Maurice Mitchell Innovations v. Intel (Fed. Cir. 2007) (non-precedential)
Mitchell’s patent is invalid as indefinite. In its opinion, the CAFC used a simple three step analysis:
- The claimed “means for causing” is a means plus function limitation.
- The specification contains no structure linked to the claimed means.
- Therefore, the claim is invalid as indefinite under 35 U.S.C. 112 p2.
The patentee pointed to a structure in the specification that could serve as the claimed “causing means.” That approach failed because the structure must be “linked” within the specification to the claim language.
Quid pro quo: The CAFC noted that a patentee creates additional burdens by using means plus function language:
“The quid pro quo for using a means-plus-function limitation requires specificity in reciting structure and linking that structure to the limitation.”
In recent history, a more accurate version of this quid pro quo may be written as follows: The quid pro quo for using a means-plus-function limitation is that the patent claims will either be found invalid or narrowly construed.
The CAFC had no reason to issue this as a precedential opinion because it almost identically follows the recent Biomedino case: Biomedino, LLC v. Waters Technologies Corp., 490 F.3d 946, 950 (Fed. Cir. 2007).
The CAFC’s recent decision in Maurice Mitchell Innovations v. Intel provides an interesting example of the level of anxiety and uncertainty that major technology companies continue to feel during patent litigation. Despite the seeming clear and simple issue, Intel hired Robert Van Nest of Keker Van Nest to handle the appeal. (Van Nest is one of the most expensive in the business).