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Posts Tagged: "claims"

Avoid the Patent Pit of Despair: Drafting Claims Away from TC 3600

I’ve recently hosted two webinars on patent classification, taking a look at how contractors for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) determine where to route each patent application within the Office after filing. One webinar dealt with classification generally and a second dealt specifically with classification relating to computer implemented inventions. These webinars were fascinating on many levels. Did you know that the old patent classification system plays an important role in determining which Art Unit is assigned an application? And you probably thought you could forget about class 705! Not so fast! A sparsely populated technical disclosure in the specification with an inartful claim set is still a recipe for characterization in class 705, which still must be avoided at all costs if possible.

Winning Strategies for Getting Past the Five Types of Patent Examiner

Any patent attorney knows that each patent examiner can vary greatly in approach to examination. In this article, five different types of patent examiners and suggest prosecution strategies for each to help you get better outcomes for your clients.

Supreme Court Denies Cert in Two-Way Media v. Comcast, Refuses Another 101 Case

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for writ of certiorari in Two-Way Media Ltd. v. Comcast Cable Communications, refusing to hear yet another appeal in a case involving a question of patent eligibility… Simply put, the answer to the first question asked by Two-Way Media in its Petition for Certiorari is absolutely not. There never has been a requirement that a patent claim must be — or even should be or can appropriately be — read in isolation. In fact, decisions that purport to ascertain the meaning of claim languagewithout the pomp and circumstance of Markman are openly violating the clear dictates of the Supreme Court. 

Federal Circuit Treatment of ‘Commercial Success’ in Hatch-Waxman Cases

In order to establish that the commercial success factor supports a non-obviousness finding, the patentee must establish that a connection (or nexus) exists between the novel aspects of the patent claim(s) and the alleged commercial success. Id.; WesternGeco LLC v. ION Geophysical Corp., 889 F.3d 1308, 1330 (Fed. Cir. 2018). In other words, the patentee must show that the novel aspects of the claim(s) are driving sales and not aspects of the claim(s) that were known in the prior art. In re Huai-Hung Kao, 639 F.3d 1057, 1069 (Fed. Cir. 2011); WesternGeco, 889 F.3d at 1330. In cases brought pursuant to the Hatch-Waxman Act, while there are exceptions, it is most common that patent challengers’ arguments focus predominantly or entirely on an alleged lack of nexus given the substantial sales typically enjoyed by the brand-name drug products that are the subject of such litigation. Though it bears noting that the mere fact that a company is pursuing a generic version of a brand-name drug, by itself, does not support a “commercial success” finding. Galderma Labs., Inc. v. Tolmar, Inc., 737 F.3d 737, 740 (Fed. Cir. 2013).

Denying Inducement to Infringe in Face of a Drug Label: A Fool’s Errand?

Proving inducement to infringe requires showing that the accused infringer possessed “specific intent” to infringe. In pharmaceutical cases, particularly those arising in the Hatch-Waxman framework, specific intent may be supplied by the wording of a drug label. Vanda sheds light on several issues relevant to inferring inducement to infringe based on a drug’s label. For example, can a label’s clear recommendations on ultimate dosage be negated by how a medical provider arrives at the dosage? Or, does finding specific intent require that every practitioner prescribe an infringing dose? Or, can evidence of substantial non-infringing use negate a finding of inducement when the drug’s label instructs performing the patented method?

Patenting Antibodies: Written Description Considerations in Antibody Patents

The Amgen v. Sanofi decision put most functional antibody claims into question, including epitope and competitive binding claims, as well as antibody claims based on a newly characterized antigen. After Amgen v. Sanofi, non-sequence based antibody claims may become more difficult to obtain before the USPTO from a written description standpoint.  Yet, to fully protect the essence of the invention and avoid design-arounds, such claims are extremely valuable to patent owners. To obtain antibody genus claims beyond those defined by sequences, the patent applicant will need to make and test a sufficient number of representative antibodies across the claimed genus, or establish a clear structure/function relationship among the members of the genus.  Patent applicants should carefully assess the amount of data they have acquired, in comparison to the scope of claims that they wish to obtain, before rushing to the Patent Office.

The CAFC Split Non-precedential Decision in Exergen v. Kaz Raises Interesting Issues About Eligibility Determinations

In Exergen Corporation v. Kaz USA, No. 16-2315 (March 8, 2018), the Federal Circuit, in a split non-precedential opinion, affirmed a holding that Exergen’s claims directed to methods and apparatuses for detecting core body temperature were directed to patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101… The majority held that the district court did not clearly err in finding that it was unconventional to use temperature scanning technology to measure arterial temperature beneath the skin… Judge Hughes dissented, arguing that the majority erred by relying on the natural law in determining inventiveness at step two… Judge Hughes seems to suggest that the correct step-two inquiry should be whether, assuming the natural phenomenon were known, it would have been conventional to combine that phenomenon with existing technology to practice the asserted claims.

PCT Species Claim Sufficient to Support Priority Claim of Later-filed Genus Claim

The issue was whether the PCT, which disclosed a “connection to fibre optics bundle which provides for lighting” was a sufficient written description to support the “light guide” “permanently affixed” in the “first channel” of the patented claims. The Board reversed the Examiner and concluded that the earlier application had sufficient written description to qualify as a priority document… The Federal Circuit affirmed. The disclosure of a species, here a “fibre optics bundle,” was sufficient support for a priority claim by a later-filed patent application utilizing genus claims, here a “light guide,” because the patent-in-suit was in a predictable art field and the genus claims covered well-known limitations.

Analyzing obviousness and anticipation challenges to claims directed to an isolated component of a prior art mixture

Based on the governing Federal Circuit case law, where the patent claim at issue is directed to a specific component (such as a specific enantiomer) of a prior art mixture (such as a racemic drug material), it does not appear that there is anything to be gained by a patent challenger, from an anticipation standpoint, simply by virtue of the fact that the specific component inherently exists within that prior art mixture/composition. In other words, while a claim to such an isolated component may potentially be vulnerable to an anticipation attack, the anticipatory reference needs to specifically identify and characterize the component, and must teach how to isolate the component. Absent this sort of “slam dunk” scenario, a patent challenger’s success is likely to rise or fall with the merits of its obviousness argument(s). The critical factors in the obviousness analysis will likely be whether the claimed component was known to be responsible for the activity of the prior art mixture/composition; whether the process used to isolate the claimed component was challenging, or better yet still from the patentee’s perspective, whether the process was inventive; whether the prior art as a whole would have enabled one of ordinary skill in the art to isolate the claimed component; and whether the claimed component exhibits any unexpectedly superior properties relative to the prior art mixture/composition.

Beware of Conditional Limitations when Drafting Patent Claims

Buried in the claim language, conditional limitations may be a vulnerability in an otherwise valuable claim. A conditional limitation is a claim feature that depends on a certain condition being present. For example, when or if condition X is present, feature Y is implemented or has effect. Without condition X, feature Y may be dormant or have no effect. Patent owners should be cognizant of possible conditional limitations implications because conditional limitations may affect claim validity and infringement as discussed below in the context of recent U.S. Patent Office and Federal Circuit cases. In Ex Parte Schulhauser, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“the Board”) held certain claims as unpatentable based on conditional limitations.

Requisites of a Patent Application: Claims and drawings technically not required on filing date

For as long as I can remember, in order for a nonprovisional utility patent application to be awarded the all important filing date you had to file a specification that adequately described the invention, at least one patent claim and at least one drawing if a drawing would facilitate in the understanding of the invention. Spec, claim, drawing was beaten…

An Examiner’s Tips For Speedier Patent Prosecution

Interactions between patent examiners and patent practitioners are often tense. At worst, these interactions can be an exercise in restraint with both parties thinly veiling their disdain for one another. This adversarial approach can stall prosecution and run adverse to the practitioner’s purpose – i.e., to obtain the best patent claim scope possible for his or her client. Patent practitioners thus could benefit in many instances by having a better understanding of an examiner’s expectations and approaching prosecution with a mind toward working with the examiner instead of against the examiner. A conversation with an Examiner in a mechanical art unit provided the following tips for how practitioners may expedite the examination process by working (to the extent possible) within the examiner’s expectations.

An Introduction to Patent Claims

The examination you receive from the patent examiner is never going to be any better than the patent claims you provide. If you provide preposterously broad patent claims and then add very few and perhaps common features to that preposterously broad claim in your dependent claims you are making it easy for the patent examiner to reject the preposterously broad claim and then also reject your barely narrowing dependent claims. Worse, you are left with absolutely no useful information about what the patent examiner thinks might be patentable. You are not in a meaningful position to know what prior art exists that the examiner will later throw at you, and you hardly have any useful basis to talk to the patent examiner.

Pursuit of Extremely Short Patent Claims

Dear Patent Attorney, Please stop filing extremely short, overly broad patent claims. I recently conducted a study to measure the effectiveness of various prosecution strategies. The study covered over a hundred thousand patent assets pursued by software companies, and for this sample, I found that filing extremely short, overly broad patent claims is a bad strategy in just about every way imaginable.

Patent Drafting: The Use of Relative Terminology Can Be Dangerous

The use of relative terminology, which are short-hand terms that express a certain similarity, are quite common in every day conversation, but are not always appropriate for patent applications, or more specifically for patent claims. This is true because patent claims must particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter invented. Therefore, the use of relative terminology in patent claims should be carefully considered. Traps do await the unwary.