Archive for the ‘Claim Interpretation’ Category

Teva v. Sandoz – “Strange Brew” Boils Over

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

iStock_000008592211_SmallOn June 18, 2015, a divided Fed. Cir. panel reaffirmed that the key claim of a Teva patent, U.S. Pat. No. 5,800,808, was invalid as indefinite, although the Fed. Cir. had previously been reversed twice by the Supreme Court – once because of lack of deference to the district court’s fact-finding (135 S. Ct. 831) in this suit, and once because the indefiniteness standard applied by the Fed. Cir. in Nautilus v. Biosig was incorrect (134 S. Ct. 2120). (A copy of the decision can be found at the end of this post.)

Commentators have rushed lots of notes on this decision onto the web (Teva Parma. USA v. Sandoz, Inc., Appeal no. 2012-1567 et al. (Fed. Cir., June 18, 2015) – possibly because the central issue was comprehensible without an advanced degree – so I will not spend more time on the history of the decision. The outcome is what matters after all, and I think it can be summed up in one sentence: Deference to a district court’s fact-finding still leaves the Fed. Cir. free to determine if the question of law “indefiniteness” was decided properly. In other words – and there always are – there is no presumption that the ultimate question of law was decided correctly, even if there was no clear error in the lower court’s fact finding.


Skinmedica, Inc. and, i.e., Disclaimer

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

I was reading through the decision handed down on August 13, 2013 in Appeal No. 2012-1560, Skinmedica, Inc. v. Histogen Inc., and barely staying awake. (A copy is available at the end of this post.) The panel interpreted the claims of Skinmedica’s patents (U.S. Pat. Nos. 6372494 and 7118746)  on methods for producing “novel conditioned cell culture medium  compositions” by culturing the cells in “three dimensions” to exclude culturing on beads – the infringer cultured cells on beads— even though culturing on beads would normally be considered to include culturing in three dimensions. However, Skinmedica had amended away from culturing cells in two dimensions and had repeatedly differentiated – if not explicitly defined – culturing on beads from a method of culturing in three dimensions. In effect, Skinmedica had been its own lexicographer, since otherwise the POSA would consider that culturing on beads could include three dimensional culturing.

The Fed. Cir. has been pretty hard on defendants alleging disclaimer of claim scope in recent decisions but that was not the case here. But what caught my attention is that Judge Prost spent four pages of his opinion on the effect of the abbreviation, “i.e..”(Slip op. at 22-26). Early in the detailed description, Skinmedica stated: “The cells are cultured in monolayer, beads (i.e., two-dimensions) or, preferably, in three dimensions.” After finding that this list includes the disjunctive (“or”) “as the coordinating conjunction that…plainly designates that a series describe alternatives,” Judge Prost agreed with the district court that the “phrase ‘beads (i.e., two-dimensions)’ explicitly define[s] beads in a two-dimensional culture method, despite that culturing cells in three-dimensions on beads was known to the art.” Judge Prost was just getting started:


Brilliant Instruments v. GuideTech – Doctrine of Equivalents on Review

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Contributed by Theresa Stadheim of Schwegman Lundberg & Woessner

In Brilliant Instruments, Inc., v. Guidetech, LLC, Appeal no. 2012-1018 (Fed. Cir. February 20, 2013) (a copy can be found at the end of this post), a panel of the Federal Circuit reversed and remanded the Northern District of California’s summary judgment that Brilliant Instruments, Inc. (“Brilliant”) did not infringe GuideTech’s patents: 6,226,231 (the ‘231 patent), 6,091,671 (the ‘671 patent) and 6,181,649 (the ‘649 patent). (A copy of each patent can be found at the end of this post.)

One issue was whether there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Brilliant infringed the ‘671 and the ‘649 patents under the doctrine of equivalents.  The particular claim limitation at issue recited in claim 1 of the ‘671  patent: “wherein said shunt and said capacitor are operatively disposed in parallel with respect to said first current circuit.”