appeal : CAFC Alert

In 6-4 en banc decision, Federal Circuit maintains no-deference review of District Courts’ claim constructions

Nicolas Seckel | March 11, 2014

Lighting Ballast v. Philips Electronics (en banc, Precedential)

Decided February 21, 2014

Before NEWMAN, LOURIE, O’MALLEY.  Opinion by NEWMAN, Concurrence by LOURIE, Dissent by O’MALLEY.

Summary:

In a patent dispute involving the interpretation of a “means-plus-function” term, a three-judge panel of the Federal Circuit revised the District Court’s claim construction on appeal and held the patent claim invalid for indefiniteness, in the absence of any structure in the description corresponding to the “means” recited in the claim.

The Federal Circuit granted rehearing of the panel decision by the full Court (“en banc”), for the purpose of revisiting its practice of reviewing claim construction without giving any deference to the District Court.  In a 6-4 decision, the Federal Circuit en banc maintains the plenary review (“de novo”) rule established by its 1998 decision Cybor Corp. v. FAS Technologies, Inc.


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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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Board Should Consider Appellee’s Grounds For Affirming Rejection Presented To Examiner During Reexamination, Even If Grounds Had Not Been Raised On Appeal

Bill Schertler | February 6, 2013

Rexnord Industries v. Kappos

January 23, 2013

Panel:  Newman, Lourie, Prost.  Opinion by Newman.

Summary:

In 2003 Habasit filed an infringement suit against Rexnord in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware for infringement of its U.S. Patent No. 6,523,680 (the ’680 patent).  Rexnord then requested inter partes reexamination of the ’680 patent, and the district court stayed the infringement suit pending completion of reexamination.

On reexamination, the examiner held all of the claims in the ’680 patent unpatentable for anticipation and obviousness.  Habasit appealed the examiner’s decision to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (Board).  On appeal, the Board reversed the examiner’s decision and held the claims patentable.

Rexnord appealed to the CAFC.  The CAFC affirmed that the claims are not anticipated, and reversed the Board’s determination that the claimed invention is not obvious in view of certain prior art.


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Supreme Court Sides with Inventors in Kappos v. Hyatt

Darrin Auito | May 16, 2012

David J. Kappos v. Gilbert P. Hyatt

April 18, 2012

Affirmed 9-0 (CAFC en banc 7-2 decision).  Opinion by Justice Thomas.  Concurring opinion by Justice Sotomayor joined by Justice Breyer.

Summary:

The Hyatt decision is a victory for patent applicants.  Any patent applicant dissatisfied with a decision of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (or Patent Trial and Appeal Board after enactment of the AIA) may file a civil action against the Director of the PTO in federal district court and introduce new evidence beyond what was submitted to the PTO.  The new evidence is subject to de novo review.


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