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Posts Tagged: "substantial evidence"

The Federal Circuit’s Hidden Agenda

One might naturally expect that, if a rejection under § 101 appealed from the PTAB failed to address all the claim limitations and had zero supporting evidence to determine whether something was abstract or well-understood, routine and conventional, the case would be a slam-dunk at the Federal Circuit.  After all, according to Supreme Court and Federal Circuit precedent, the Federal Circuit would be “powerless to affirm the administrative action by substituting what it considers to be a more adequate or proper basis.” Unfortunately though, nothing could be farther from the truth as is demonstrated by the Federal Circuit’s recent decision of In re Villena, Appeal No. 2017-2069 (August 29, 2018) where, as is proved by the joint appendix, the examiner failed to address each and every claim limitation separately, to address the claim limitations as a whole, ordered combination, and to provide any evidence whatsoever to support his factual assertions.

The Federal Circuit Will Not Re-Weigh Evidence Considered By The Board in IPR Appeals

The Court noted that all of Warsaw’s arguments related to the Board’s findings of fact, and were therefore reviewed for “substantial evidence.” The Board’s reconciliation of the potentially conflicting descriptions in the reference amounted to a re-weighing of evidence, which is not permitted under the standard of review. The Court also affirmed the Board’s motivation to combine analysis. Finally the Court summarily rejected Warsaw’s arguments presented for the first time on appeal.

How Much Deference Should the CAFC Give the USPTO?

A factual determination of the Board is to be upheld if there is substantial evidence to support it, In re Gartside, 203 F.3d 1305, 1315 (Fed. Cir. 2000), and a finding is supported by substantial evidence if reasonable minds might accept the evidence as supporting the factual finding. Consol. Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938). This has been translated by the Federal Circuit to mean “is the determination unreasonable?” Nippon Steel Corp. v. United States, 458 F.3d 1345, 1351 (Fed. Cir. 2006).

Petition for Rehearing en banc filed in Plasmart v. Kappos

This case intrigued me from the start because it seemed rather odd that there should be a nonprecedential opinion in an appeal to the Federal Circuit necessitated by a completely adjudicated inter partes reexamination at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Moreover, the original panel concluded that the combination of known elements resulted in a predictable result. The problem with that reasoning, however, is that not all of the elements were found within the prior art. In fact, the Board found that there are no fewer than three (3) meaningful structural differences between the invention as claimed and the prior art.

Obviousness Ruling Based on Mischaracterizations of Reference Overturned by CAFC

But what is refreshing and important in the Federal Circuit’s opinion is that mischaracterizations of references relied upon by the patent examiner (or the BPAI) for obviousness rulings are not to be simply glossed over as “harmless error.” Put differently, the Chapman decision gives patent applicant’s a viable legal basis to hold a patent examiner’s (as well as the BPAI’s) “feet to the fire” to challenge an obviousness (or anticipation) rejection based on one or more mischaracterizations of a reference.

Entire Market Value Rule Lives As $357 Million Verdict Dies

The appeal in Lucent Technologies, Inc. v. Gateway, Inc. from the Southern District of California was considered in many quarters as the potentially seminal case on how to calculate damages based on a reasonable royalty using the Georgia-Pacific factors, especially the “entire market value” rule (aka factor 13). That Microsoft and others were currently on the hook to Lucent Technologies…