means : CAFC Alert

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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Method Claim Survives Over MPF Claim’s Demise Under Aristocrat

John Kong | November 28, 2012

ePlus, Inc. v. Lawson Software, Inc.

November 21, 2012

Dyk, Prost, O’Malley.  Opinion by Prost.

Summary:

This case serves as a reminder of the importance of having different claim types.  ePlus’ jury verdict of infringement of two systems claims was vacated because the Federal Circuit found one means-plus-function element recited therein to lack the requisite corresponding structure being disclosed in the specification, thereby rendering the claims indefinite under 35 USC §112, second paragraph.  However, the infringement of a similar method claim reciting the same function as the means-plus-function element was affirmed.


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CAFC discusses interplay between means-plus-function and claim differentiation

Thomas Brown | November 19, 2012

Icon Health & Fitness, Inc. v. Octane Fitness, LLC.

October 14, 2012

PROCEDURAL SUMMARY

ICON Health & Fitness, Inc. (“ICON”) owner of USP 6,019,710 (the “’710 patent”) sued Octane Fitness (“Octane”) for infringement in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.   The District Court granted summary judgment of non-infringement of claims 1–5, 7, and 9–10 of the ’710 patent by concluding that the “stroke rail” and “means for connecting” limitations were absent in Octane’s Q45 and Q47 machines.  On appeal, the CAFC agreed with the District Court’s claim construction and affirmed the District Court’s holding of non-infringement.


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CAFC does not find means-plus-function in a “height adjustment mechanism”

Scott Daniels | November 7, 2012

Flo Heathcare Solutions v. Kappos

October 23, 2012

Panel: Newman, Plager, and Wallach.  Opinion by Wallach.

PROCEDURAL SUMMARY

The patentee sued the defendant for infringement.  The defendant then requested inter partes reexamination of the patent.  The trial judge stayed the infringement action, pending completion of the reexamination.  The patent reexamination examiner and the Patent Office Board rejected the claims as being anticipated by the prior art.  On appeal, the CAFC disagreed with the PTO Board’s claim construction; but even under the CAFC’s claim construction, it found that the claims were anticipated and therefore affirmed the PTO’s rejection of the claims


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