means plus function : CAFC Alert

“Strong Presumption” Not So Strong After all

Thomas Brown | June 25, 2015

Williamson v. Citrix

June 16, 2015

Opinion by Linn (joined by nine other Judges), Dissenting Opinion by Newman-Decided.

Summary:

En banc CAFC expressly overrules the “strong” presumption that a limitation lacking the word “means” is not subject to § 112, para. 6 and applies the presumptions prior to Lighting World, which do not require any heightened evidentiary showing. CAFC also overrules the strict requirement of “a showing that the limitation essentially is devoid of anything that can be construed as structure.”
When a claim term does not recite the word “means,” the presumption can be overcome and § 112, para. 6 will apply if one demonstrates that the claim term fails to “recite sufficiently definite structure” or recites “function without reciting sufficient structure for performing that function.” That is, the standard is “whether the words of the claim are understood by persons of ordinary skill in the art to have a sufficiently definite meaning as the name for structure.”


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Surviving Alice Gone Wild

John Kong | November 26, 2014

Before the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corp. v CLS Bank Int’l [1], Judge Moore said “this case is the death of hundreds of thousands of patents, including all business method, financial system, and software patents as well as many computer implemented and telecommunications patents.”[2] This concern is premised on about twenty years of patent practice grounded in the en banc 1994 Federal Circuit decision in In re Alappat which previously established the “special purpose computer” justification for patent eligibility under 35 USC §101 for computer-implemented inventions.[3]  The Alice decision essentially eliminated the “special purpose computer” bright line rule as applied generally to computer-implemented inventions.  The new Mayo 2-part §101 test for computer-implemented inventions is, however, fraught with issues from the lack of guidance on how to properly apply it.  Some strategic arguments for surviving a §101 attack are presented in this article, as well as a new way to address what is “significantly more.”


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