functional claim language : CAFC Alert

Denying effect to functional language in a patent claim is unreasonable

| March 23, 2016

Dell Inc. v. Acceleron, LLC

March 15, 2016

Before Moore, Taranto and Hughes. Opinion by Taranto


Dell filed a petition for an inter partes review (“IPR”) of U.S. Patent No. 6,948,021 (the ‘021 patent) owned by Acceleron. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) confirmed the validity of claims 14-17 and 34-36 and cancelled claims 3 and 20 as being anticipated by U.S. Patent No. 6,757,748 to Hipp. Agreeing with the PTAB’s decision that the Hipp reference does not disclose as programmed being capable of performing functions recited in claim 14, the CAFC affirmed the PTAB’s confirmation of claims 14-17 and 34-36. Regarding claims 3 and 20, the CAFC vacated the PTAB’s decision to cancel and remanded. CAFC stated that the PTAB unreasonably denied effect to the functional language “to remotely poll” recited in claim 20. For claim 3, the CAFC stated that Acceleron was denied “notice and a fair opportunity to respond” to Dell’s new argument raised at the oral argument and relied on by the PTAB in its decision.

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