a PTAB decision on the basis that the PTAB did not adequately explain its reasons for finding a claimed invention obvious, but this time in the context of an appeal decision affirming an examiner’s rejection of pending claims.

In In re: Marcel Van Os et al., Appeal No. 2015-1975 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 3, 2017), the Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the PTAB’s affirmance, on appeal, of the examiner’s rejection of claims 38-41 of U.S. Patent Application No. 12/364,470 (“the 470 application”) as being obvious over U.S. Patent No. 7,231,229 (“Hawkins”) in view of U.S. Pub. No. 2002/0191059 (“Gillespie”).
Continue Reading Federal Circuit to PTAB (Once Again) – Explain Yourself!!!