During patent examination, pending patent claims are given the broadest reasonable interpretation (“BRI”) that is consistent with the specification, as would be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art. See Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1316 (Fed. Cir. 2005).
The Patent Office applies the broadest reasonable interpretation in virtually all circumstances. It is, however, true that at least one situation where the Patent Office does not use broadest reasonable interpretation is when a reexamination of a patent is undertaken and reexamination will not be concluded until after the patent term has expired. The position of the USPTO is that, in this situation, a patent could not be changed because the term has expired; therefore, the only remaining “life” a patent has would be in litigation because the statute of limitations for a patent infringement action is six years. Thus, the USPTO applies the Phillips standard. (Further discussion of this advanced topic goes beyond the scope of this article, which is intended to be a primer on the broadest reasonable interpretation standard.)
The Federal Circuit recently issued a non-precedential opinion in Vehicle IP, LLC v. AT&T Mobility, LLC. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this decision was that it was a non-precedential opinion with a dissent, which to some extent seems a bit contradictory.
The tale begins back on December 31, 2009, when Vehicle IP filed a patent infringement action against the Appellees in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. The patent infringement lawsuit asserted that Appellees infringed U.S. Patent No. 5,987,377 (“the ’377 patent”). On December 12, 2011, the district court issued an order construing the disputed claim terms of the ’377 patent, including “expected time of arrival” and “way point(s).” The district court construed “expected time of arrival” as “time of day at which the vehicle is expected to arrive somewhere (and not remaining travel time).” The district court construed “way point(s)” as “intermediate point(s) on the way to the final destination (and not the final destination itself).”
After the district court construed the claims, Appellees filed two motions for summary judgment. The district court granted both motions. On April 19, 2013, the district court entered judgment in favor of Appellees. Vehicle IP appealed the entry of judgment, challenging the district court’s claim constructions and summary judgment rulings.
Inventors in the unpredictable arts often have to face an unpredictable paradox when patenting an invention. There seems to be a disconnect between requirements for an inventor to disclose an invention versus the prior art to render an invention unpatentable. Fenwick & West refer to this as the “patentability black hole”. In this article, Fenwick & West discuss this dilemma and how to solve this patent law paradox.
An inventor faces a number of significant hurdles and pitfalls in patenting his invention. Having a patent specification providing proper and sufficiently thorough disclosure of the invention being claimed by the patentee can, by itself, be a large hurdle, especially in the biosciences where experimental data is essential. Section 112, first paragraph, of Title 35 of the United States Code sets forth the disclosure requirements that all patentees must meet. This section is commonly interpreted as requiring that a patent specification contain a full written description showing that the inventor was in possession of the claimed invention at the time the patent application was filed (the “written description” requirement) and that a patent specification enable a person of ordinary skill in the relevant field to make and use the invention based on the specification (the “enablement” requirement). See Ariad Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Eli Lilly and Company, 598 F.3d 1336, 1340 (2010). (more…)
Last week, I attended PLI’s Advanced Patent Prosecution Workshop 2011 in New York where an esteemed panel of experts offered hands-on claim drafting and amendment writing techniques. The program was organized into four technological sections: Biotechnology, Chemical/Pharmaceutical, Electrochemical and Electronics/Computers. I attended the Chemical/Pharmaceutical segment where Michael Davitz, Partner at Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider and Practice Center Contributor, discussed Chemical and Pharmaceutical Claim Drafting. Here are some highlights from his presentation….
- Development of a Patent Portfolio – patent portfolio is developed in the context of a business plan and where in the life cycle the product is.
- Generic Player – differentiate product from innovator and create difficulty for competitors, other generics.
- Innovator – at what stage is the development? Integrate FDA and patent filing strategies and develop patents with an eye towards forcing infringement.
- Strategies for Early-stage and Late-stage Products
- Developing a Portfolio of both Listed and Unlistable Patents
- Start with the end-game and plan backwards (more…)
Yesterday, I attended PLI’s Advanced Patent Prosecution Workshop 2011 in New York where an esteemed panel of experts offered hands-on claim drafting and amendment writing techniques. The program was organized into four technological sections: Biotechnology, Chemical/Pharmaceutical, Electrochemical and Electronics/Computers. I attended the Chemical/Pharmaceutical segment whereJohn Todaro of Merck & Co. discussed advanced issues in drafting of patent specifications.
Here are some highlights from his presentation….
-Draft the claims or Summary of the Invention first, because of the primary role of the patent specification in claim construction
-General Considerations in Drafting the Specification:
- Distinguish invention from the prior art
- Define claim terms
- Provide broadest possible claim scope, while complying with section112 requirements
- Consider ex-US patent law issues
–Control the length of the application – too long = excess fees. Cost issue is important, think about when drafting the application. (more…)