Posts Tagged: "claim construction"

Congress Includes an Ugly Sweater in the STRONGER Patents Act

It is not unusual for there to be unintended consequences in the law or life. A loved one gives you something you don’t really like, but you do such a good job of feigning happiness that it becomes a regular gift. Who knew you could ever have too many “lovely” ties or too much single malt Scotch? Congress is in the process of giving the patent bar some welcome relief on some important issues, but may be throwing in that unwanted gift along with it. The STRONGER Patents Act intends to address the potential for inconsistent rulings between district court cases and inter partes reviews (IPRs). The Act achieves this by expressing a preference for district court rulings and by requiring IPRs to apply the same standards for validity determinations that are used in the district court. This is already the case by USPTO regulation with respect to claim construction, but the Act would make it statutory for both claim construction and validity, and thus not subject to change by the USPTO. While the use of the same standard for validity in both forums will make the rulings more consistent, the statutory preference for the district court over the IPR may have an unintended consequence.

Professors Expand Upon Proposals to Senate IP Subcommittee for Improving Patent Quality

On October 30, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property heard from five witnesses on ways to improve patent quality at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The Subcommittee subsequently posed questions to the witnesses, including professors Colleen Chien, R. Polk Wagner, and Melissa Wasserman, to supplement their testimony. Those witnesses have now submitted their responses, which expand upon their various suggestions for improving patent quality.

Recent PTAB Decisions Provide a Roadmap for Combating Broadest “Unreasonable” Interpretation

As I have previously reported on KSJ Law, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued 80 decisions on appeals in October, and reversed the examiner in 24 of those. Claim construction was at issue in several, and the PTAB made several comments, supported by case law, that will be useful to those laboring against “broadest reasonable interpretations” that are, in fact, not reasonable. Taken together, these recent decisions provide a road map for first arguing against a broadest reasonable interpretation that is overly broad and unreasonable, thereby supporting the conclusion that a prima facie case against the properly construed claims has not been made.

Federal Circuit Decision Delays Generic Osteoarthritis Drug

On October 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a decision in HZNP Medicines LLC v. Actavis Laboratories UT, Inc. affirming the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey’s findings of invalidity and noninfringement of certain claims of some of the asserted HZNP (Horizon) patents, as well as the district court’s finding of nonobviousness of one claim of another Horizon patent. The finding of nonobviousness means that Actavis, owned by generic drug maker Teva Pharmaceuticals, is enjoined from engaging in the commercial use, offer for sale, or sale of its product covered in its Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) until the expiration of U.S. Patent No. 9,066,913 (the ‘913 patent) in 2027.

CAFC: Claim Construction That Misreads Plain Language of Claims and Specification Is Clearly Erroneous

The Federal Circuit recently vacated a district court decision which found a patent for the antipsychotic drug “Saphris,” belonging to Forest Laboratories (Forest), valid as nonobvious, but not infringed by ANDA filers Alembic Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (Alembic) and Breckenridge Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Breckenridge). See Forest Labs., LLC v. Sigmapharm Labs., LLC, Nos. 2017-2369, 2017-2370, 2017-2372, 2017-2373, 2017-2374, 2017-2375, 2017-2376, 2017-2389, 2017-2412, 2017-2436, 2017-2438, 2017-2440, 2017-2441, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 7485 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 14, 2019) (Before Prost, Dyk, and Moore, J.) (Opinion for the court, Moore, J.). The Court highlighted an unanswered question that the district court skimmed over at trial and took issue with a claim construction. The Court vacated and remanded for further proceedings on this basis. Alembic and Breckenridge were among a number of drug manufacturers that filed Abbreviated New Drug Applications (ANDA) to market generic versions of Saphris. Saphris is an antipsychotic containing asenapine maleate. Saphris is administered sublingually, meaning under the tongue. Forest sued the ANDA filers for patent infringement. At trial, the district court held that the relevant claims of asserted Patent No. 5,763,476 (“the ’476 patent”) were not invalid as obvious, and that Forest had not established infringement by Alembic or Breckenridge. Alembic and Breckenridge appealed the invalidity determination, and Forest cross-appealed the non-infringement decision as clearly erroneous. On appeal, the Federal Circuit vacated and remanded both the validity and infringement determinations for reconsideration under a correct claim construction of the term “excitation.”

Federal Circuit Corrects District Court’s Claim Construction

The United Stated Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently held that a district court erred in its claim construction and vacated the district court’s judgment of noninfringement, which the parties stipulated to based on the erroneous construction. See Continental Circuits LLC v. Intel Corp., No. 2018-1076, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3920, 2019 WL 489069 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 8, 2019) (Before Lourie, Linn, and Taranto, J.) (Opinion for the court, Lourie, J.). The Court highlighted that the first step in claim construction should always be to determine the plain and ordinary meaning of the claims. Further, the specification should serve to limit the plain and ordinary meaning only when it includes a definition for a claim term or a clear disclaimer or disavowal of claim scope.

Canada Patent Law Changes Are Bad News for Patent Owners

The effects of changes made to Canada’s patent law at the end of 2018 won’t be fully clear for some time, but Canadian patent owners and those looking to expand patent strategies into Canada may want to take heed.

On December 13, 2018, the Governor General of Canada gave royal assent to pass Bill C-86, known as the Budget Implementation Act, into law. The legislation makes several changes to Canadian patent law relating to how patent and trademark infringement cases are litigated in Canadian courts and prescribes new licensing requirements for patent and trademark agents operating in Canada. The amendments to the Canadian Patent Act are laid out in Part 4, Division 7, Subdivision A of the budget law.

Federal Circuit Says Erroneous Claim Construction Led PTAB to Uphold Claims as Valid

On Thursday, December 20th, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a nonprecedential decision in Vivint, Inc. v. Alarm.com, Inc. which affirmed aspects of three inter partes review (IPR) proceedings conducted by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) invalidating certain claims from three patents owned by Vivint. However, the Federal Circuit panel of Chief Judge Sharon Prost and Circuit Judges Kathleen O’Malley and Todd Hughes found an erroneous claim construction led the Board to uphold some of the challenged claims.

CAFC Affirms PTAB Win for Patent Owner in Nonprecedential Decision, Chief Prost Dissents

The Federal Circuit recently issued a nonprecedential opinion in Amazon.com, Inc. v. ZitoVault, LLC, affirming a decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that e-commerce giant Amazon failed to prove a patent owned by security solutions provider ZitoVault was unpatentable. The Federal Circuit majority of Circuit Judges Kara Stoll and Kathleen O’Malley disagreed with Amazon’s that the PTAB erred in its claim construction. Dissenting, Chief Judge Sharon Prost wrote that she believed the PTAB’s analysis of a specific claim term was flawed, and she would have vacated the PTAB decision and remanded the case for further consideration. The patent-at-issue was ZitoVault’s U.S. Patent No. 6484257, titled System and Method for Maintaining N Number of Simultaneous Cryptographic Sessions Using a Distributed Computing Environment. Issued in November 2002, it claims a software architecture for conducting a plurality of cryptographic sessions over a distributed computing environment.

CAFC finds nexus between minimally invasive surgical patent and commercialized procedure

On Friday, November 9th, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a nonprecedential decision in NuVasive, Inc. v. Iancu, which vacated certain findings of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in an inter partes reexamination proceeding involving a NuVasive patent covering a system and methods for minimally invasive surgical procedures. The Federal Circuit panel of Circuit Judges Pauline Newman, Raymond Chen and Todd Hughes determined that on the issue of secondary considerations the PTAB erred in finding no nexus between NuVasive’s claimed method and the surgical procedure actually commercialized by NuVasive. The panel also held that further fact-finding was required in order to determine whether an asserted prior art publication teaches a certain nerve-monitoring technique necessary to support the Board’s determination of obviousness. Therefore, the decision of the PTAB was vacated and the case remanded for further proceedings consistent with the Court’s opinion.

Harmonizing the PTAB: Iancu calls change to Phillips ‘critically important’

“It seems self-evident that the same patent contested in different tribunals should have its meaning – its boundaries – determined using the same standard,” Director Iancu said when discussing the final rules implementing the Phillips standard at the PTAB… Those few who were not pleased by the change have cited a believe that the change to the Phillips standard would usher in a return to lower quality patents. With a bit of a confrontational tone, Director Iancu took issue with that, finding the argument without merit.

CAFC vacates Summary Judgment entered against Intellectual Ventures

On Tuesday, September 4th, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. T-Mobile USA, Inc., et. al., vacating and remanding a grant of summary judgment entered by the district court finding the defendants in the case didn’t infringe a patent asserted by Intellectual Ventures. The Federal Circuit panel of Chief Judge Sharon Prost and Circuit Judges Kimberly Moore and Jimmie Reyna found that the district court had erred in its claim construction leading up to the grant of summary judgment in the case.

Federal Circuit Vacates PTAB Decision for Failure to Consider Ericsson Reply Brief

In its decision, the Federal Circuit noted that the PTAB is entitled to strike arguments improperly raised in a reply brief under 37 CFR § 42.23(b). However, the appellate court disagreed that Ericsson raised a new theory in its reply brief and thus the Board erred in not considering those portions of the reply brief. “The Board’s error was parsing Ericsson’s arguments on reply with too fine of a filter,” the Federal Circuit found. Ericsson’s petition for IPR described how a person with ordinary skill in the art would be familiar with the concept of interleaving. The CAFC further found that the PTAB’s error was exacerbated by the fact that the new claim constructions proposed by Intellectual Ventures after institution gave rise to the significance of interleaving in the proceeding. In light of this, the Federal Circuit found that Ericsson deserved an opportunity to respond to the new construction.

NYIPLA Endorses Patent Office Change to Phillips Claim Construction Standard

The proposed rule would adopt the narrower standard articulated by the Federal Circuit in Phillips v. AWH Corp., where the “words of a claim are generally given their ordinary and customary meaning,” which is “the meaning that the term would have to a person of ordinary skill in the art in question at the time of the invention.” 415 F.3d 1303, 1312-13 (Fed. Cir. 2005). Additionally, under the proposed approach, the Patent Office would construe patent claims and proposed claims based on the record of AIA proceeding, and take into account the claim language, specification, and prosecution history. In response to the Patent Office’s notice of proposed rulemaking, the New York Intellectual Property Law Association (NYIPLA) recently submitted comments endorsing the Patent Office’s proposed changes.

Congresswoman Lofgren Sends Letter to USPTO Director Iancu Opposing Proposed Changes to Claim Construction Rule at PTAB

Congresswoman Lofgren is now opposing a rule change she previously endorsed as an original co-sponsor of a bill that would have changed the claim construction rule in exactly the same way proposed by Director Iancu… But how is adopting a rule that would have already been the law had Lofgren had her way possibly frustrate or disregard Congress? Of course, we aren’t supposed to ask that question. Once the “patent troll” boogeyman card is played everything else is supposed to fade away.