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Federal Circuit Corrects District Court’s Claim Construction

Dustin Weeks

The Courtroom highlighted that step one in declare development ought to all the time be to find out the plain and unusual which means of the claims. Additional, the specification ought to serve to restrict the plain and abnormal which means solely when it features a definition for a declare time period or a transparent disclaimer or disavowal of declare scope.

The United Said Courtroom of Appeals for the Federal Circuit just lately held that a district courtroom erred in its declare development and vacated the district courtroom’s judgment of noninfringement, which the events stipulated to based mostly on the misguided development. See Continental Circuits LLC v. Intel Corp., No. 2018-1076, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3920, 2019 WL 489069 (Fed. Cir. Feb. eight, 2019) (Earlier than Lourie, Linn, and Taranto, J.) (Opinion for the courtroom, Lourie, J.).

The Patents

Continental Circuits LLC (Continental) owns 4 patents, that are directed to a “multilayer electrical system . . . having a tooth construction,” in addition to strategies for making the gadget. The 4 patents are continuations of each other and share considerably the identical specification, which describes strategies for “forming a singular floor construction . . . comprised of tooth which are ideally angled or hooked like fangs or canine tooth to allow one layer to mechanically grip a second layer.” The patents clarify this floor construction is beneficial for overcoming the tendency of multilayer electrical units to bear “delamination, blistering, and different reliability issues,” notably after being “subjected to thermal stress.” The patents additionally clarify that “the perfect strategies for producing the tooth [are] to make use of non-homogenous supplies and/or methods . . . such that slowed and/or repeated etched will type tooth as an alternative of a uniform etch.”

Construing the Claims

Continental sued Intel Corp., Ibiden U.S.A. Corp., and Ibiden Co. Ltd. (collectively, Intel) for patent infringement, asserting a number of claims from all 4 patents. All the asserted claims embrace declare limitations relating to the “floor,” “removing,” or “etching” of the “a dielectric materials” or “epoxy,” which the district courtroom construed collectively because the “Class 1 Phrases.” The collective development of the Class 1 Phrases is dependent upon figuring out whether or not the claims must be restricted to a repeated desmear course of or ought to be extra broadly construed to incorporate a single desmear course of.

The district courtroom construed the Class 1 Phrases to require “a repeated desmear course of.” The district courtroom discovered that the specification “repeatedly distinguishe[d] the method coated by the patent from the prior artwork and its use of a ‘single desmear course of’” and “characterised ‘the current invention’ as utilizing a repeated desmear course of.” The district courtroom additionally discovered that the prosecution historical past supported this development. Throughout prosecution of one of many patents, the examiner made indefiniteness and written description rejections “in regards to the declare limitation ‘etching of the epoxy makes use of non-homogeneity with the strong content material,’” which refers to facilitating the formation of the non-uniformly roughened floor. In response, Continental submitted an skilled declaration explaining that the etching course of disclosed within the specification makes use of a “recognized Probelec XB[ ]7081 resin” and “two separate swell and etch steps” as “a way which types tooth.” The district courtroom interpreted the submission of this skilled declaration as “clearly describ[ing] the patented technique as involving two etching processes,” i.e., a repeated desmear course of. Lastly, the district courtroom discovered that extrinsic paperwork authored by the inventors concede they “use a double move desmear to realize the tooth construction.” And whereas acknowledging that these extrinsic statements have been “not dependable sufficient to be dispositive,” the district courtroom discovered them to “present useful corroboration.” The district courtroom then entered a judgment of noninfringement based mostly the events’ stipulation to noninfringement in view of the district courtroom’s development, and Continental appealed the declare development.

Bizarre and Customary Which means

On attraction, the Courtroom defined that courts ought to give claims their atypical and customary which means, and searching on the declare language itself, the Courtroom discovered that, “a minimum of based mostly on the plain language, the claims aren’t restricted to a repeated desmear course of” as a result of “not one of the asserted claims truly recite a ‘repeated desmear course of.’”

The Courtroom then “learn[] the claims in view of the specification, of which they’re an element.” (quotation and inner citation marks omitted). Noting that “the specification might reveal a particular definition given to a declare time period by the patentee that differs from the which means it will in any other case possess,” the Courtroom identified that for the patentee to behave as its personal lexicographer, the “patentee should clearly set forth a definition of the disputed time period aside from its plain and unusual which means.” (quotation and inner citation marks omitted). Equally, for a specification to incorporate a disclaimer or disavowal of declare scope, “the specification should include expressions of manifest exclusion or restriction, representing a transparent disavowal of declare scope.” (quotation and inner citation marks omitted). The Courtroom acknowledged that it may be troublesome to navigate construing the claims in mild of the specification with out improperly importing a limitation from the specification into the claims. To keep away from improper importation, “it is very important take into account that the needs of the specification are to show and allow these of talent within the artwork to make and use the invention and to offer a greatest mode for doing so.” (quotation and inner citation marks omitted).

Right here, the Courtroom discovered that “not one of the statements relied upon by the district courtroom rises to the extent of ‘a transparent and unmistakable disclaimer.’… General, [the patents] merely describe the best way to make the claimed invention utilizing the popular Probelec XB 7081 in a ‘new’ approach that’s totally different from the prior artwork course of,” reminiscent of once they state:

  • “[o]ne method for forming the tooth,” which is “opposite to all recognized teachings within the prior artwork,” is the double desmear course of;
  • “the current invention could be carried out by a brand new use” of a dielectric materials referred to as Probelec XB 7081;
  • “[f]or instance, the current invention differs from the widespread desmear course of in that sub-steps within the desmear course of are repeated as a means of forming the tooth,” and this course of is “[i]n stark distinction with the etch and swell strategy of the recognized prior artwork”; and
  • the peel power produced by the brand new use of Probelec XB 7081 is bigger than that of “the prior artwork, i.e., a single cross desmear course of.” (emphases in choice).

Declare Scope

The Courtroom reiterated that it has “expressly rejected the rivalry that if a patent describes solely a single embodiment, the claims of the patent have to be construed as being restricted to that embodiment.” Thus, whereas the patents disclose solely the Probelec XB 7081 embodiment, that “doesn’t end in a transparent disavowal of declare scope,” “with out extra.” Additional, the Courtroom interpreted the patents’ “distinguishing the double desmear course of as ‘opposite to’ or ‘in stark distinction’ with the only desmear course of” as merely evaluating and contrasting the current method to that of the prior artwork doesn’t ‘rise to the extent of [a] clear disavowal of declare scope.’”

And “[w]hile descriptions ‘of the ‘current invention’ as an entire’ might restrict the scope of the invention, ‘use of the phrase ‘current invention’ or ‘this invention’ shouldn’t be all the time so limiting, resembling the place the references . . . aren’t uniform, or the place different parts of the intrinsic proof don’t help making use of the limitation to your complete patent.’” (quotation and inner citation marks omitted). In view of this proposition, the Courtroom discovered that the statements relied on by the district courtroom “don’t characterize the current invention ‘as an entire,’” however as an alternative “disclose one method to perform the current invention utilizing Probelec XB 7081.” To that finish, the Courtroom discovered that parts of the patents describe the invention’s “‘distinctive floor construction’ . . . with none requirement that the invention should embody the repeated smear course of.”

Professional Declaration and Extrinsic Paperwork

Turning to the skilled declaration, the Courtroom discovered that “

Lastly, the Courtroom evaluated the extrinsic paperwork, through which the inventors said that they “used ‘two passes by means of desmear’ and a ‘double move desmear’ to realize the tooth construction.” The Courtroom discovered that these statements additionally merely “mirror use of the popular embodiment” and fail to point any limiting impact.

Accordingly, the Courtroom discovered that the Class 1 Phrases will not be restricted to requiring a repeated desmear course of and will as an alternative be given their plain and abnormal which means. And since the events stipulated to noninfringement based mostly on the district courtroom’s faulty declare development, the Courtroom vacated the judgment of noninfringement and remanded for additional proceedings.


Dustin Weeks

is a Associate within the mental property follow group at Troutman Sanders. His apply spans all areas of mental property regulation, together with patent prosecution, patent litigation (together with Hatch-Waxman litigation), and shopper counseling. He represents shoppers starting from start-ups and solo inventors to Fortune 500 corporations. Dustin works intently together with his shoppers to study their enterprise aims in order that he can tailor methods to acquire, shield, and implement their mental property. Dustin focuses on post-grant proceedings (e.g. Inter Partes Evaluations) earlier than the Patent Trial and Attraction Board (PTAB) the place he has in depth expertise representing each patent house owners and petitioners throughout a variety of applied sciences, together with wi-fi networking, prescription drugs, MEMs units, medical units, and electro-mechanical shopper units. Dustin’s broad expertise in patent prosecution, counseling, and patent litigation uniquely positions him to navigate the blended follow of post-grant proceedings.

For extra info or to contact Dustin, please go to his Agency Profile Web page.

Dustin Weeks

Robert Schaffer & Joseph Robinson


Robert Schaffer is an mental property companion at Troutman Sanders. Bob applies greater than 30 years of expertise to IP counseling and litigation. His work consists of patent procurement, strategic planning and transactional recommendation, due diligence investigations, district courtroom patent instances, and Federal Circuit appeals. He often handles complicated and high-profile home and worldwide patent portfolios, mental property agreements and licensing, IP evaluations for collaborations, mergers, and acquisitions. In disputed courtroom instances Bob’s work consists of representing and counseling shopper in ANDA litigations, complicated patent infringement instances and appeals, and multidistrict and worldwide instances. In disputed Patent Workplace issues his work consists of representing and counseling shoppers in interferences, reexaminations, reissues, post-grant proceedings, and in European Oppositions. For extra info and to contact Bob please go to his profile web page on the Troutman Sanders web site.

Joseph Robinson has over 20 years of expertise in all points of mental property regulation. He focuses his follow within the pharmaceutical, life sciences, biotechnology, and medical system fields. His follow encompasses litigation, together with Hatch-Waxman litigation; licensing; counseling; due diligence; and patent and trademark prosecution. He has served as litigation counsel in quite a lot of patent and trademark disputes in many various jurisdictions, and has additionally served as appellate counsel earlier than the Courtroom of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Joe additionally focuses on complicated inter partes issues earlier than the united statesPatent and Trademark Workplace, inventorship disputes, reexaminations and reissues. His expertise consists of quite a few interferences, a specific benefit in new U.S. Patent and Trademark Workplace post-grant proceedings. He additionally counsels on patent–associated U.S. Meals and Drug Administration points, together with citizen petitions, Orange Ebook itemizing, and trademark points. For extra info and to contact Joe please go to his profile web page on the Troutman Sanders web site.

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