concealment : CAFC Alert

Confusion dogging best mode requirement in its waning days: Is intentional concealment required?

Le-Nhung McLeland | June 5, 2013

Ateliers de la Haute-Garonne, and F2C2 Systems SAS v. Broetje Automation USA Inc. and Broetje Automation GMBH

May 21, 2013

Panel:  Newman, Prost, and Reyna.  Opinion by Newman. Dissent by Prost.

Summary:

An embodiment with three grooves is disclosed in the specification of the patents-in-suit as a preferred embodiment of an apparatus for dispensing rivets.  In his deposition one of the two inventors stated that an odd number of grooves was required to prevent a rivet from rotating on itself in the device as a result of the rivet stem going inside one of the grooves.  The district court found that the specification did not “state that an odd number of grooves is better than an even number”, and concluded that the patents “effectively conceal the best mode.”  Summary judgment is granted.  On appeal the CAFC finds no violation of the best mode requirement. Questions:  Is the three-groove embodiment the best mode, or is the belief that an odd number of grooves is required the best mode?  Has the best mode been concealed, and does the concealment have to be intentional for the patent to be invalidated?
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