Archive for the ‘Claim Construction’ Category

Lightning Ballast II – Judge Lourie Tries to Get to “The Facts of the Matter”

Monday, February 24th, 2014

After reading all 88 pages of this very scholarly opinion which left patent law right where it was post-Cybor – no matter how much weight the parties and amici felt stare decisis deserved – I went back and read Judge Lourie’s concurrence. It is mercifully brief and tries to cast some of the substantive issues in real-world contexts. He writes like a “Dutch uncle” – which the dictionary defines as one who “admonishes sternly and bluntly.” Whether or not you agree with his conclusions, he gets his points across like arrows in “The Hunger Games.”

He reduces the debate about the proper reading of Markman II simply by saying that the distinction between calling claim interpretation a “question of law” vs. a “question for the court” is not a substantial one. Whether or not the Supreme Court will disagree if cert. is granted is a question for another day.

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Federal Circuit Reaffirms Cybor Standard in Lightning Ballast Rehearing

Friday, February 21st, 2014

On Friday, a narrow majority of the Fed. Cir. sitting en banc, reaffirmed that claim interpretation is a question of law, to be reviewed de novo upon appeal to the Fed. Cir. (A copy of the decision can be found below.) Judge Newman, for once writing for the majority, ruled that the weight of stare decisis tipped the balance toward not overturning the 1998 Cybor decision, also en banc, which established the de novo standard. Judge Newman wrote that Cybor properly implemented the Supreme Court’s ruling in Markman II (1992) that claim construction is a question of law, and not a question of fact or even a mixed question of law and fact.

She noted the difficulty the Fed. Cir. would face if it had to decide that “a fact was at issue” in any district court ruling on claim interpretation and noted that Cybor did not displace the lower court’s power to rule on many other issues, such as infringement, validity and damages.

Pens will be flying across the law review and blogoshere spaces for years analyzing this decision and I have not had time to read all of it this morning, but the traditional closing of “more later” is certainly an understatement.

12-1014-opinion-2-18-2014-1

Stories I Missed In 2013

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Some IP Stories Do Not Have Much “It” Factor.  Just like there used to be, and I guess still are, “It Girls” in showbiz and fashion, there are “It Issues” in IP law. I know these decisions/controversies are very important to the parties involved, but I just couldn’t get enthusiastic about these stories. However, since you may wish to investigate them further, I thought I would send out a short list.

1.  The legality of Michelle Lee’s appointment as Acting Deputy Director of the PTO (or whatever her title will turn out to be). More interesting would be the story of why Terry Rea was not offered the position (if she even wanted it).

2.  What “and/or” means in a patent claim. Although the PTO usually does not object to its use, it is probably better to write something like “at least one of A or B”, or “A or B or a combination thereof”.

3.  In case you have not noticed, prosecution history estoppel can limit the scope of a design patent. ‘Nuff said.

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Evidentiary, My Dear Watson; Biosig, Instruments v. Nautilus, Inc.

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

This is a guest post from Ronald Schutz of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi.

In Biosig, Instruments v. Nautilus, Inc., a unanimous panel of the Federal Circuit had little trouble deducing the definiteness of the patent at issue despite a lower court finding it “insolubly ambiguous.” Using both intrinsic and extrinsic evidence, the Biosig court found the patent term “spaced relationship” amenable to construction —and thus an improbable suspect for summary judgment on indefiniteness grounds.

The entire post can be found here: APaTS Evidentiary My Dear Watson.