Claim Construction : CAFC Alert

Limitations describing how an apparatus is made can structurally limit the apparatus

Andrew Melick | June 12, 2013

Regents of University of Minnesota v. AGA Medical Corp.

June 3, 2013

Panel:  Rader, Wallach, Dyk.  Opinion by Dyk.

Summary

Regents of University of Minnesota (“University”) sued AGA Medical for infringement of U.S. Patents 6,077,281 and 6,077,291 directed to medical devices called septal occluders.  A claim at issue recites two disks having central membranes, the two disks being “affixed” to each other at the central membranes “to define a conjoint disk.”  The accused product was a molded one-piece device.  In the district court, the claim was construed as to require that the disks, before being affixed, exist separately as individual disks that are then attached to each other.  Since the accused device was a single molded device and was not constructed from two separate disks, the district court entered summary judgment of non-infringement.  The CAFC affirmed this construction and the summary judgment of non-infringement.

Another claim at issue was found to be anticipated.  The University attempted to use prosecution disclaimer to narrow the claim and avoid anticipation.  However, the court rejected the prosecution disclaimer because the prosecution disclaimer was from a parent application and applied to “materially” different claim language.


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Even Without a Lexicography One Term May Have More Than One Meaning

Bernadette McGann | May 29, 2013

Title: Even Without a Lexicography One Term May Have More Than One Meaning

Author Name:  Bernadette K. McGann

Case Name:  Aventis Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Amino Chemicals Ltd.

Key words:  Claim Construction, Intrinsic Evidence, Prosecution History

Decision Date: May 20, 2013

CAFC Panel and opinion author:  Newman, Bryson and Reyna.  Opinion by Reyna.  Dissenting opinion by Bryson

Summary

The claim in dispute recites a process of preparing a piperidine derivative compound that included providing a substantially pure regioisomer of a specific formula.  The District Court construed the meaning of “substantially pure” in relation to an intermediate compound to mean 98% purity, which is the same meaning as “substantially pure” when in relation to the piperidine derivative end product.  The CAFC reversed the “one construction throughout the patent” rule, adopted by the District Court.


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CAFC Reverses Trial Court’s Indefiniteness Ruling

Scott Daniels | May 9, 2013

Biosig Instruments v. Nautilus

April 26, 2013

Panel: Wallach, Schall and Newman.  Opinion by Wallach. Concurrence by Schall.

Summary

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rarely finds patent claims to be so indefinite that the they are invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 112, ¶ 2.  This historical proclivity was on display last in the CAFC’s decision in Biosig Instruments V. Nautilus.  There, the Court reversed a summary judgment of invalidity for indefiniteness, concluding that the claim was “amenable to construction” and not ‘insolubly ambiguous.”


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If Alleged Infringer Doesn’t Cross-Appeal Validity of Narrowly Interpreted Claim, He May Not Challenge Validity of Later Broadly Construed Claim

Sadao Kinashi | May 8, 2013

Lazare Kaplan Int’l, Inc. v. Photoscribe Techs., Inc.,

April 19, 2013

Panel: Lourie, Dyk and Reyna.  Opinion by Lourie.  Dissent by Dyk.

Summary  

Based on narrow claim construction, the district court issued a prior judgment that patent claims were valid but not infringed either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents.  Lazare Kaplan (Patentee) appealed the judgment of non-infringement.  But Photoscribe (Alleged Infringer) did not cross-appeal the judgment of validity.  On appeal, CAFC broadly interpreted the claims and vacated the judgments of no infringement.  The issue of infringement was remanded to the district court.

On remand, Photoscribe moved for summary judgment of invalidity based on the CAFC’s broad claim construction, and moved for relief from the district court’s prior judgment of validity under Rule 60(b).  The district court granted both of Photoscribe’s motions.  Lazare Kaplan appealed.  CAFC reversed both district court decisions holding that the district court abused its discretion by granting relief under Rule 60(b).

地裁は、先の判決で、クレームを狭く解釈し、特許クレームは有効だが、侵害はないと判決した。特許権者Lazare Kaplan社は非侵害判決を不服として控訴したが、被疑侵害者Photoscribe社は、特許有効の判決に関して控訴しなかった。控訴審でCAFCはクレームを広く解釈し、非侵害判決を破棄し、地裁に差戻した。

差戻審で、Photoscribe社は、CAFCの解釈に基づいて特許クレームの無効を主張し、一方、特許有効の確定判決に関し、それに拘束されない連邦民事訴訟規則60(b)に基づく救済を求めた。地裁はPhotoscribe社の両方の申立てを認めた。CAFCは地裁が規則60(b)に基づく救済を認めたことは裁量権を逸脱するとし、また、特許クレーム無効判決を破棄した。


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Clear and Unmistakeable Evidence of a Disclaimer Found in Response to Enablement Rejection

Kumiko Ide | April 24, 2013

Biogen Idec, Inc., et al. v. GlaxoSmithKline LLC, et al.

April 16, 2013

Panel: Dyk, Plager, Reyna.  Opinion by Reyna.  Dissent by Plager.

Summary

During prosecution of the patent, applicants responded to the examiner’s enablement rejection, wherein they failed to challenge the examiner’s understanding of the crucial terms, and limited their invention to what the examiner believed their specification enabled.  The CAFC affirmed the district court’s narrow claim interpretation of the term “anti-CD20 antibody” based on prosecution history disclaimer.

実施可能要件を満たしていないとして発せられた拒絶通知に対して、出願人は、審査官の理解に対して反論することなく、明細書により実施可能であると審査官が判断したものに発明を限定するような主張を行った。よって、「anti-CD20 antibody」という用語について、狭いクレーム解釈を容認した地裁の判断は誤りでなかったとCAFCは判示した。


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Divided Claim Construction Leads to Reversal of Jury Verdict Against Alleged Infringer

Cindy Chen | April 17, 2013

Saffran v. Johnson & Johnson

April 4, 2013

Panel: Lourie, Moore, and O’Malley.  Opinion by Lourie. Concurrence Opinions by Moore and O’Malley.

Summary

The Federal Circuit reversed a $482 million jury verdict against Cordis, a member of the Johnson & Johnson family. The reversal came as a result of the Federal Circuit’s significant narrowing of the district court’s construction of two key claim limitations. One claim term was narrowed because the Federal Circuit found that the patentee’s arguments made during prosecution of the asserted patent, for the purpose of distinguishing over cited prior art, amounted to prosecution disclaimer. Meanwhile, a structure identified in the specification by the patentee as the corresponding structure to a means-plus-function limitation was disregarded as such, because the specification failed to link the identified structure to the recited function with sufficient specificity.


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Prior Art Reference Must Disclose Arrangement of Elements, Not Merely Each Discrete Element

Thomas Brown | March 20, 2013

SynQor, Inc., v. Artesyn Technologies, Inc., et al.

March 13, 2013

Panel:  Rader, Lourie and Daniel (Chief District Judge).  Opinion by Rader.

Summary

SynQor sued Artesyn Technologies, Inc., and eight other power converter manufactures (Defendants) for infringement of five of SynQor’s U.S. Patents in the United States District Court (“DC”) for the Eastern District of Texas.  The DC granted partial summary judgment of infringement of against the Defendants.  The DC denied Defendants’ motion for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) or a new trial after the jury found all asserted claims infringed, not invalid, and awarded lost-profits of $95 million.  On appeal, the CAFC affirmed the DC based on a review of the record evidence.


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Entirely reasonable? “Black box” claim interpretation by split Federal Circuit panel leaves us in the dark

Nicolas Seckel | February 13, 2013

Harris Corp. v. Fed Ex Corp. (non-precedential)

January 17, 2013

Panel:  Lourie, Clevenger, and Wallach.  Opinion by Clevenger.  Dissent by Wallach

Summary:

Over a dissent, the Federal Circuit panel makes a strict interpretation of “antecedent basis,” which results in a reversal of the District Court’s claim interpretation, and a remand to re-evaluate the infringement issue.

Harris’s patents cover methods and systems for using spread spectrum radio signals to send flight data from a plane’s “black box” to an airport receiver at the end of the flight.  The invention includes steps of generating, accumulating and storing flight data in the plane during the flight, followed by a step of “transmitting the accumulated, stored generated aircraft data” once at the airport.

At the District Court, a jury found that Fed Ex willfully infringed Harris’s patents by using a “design-around” system that transmits all flight data except an optional 5-minute segment.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit panel majority holds that Harris patent claims are limited to the transmission of “all data generated during the flight,” not just any data subset representative of the flight.  The panel’s view is that the narrower interpretation is “entirely reasonable” since the transmitting step refers to the generating step.

In contrast, the dissent sees the claim language as open, so that it would be “counterintuitive” to require that all the generated data must be transmitted.


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Claim Construction and Expert Testimony in Pharmaceutical Patent Litigation

Tang O. Tang | January 31, 2013

Allergan, Inc. v. Barr Laboratories, Inc., Teva Pharmaceutical USA, Inc., and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Sandoz Inc.

January 28, 2013

Panel: Rader, Bryson and Wallach.  Opinion by Bryson.

Summary

Barr Lab. and Sandoz Inc. etc. (collectively Defendants) filed a Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA), listing the patented product in Allergan’s ‘819 patent. Allergan filed an infringement suit against the Defendants. The district court ruled for Allergan, and the Defendants brought it to appeal.

One major point of dispute was about one moiety in the claimed compounds described in claim 5 of patent ‘819 as representable by –N(R4)2. The Defendants asserted that the two R4 moieties must be construed as identical. The district court and the CAFC both found for Allergan in holding that the R4 units did not need to be identical.

Another point of dispute was about the requirement for courts’ independent inquiry into “obviousness” type of patent invalidity case. The CAFC affirmed the district court’s decision that the expert testimony may be a required part of patent invalidity cases based on obviousness, and that independent review of a case involving complex technology, in absence of expert witness, is not required.

Barr Labs和Sandoz公司(以下统称被告)向联邦食品药品管理局提出简化新药申请(ANDA)中将Allergan公司的819专利所保护的专利药品列为仿制药。 Allergan公司对被告提起侵权诉讼。联邦地区法院裁定Allergan胜诉,被告遂到联邦巡回法庭提出上诉。

争议要点之一是,在专利819的权利要求5,对要求受保护药物的描述包括该化合物含有基团 “–N(R 42”。被告声称,这两个R4基团应该理解为相同基团。区法院和联邦巡回上诉法院都认同Allergan的理解,认定对R4基团定义应基于该专利文件中的具体描述,所以两个R4基团不一定相同。

另一个争议点是专利无效请求的案件中法院是否有义务进行独立调查。联邦巡回上诉法院肯定了地区法院的判决,即专家证词可能是专利无效案件的证据的必要组成部分,而当专利无效案件涉及复杂的技术时,在专利无效请求人未提供专家证人的情况下,法庭不需要独立调查案件即可直接判定专利无效请求人应证据不足败诉。


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Applicant’s failure to request claim construction under §112, 6th paragraph may invoke waiver of such claim construction

Yoshiya Nakamura | January 23, 2013

In re Avid Identification Systems, Inc.

January 8, 2013

Panel:  Lourie, Clevenger and Bryson.  Opinion by Lourie.  Dissent by Clevenger.

Summary:

The Examiner rejected claims of a patent at issue, and the PTO board maintained the rejection finding that a means-plus function limitation was found in prior art where its broadest reasonable meaning was given.  CAFC affirmed the PTO decision, and denied the Applicants’ request for a claim construction under § 112, 6th paragraph, instead of the broadest reasonable interpretation.  CAFC reasoned that the Applicants waived that claim construction by failing to raise the issue during the procedure in the PTO.  The dissenting opinion pointed out that the claim construction according to § 112, 6th paragraph is mandatory as the statutory requirement where the claim term clearly invokes the application of § 112, 6th paragraph.

出願人はクレームが自明であるとして拒絶した特許庁審判部の判断を不服として、CAFCに控訴した。問題のクレームには、ミーンズプラスファンクション(”means for”の用語を用いた限定 )を記載がある。そのような記載があると通常、特許法112条第6パラグラフの適用があり、その機能限定は明細書に開示されている構造もしくはそれと均等な構造を記載していると限定解釈される。しかしながら、本件では、特許庁審査官および審判部は、そのミーンズプラスファンクションの限定を、一般的な構造限定のときのように合理的な範囲で最も広い意味(broadest reasonable meaning)の基準を用いて解釈した。この広い解釈に基づいてその機能限定は先行技術に記載されていると特許庁は判断した。この経緯に関してCAFCは、出願人は特許庁の手続きにおいて112条第6パラグラフの適用を自ら主張しなかったためその機会を放棄したと判断し、出願人の主張を退けた。CAFC裁判官の1人は、112条第6パラグラフの適用は制定法上の要求であり、出願人や審査官が同法に基づく限定解釈を要求しなくても先ずその解釈を採用すべきであるとの反対意見を述べた。


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