Posts Tagged: "patent claims"

Patent Drafting for Beginners: A prelude to patent claim drafting

The art of patent claim drafting is an undeniably difficult art to master. It is, however, essential for those in the patent space to both appreciate, understand and master. Before we put the cart before the horse let’s take a step back. Given the importance of patent claims it is not unreasonable to want to start there, electing to jump right into the deep end. That would be a mistake. That is not how patent attorneys do it, and if you want to succeed that shouldn’t be your approach either. Before you ever think about writing patent claims there are several very basic questions must be answered first.

IPR Evidence and Trial Impact for Practitioners

For accused infringers relying on invalidity defenses that were presented in an inter partes review (“IPR”) to fight willful infringement allegations in district court, the shift in IPR success rates can spell trouble. Evidence of an IPR in which all asserted claims were not petitioned or some of the challenged claims were not invalidated in a final written decision can undermine willful infringement defenses. And now that Halo v. Pulse has chipped away at the high-bar of the Seagate objective prong in favor of a fact-intensive evaluation, willfulness is more likely to be a centerpiece of jury trials. See Halo Elecs., Inc. v. Pulse Elecs., Inc., No. 14-1513, 2016 WL 3221515 (U.S. June 13, 2016); In re Seagate Tech. LLC, 479 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2007) (en banc). As a result, evidence regarding the strength of and reliance on IPR-presented defenses is more likely to come into the record at trial. Petitioner-defendants need to prepare early for the possibility that evidence of perceived IPR failures will be presented to jury to avoid being left with no admissible evidence disproving willful infringement. A well-prepared defendant can even turn the tables on the patent owner by using the perceived failures to its own advantage in front of the jury.

Federal Circuit Affirms District Court Judgment on All Grounds in LifeNet Health v. LifeCell

Lifenet’s patent is for plasticized soft tissue grafts used for transplantation in humans. The specification discloses that plasticizers can be removed before implantation, although they need not be, as claim 1 discloses three options for the implanting technician, one option being direct implantation without removing plasticizers. LifeCell’s accused grafts are preserved in a solution prior to implantation, and it is undisputed that significant amounts of plasticizers are removed during this soaking process. During claim construction, the parties disputed the meaning of the term “non-removal.” The district court concluded that construction of this term was unnecessary because it was easily understood by a person of ordinary skill in the art to have its plain meaning.

Federal Circuit Provides Additional Insight on §101 Protections for Software Patents

In a September 13, 2016 decision relating to subject matter eligibility of software patents under 35 U.S.C. § 101, the Federal Circuit vacated the district court’s order granting Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c), and held that McRO’s patents were eligible for protection under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The disputed patent claims recited a method for “automatically . . . producing accurate and realistic lip synchronization and facial expressions in animated characters.” The McRO patents identified that a problem in the prior art was that animators, even using the assistance of computers, had to manually manipulate the character model for lip movement. The McRO patents solved this problem by using rules to automatically depict more realistic synchronization of lip movements and speech.

Federal Circuit Revisits Scope of Markush Group Claim Elements, Vacates Summary Judgment on Erroneous Construction

However, in spite of the Court’s determination that the Markush group was closed, the Court agreed with Multilayer that the use of the transitional phrase “consisting of” does not necessarily suggest that a Markush group is closed to mixtures, combinations, or blends. Although recognizing that, typically, there exists a presumption that Markush groups are closed to “blends,” the Court acknowledged that the presumption can be overcome by a combination of other claim language and the specification itself. Here, the Court found explicit evidence of an intent to include blends insofar as the Markush group itself included blends and categories of resins that overlap, and certain dependent claims required layers of film to comprise blends of at least two resins.

The Dynamics of Patentability Beyond §§ 102 and 103

It is the personal relationships and dynamics between those junior and senior examiners where the final, hidden gate to patentability stands. Between them, the junior examiners perform the heavy lifting of searching the prior art and preparing the official actions, and the more senior examiners carry the burden of signing those official actions and allowing applications to grant… To be effective, patent practitioners can do more than narrowly obsess over a single novel and non-obvious element in the claims… Patent practitioners can provide junior examiners with an “elevator pitch” for allowability. They can arm junior examiners with technically clear and concise arguments that are fast to recount and express.

Federal Circuit rules claims defining information-based result are patent ineligible

The CAFC then approvingly noted that the district court invoked “an important common-sense distinction between ends sought and particular means of achieving them, between desired results (functions) and particular ways of achieving (performing) them.” As the district court reasoned, “‘there is a critical difference between patenting a particular concrete solution to a problem and attempting to patent the abstract idea of a solution to the problem in general.’” According to the CAFC, the claims at issue in this case do the latter, namely, “rather than claiming ‘some specific way of enabling a computer to monitor data from multiple sources across an electric power grid,’ some ‘particular implementation,’ they ‘purport to monopolize every potential solution to the problem’…Whereas patenting a particular solution ‘would incentivize further innovation in the form of alternative methods for achieving the same result’… allowing claims like [the ones at issue here] would ‘inhibit[] innovation by prohibiting other inventors from developing their own solutions to the problem without first licensing the abstract idea.’”

Drafting Patent Applications: Writing Method Claims

Method or process claims are relatively easy to write once you know what the core invention is and what is necessary to be included in the claim in order to overcome the prior art. Method or process claims will include active steps to achieve a certain result. In method claims the transition is typically either “comprising” or “comprising the steps of.” While legally there may be some distinction between these two different transitions, both are acceptable. It is also important to understand that each of the steps in a method or process claims use gerunds, which are a form of a verb that ends in “ing” and operates to direct the action that is to take place.

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.

Will the Federal Circuit’s Enfish ruling have broader implications for data storage patents in general?

Days before this Federal Circuit decision, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued its decision for Informatica Corp. v. Protegrity Corp. The patent at issue in this case – U.S. Patent No. 8,402,281 – is directed to a database management system that includes an operative database and an information assets manager database. It is conceivable that the Board erred by pushing past the initial Mayo/Alice question and finding that these claims, which cover a data storage innovation of the kind found in Enfish, may have been erroneous. In other other words, when the Board determined that the combination of the methods did not add significantly more than the already determined abstract idea, that question might have never been properly reached in the first place.

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.

How to Get Broader and Good Quality Patents

Patents, for a long while, have been an integral part of business development strategy. Companies like ARM and Qualcomm, for example, have built their business around patents which constitute a major part of their revenue. And the quality of their patents, for sure, is playing a key role in it.

Patent Claim Interpretation: The Broadest Reasonable Interpretation Standard

The broadest reasonable interpretation standard is frequently referred to simply as BRI within the industry. The Patent Office applies the broadest reasonable interpretation in virtually all circumstances. Whether the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) should be using the broadest reasonable interpretation when it reconsiders previously issued patents in post grant proceedings will soon be considered by the United States Supreme Court. Notwithstanding, the focus of this article is not specifically to evaluate the merits of the Cuozzo appeal, but rather to generally discuss the broadest reasonable interpretation standard and what it means from an analytical perspective.

Patent Drafting: Distinctly identifying the invention in exact terms

In short, a concise description of an invention is an inadequate description of an invention, period. The goal has to be to provide a full, clear, exact description of the invention in a way that particularly points out and distinctly identifies what the inventor believes he or she has invented and wants protection to cover. Even knowing what the legal standard is for the description that must be present in a patent application does not ensure that those without training will be able to satisfy the requirement. The blame for this goes to the way most people describe things as they engage in ordinary, everyday communications.

Court Reverses Indefiniteness Under Nautilus; Design Patents for Surgical Shears are Valid

Ethicon sued Covidien in the Ohio district court for infringement of utility and design patents directed to ultrasonic surgical shear devices. The court granted Covidien’s motions for summary judgment, concluding that one patent was invalid as indefinite, that another patent was not infringed by Covidien’s products, and that several design patents were invalid as functional and were not infringed. Ethicon appealed the judgment to the Federal Circuit. The Federal Circuit reversed on indefiniteness, reversed the district court’s determination that Ethicon’s design patents were invalid as primarily functional, and vacated the summary judgment of non-infringement for a surgical shears patent.