Justia U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Patents
Elekta Ltd. v. ZAP Surgical Systems, Inc.
Elekta’s 648 patent, titled “Method and apparatus for treatment by ionizing radiation,” discloses a device for treating a patient with ionizing radiation for certain types of radiosurgery and radiation therapy. The invention uses a radiation source, e.g., a linear accelerator (linac), mounted on a pair of concentric rings to deliver a beam of ionizing radiation to the targeted area of the patient. ZAP Surgical Systems sought inter partes review (IPR). The Patent Trial and Appeal Board addressed Elekta’s arguments that a skilled artisan would not have been motivated to combine, and would not have had a reasonable expectation of success in combining, one prior art device (Grady) with the linac described in the prior art, Ruchala, and whether a skilled artisan would have been dissuaded from combining the devices because one device was an imaging device, rather than a radiation device, and because the linac’s weight would render the Grady device inoperable, imprecise, and unsuitable for treatment.The Board concluded that a skilled artisan would have been motivated to combine Grady and Ruchala. The Federal Circuit affirmed, finding substantial support for the finding that a person of ordinary skill in the art would have been motivated to make the proposed combination. View "Elekta Ltd. v. ZAP Surgical Systems, Inc." on Justia Law
Baxalta Inc. v. Genentech, Inc.
In a “key step” of the "coagulation cascade" that forms blood clots, an enzyme (Factor VIIIa) complexes with another enzyme (Factor IXa) to activate Factor X. Hemophilia A is a disorder where the activity of Factor VIII is functionally absent, impeding the body’s ability to effectively form blood clots. Historically, Hemophilia A has been treated by intravenously administering Factor VIII. Approximately 20–30% of Hemophilia A patients cannot benefit from that treatment because they develop Factor VIII inhibitors. Baxalta’s patent provides alternative means to treat Hemophilia A.Baxalta sued, alleging Genentech’s Hemlibra® (emicizumab) product infringes the patent. Emicizumab is a humanized bispecific antibody that binds to Factor IXa with one arm and Factor X with the other arm, mimicking the function of Factor VIIIa. Following the district court’s construction of the claim terms “antibody” and “antibody fragment” to exclude bispecific antibodies, the Federal Circuit held the proper construction of “antibody” was “an immunoglobulin molecule having a specific amino acid sequence comprising two heavy chains (H chains) and two light chains (L chains),” and the proper construction of “antibody fragment” was “a portion of an antibody” and remanded. On remand, Genentech successfully moved for summary judgment of invalidity of multiple claims for lack of enablement. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The patent fails to teach skilled artisans how to make and use the full scope of claimed antibodies without unreasonable experimentation. View "Baxalta Inc. v. Genentech, Inc." on Justia Law
Columbia Sportswear North America, Inc.v. Seirus Innovative Accessories, Inc.
Columbia’s D093 patent, titled “Heat Reflective Material,” claims “[t]he ornamental design of a heat reflective material. Seirus markets and sells products (e.g., gloves) made with material that it calls HeatWave. Columbia sued Seirus for infringement. the district court granted summary judgment of infringement; a jury awarded Columbia $3,018,174 in damages. On remand, a jury found that Seirus did not infringe.The Federal Circuit vacated the non-infringement judgment, first rejecting arguments concerning the preclusive effect of the prior proceedings. The district court erred by failing to instruct the jury as to the scope of the D093 patent claim (design for a heat reflective material) and, relatedly, the proper scope of comparison prior art. To qualify as comparison prior art, the prior-art design must be applied to the article of manufacture identified in the claim. Here, the issue is not whether the patent’s design (e.g., a wavy pattern) is dictated by function but whether the claimed article to which that design is applied is the same as another article. A natural, relevant consideration for distinguishing one article from another involves looking to the articles’ respective functions. View "Columbia Sportswear North America, Inc.v. Seirus Innovative Accessories, Inc." on Justia Law
Netflix, Inc. v. DivX, LLC
The DivX patent explains, in a section titled “Background of the Invention,” that “[t]he present invention relates generally to encoding, transmission and decoding of multimedia files.” In its petition for inter partes review, Netflix asserted that several claims of the patent would have been obvious in view of prior art, Zetts as modified by Kaku. In a section titled “Field of the Invention,” Kaku’s specification states that the invention “relates to motion image apparatuses and, more particularly, to a motion image reproducing apparatus which is applicable to a digital camera for reproducing motion image data recorded on a recording medium.” The Patent Trial and Appeal Board found that Kaku failed to qualify as analogous art.The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded. The Board failed to identify the field of endeavor for either the challenged patent or the prior art and thus failed to establish analogous art under the field of endeavor test. The Board’s directive that Netflix more precisely articulate the relevant field of endeavor to meet its burden was unduly strict. View "Netflix, Inc. v. DivX, LLC" on Justia Law
Apple, Inc. v. Corephotonics Ltd.
The Corephotonics patent is directed to creating “portrait photos” and discloses “a thin (e.g., fitting in a cell phone) dual-aperture zoom digital camera” that combines images taken by a wide lens and a tele lens to create a fused still image. Apple filed petitions for inter partes review, each challenging various claims of the patent as obvious in view of multiple prior art references. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board rejected Apple’s arguments.The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded. Neither the claim language nor the specification presents a cut-and-dry case of claim construction for “fused image with a point of view of the Wide camera” but taken together and in context, the intrinsic evidence supports that the claim term requires only that the fused image maintain Wide perspective point of view or Wide position point of view, but does not require both. Apple’s proposed construction is more in line with the intrinsic evidence. In addition, the Board based its second decision on a ground not raised by any party in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. View "Apple, Inc. v. Corephotonics Ltd." on Justia Law
Sisvel International S.A. v. Sierra Wireless, Inc.,
Sisvel’s 698 and 196 patents claim methods and apparatuses that rely on the exchange of frequency information in connection with cell reselection between a mobile station (or user cell phone) and a central mobile switching center. Both are entitled “Cell Reselection Signalling Method.” The 196 patent is a continuation of the application that eventually gave rise to the 698 patent.The Patent Trial and Appeal Board concluded that multiple claims in each patent are unpatentable as anticipated and/or obvious in view of certain prior art. Sisvel challenged the Board’s construction of a single claim term, “connection rejection message” and the Board’s denial of its revised motion to amend the claims of the 698 patent. The Federal Circuit affirmed, agreeing that “connection rejection message” should be given its plain and ordinary meaning of “a message that rejects a connection.” The Board correctly determined that Sisvel failed to meet its burden to show that the scope of its substitute claims is not broader than the scope of its original claims. View "Sisvel International S.A. v. Sierra Wireless, Inc.," on Justia Law
In Re Cellect, LLC
Cellect’s challenged patents are directed to personal digital-assistant devices or phones. Each claims priority from a single application, the 255 patent. The 369 and 626 patents are continuations-in-part of the 255 patent. The 742 patent is a continuation-in-part of the 369 patent; the 621 patent is a continuation-in-part of the 626 patent. The 036 patent is a continuation of the 626 patent. Each of the challenged patents was granted Patent Term Adjustment (PTA) for Patent Office delay during prosecution (pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 154(b)); each would have expired on the same day but for the grants of PTA. None were subject to a terminal disclaimer during prosecution; the patents have all expired.Cellect sued Samsung for infringement. Samsung requested ex parte reexaminations, asserting that the patents were unpatentable based on obviousness-type double patenting (ODP). The examiner determined that the challenged claims were obvious variants of Cellect’s prior-expiring reference patent claims, tracing back to the 036 patent, which did not receive PTA and retained an expiration date 20 years after the filing of the 255 application. The 621 patent claims were unpatentable over the 626 patent claims, which were unpatentable over the 369 patent claims. The 742 patent claims were unpatentable over the 369 claims. The 369 patent claims were unpatentable over the 036 claims, which did not receive PTA. The Board and Federal Circuit affirmed. ODP for a patent that has received PTA, regardless of whether a terminal disclaimer is required or has been filed, must be based on the expiration date of the patent after PTA has been added. View "In Re Cellect, LLC" on Justia Law
Volvo Penta of the Americas, LLC v. Brunswick Corp.
Volvo’s 692 patent is directed to a tractor-type stern drive for a boat. A stern drive is an engine mounted in the boat's hull, connected to a drive unit mounted outside of the hull, typically on the stern; it is also called an “inboard/outboard drive.” A tractor-type drive generally relies on forward, bow-facing propellers that pull the boat through the water. In 2015, Volvo launched its commercial embodiment of the patent, the Forward Drive, which became extremely successful for water sports, including wake-surfing. The forward-facing propellers increased the distance between the propeller and swimmers, compared with prior, pulling-type stern-drive boats. In 2020, Brunswick launched its own drive that embodies the 692 patent, the Bravo Four, and petitioned for inter partes review, asserting that all claims would have been anticipated or obvious based on several references.The Patent Trial and Appeal Board found all claims unpatentable as obvious. The Federal Circuit vacated. The Board’s finding of a motivation to combine was supported by substantial evidence but the Board failed to properly consider the evidence of objective indicia of nonobviousness. Volvo established a nexus between its objective evidence of secondary considerations and the claimed invention. Even if its assignment of weight to each factor was supported by substantial evidence (“some weight” for copying, industry praise, and commercial success; and “very little weight” for skepticism, failure of others, and long-felt unsolved need), the Board did not discuss the summation of the factors. View "Volvo Penta of the Americas, LLC v. Brunswick Corp." on Justia Law
Incept LLC v. Palette Life Sciences, Inc.
Incept’s 723 and 913 patents relate to improved methods for treating cancer, particularly prostate cancer, using radiation. The patents describe methods of introducing a filler between a radiation target tissue and other tissue to increase the distance between the two and thereby decrease the amount of radiation received by the non-targeted tissue. Palette sought inter partes review challenging the claims of the patents as unpatentable over prior art, including “Wallace,” describes a method for the “rapid formation of a biocompatible gel . . . at a selected site within a patient’s body.”The Federal Circuit affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in holding that the claims were anticipated or obvious, 35 U.S.C. 102, 103. Wallace discloses each element of claim 1 of the 723 patent, arranged as in that claim. The Board’s findings of motivation to combine are supported by substantial evidence in the form of the references themselves and Palette’s expert’s detailed testimony, which the Board found “persuasive.” With respect to Incept’s argument that the Board improperly dismissed the market share data that Incept provided, the court deferred to the Board’s findings concerning the credibility of expert witnesses. View "Incept LLC v. Palette Life Sciences, Inc." on Justia Law
Rembrandt Diagnostics, LP v. Alere, Inc.
Rembrandt’s 019 patent is directed to test assay devices and methods for testing biological fluids. The test assay device receives a fluid sample “introduced directly to the sample loading zone” of one or more assay test strips. Alere petitioned for inter partes review.The Patent Trial and Appeal Board found that claims 3–6 and 10 would have been unpatentable for obviousness. Rembrandt argues that the Board erred by relying on Alere’s new theories asserted for the first time in its reply brief. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Alere did not offer new theories. Alere’s reply argument was responsive to Rembrandt’s arguments and the Board’s observations. Substantial evidence supports the Board’s determinations. The Board was presented with “two alternative theories” about what the prior art discloses; the court reasoned that it was not its task “to determine which theory we find more compelling.” View "Rembrandt Diagnostics, LP v. Alere, Inc." on Justia Law