In Matthews International Corporation v. Vandor Corporation, No. 2017-1889 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 27, 2018) (non-precedential), the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s final written decision to uphold the claims of Vandor’s patent that Matthews challenged in inter partes review. The claims at issue “are directed to ‘a casket arrangement’ made of pliable material, such as cardboard,” in which side and end panels of the casket can be folded to allow the casket to be reconfigured and condensed for ease in shipping and storage. According to the PTAB and the Court, Matthews failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the claims were anticipated by the prior art, even though the claims may be obvious.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Puts Nail in Coffin For Petitioner’s Case Challenging Casket Patent

In Praxair Distrib. v. Mallinckrodt Hosp. Pdts., (Fed. Circ. May 16, 2018), the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s application of the printed matter doctrine in an IPR, and determined that all challenged claims were obvious.

Mallinckrodt’s patent is directed to methods of treating newborns having low blood oxygenation with nitric oxide (NO) gas, “to dilate blood vessels in the lungs and … thereby improve blood oxygenation.” Generally, the claims recite methods of providing medical providers with NO gas, and information relating to treatment with NO.
Continue Reading PTAB Properly Applied the Printed Matter Doctrine

Despite disagreeing with the PTAB’s preferred claim construction, the Federal Circuit in Arendi S.A.R.L. v. Google LLC, Case No. 2016-1249 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 20, 2018) nevertheless determined that the PTAB had correctly canceled the challenged claims.

The Board had offered two, alternative rulings invalidating all claims on obviousness grounds. In its primary ruling, the Board construed the claims after rejecting the argument that a disclaimer was made during prosecution.
Continue Reading PTAB Was Wrong to Ignore an Applicant’s Prosecution Disclaimer Because of Examiner’s Reasons for Allowance

The Federal Circuit upheld the PTAB’s mixed decisions in IPRs filed by Google to challenge claims of two Personal Audio LLC patents asserted against Apple, Samsung, Amazon and Research in Motion, in addition to Google. Google LLC v. Personal Audio LLC, Nos. 2017-1162, -1166, -2110, -2111 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 1, 2018) (non-precedential).
Continue Reading Mixed Result Upheld in Personal Audio IPRs

In a recent non-precedential decision, Snap-on Inc. v. Milwaukee Elec. Tool Corp., No. 2017-1305, 2018 WL 935454 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 16, 2018), the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s final written decisions in several IPRs that upheld challenged claims of Milwaukee Tool patents as nonobvious, although the court determined that the PTAB erred in construing a disputed claim term.
Continue Reading Claim Term Read Out by PTAB Constituted “Harmless Error”

Monsanto Technology LLC v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. Appeal 2017-1032 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 5, 2018), illustrates “[t]he life of a patent solicitor has always been a hard one.” [1] The case concerns an inter partes reexamination of a Monsanto patent in which the Patent Office concluded the claimed subject matter was inherently described in an earlier DuPont patent. The Patent Office reached this conclusion because DuPont presented during the reexamination its unpublished data regarding experiments described in its earlier patent. The Federal Circuit affirmed.
Continue Reading Play the Claim

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

Two recent Federal Circuit decisions illustrate how an error in construing claims may lead the court to reverse a PTAB final written decision. In Organik Kimya AS v. Rohm & Haas Co., the Federal Circuit determined that the PTAB correctly construed the disputed claim term, “swelling agent,” and therefore affirmed the PTAB’s decisions upholding the patentability of challenged claims directed to processes for preparing emulsion polymers. In contrast, in Owens Corning v. Fast Felt Corp., decided on the same day, the court determined that the PTAB erred in construing the term “roofing or building cover material” too narrowly, and thus reversed the PTAB’s decision canceling claims directed to methods of applying polymer “nail tabs” on roofing and building cover material.  
Continue Reading Error in Claim Construction Leads to Reversal of IPR Decision and Cancelation of Claims

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Earlier this year, the Federal Circuit held “that statements made by a patent owner during an IPR proceeding, whether before or after an institution decision, can be considered for claim construction and relied upon to support a finding of prosecution disclaimer.” Aylus Networks, Inc., v. Apple Inc., Appeal 2016-1599 (Fed. Cir. May 11, 2017). In so holding, the court affirmed the district court’s summary judgment that Apple Inc’s AirPlay feature does not infringe the asserted claims of U.S. Patent No. RE 44,412. Critical to the district court’s judgment was its claim construction of the limitation “wherein the CPP logic is invoked” to “require only the CPP logic is invoked.” (emphasis added). The Patent Owner’s arguments presented during the pre-institution phase of the IPR proceeding compelled the district court to construe the claim so narrowly that the court also concluded that the accused AirPlay feature does not infringe.Continue Reading Patent Owner’s Optional Preliminary Response Avoids IPR, But Dooms Infringement Action

In a split opinion in Homeland Housewares, LLC v. Whirlpool Corporation, the Federal Circuit has again overturned a final written decision issued by the PTAB determining that challenged claims in an IPR were not unpatentable, a development that should at least cast doubt on the validity of patents that survive challenges at the PTAB.

Homeland initially petitioned the PTAB for an inter partes review of all claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,581,688 (“the ’688 patent”), assigned to Whirlpool, arguing that the claims were invalid as anticipated by U.S. Patent No. 6,609,821 (“the ’821 patent”).  
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Overturns PTAB’s Finding of Patent Validity