Anticipated yet Nonobvious

Patent.Law159Cohesive Tech v. Water Corp (Fed. Cir. 2008)

Perhaps the most important portion of this case relates to the notion that novelty and nonobviousness are separate and distinct inquiries. And, that a patent may be found anticipated yet nonobvious.

On summary judgment, the district court Cohesive’s HPLC patent might be obvious, but certainly was not anticipated.  Water appealed — arguing that the judgment was logically incorrect if anticipation truly is the “epitome of obviousness.”  On appeal, however, the Federal Circuit confirmed that novelty and obviousness are separate and distinct — one does not necessarily follow the other.

While it is commonly understood that prior art references that anticipate a claim will usually render that claim obvious, it is not necessarily true that a verdict of nonobviousness forecloses anticipation. The tests for anticipation and obviousness are different.

The court suggested two circumstances where an anticipated claim might still be nonobvious.  First, secondary considerations of nonobviousness may exist that are not relevant in an anticipation claim. Second, although inherent elements apply in an anticipation, inherency is generally not applicable to nonobviousness. 

“[O]bviousness requires analysis of secondary considerations of nonobviousness, while secondary considerations are not an element of a claim of anticipation. And although anticipation can be proven inherently, proof of inherent anticipation is not the same as proof of obviousness.”

The court also gives an example —

“Consider, for example, a claim directed toward a particular alloy of metal. The claimed metal alloy may have all the hallmarks of a nonobvious invention—there was a long felt but resolved need for an alloy with the properties of the claimed alloy, others may have tried and failed to produce such an alloy, and, once disclosed, the claimed alloy may have received high praise and seen commercial success. Nevertheless, there may be a centuries-old alchemy textbook that, while not describing any metal alloys, describes a method that, if practiced precisely, actually produces the claimed alloy. While the prior art alchemy textbook inherently anticipates the claim under § 102, the claim may not be said to be obvious under § 103.”

Patent.Law160Judge Mayer dissented — arguing that anticipation is a subset of nonobviousness. “Although a claimed invention can be obvious but not anticipated, it ‘cannot have been anticipated and not have been obvious.’ In re Fracalossi, 681 F.2d 792, 794 (CCPA 1982).”

“The majority’s assertion that a claim can be anticipated but not obvious, flies in the face of a long line of precedent to the contrary. Not surprisingly, it is unable to cite a case remanding to the district court for consideration of anticipation, while at the same time sustaining a determination that claims at issue are not obvious.”

The practical impact of this case:

  1. Anticipation still gets to a jury even when the defense has a credible obviousness argument.
  2. The Majority’s example might be seen to narrow the scope of documents available for obviousness arguments along a temporal axis. (References from a long time ago shouldn’t be combined with more recent references.)
  3. In some ways, the ‘common sense’ approach of KSR encourages this decision. While anticipation may still be a formal construct, obviousness should focus on what really would have been obvious at the time of the invention.
  4. Professor Ochoa (Santa Clara) reminded me about the European rule that does not allow “secret” prior art to be used in obviousness (inventive step) analysis.  If the US so modified its rules, perhaps the distinction between obviousness and anticipation would begin to ring true.

Federal Circuit Affirms $46m Default Judgment Against Bodog

1st Technology v. Rational Ent. and Bodog (Fed. Cir. 2008)

1st Technology won a default patent infringement judgment against the online gambling company Bodog and the Nevada district court awarded $46 million in damages plus interest. The patentee has been enforcing the judgment by attaching Bodog’s US assets – including its domain names and trademark registrations. Without opinion, the Federal Circuit has affirmed that judgment.

On appeal, Bodog argued that it was not properly served notice of the litigation and that the Nevada court lacked personal jurisdiction over the company. 1st argues that the service (to a Bodog’s Costa Rica office) was proper and that by not arriving in court Bodog had waived its personal jurisdiction argument. In addition, plaintiffs cite to a 2005 Forbes article noting how “in 2005, the Bodog entities handled $7.3 billion in online wagers, 95% of which came from the United States, with sales increasing every year. [Bodog’s founder] Mr. Ayre pays no United States income tax, and prides himself on the fact that he and the Bodog entities routinely evade United States law.”


Prior Art Must Enable a Skilled Artisan to Make the Invention without Undue Experimentation

Impax Labs v. Aventis Pharmaceuticals (Fed. Cir. 2008)

This appeal focuses on the question of when a prior art disclosure is sufficiently enabled.

An Aventis patent covers the use of RILUTEK (riluzole) to treat ALS. Impax filed an ANDA with the FDA (seeking to market a generic version of the drug). In subsequent litigation, Impax also alleged, inter alia, that the listed patent should be held invalid. In particular, Impax argued that an earlier Aventis patent (the ‘940 patent) anticipates the asserted Aventis patent (the ‘814 patent) by suggesting a class of compounds may be used to treat ALS. The district court, however found that the ‘940 patent “does not enable a person of ordinary skill in the art to treat ALS with riluzole and therefore does not anticipate claims 1-5 of the ‘814 patent.”

Burden particularly heavy: A defendant who hopes to use previously considered art to invalidate a patent has a “particularly heavy” burden.

Thus, a party challenging patent validity has the burden to prove its case with clear and convincing evidence. When the examiner considered the asserted prior art and basis for the validity challenge during patent prosecution, that burden becomes particularly heavy. See Hewlett-Packard Co. v. Bausch & Lomb Inc., 909 F.2d 1464, 1467 (Fed. Cir. 1990).

In this case, the ‘940 patent had been considered by the examiner during prosecution of the asserted patent.

Enabled Prior Art: To anticipate, the prior art must be enabling – i.e., it must “enable one of ordinary skill in the art to make the invention without undue experimentation.”  This enablement standard is different from the applicant’s 112 enablement requirement which requires enablement of both making and using the invention.  That distinction becomes lost in cases like this, however, where the patent covers a method of treatment.  Here, the Federal Circuit appears to require anticipatory prior art to enable practicing the claimed method.

Enablement of prior art is a question of law, but is based on underlying factual findings. In close cases, the important factual finding is the amount of experimentation that would have been necessary. Applying Wands factors, the Federal Circuit agreed that the prior reference was not enabling.

As shown by the trial court, the [prior art] ‘940 patent’s dosage guidelines are broad and general without sufficient direction or guidance to prescribe a treatment regimen. The alleged prior art also contains no working examples. Finally, nothing in the ‘940 patent would have led one of skill in the art to identify riluzole as a treatment for ALS. In sum, each component of the claimed invention—identifying riluzole as a treatment for ALS and devising dosage parameters—would require undue experimentation based on the teachings of the ‘940 patent.

Burden of Proving Enabled Prior Art: In judging anticipation, courts generally presume that prior art is enabled. That presumption may be overcome by a patentee by providing “persuasive evidence” of nonenablement. At that point, the ultimate burden of proof (with clear and convincing evidence) lies with the accused infringer. In this case, the district court did not explicitly follow this burden shifting framework. On appeal, the Federal Circuit held that articulation of the rule was not necessary. The burden was properly shifted because Aventis presented “sufficient evidence to overcome the presumption of enablement.”

Holding: Affirmed. Validity challenge defeated because prior art was not enabled.


  • The opinion did not focus on timing: As technology develops more and more prior art references become enabled. Thus, it is important to consider at what point in time the reference must be enabling.

Disclosure: My former colleagues at MBHB represent Aventis in this case. The district court case was ongoing while I was there.

No Personal Jurisdiction for Patent Case Against Sprint Nextel

Datascape v. Sprint Nextel (N.D. GA, 2008)

Datascape sued Sprint Nextel for infringement of its patents covering a system for linking non-standard devices to an open network.

In an interesting holding, the Federal district court in Georgia held it lacks personal jurisdiction over Sprint Nextel. It turns out that – despite indications from its website – Sprint Nextel is simply a holding company that holds stock in operating companies.

Based on the evidence presented in this case, the Court is unable to find that Sprint Nextel has contacts with the State of Georgia sufficient to confer either general or specific jurisdiction over Sprint Nextel. Moreover, as to the analysis for specific jurisdiction, in particular, the Court is unable to find, as required by Supreme Court and Federal Circuit law, that Sprint Nextel purposefully directed its activities at the State of Georgia or that the assertion of personal jurisdiction would be reasonable and fair. operating activity of Sprint Nextel, according to Mr. Andreasen, is a telephone refurbishing business in Kansas. Sprint Nextel denies manufacturing, using, selling, importing, and/or offering for sale products or services related to wireless products

Shaping Nuanced Patent Injunctions: Broadcom v. Qualcomm

Broadcom v. Qualcomm (Fed. Cir. 2008) [Part II]

On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed the permanent injunction against Qualcomm – finding that the district court acted within its equitable discretion and properly followed the injunctive relief guidelines set forth by the Supreme Court in eBay v. MercExchange (2006).

Although recognizing the importance of its eventual decision, the Federal Circuit again refrained from determining whether a finding that a patent has been infringed should serve as presumptive evidence of irreparable harm.

“It remains an open question ‘whether there remains a rebuttable presumption of irreparable harm following eBay.'” Quoting Amado (Fed. Cir. 2008)

Irreparable Harm: The patentee Broadcom is a non-practicing entity in the sense that it does not make or sell the invention claimed in the asserted patents. The patentee does, however, compete indirectly with Qualcomm by making an alternative chipset. Here, the Federal Circuit agreed that eBay does not allow a general rule that would prevent a non-practicing from obtaining injunctive relief and that in this Broadcom had been able to show the potential for irreparable harm.

“Broadcom provided evidence of irreparable harm, despite the fact that it does not currently practice the claimed inventions. This result is consistent with eBay, in which the Supreme Court cautioned that ‘traditional equitable principles do not permit such broad classifications’ as presuming that a patentee cannot establish irreparable harm based on a patentee’s ‘willingness to license its patents’ or ‘its commercial activity in practicing the patents.'”

Adequate Remedy at Law: Broadcom had licensed its patents Verizon. A license can theoretically show that monetary damages are adequate. However, the particular market situation is important for that determination. In this case the Verizon license is a vertical license while a license to Qualcomm would be a horizontal license. Thus, the court agreed that “the Verizon license has little bearing on the effect of a compulsory license to a direct competitor.”

Hardships and Public Interest: The district court created the injunction order with a “sunset provision.” Under the plan, Qualcomm may continue infringing for twenty-months while paying a compulsory license rate. At the end of those twenty months, the company will be enjoined from further infringement. The delayed nature of the injunction consequently removed any notion that the a balance of hardships or the public interest would favor the adjudged infringer because it gives plenty of time to redesign and redeploy to customers without any interruption of service.

This decision is insightful in how it moves the proper focus from whether an injunction should issue to the more nuanced issues of how to shape the injunction in a way that best serves the public interest while still protecting property rights. One problem with complex injunctions and ongoing compulsory licenses is that the district court must continue to monitor and make judgments on the situation. In this case the district court recently found Qualcomm in contempt for failing to pay its ongoing royalties of more than $93 million. As a sanction, the court ordered Qualcomm to pay gross profits – noting that “[w]hile an award of gross profit may overcompensate … it will do so in an amount which bears a direct relationship to the degree of infringement. The more that were sold, the greater the award.”


Read more about the case here.

“Indefiniteness is a Matter of Claim Construction”

Praxair v. ATMI (Fed. Cir. 2008)

Praxair’s patents cover pressurized storage containers for potentially hazardous gasses. The patents teach safety mechanisms to help prevent accidental rapid discharge. Of the three patents asserted against ATMI, the Delaware district court found two unenforceable due to inequitable conduct during prosecution. The asserted claims of the third patent were held invalid as indefinite under 35 U.S.C. §112¶2. On appeal, the Federal Circuit reversed-in-part.

Inequitable Conduct: Each patent applicant has a duty to act with “candor, good faith, and honesty” when prosecuting patent applications. Material breach of this duty can result in any resulting patents being held unenforceable due to inequitable conduct. Proof of inequitable conduct has been divided into two parts – requiring “clear and convincing evidence that the applicant (1) made an affirmative misrepresentation of material fact, failed to disclose material information, or submitted false material information, and (2) intended to deceive the [PTO].” Quoting Cargill v. Canbra Foods, Ltd., 476 F.3d 1359 (Fed. Cir. 2007).

Direct evidence is rarely available to prove intent to deceive the PTO when the patent applicant is accused of withholding material information. Rather, the intent element is typically inferred by the proof that the material withheld was highly material; that the applicant knew (or should have known) of the materiality; and that the applicant has no credible excuse for withholding information.

Highly Material Based on Statements in Prosecution: Looking at Praxair’s ‘115 patent, the court did not see the withheld prior art as highly material on its own. However, the reference became highly material based on Praxair’s statements during prosecution. Specifically, the reference became highly material when Praxair told the PTO that the prior art does not teach the elements found in the withheld art. Testimony of the inventors proved that they knew that those elements were, in fact, in the prior art.

Because those same prosecution statements were not submitted during prosecution of Praxair’s ‘609 patent, the Federal Circuit held that the withheld references could not be considered highly materiality.

“At the time the four statements discussed were made during the prosecution of the ‘115 patent, there had already been a notice of allowability indicating that all claims of the ‘609 patent would be issued. ATMI has not established, or even asserted, that the statements in the prosecution of the ‘115 patent somehow infected the prosecution of the ‘609 patent. Absent the four statements, the district court did not make any finding of intent with respect to the withholding of RFO art during the prosecution of the ‘609 patent.”

Thus, the Federal Circuit affirmed the unenforceability holding as to the ‘115 patent, but reversed as to the ‘609 patent. On remand, the lower court will reconsider infringement of the ‘609 patent based on a claim construction error.

Indefinite Claims:

“Indefiniteness is a matter of claim construction, and the same principles that generally govern claim construction are applicable to determining whether allegedly indefinite claim language is subject to construction. Datamize, LLC v. Plumtree Software, Inc., 417 F.3d 1342, 1348 (Fed. Cir. 2005). Indefiniteness, like claim construction, is a question of law, and we review a district court’s entry of summary judgment on the issue of indefiniteness de novo.”

Claims are generally only found indefinite if they are “insolubly ambiguous, and no narrowing construction can properly be adopted.” Here, the district court found the claim term “port body” of the third patent to be indefinite because it was “not described, labeled, or coherently discussed in the patent.” On appeal, however, the Federal Circuit reversed that finding – holding instead that the patent’s specification was adequate although not eloquent.

“Although the discussion of the port body in the ‘895 patent’s specification may not be a model of clarity, the specification adequately explains that the port body is a housing that sealingly engages the outlet of the cylinder and defines the fluid discharge path.”

Extrinsic evidence: As with claim construction, the use of extrinsic evidence in determining definiteness is only secondary if applicable at all. In this case, the patentee’s expert was unable to point to any specific portion of the structure that could be considered the “port body.” On appeal, the Federal Circuit rejected that factual element as lacking impact on the legal question of indefiniteness.

“Even if we were to agree that Dr. Fronczak was unable to reach a single consistent construction of the port body, such extrinsic evidence would not prove the ‘895 patent invalid, since indefiniteness is a legal rather than a factual question.”

Indefiniteness holding reversed.

Dissenting in part, Judge Lourie saw no inequitable conduct with either patent. In particular, Judge Lourie noted that the evidence of intent to deceive the PTO was quite weak.

“While a smoking gun may not be needed to show an intent to deceive, more is needed than materiality of a reference. The district court did not find anything further here. In addition, the court did not engage in any balancing of materiality and intent as is required by our precedent.”

Combining References in Novelty; Slack in New Matter; No Decision on Injunction for NPE

CSIRO v. Buffalo Technology (Fed. Cir. 2008)

CSIRO is a nonpractising patent holder. It is also an arm of the Australian government. After winning an infringement suit against Buffalo Tech, CSIRO was awarded permanent injunctive relief to protect its spread spectrum WLAN technology.

On appeal, more than a half-dozen amici filed briefs arguing for and against injunctive relief in this situation. On appeal, however, the Federal Circuit vacated the infringement holding – leaving the discussion of injunctive relief for another day. The vacatur came from the district court’s pre-KSR strict requirement for a motivation to combine references.

Combining References For Novelty: On novelty, Buffalo asked the court to combine two references in its analysis because one of the reference cites the other in a footnote. The Federal Circuit rejected that argument — finding that the footnote discussion was insufficient to concatenate the two references. “In particular, the reference to Bingham does not ‘identify with detailed particularity what specific material it incorporates and clearly indicate where that material is found in the various documents.’ Advanced Display Systems, (Fed. Cir. 2000).”

New Matter: 35 USC 132 bars an applicant from presenting new matter once a patent application has been filed.  In litigation, the written description requirement of Section 112 serves as the basis for invalidating patents with added new matter.  The new matter limitation is not strict. Rather, when the claims are amended, the patent will only be invalidated if the original specification is not “sufficient to allow persons of ordinary skill in the art to recognize that the inventor invented the subject matter that is claimed in the asserted claims.”  Further, the PTO’s decision to allow an amendment provides a patent with “an especially weighty presumption of correctness.”

Here, CSIRO changed its claim limitation from “frequencies in excess of 10 GHz” to simply “radio frequencies.”  On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed the lower court’s factual finding that the amendment did not impermissibly add new matter. (No clear error). In particular, neither party suggested a technical distinction between handling lower frequencies. Further, the court found that the original specification was not limited to frequencies in excess of 10 GHz.

On remand, the lower court will reevaluate obviousness.

Federal Circuit Affirms that Lucent’s $1.5B Patent Victory is Gone

Lucent v. Gateway, Dell, & Microsoft (Fed. Cir. 2008)

Lucent’s two patents cover a compression method for MP3 digital audio files. The case originally resulted in a $1.5 billion jury award for Lucent. The district court, however set aside the jury verdict. That decision is affirmed here on appeal. Lucent’s problems stem from (1) joint ownership of its ‘080 patent and (2) failure to provide even one specific instance when the Microsoft’s encoder actually infringed the ‘457 patent.

“Lucent has failed to provide sufficient evidence to establish that the High Quality encoder actually runs on Windows Media Player and thus it would be too speculative to conclude that Windows Media Player necessarily infringes the ‘457 patent.”

This case provides important lessons for both inventorship and proving infringement. More to come.

Federal Circuit: Failure to Obtain Non-Infringement Opinion May Serve As Evidence of Intent to Induce Infringement

Broadcom v. Qualcomm (Fed. Cir. 2008)

A California jury found Qualcomm liable for infringing or inducing infringement of three Broadcom patents covering 3G mobile phone technology. (US Pat. Nos. 6,847,686, 5,657,317, and 6,389,010). On appeal, the Federal Circuit has invalidated one of the patents, but left the judgment and injunction standing.

Seagate and Inducement: Like willfulness, inducing infringement requires proof of culpability. In Seagate, the Federal Circuit altered the standard for willful infringement – making it more difficult for a patentee to obtain treble damages. Consequently, in the willfulness context, there is no longer an “affirmative duty of due care” to avoid infringement. Here, Qualcomm argued (unsuccessfully) that the evidence available to prove inducement should be changed as well.

More generally, the defendant argued that it could not be liable for inducement if it was not liable for willfulness because the specific intent standard for inducement is greater than the recklessness associated with willful infringement. On appeal, the Federal Circuit rejected these arguments – finding the inducement standards unchanged and finding that inducement may be found even when willfulness is absent. The crux of the holding may be that the “specific intent” requirement of inducement is not so specific. Under the leading inducement case DSU v. JMS, proof of inducing infringement requires evidence that the accused “intended to cause the acts that constitute the direct infringement,” and that the accused “kn[ew] or should have known [that] its action would cause the direct infringement.”

The evidentiary argument was whether – for its inducement decision – the jury could consider Qualcomm’s decision to seek advice of counsel as circumstantial evidence of intent. The appellate panel saw such evidence as fair game.

“Because opinion-of-counsel evidence, along with other factors, may reflect whether the accused infringer “knew or should have known” that its actions would cause another to directly infringe, we hold that such evidence remains relevant to the second prong of the intent analysis. Moreover, we disagree with Qualcomm’s argument and further hold that the failure to procure such an opinion may be probative of intent in this context. It would be manifestly unfair to allow opinion-of-counsel evidence to serve an exculpatory function, as was the case in DSU itself, see 471 F.3d at 1307, and yet not permit patentees to identify failures to procure such advice as circumstantial evidence of intent to infringe. Accordingly, we find no legal error in the district court’s jury instructions as they relate to inducement.”

Too Broad: Prosecutors are typically careful to ensure that claims will be given a broad interpretation during litigation. If the claim is too broad, however, it will likely be found invalid. Here, Broadcom’s ‘686 patent digital video signal processor. The district court found that a ‘global controller’ was required for operation of the processor, but the Federal Circuit could not find that limitation in the claims or any justification from the specification. Without that limitation, the claim was invalid as anticipated.

Broadcom’s argument for a narrow interpretation was based on its discussion of prior art admissions in the specification – arguing that its admitted prior art would invalidate a broad claim. The Federal Circuit did not reject that contention per se. Rather, the court rejected Broadcom’s version because the company had failed to show that its admitted prior art would actually anticipate the broad claim. “Because Broadcom has not demonstrated that “every limitation” of claim 1 is found in this reference, its self-invalidating argument must fail.”

Late Claim Construction: Claim construction can happen at any stage of a case. Here, however, Qualcomm did not request a construction of the “network” term found in the ‘317 patent until after the jury had returned its verdict. On appeal, the Federal Circuit agreed with the lower court that Qualcomm had waived its right to demand construction of that term. “We agree that Qualcomm cannot be allowed to create a new claim construction dispute following the close of the jury trial.”

‘Qualcomm’s eleventh-hour attempt to litigate a newly minted claim construction controversy falls squarely within our holding in Eli Lilly & Company v. Aradigm Corporation, where a party “never requested that the district court construe any terms in [the relevant claim] and never offered a construction of [that claim],” but rather “[o]nly after the presentation of all of the evidence to the jury . . . even suggest[ed] that claim construction might be helpful to determine the proper scope of the claimed invention.” 376 F.3d 1352, 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2004).’

Injunctions: District courts issue injunctions while sitting ‘in equity.’ This typically gives the court discretionary power to shape and craft relief in a way that best achieves the right result. Here, the district court pushed enforcement of the injunction back to January 31, 2009. In the meantime, Qualcomm pays mandatory damages and Broadcom has now power to stop continued infringement in this period.

In the appeal, Broadcom argued that, under eBay, no permanent injunction should be awarded. In particular, Qualcomm had licensed its patents to Verizon for money – indicating that monetary relief is adequate and because the injunction will disrupt (non-Verizon) CDMA carriers (hardship) and will also be tough on the public. On appeal, the appellate panel rejected those arguments and instead found that the district court acted within its proper discretion by issuing the injunction order. (more to come on injunction order)


  • In the parallel Broadcom v. ITC, last week the Federal Circuit vacated the ITC’s non-infringement finding of another Broadcom patent. The ITC will reconsider that issue.

A third parallel case, Kyocera v. ITC, is pending appeal at the Federal Circuit. In that case, the cell phone companies are appealing the ITC’s exclusion order regarding yet another Broadcom patent.

En Banc Federal Circuit Revives Design Patent Law

Egyptian Goddess v. Swisa (Fed. Cir 2008, en banc)

In a rare unanimous en banc opinion, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has revived the value of design patent protection by loosening the standard for infringement. The opinion – penned by Judge Bryson – rejects the “point of novelty” test as a requirement to prove infringement of a design patent. Instead, the judges agree that the 1871 Gorham “ordinary observer” test is the “sole test for determining whether a design patent has been infringed.”

The focus of the Gorham test is to look for substantial similarity between the patented design and the accused design. It is called the ordinary observer test because the similarity is considered from the perspective of an ordinary observer who is familiar with the art. Although Gorham only requires a comparison between the patented and accused designs, prior art designs will generally be useful for highlighting differences. A second pro-patentee rule that emerges from this case is that the burden of production of prior art designs will fall on the accused infringer. On claim construction, the Federal Circuit agreed that a ‘verbal description’ of the diagrams is not required, but will not – by itself – be reversible error.

Ordinary Observer With a Tight Focus: Although the patentee was able to change the law, it actually lost the day. In the appeal, the CAFC concluded that even under the ordinary observer test, “no reasonable fact finder could find that EGI met its burden of showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that an ordinary observer, taking into account the prior art, would believe the accused design to be the same as the patented design.”

The courts application of the law shows that proving infringement under the ordinary observer test will not be a walk in the park for design patent holders. Many cases will likely still turn on technical points of similarity rather than simply a broader totality of similarity. Yet, despite the potential difficulties, the situation is vastly improved from the hardships imposed by the point of novelty test.

More to come…

Erroneous Revival by PTO is not a Cognizable Defense in an Infringement Action

Aristocrat Technologies Australia v. International Game Technologies (IGT) (Fed. Cir. 2008)

‘The district court concluded that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office “improperly revived” U.S. Patent No. 7,056,215 after it was abandoned during prosecution, and therefore held it (and the continuation patent that followed it) invalid on summary judgment. We conclude that “improper revival” is not a cognizable defense in an action involving the validity or infringement of a patent. Thus, we reverse the district court’s grant of summary judgment and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.’

ATA missed its US national stage filing by one day. The PTO granted ATA’s petition to revive the application based on the applicant’s seemingly legitimate claim that the “entire delay” in filing the appropriate papers “was unintentional.” The district court, however, found the patent invalid based on the PTO’s “improper revival” of the application. In particular, the district court found that the PTO lacked authority to revive unintentionally late national stage applications.  Rather, according to the court, the PTO can only revive such applications when the cause of delay meets the much higher standard of being unavoidable. The Court found its statutory support from 35 USC 371, which requires the PTO to hold late national stage applications as abandoned unless “such failure to comply was unavoidable.”

On appeal, the Federal Circuit panel (Judges Newman, Bryson, and Linn) reversed – finding that “improper revival” is not a proper invalidity defense in a patent infringement action.

The court’s surprising conclusion is based on its interpretation of 35 U.S.C. §282. That statute lists the defenses available to charges of patent infringement. Those include:

(1) Noninfringement …,

(2) Invalidity of the patent or any claim in suit on any ground specified in part II of this title as a condition for patentability,

(3) Invalidity of the patent or any claim in suit for failure to comply with any requirement of sections 112 or 251 of this title.

(4) Any other fact or act made a defense by this title.

Conditions for Patentability: In the appeal, the Federal Circuit saw the term “condition for patentability” of ¶2 above as a term of art and gave it a narrow interpretation: “While there are most certainly other factors that bear on the validity or the enforceability of a patent, utility and eligibility, novelty, and nonobviousness are the only so-called conditions for patentability.” Thus, complying with the timing requirements is not a condition of patentability.

Made a Defense: Taking a similarly hard stand, the appellate panel found that ¶4 above would only apply when another act had explicitly been ‘made a defense’ by the words of the patent act.

“Congress made it clear in various provisions of the statute when it intended to create a defense of invalidity or noninfringement, but indicated no such intention in the statutes pertaining to revival of abandoned applications. For example, 35 U.S.C. § 273 is entitled “Defense to infringement based on earliest inventor” and expressly provides that the provision “shall be a defense to an action for infringement.”…

Because the proper revival of an abandoned application is neither a fact or act made a defense by title 35 nor a ground specified in part II of title 35 as a condition for patentability, we hold that improper revival may not be asserted as a defense in an action involving the validity or infringement of a patent.”

On several occasions, the court has allowed an invalidity finding when the cause of invalidity did not reach one of the Section 282 categories. In the 1995 Quantum case, for instance, the court invalidated a patent based on improperly expanding its scope during prosecution. Here, the court pushed Quantum aside finding it irrelevant or “inapposite.” On the policy side, the court noted that this case is a one-off and is unlikely to encourage bad applicant behavior.

What result: The result of this case is that an accused infringer has no recourse to invalidate a patent that was issued as a result of procedural lapses during prosecution. Absent proof of inequitable conduct, there may be no recourse at all. In this respect, the Federal Circuit quoted its own 1997 Magnivision decision:

“Procedural lapses during examination, should they occur, do not provide grounds of invalidity. Absent proof of inequitable conduct, the examiner’s or the applicant’s absolute compliance with the internal rules of patent examination becomes irrelevant after the patent has issued.”


Federal Circuit Finds Personal Jurisdiction Over Declaratory Judgment Defendant

Patent.Law150Campbell Pet Co. v. Theresa Miale & Ty-Lift Ent. (Fed. Cir. 2008)

Ms. Miale holds two patents relating to stretchers for carrying injured animals her company (a partnership with her mother) sells products based on the patents.

The issue in the case is one of personal jurisdiction – whether the Federal Court sitting in Washington State has sufficient power over the patentee and her company to adjudge Campbell’s declaratory judgment action.

The facts are that Ty-Lift sold several thousand dollars worth of equipment to Washington residents, opened its internet website to Washington residents, and Ms. Miale even demonstrated the product at a Convention in the state.  While there, Miale and her mother “confronted several Campbell employees” and accused them of infringing Miale’s patents.  They also allegedly asked the convention director to remove the Campbell products and told customers of the infringement.

The district court originally dismissed the case – finding that Miale’s contacts were not sufficient for either general jurisdiction or specific jurisdiction.  

“[T]he [district] court found that the defendants had purposely engaged in transactions in Washington during the three-day convention in June 2007, and the court found that the cause of action for a declaratory judgment of patent noninfringement and invalidity arose from or was connected with those transactions. However, relying on our decision in Red Wing Shoe Co. v. Hockerson-Halberstadt, Inc., 148 F.3d 1355 (Fed. Cir. 2003), the court found that due process considerations barred the court from exercising personal jurisdiction over the defendants based on the activities at the June 2007 convention in Seattle.< ?xml:namespace prefix ="" o />

The district court noted that the notion of “fair play and substantial justice” should “afford a patentee sufficient latitude to inform others of its patent rights without subjecting itself to jurisdiction in a foreign forum.”

On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed – finding that constitutional due process considerations of International Shoe do not bar the suit.  For the Federal Circuit, “sending letters to another state” is not sufficient to satisfy the requirements of due process and thus personal jurisdiction – even if those letters threaten litigation.  Here, the facts asserted show more than simply “attempts to inform.”

“Of critical importance to the issue of personal jurisdiction, Ms. Miale’s attempts at “extra-judicial patent enforcement” were targeted at Campbell’s business activities in Washington and can fairly be characterized as attempts to limit competition from Campbell at the Seattle convention.”

Reversed: The district court does have the power to hear this case.



In re Swanson: CAFC Allows Reexamination Based on Reference Previously Considered by PTO and Courts

In re Swanson (Fed. Cir. 2008)

Back in 1984, the patent examiner rejected Swanson’s claim based on U.S. Patent No. 4,094,647 (“Deutsch”). The claims were then amended and the patent allowed. Later, in an infringement action involving the patent, the Federal Circuit affirmed a judgment that “Deutsch did not anticipate the asserted claims.” Abbott v. Syntron, 334 F.3d 1343 (Fed. Cir. 2003). Surmodics is the patent owner, and the patent is licensed to Abbott.

After losing at the CAFC, Syntron filed for ex parte reexamination of the patent – asserting again that the claims were anticipated by Deutsch. As per usual, the PTO agreed to reexamine the patent – based on a “substantial new question of patentability.” 35 USC §303. On appeal, Swanson argues that the Deutsch reference was considered in both the initial examination and the litigation – and thus cannot serve as the “new” basis for reexamination.

Third-party filed reexaminations provide a check on PTO power, but the SNQ requirement is designed to protect patentees from harassment.

This ‘substantial new question’ requirement would protect patentees from having to respond to, or participate in unjustified reexaminations. Further, it would act to bar reconsideration of any argument already decided by the Office, whether during the original examination or an earlier reexamination. House Report 96-1307, 96th Cong., 2d Sess. (1980).

In its 1997 Portola Packaging case, the CAFC gave teeth to the SNQ requirement – finding that a new question could not be presented by “prior art previously considered by the PTO in relation to the same or broader claims.” Reacting to that decision, in 2002 Congress amended Section 303 and to ensure that a new question may be raised by prior art that was previously considered by the examiner:

35 USC §303 “The existence of a substantial new question of patentability is not precluded by the fact that a patent or printed publication was previously cited by or to the Office or considered by the Office.”

Pointedly, the House Report accompanying the 2002 legislation found that “the Federal Circuit incorrectly interpreted Congress’ original intent.” According to the House Report, “the appropriate test to determine whether a ‘substantial new question of patentability’ exists should not merely look at the number of references or whether they were previously considered or cited but their combination in the appropriate context of a new light as it bears on the question of the validity of the patent.”

SNQ = Reference Never Considered by the PTO for the Particular Purpose: Based on the statutory change, the appellate panel found that a substantial new question is simply one that has never been considered by the PTO. Here, the record shows that the original examiner relied upon Deutsch only as a secondary reference in an obviousness rejection of a broader claim.

“In light of the extremely limited purpose for which the examiner considered Deutsch in the initial examination, the Board is correct that the issue of whether Deutsch anticipates the method disclosed in claims 22, 23, and 25 was a substantial new question of patentability, never before addressed by the PTO”

SNQ Relation to Court Proceedings: In court, the parties had battled out the exact anticipation argument presented in the reexamination. On appeal, the CAFC panel found that “the determination of a substantial new question is unaffected by these court decisions.” According to the court this makes sense because “the two forums [Courts and the PTO] take different approaches in determining validity and on the same evidence could quite correctly come to different conclusions” based on the burden of proof. Quoting Ethicon (Fed. Cir. 1988).



  • Judges Gajarsa (Author), Lourie, & Bryson.
  • This opinion gives further strength to ex parte reexamination requests.
  • The CAFC has consistently required that a patent’s presumption of validity be negated by “clear and convincing evidence.” Here, the court made a minor slip by calling the standard ‘statutory.’

“In civil litigation, a challenger who attacks the validity of patent claims must overcome the presumption of validity with clear and convincing evidence that the patent is invalid. 35 U.S.C. § 282. If this statutory burden is not met, “[c]ourts do not find patents ‘valid,’ only that the patent challenger did not carry the ‘burden of establishing invalidity in the particular case before the court.'” Ethicon, 849 F.2d at n.3 (internal citations omitted) (emphasis in original).”

Thanks to Paul Morgan for noting this issue.

Potential of Extending Exclusive Generic Period by Delaying Generic Launch Does Not Create Actionable Harm

Janssen Pharmaceutica v. Apotex, Inc (Fed. Cir. 2008)

Like most of today’s pioneer-generic drug patent battles, this case involves multiple parties all looking for some advantage in the end-game battle over exclusivity.

Three JANSSEN patents are listed in the FDA orange book as covering its blockbuster anti-psychotic drug sold under the name Risperdal. ($2.5 billion in 2007 sales). TEVA was the first to challenge the patents and receives the Hatch-Waxman 180 days of generic market exclusivity. APOTEX came later and hoped to shorten TEVA’s clock by invalidating the patents. The Federal Circuit, however, rejected APOTEX case – finding no declaratory judgment jurisdiction. In particular, the court saw no case or controversy between APOTEX and JANSSEN. (APOTEX wanted to shorten TEVA’s rights).

TEVA had challenged only two of the three JANSSEN patents. On June 29, 2008, the unchallenged patent expired and the next day the FDA approved TEVA’s generic application. To date, however, the generic company has apparently not yet launched. TEVA’s 180 day clock will not be triggered until either (1) it launches its generic alternative or (2) the other two patents are found invalid by a court. If the court invalidates the JANSSEN patents, then TEVA’s 180 days will end sooner – allowing APOTEX to enter the market at an earlier date. (TEVA’s 180 days would have been triggered even earlier if APOTEX had successfully challenged the third patent (the ‘663 patent). It instead agreed that the ‘663 patent was valid.). To get out of the case, JANSSEN promised not to sue APOTEX on the other two patents.

On appeal, the three judge panel (CJ Michel, J Moore, and J Rader) recognized the harm APOTEX was feeling – but decided that the harm was not sufficient for declaratory judgment jurisdiction.

“[W]e conclude that the harm that has continuously existed in the present case—Apotex’s inability to launch its generic product immediately upon the expiration of the ‘663 patent—is not sufficient to give rise to declaratory judgment jurisdiction.”

What are they talking about?: This decision involves a multi-billion dollar drug and APOTEX – a leading generic provider – would be in a position to obtain at least millions in generic sales by launching sooner. Furthermore, the harm to APOTEX is not just waiting more than the 180 days, but also in giving TEVA more time to solidify its generic market position down the road. YET, the court concludes that the harm is “not sufficient to give rise to declaratory judgment jurisdiction.”

Head in the Sand: It turns out that the court based its ruling on facts developed before we knew that TEVA would delay its launch:

“We heard oral arguments in this case on July 7, 2008, approximately a week after Teva could have launched its generic product. However, we are not deciding whether the facts alleged on July 7, 2008—the date we heard oral arguments—give rise to a justiciable Article III case or controversy. We hold that at the time when the district court entered final judgment in this case, Apotex’s alleged harm of indefinite delay of approval was too speculative to create an actual controversy to warrant the issuance of a declaratory judgment”

The CAFC is probably correct that when the lower court made its decision months ago, the harm – TEVA’s potential delayed marketing after expiration – was too speculative to support DJ jurisdiction.

Now that TEVA’s delay is no longer speculative, APOTEX may well be able bring suit to invalidate the JANSSEN patents. However, that result is merely my own speculation.

CAFC: Deadlines Stick

Hildebrand v. Steck Mfg. (Fed. Cir. 2008) (nonprecedential)

Hildebrand’s invention looks pretty cool – a device for removing bolts when the head is inaccessible or damaged. (U.S. Patent No. 5,737,981).

Hildebrand won at trial and was awarded $74,863 in lost profits from Steck. Hildebrand failed to request costs & fees within the 10-day time period (under Colorado local rules) and appealed for relief to the CAFC. On appeal, the court affirmed – finding that “the district court properly concluded that his application was untimely.”

This case gives further creedence to the CAFC’s general operating procedure of giving no benefit to a party simply because the party is appealing pro se or with inadequate counsel.

Venue: East Coast Wins

Third Dimension v. Fairchild (E.D. Tex. 2008)

  • Third Dimension sued Infineon in the E.D. Texas for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 5,216,275, et al.
  • One month later, Fairchild filed a declaratory judgment action against Third Dimension in D. Maine on the same patents.
  • Later that same day, Third Dimension sued Fairchild for infringement in the E.D. Texas on the same patents.

Holding: The first case stays in Texas. The second two cases are consolidated in Maine. “Third Dimension argues that the Maine case should be denied first-filed status because it filed an earlier case against Infineon involving the same patent as this case. . . . While this case and the Infineon case involve the same patent, that is the extent of the similarity.”

Time Zone Problem: An interesting aspect of this case is the inherent time-zone problem. Fairchild filed its action in Maine at 12:01 a.m. EST on May 17. Third Dimension at 12:00 a.m. CST on the same day. Fairchild wins because it filed on the East Coast. Can that be right? (This conflict usually arises when a right is cemented on a particular day — such as a patent issuing.)

CAFC Applies Lilly to Invalidate Carnegie Mellon’s Plasmid Claims

Carnegie Mellon University v. Hoffman-La Roche (Fed. Cir. 2008)

Carnegie Mellon’s patents cover recombinant plasmids used to enhance expression of an DNA polymerase. On appeal, the CAFC affirmed the lower court holding that the patent claims fail to meet the written description requirement under Lilly.

35 U.S.C. §112 requires that the patent document “contain a written description of the invention and of the manner and process of making and using it, in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains, or with which it is most nearly connected, to make and use the same, and shall set forth the best mode contemplated by the inventor of carrying out his invention.

The written description requirement is used to make sure that the patentee only claims what has been invented. The public gets a “meaningful disclosure in exchange for being excluded from practicing the invention for a limited period of time.” Quoting Enzo Biochem (Fed. Cir. 2002).

A common written description argument is that the claims have not been disclosed to their full scope. In the Lilly case, for instance, the CAFC found that a generic claim directed to “any vertebrate and mammalian cDNA” were not supported by a specification that only discussed one species – rat cDNA.

To be clear, written description is not about enablement. Patent claims may well be enabled based on PHOSITA’s knowledge of the art, but still fail the written description requirement because the patentee did not disclose the entire scope of its invention.

A representative claim from Carnegie’s patents reads as follows:

1. A recombinant plasmid containing a cloned complete structural gene coding region isolated from a bacterial source for the expression of DNA polymerase I, under operable control of a conditionally controllable foreign promoter functionally linked to said structural gene coding region, said foreign promoter being functional to express said DNA polymerase I in a suitable bacterial or yeast host system.

In reviewing the claim, the CAFC noted that the DNA coding sequence is “broadly defined … only by its function of encoding DNA polymerase I” and that the claims are not limited to any particular bacterial or yeast species.

The specification only discloses one operative gene – the E. coli polA gene. And at the time of the patent, only three polA genes had been cloned (out of thousands of bacteria strains). “[W]ith regard to the promoter, the patents fail to disclose the nucleotide sequence or other descriptive features for a polA gene (including the promoter sequence) from any bacterial source other than E. coli.”

“To satisfy the written description requirement in the case of a chemical or biotechnological genus, more than a statement of the genus is normally required. One must show that one has possession, as described in the application, of sufficient species to show that he or she invented and disclosed the totality of the genus. . . . [W]e conclude that that requirement was not met here.

Gentry Gallery: The district court also applied Gentry Gallery to invalidate other claims. In Gentry, the CAFC found a patent claim invalid because the claim failed to recite an “essential element” of the invention. Here, Roche argued that the patents were directed to avoiding the problem of lethality to host cells, but that the claims did not include that limitation. As it has done repeatedly, the CAFC rejected the idea that Gentry Gallery created an essential element test. (The claims remain invalid under the Lilly analysis.).

The Clarified Law of Inequitable Conduct

Although not new writing law, in Star Scientific, Chief Judge Michel does a nice job of clearly breaking down inequitable conduct analysis into simple two steps. The case clarifies that threshold levels of materiality and intent must each be proven by clear and convincing evidence.

Inequitable Conduct Two Step Analysis:

  1. Whether the accused infringer proven threshold levels of (a) intent to deceive the PTO and (b) materiality, both with clear and convincing evidence. Although the intent element may be proven by circumstantial evidence. The clear and convincing standard requires that the evidence must be strong enough to point to “intent to deceive” as the “single most reasonable inference able to be drawn from the evidence.”
  2. If both elements are proven by clear and convincing evidence, the court should “look to the equities” to determine whether the evidence warrants a finding of inequitable conduct and thus unenforceability. It is only at this second stage when the court may balance the relative weight of proof. In particular, “[t]he more material the omission or the misrepresentation, the lower the level of intent required to establish inequitable conduct, and vice versa.” (Quoting Critikon, 120 F.3d 1253 (Fed. Cir. 1997)(J. Rich)).

Still unclear is the meaning of “threshold.” Presumably proving a “threshold level of intent” should be easier than simply proving “intent.”


Important Inequitable Conduct Decision: Defendant Must Prove its Case

Star Scientific v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco (Fed. Cir. 2008)

After a bench trial, the district court held that Star’s tobacco curing patents were unenforceable due to inequitable conduct during prosecution and invalid as indefinite. This post will discuss the inequitable conduct issues.

The Star patents are directed at a method of making healthier tobacco (same nicotine, but fewer nitrites and other chemicals). Higher end organic or green tobacco is perhaps the only growth market in the lagging US market. The inequitable conduct issues in this case revolve primarily around a letter received by the prosecuting attorneys from a Star scientist indicating that Chinese tobacco already had lower levels of nitrites due to “their use of old [radiant heat] flue-curing techniques.” Neither the letter nor a set of similar data were ever disclosed to the PTO.

An accused infringer can defang a patent by showing the patentee guilty of inequitable conduct during prosecution. To successfully prove inequitable conduct, the accused infringer must present “evidence that the applicant (1) made an affirmative misrepresentation of material fact, failed to disclose material information, or submitted false material information, and (2) intended to deceive the [PTO].” An issued patent is presumed valid and enforceable – thus, the “burden of proving inequitable conduct lies with the accused infringer. The patentee need not offer any good faith explanation unless the accused infringer first carried his burden to prove a threshold level of intent to deceive [and materiality] by clear and convincing evidence.” Further, “[e]ven if a threshold level of both materiality and intent to deceive are proven by clear and convincing evidence, the court may still decline to render the patent unenforceable.”

“The need to strictly enforce the burden of proof and elevated standard of proof in the inequitable conduct context is paramount because the penalty for inequitable conduct is so severe, the loss of the entire patent even where every claim clearly meets every requirement of patentability.

. . .

[C]ourts must ensure that an accused infringer asserting inequitable conduct has met his burden on materiality and deceptive intent with clear and convincing evidence before exercising its discretion on whether to render a patent unenforceable.

. . .

If a threshold level of intent to deceive or materiality is not established by clear and convincing evidence, the district court does not have any discretion to exercise and cannot hold the patent unenforceable regardless of the relative equities or how it might balance them.

Specific Intent: As the CAFC held the 1995 Molins case, the intent requirement is “specific intent to . . . mislead[] or deceiv[e] the PTO.”

“Rather, to prevail on the defense, the accused infringer must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the material information was withheld with the specific intent to deceive the PTO.”

When circumstantial evidence is used to prove intent, that evidence “must still be clear and convincing” and intent to deceive the PTO must be “the single most reasonable inference able to be drawn from the evidence.” As a flat rule, information is not material if it is cumulative to that already disclosed.

In this case, prosecution was begun at the Sughrue Mion firm and then moved to the Banner Witcoff firm. RJR’s theory of intent was that the firm switch was necessary to avoid disclosing the letter. Star’s witness stated that the “reasons behind the replacement of the Sughrue firm were that a key partner passed away and that [the witness] observed a Sughrue attorney perform unsatisfactorily in an unrelated prosecution.” The district court, however, rejected that testimony as unbelievable. On appeal, however, the CAFC reversed:

“[E]ven if Star’s explanations are not to be believed, it remained RJR’s burden to prove its allegation regarding the reason for the Sughrue firm’s dismissal. RJR cannot carry its burden simply because Star failed to prove a credible alternative explanation.”

Here, the court found that RJR had simply not proven its case:

“RJR failed to elicit any testimony or submit any other evidence indicating that Star knew what the Burton letter said prior to replacing the Sughrue firm, or that the letter was a reason for changing firms. RJR admitted at oral argument that it failed to even ask [Star’s] executives about these critical facts, and RJR failed to identify any testimony or other evidence when specifically asked by us to do so in supplemental briefing. Further, a review of the record shows that Williams actually testified, in response to a different question, that he had never seen the Burton letter prior to his deposition in the present litigation. This statement was never impeached, questioned, or explored by RJR’s counsel. RJR identified Perito, Star’s chairman, as the officer who made the decision to terminate the Sughrue firm, but Perito was never asked whether he had knowledge of the Burton letter or whether it played any role in his decision to change firms.

In the end, the court concluded, that RJR had simply failed to provide sufficient facts to support an inference of intent to deceive. Reversed and Remanded.


  • The decision gave Star’s stock (STSI) a nice bump:

Of course, there is no “legal” impact, but I query the importance of the fact that both prosecution firms (Sughrue Mion and Banner Witcoff) are well known and well respected in the legal communities.

CAFC Finally Affirms a Finding of Infringement by Equivalents

PatentLawPic391Dr. Voda v. Cordis Corp. (Fed. Cir. 2008)

Dr. Voda’s case is an exciting tale of an individual inventor litigating against a major corporation in the red sandy soil of western Oklahoma. 

A jury found that Cordis catheters infringed Voda’s patents and adjudged a reasonable royalty to be 7.5% of gross sales. The jury also found the infringement willful and the patents not invalid.  The district court then affirmed the jury verdict but denied Voda’s request for injunctive relief.

Claim Construction: Voda’s claim included the requirement that the catheter be engaged “along a line” of the aorta. The district court, however, found that the claim is not limited to linear portions of the aorta. On appeal, the CAFC confirmed the construction — reminding us that “the context in which a term is used in the asserted claim can be highly instructive.” Phillips. When engaged, it is clear that the catheter may curve along the aorta.

The specification does indicate that the “present invention [includes a] straight portion.” However, the CAFC refused to see that statement as a “clear disavowal of claim scope” because the specification discusses other instances where the same portion could be curved.

Doctrine of Equivalents: Cordis had redesigned some of its products to avoid literal infringement. However, these were found to infringe under the Doctrine of Equivalents. In particular, a “second straight portion” claim element was not literally found in the Cordis products, but the jury found that the products did include an equivalent element.

At the court’s option, either of two tests of equivalent may be used:

Under the insubstantial differences test, “[a]n element in the accused device is equivalent to a claim limitation if the only differences between the two are insubstantial.” Honeywell Int’l Inc. v. Hamilton Sundstrand Corp., 370 F.3d 1131, 1139 (Fed. Cir 2004). Alternatively, under the function-way-result test, an element in the accused device is equivalent to a claim limitation if it “performs substantially the same function in substantially the same way to obtain substantially the same result.” Schoell v. Regal Marine Indus., Inc., 247 F.3d 1202, 1209-10 (Fed. Cir. 2001).

The CAFC looked to Voda’s experts to find evidence of insubstantial difference. In particular, Voda’s expert testified that the Cordis “curve portion” was essentially straight and that “cardiologists would have difficulty distinguishing the two during use.”  In addition, Voda introduced evidence that the Cordis curve portion “performed the same function as a straight portion, in the same way, to achieve the same result. . . . Accordingly, we affirm the jury’s findings of infringement with respect to these claims.”


  • EBay: Voda argued for an injunction based on the irreparable harm to its exclusive licensee. The CAFC rejected that justification — finding that the irreparably harmed must be the party seeking the injunction.
  • Seagate: The CAFC vacated the willfulness finding that was based on pre-Seagate law.
  • Festo: The CAFC did find that some of Voda’s claims were not infringed under the DOA. Those claims had been narrowed during prosecution and were subject to prosecution history estoppel.
  • Prior Appeal: In the 2007 appeal in this case, the CAFC held that Voda could not assert its foreign patents covering the same product in US courts. [LINK]