Published 15/06/2017 by CIONCA - Staff
Patent Law: Challenging the Patent Claim Definiteness Requirement
On June 12, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Federal Circuit”) has issued a decision regarding the dispute between One E-Way, Inc. and the International Trade Commission (“ITC”). The case was triggered by One E-Way, Inc.’s initial accusation against Respondents Sony Corporation, Sony Corporation of America, Sony Electronics, Inc., Blueant Wireless Pty, Ltd., Blueant Wireless, Inc., Creative Technology, Ltd., Creative Labs, Inc., and GN Netcom A/S (“Respondents”) of two incidents of patent infringement, among other accusations. Previously, at the ITC level, the patent law case concluded with the International Trade Commission’s ruling that in the asserted patent the claim language “virtually free from interference” was indefinite. One E-Way, Inc. appealed the ITC decision in this case, One E-Way, Inc. v. International Trade Commission.
One E-Way, Inc. v. Respondents addressed the patent claims outlining One E-Way’s design of “a wireless digital audio system designed to let people use wireless headphones privately, without interference, even when multiple people are using wireless headphones in the same space.” The following is an excerpt from a representative One E-Way’s patent claim:
“a module adapted to reproduce said generated audio output, said audio having been wirelessly transmitted from said portable audio source virtually free from interference from device transmitted signals operating in the portable wireless digital audio system spectrum”
Both parties argued over whether or not “virtually free from interference” meets the definiteness requirement. The ITC’s final decision deemed the phrase as indefinite. In turn, One E-Way appealed the Commission’s decision, relaying the case to the Federal Circuit as One E-Way, Inc. v. International Trade Commission.
Intrinsic evidence heavily served as the basis for the Federal Circuit’s decision in this patent case. Throughout the patent, it is repeatedly reported that private listening is “without interference.” The Federal Circuit held that, “[t]aken together, the specification makes clear that private listening is listening without interference from other users…the interference would cause one use to hear another user’s wireless transmissions, potentially interfering with the utility of a device.” Referring to a parent patent, “the applicant explained that the term ‘virtually free from interference’ results in the ability to listen without eavesdropping,” implying that that eavesdropping “is consistent with the purpose (‘private listening’) and mechanisms (separation of users by recognizing other transmissions as ‘noise’) disclosed in the patents.” Applicant also argues that interference is used as a non-technical term, dodging the requirement of defining concise boundaries. Lastly, “free from interference”—virtually eliminated—simply signifies that the functionality is “a little bit better than ‘virtually free from interference,’” but both straightforwardly imply private listening. Therefore, the Federal Circuit ruled in One E-Way’s favor: “virtually free from interference” satisfies the patent claim definiteness requirement, reversing the International Trade Commission’s previous decision. However, Chief Judge Prost dissented, expressing that intrinsic evidence alone should not have sufficed in demonstrating definiteness. Furthermore, Prost adds that the majority’s argument provided no clarification on the necessity of virtually—it neither broadens nor adds certainty to the patent claim scope.
The One E-Way, Inc. v. International Trade Commission case demonstrates again the importance of language terms used in crafting patent claims. It also shows once again that the effort of choosing the right patent claim terms is more an art than a science. Reasonable minds can differ when construing the meaning of patent claim terms. While virtually or similar terms may be used to for example attempt to make the patent claim scope broader (i.e., positive), their use may also expose the patent claim to a claim indefiniteness challenge (i.e., negative).
Full One E-Way, Inc. v. International Trade Commission decision can be read here: http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/16-2105.Opinion.6-8-2017.1.PDF
Marin11/18/2015 6:11:11 PM
PTAB Decisions Give Examples of Patent Eligible Subject Matter
Marin11/18/2015 6:15:40 PM
Covered Business Method Claims Are Not Required to Particularly Target Financial Industry
Marin11/18/2015 7:31:35 PM
When Is a Thesis Prior Art?
Marin11/19/2015 2:13:05 PM
An Innovator’s Dilemma: Design or Utility Patent?
Marin1/28/2016 9:10:56 PM
How Unpredictability Can Affect Obviousness Challenges
Marin1/28/2016 9:15:16 PM
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board Designates Two Decisions as Precedential
M. Cionca and I. Kim2/4/2016 5:55:16 PM
Software Inventions Are Still Patentable!
Marin Cionca2/16/2016 6:34:53 PM
In IPRs, patentees have to show that substitute patent claims are patentable
I. Kim PhD2/26/2016 8:47:51 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court Will Review Claim Construction Standards and Institution Decision Reviewability.
Iris Kim, PhD3/25/2016 8:34:14 PM
Challenging a Claim’s Validity with Different Standards of Claim Construction
Marin Cionca5/17/2016 8:57:23 PM
Patent Claims Rejection Based on Inherency
Iris Kim, PhD6/1/2016 7:04:50 PM
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board Designates Five More Decisions as Precedential
Marin Cionca9/6/2016 9:26:12 PM
Patent Case Law: New Example of Software as Patentable Subject Matter
Marin Cionca9/15/2016 9:47:39 PM
Patent Law Alert: Federal Circuit Opens Door for More Software Patents
Marin Cionca2/21/2017 12:30:52 AM
Software Patent Law Update: Federal Circuit Finds Graphical User Interface Patentable
Marin Cionca4/25/2017 9:48:49 PM
Monetization of Patents: How to Make Money with Patents
CIONCA - Staff6/15/2017 5:32:14 PM
CIONCA - Staff6/28/2017 8:26:07 PM
Patent Law: Conditions Precedent May Expose Method Claim to Broad Interpretation During Prosecution
CIONCA - Staff8/9/2017 5:39:58 PM
Patent Case Study: The Novelty Of An “Invention” Is NOT Enough To Make It Patentable
CIONCA Staff8/20/2017 3:16:11 PM
CIONCA on Patents: Think Twice Before Suing for Patent Infringement and Fight Back when Unreasonably Sued
staff9/15/2017 9:33:30 PM
staff9/27/2017 5:00:12 PM
Claim Indefiniteness During Patent Pre-Issuance: Define Your Invention, Not Just Your Audience
staff9/27/2017 5:12:07 PM
CIONCA - Patent and Trademark Law Attorney
Staff9/28/2017 7:27:22 PM
Staff11/3/2017 4:20:04 PM
An Introduction to Provisional Patent Applications
11/10/2017 6:47:44 PM
An Introduction to Design Patent Applications
11/17/2017 1:24:20 PM
An Introduction to Patent Searches
12/1/2017 8:01:27 PM
An Introduction to Patent Cooperation Treaty Applications
12/26/2017 6:04:25 PM
CIONCA Sets Foot in San Francisco
1/2/2018 7:47:09 PM
The Lanham Act: Disparagement Provision Violates the First Amendment
CIONCA Team1/17/2018 8:12:06 PM
A Fork in the Road: Production or Protection?
CIONCA Team2/16/2018 4:07:48 PM
Fashion and Intellectual Property
3/8/2018 1:25:46 PM
Proceed with Caution: Consider Carefully when Narrowing Claims for Allowance
3/20/2018 12:50:05 PM
Andrei Iancu - New Director of the USPTO
CIONCA Staff4/13/2018 9:10:04 PM
It Take Two to Tango: Knowles v. Iancu, a Standing Dispute in a PTAB Decision
CIONCA Staff4/20/2018 5:25:25 PM
USPTO Changes Examination Procedure Pertaining to Subject Matter Eligibility in View of Berkheimer v. HP, Inc.
5/4/2018 7:37:51 PM
The Hague System for Protection of International Designs
CIONCA IP5/17/2018 9:54:58 PM
Marin Cionca Presents at OCIPLA May 2018 Luncheon
7/3/2018 7:44:33 PM
Impax Laboratories Inc. v Lannett Holdings Inc. on Claim Invalidation
Marin Cionca, Esq.
Registered Patent Attorney
USPTO Reg. No. 63899
About our IP law firm: We are an Orange County, CA based boutique intellectual property firm with a focus on patent and trademark application, prosecution and opinion services, offering its IP services primarily at flat fee rates. We serve local OC clients, as well as clients throughout US and international clients.
We’d love to hear from you…we just need a little info
about your plans to take over the world!
P.S…Feel free to call us! (800)985-9198
Thank you for your message. We will respond within 24-72 hours. Thank you.