CAFC Reverses Medrad Reissue Case

Patentlyo025Medrad v. Tyco (Fed. Cir. 2006).

In October 2005, I discussed the district court case involving Medrad.  In that case, the district court held that a Section 251 Reissue can only be used to correct an error in the specification, drawings or claims and cannot be used to correct a procedural error that is not reflected in the patent grant itself. During prosecution, the patentee had filed a second reissue to correct a mistake made during the prosecution of the first reissue. (The patentee failed to file a supplemental reissue declaration in compliance with PTO Rule 1.175). The lower court found that correction of that mistake did not fall within the guidelines of Section 251.

On appeal the CAFC sided with the patentee by giving a broad meaning to the statutory phrase “[invalid] by reason of the patentee claiming more or less than he had a right to claim in the patent.” In particular, the unanimous appellate panel found that the phrase does not literally mean “claim more or less” but rather that the phrase “encompass[es] any error that causes a patentee to claim more or less than he had a right to claim.”  Thus, a reissue can apparently be filed based on any error that would result in invalid claims.

Notes:

  • 35 USC 251 reads as follows:

Whenever any patent is, through error without any deceptive intention, deemed wholly or partly inoperative or invalid, by reason of a defective specification or drawing, or by reason of the patentee claiming more or less than he had a right to claim in the patent, the Director shall, on the surrender of such patent and the payment of the fee required by law, reissue the patent for the invention disclosed in the original patent, and in accordance with a new and amended application, for the unexpired part of the term of the original patent. No new matter shall be introduced into the application for reissue.

2 thoughts on “CAFC Reverses Medrad Reissue Case

  1. Nice case. I have a litigation matter where a design patent would be otherwise valid except for an incorrect filing date assigned to the underlying application by the USPTO.

  2. I find it interesting/confusing that in one of the two 251 cases, the court first says how plain language of the statute controls its interpretation and then moves on to placing a non-self-evident gloss to the words that they mean more than they say (construed liberally).

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