specification : CAFC Alert

To narrow, or not to narrow a claim without lexicography or disavowal in a patent specification: the U.S. Supreme Court is asked to answer the question.

| December 11, 2018

Cave Consulting Group, LLC v. OptumInsight, Inc., 725 Fed. App’x 988 (Fed. Cir. 2018) (nonprecedential) (Case No. 2017-1060)

 March 21, 2018 (Rehearing Denied: August 14, 2018; Petition for A Writ of Certiorari Filed: November 2, 2018)

Before Lourie, Dyk and Taranto, Circuit Judges. Court opinion by Lourie.


In a nonprecedential opinion, in view of the specification’s consistently limiting description, the Federal Circuit reversed the district court’s claim construction of “weighted episode of care statistics” recited in a disputed independent claim as including direct standardization where some of dependent claims specifically provide that the calculating of weighted episode of care statistics utilizes direct standardization. Accordingly, the Court vacated the judgment of infringement and award of damages because the error in the claim construction is dispositive of the infringement issue based on undisputed facts. A petition for a writ of certiorari has been filed to ask the U.S. Supreme Court if narrowing claims without lexicography or disavowal in a patent specification may be justified.

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To read, or not to read an unrecited limitation into a patent claim, that is a question

| July 26, 2018

Blackbird Tech LLC v. ELB Electronics, Inc.

July 16, 2018

Before Prost, Moore and Reyna.  Opinion by Moore. Dissenting opinion by Reyna.


Finding no suggestion in the specification or prosecution history that the disputed unrecited limitation is important in any way that would merit reading it into the patent claim in dispute, the Federal Circuit vacated district court’s entry of judgment of noninfringement based on the contrary claim construction, and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings. Dissenting opinion expressed totally opposite view on the issue, and affirmed the district court’s judgment.

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Newly Adopted Claim Construction Overcomes Anticipation & Obviousness Rejections

| May 2, 2018

Wonderland NurseryGoods Co., Ltd. v. Baby Trend, Inc., Denny Tsai, Betty Tsai

April 19, 2018

Before Moore, Prost & Newman.   Opinion by Moore.


The CAFC reversed the Board’s findings of anticipation and obviousness due to an erroneous claim construction.  The newly adopted claim construction by the CAFC is consistent with the specification and prosecution history.  Further, the CAFC held that the references of record did not anticipate nor render obvious the claims in light of the newly adopted claim construction.




U.S. Reissued Patent43,919 (hereinafter ‘919) is directed towards “an easy to assemble baby crib in which a fabric member is positioned on a bed frame structure.”  Id. at 2.  The terms at issue are “a fabric member” and “an enclosure member”.

In two inter partes review (IPR) proceedings, the Board determined that “a fabric member” means “one or more pieces of fabric” and “an enclosure member” means “one or more members.”  Id. at 2.  In light of this construction, the Board held that the claims of the ‘919 Patent were anticipated U.S. Patent No. 6,004,182 (“Pasin”) and Australian Patent No. 715,883 (“Bidwell”) and would have been rendered obvious by Pasin in view of U.S. Patent No. 7,063,096 (“Stoeckler”), Bidwell in view of Stoeckler; U.S. Patent No. 3,924,280 (“Vaiano”) in view of Pasin and the combination of Vaiano, Pasin and Stoeckler.  It is noted that the Board “stated that Vaiano taught ‘a single, continuous member’.”  Id. at 3.  Wonderland appealed.

“In IPR proceedings, the Board gives claims their broadest reasonable interpretation consistent with the specification. PPC Broadband, Inc. v. Corning Optical Commc’ns RF, LLC, 815 F.3d 747, 751 (Fed. Cir. 2016).” Id. at 3.  The CAFC reversed the Board and held that the Board erred in its constructions of the terms “a fabric member” and “an enclosure member.”

Although the use of the singular articles “a” and “an” often means “one or more” when the transitional phrase “comprising” is used, Convolve, Inc. v. Compaq Computer Corp., 812 F.3d 1313, 1321 (Fed. Cir. 2016), in this instance, the Board’s construction is inconsistent with the use of the terms in the claims.

The ordinary language of the claims indicates that a single fabric or enclosure member is capable of separating the interior of the claimed crib from the exterior.

Id. at 3.  The CAFC held that “a fabric member” and “an enclosure member” “must be unitary structures able to ‘delineate’ or ‘surround []’ an ‘enclosed space’.”  Id. at 4.  The CAFC held that their claim construction is consistent with the specification, including preferred embodiments, examples and the drawings.  “Although we must be careful not to read limitations from the specification into the claims, the specification’s use of the claim terms in a manner consistent with their use in the claims further supports our conclusion.”  (emphasis added)  Id. at 4.  The CAFC dismissed the Board and Baby Trend’s reliance upon prosecution history to support the original claim construction by noting that claim amendments by Wonderland “were part of a series of changes emphasizing that the ‘fabric/enclosure member surrounds an enclosed space adapted for receiving a baby therein’ J.A. 1853, made in response to the examiner’s citation to a prior art reference directed to chairs.”  Id. at 4-5.  The CAFC held that the proper construction of “a fabric member’ and ‘an enclosure member’ refer to unitary elements that separate the interior of the claimed crib from the exterior.”  Id. at 5.

In light of the newly adopted claim construction, the CAFC held that the “Board’s alternative finding that the claims are unpatentable under the construction we now adopt is not supported by substantial evidence.”  Id. at 5.  Baby Trend, relying upon the Board’s finding that Vaiano taught a single, continuous member, argued that Vaiano disclosed the claimed features under the newly adopted claim construction.  The CAFC disagreed, noting that the citation of Vaiano cited by the Board did not support their position, and that Vaiano merely discloses a netting feature.  The CAFC concluded that the disclosure of Vaiano “does not indicate that the netting is a single, continuous member.”  Id. at 5.  Further, the CAFC dismissed Baby Trend’s argument that Vaiano depicts a continuous, single member because the lines of netting are aligned in one corner, as illustrated in Figure 1, by noting that the lines in the other corners were not aligned.  “While it is possible that a single, continuous piece could be used in Vaiano, that is not the question before us. Instead, we ask whether Vaiano discloses a single, continuous piece. Substantial evidence does not support the Board’s finding that it does.”  Id. at 6.








Id. at 5.  Lastly, the CAFC dismissed Baby Trend’s argument that the Board inherently relied upon their expert testimony regarding the disclosure of Vaiano by noting that merely finding an argument persuasive does not deem said evidence adopted.  “When the Board intends to rely on extrinsic evidence, it does so expressly. A single citation to 10 pages in a petition does not incorporate by reference every piece of evidence referenced therein. Similarly, Baby Trend may not rely on statements made by Administrative Patent Judges at the oral hearing that were not included in the Board’s written decisions.”  Id. at 6.


Review claim construction to ensure it is consistent with the specification.  The disclosed use of a claim term can affect claim construction.

Carefully review each reference to determine if the Examiner’s understanding is accurate.

Full Opinion

Written Description

| August 20, 2014

ScriptPro, LLC v. Innovation Associates, Inc.

August 6, 2014

Panel: Taranto, Bryson and Hughes. Opinion by Taranto


ScriptPro sued Innovation Associates, Inc, alleging infringement of claims 1, 2, 4, and 8 of U.S. Patent No. 6,910,601. Innovation Associates counterclaimed on various grounds, including invalidity under 35 U.S.C. § 112.

Shortly after suit filed, Innovation Associates initiated an inter partes reexamination of the ’601 patent at the PTO, and the district court stayed proceedings in this case to await the PTO’s determination.

The PTO completed its reexamination of the ’601 patent.  It confirmed amended claims 1 and 2 (amended in ways not relevant to this appeal).  It confirmed claim 4, formerly a dependent claim, as rewritten to be an independent claim, but not otherwise amended. And it confirmed claim 8 without amendment.  The amendments are not relevant to the issues on appeal.

Proceedings in the infringement suit resumed.

The district court granted summary judgment for Innovation Associates, holding that the asserted claims were invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 112.

The district court rested its holding on a single conclusion—that the specification describes a machine containing “sensors,” whereas the claims at issue do not claim a machine having “sensors.”

ScriptPro appealed.

The district court granted summary judgment of invalidity on the ground that the patent’s specification does not describe the subject matter of the asserted claims, which do not require sensors.  This is the only issue on appeal.

The district court agreed with Innovation Associates that the specification indisputably limits the invention to a collating unit that uses sensors to determine whether a particular holding area is full when selecting a holding area for storage of a prescription container.

The district court concluded “no reasonable jury could find that the inventors were in possession of a collating unit that operated without sensors.”

The district court decision is reversed.

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