IPR : CAFC Alert

When Motion to amend is filed in IPR, Opponent can cite additional references.

Sadao Kinashi | July 18, 2017

Shinn Fu vs. Tire Hanger (Fed. Cir. 2017)

July 3, 2017

Before Prost, Reyna and Taranto. Opinion by Prost

Summary:

This is an appeal from an inter partes review (IPR) of USP 6,681,897 (“’897 patent”).  The patentee filed a motion to amend.  Petitioner opposed to the motion and presented arguments of unpatentability adding new references.  The Board ignored Petitioner’s argument and granted the patent owner’s motion to amend and held the substitute claims patentable.

CAFC vacated and remanded holding that the Board did not properly consider the petitioner’s arguments in opposition to the Patentee’s motion to amend.

この事件は、米国特許6,681,897の当事者系レビュー(IPR)の決定の不服申立に関する。特許権者はIPRでクレームを補正する申立をした。請求人は先行技術引例を追加して補正クレームは特許性がないと主張した。審判部は、補正に対する請求人の主張を無視し、補正クレームは特許性ありとして補正を認めた。

CAFCは、審判部が、補正の申立に反対する主張を考慮しなかったのは不当であるとして、審決を取消し、補正に反対する主張の審理のため差戻した。


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Statements made in IPR proceeding can be relied on to support a finding of prosecution disclaimer during claim construction

Shan Gong | July 5, 2017

Aylus Networks, Inc., v. Apple Inc.

May 11, 2017

Before Moore, Linn, and Stoll.  Opinion by Stoll.

Summary

Patent owner Aylus Networks, Inc. sued Apple Inc. in district court for infringement of the U.S. Patent No. RE 44,412 (“the ‘412 patent”). Apple filed two separate IPRs challenging validity of all the claims. PTAB denied to institute claim 2 based on Aylus’s explanation of a limitation to claim 2. During claim construction in district court, this same explanation is relied on to support a finding of prosecution disclaimer. CAFC affirmed the district court’s finding of prosecution history disclaimer. CAFC also stated that prosecution disclaimer applies whether a statement is made before or after instituting an IPR.


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Evidence showing conversion of units to find anticipation

Yoshiya Nakamura | December 9, 2016

REG Synthetic Fuels, LLC. v. Neste Oil Oyj

November 8, 2016

Before Prost, Taranto and Chen.  Opinion by Chen.

Summary

REG Synthetic Fuels, LLC (REG) owns U.S. Patent No. 8,231,804 (’804 patent).  Neste Oil Oyj (Neste) requested inter partes review against claims 1–5 and 8 of the ’804 patent, which were directed to a composition comprising paraffins (hydrocarbons) useful as heat-insulation material in a house.  PTAB found that claim 1 was anticipated by cited references including Craig.  CAFC affirmed.  The key feature of claim 1 was the limitation: “comprising at least 75 wt% (weight percent) even-carbon-number paraffins.”  Craig disclosed the production of hydrocarbon compositions and the hydrocarbon amounts therein defined by a different unit, “peak area percentages” measured by a mass spectral analysis.  Neste relied upon their expert’s calculation using three different conversion factors to calculate corresponding wt.% from the peak area %.  CAFC held that Neste’s expert’s calculation established by a preponderance of evidence that the claimed composition read on the prior art compositions.

Details

Claim 1 representative of the ’804 patent:

  1.  A phase change material composition comprising at least 75 wt% even carbon number paraffins, wherein the paraffins are produced by hydrogenation/ hydrogenolysis of naturally occurring fatty acids and esters.

A key feature in claim 1 was the limitation with “at least 75 wt% even carbon number paraffins,” as CAFC agreed with the PTO’s interpretation that the preamble part (the phase change material) and the wherein-clause (the product-by-process limitation) are not limiting.  The main issue in this appeal was whether Craig taught the limitation of “at least 75 wt% even carbon number paraffins.”

Craig disclosed hydrocarbon products obtained from naturally occurring feedstocks, and the results of quantitative analysis of the products.  The critical disclosure was Table 9 (reproduced below in part).  The table showed “peak area percentages” of each even-carbon-number paraffin such as C16, C18, or C20 in the hydrocarbon products.  However, Craig did not disclose corresponding weight percentages.  Nor did it disclose how to calculate weight percentages from weight percentages.

 

 

 

 

As evidence, Neste’s expert (Dr. Klein) submitted data showing conversion of peak area percentages to weight percentages.  As shown in Table 2 (reproduced from the opinion), the peak area percentages of each hydrocarbon were calculated using three relative response factors, i.e., “Hsu,” “Gorocs,” and “Chaurasia.”

REG argued that the conversion of peak area percentages into weight percentages is “not straightforward” and Craig did “not provide enough information to accurately convert the GC-MS peak area percentages to weight percentages using relative response factors.”  However, REG’s expert (Dr. Lamb) agreed that the peak area percentages could be converted to weight percentages by using relative response factors, and other references cited in Dr. Lamb’s opinion in fact disclosed two of the factors (Gorocs and Chaurasia).

table-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

REG’s arguments relied mostly upon the complex nature of the biological feedstocks and their own expert’s opinion that the resulting product is a very complex mixture which affects the phase change characteristic.  REG argued that Craig disclosed a distillation process to separate the obtained mixture into fractions and such additional process would result in “structural and functional differences in the products.”  However, REG did not submit any evidence or data showing the asserted differences.  PTAB rejected the REG’s arguments because there was no credible evidence or disclosure in the specification supporting their arguments.  Particularly, as noted by PTAB, claim 1 did not exclude distilled products.

Turning to the issue as to whether the peak area percentages disclosed in Craig read on the claimed weight percentages, CAFC noted, as PTAB held, that claim 1 was anticipated since “a person of ordinary skill in the art could readily convert the disclosed peak area percentages into their corresponding weight percentages, and the sum of the converted peak area percentages of Craig met the claim requirement that the overall weight percentage of even-carbon-number paraffins be at least 75 wt%.”  It was specifically noted that each of the calculated weight percentages for “Canola Premium” met the claimed range and “82.31 wt%” was “more than 7% higher than” the claimed l limit, 75 wt%.

CAFC agreed with the PTAB’s view that “it unlikely that any correction required by the experimental conditions would result in a weight percentage of less than the 75 wt%” because Table 2 showed that the different weight percentages obtained by using the different relative response factors “were very small.”

CAFC added that “this is not an inherency issue, however, because the challenged limitation is not missing from Craig” as Neste’s expert “simply converted one unit of measurement (area percent) into another unit of measurement (weight percent) by using relative response factors from the prior art.”

Take Away

According to this decision, conversion of units or parameters one another is not an inherency issue, but all about evidence.  This is one example showing that IPRs help the Patent Office find better interpretation of prior art, which may not easily be examined without expert’s opinions from each party.  In addition, the preponderance of evidence standard is available to fill a gap between cited prior art and patented claims in IPRs.  Good reasons to use IPRs.

Full Opinion

Timeliness and relevance are not sufficient conditions for automatically granting a motion to submit supplemental information after IPR institution

John M. Wang | January 29, 2016

Redline Detection, LLC. v. Star Envirotech, Inc.

December 31, 2015

Before Wallach, Lourie, and Hughes.  Opinion by Wallach.

Summary

The Federal Circuit held that, with regard to the motion to submit supplemental information after the IPR is instituted, the two criteria in section 37 CFR 42.123(a), timeliness and relevance, are not sufficient conditions for automatically granting a motion to submit supplemental information.


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PTAB Decision to Institute a CBM is Final and Non-Appealable

Thomas Brown | December 17, 2015

SightSound Technologies, LLC v. Apple Inc.

December 15, 2015

Precedential Opinion by Dyk, joined by Lourie and Hughes.

Summary

Apple filed petitions with the PTAB seeking CBM review of patents owned by SightSound under AIA. In the petitions, Apple argued that certain claims of the patents were invalid as anticipated under 35 U.S.C. § 102. The Board instituted CBM review finding that there was a reasonable likelihood that the asserted claims were anticipated or rendered obvious by prior art. However, while Apple’s petitions included alleged facts to support obviousness, the petitions did not specifically allege obviousness over the prior art. The Board initiated review on obviousness grounds anyway. During the CBM proceedings the Board gave SightSound extra time to respond to the obviousness grounds, but SightSound argued that it has been deprived due process to respond to the obviousness grounds on which the CBM review had been instituted. The PTAB entered a final decision based on the obviousness grounds from which SightSound appeals to the CAFC, but the CAFC rules that they are barred under 35 USC 314(d) and 35 USC 324(e) from reviewing the decision to initiate the CBM proceedings.


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Timeliness of IPR petition under §315(b) is an issue of whether to initiate the proceeding, and Board’s determination is nonappealable under §314(d), and the court cannot review it.

Sadao Kinashi | October 21, 2015

Achates Reference v. Apple Inc.,

September 30, 2015

CAFC Panel and Opinion Author: PROST, LOURIE and LINN (Author)

Summary

The patentee, Achates sued QuickOffice and others for patent infringement. One year later, Achates joined Apple as a codefendant. Several months later, Apple filed petitions for IPR in USPTO against each of the patents. Achates argued that Apple had a relationship with QuickOffice based on their blank indemnification agreement and that such relationship caused Apple’s petitions for IPR to be time-barred under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b). CAFC held that timeliness of the petition for IPR under §315(b) is an issue of whether to initiate the proceeding, and Board’s determination is nonappealable under §314(d), and the court cannot review it.
特許権者のAchates社は、QuickOffice社らに訴状を送達してから1年後にApple社を原告として追加した。数ヵ月後Apple社は米国特許庁に当事者系レビューの請求を提出した。Achates社は、Apple社は最初の被告QuickOfficeから賠償保証を受ける契約をしているので、QuickOfficeの関係者であり、当事者系レビューの請求は米国特許法315条(b)に規定する期限を徒過していると主張した。CAFCは、当事者系レビューの請求が、期限内に提出されたかどうかは、当事者系レビューを開始するかどうかに関する問題であり、審判部の決定は、314条(d)の規定により、裁判所が見直すことはできないと判示した。


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CAFC’s majority says that a PTO’ decision to institute IPR is not appealable even after a final decision and a broadest reasonable interpretation rule applies in IPR

Yoshiya Nakamura | July 22, 2015

In Re Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC

July 8, 2015

Before: Newman, Clevenger, and DYK. Opinion by DYK. Dissenting opinion by Newman.

Summary

Garmin filed in the PTO a petition to institute an inter partes review (IPR) on patented claims owned by Cuozzo. The PTO granted the petition to institute the IPR and concluded that the claims at issue were obvious over prior art. Cuozzo appealed to CAFC, arguing: (1) the petition was defective as failing to identify prior art references for each claim; and (2) a broadest reasonable interpretation (BRI) standard should not be applied in the obviousness determination. CAFC held: (1) the statute prohibits a review on the PTO’s decision to institute the IPR even the final decision was on appeal; and (2) the BRI standard applies in IPR.

Japanese Summary

本判決は、(1)第三者の請求に基づく特許付与後レビュー(inter partes review; IPR)においてその請求書の内容に問題があった場合にそれをCAFCが審査できるか否か、および(2)クレーム解釈の基準として、最大限に広い合理的な解釈(a broadest reasonable interpretation: BRI)をIPRの審査に使用してよいか否かという争点に関するものである。

IPRは2段階の手続きであり、まず特許庁は第三者が提示した請求内容がIPRでの審査を開始するための要件を満足しているかを決定し、レビューを開始すると決定した場合、特許クレームが無効であるか否かを決定する。本件では、文献の引用が一部欠落しているクレームに対して特許庁がレビューを開始し、無効の結論を出した。特許権者はレビュー開始の決定が違法であるとして控訴したが、CAFCは、特許庁がレビューを開始するという決定は控訴可能な対象ではなく、特許庁が正しい引用例で結論を出したので問題ではないと判断した。

またIPRではクレーム補正の機会は制限され、従前の再審査よりも司法手続きに近い制度である。特許権者は、補正制限等のあるIPRでは、クレーム解釈の基準として、最大限に広く合理的な解釈(BRI)を使用すべきではないと主張した。CAFCは、IPRを含めて特許庁における付与後見直しにBRIの基準を使用することは長年の運用で認められており、法律上も問題ないと判断した。
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