Here’s the latest.

Federal Circuit Extends Pandemic-Related Courthouse Closure

Reported by Perry Cooper on

The Federal Circuit extended restrictions on access to the courthouse so only staff can enter until September 14. The order extended a previous order that only restricted access until August 14. Cooper explains the implications of the order:

The court will continue to consider requests by the public to enter the building on a case-by-case basis. The court has been operating mostly remotely since mid-March to mitigate community transmission of Covid-19.

For more on this news, see our coverage. For information on any further closings, see the Federal Circuit’s announcement web page.

Check Step One: It’s Not Ova until the Court Compares Claims

Reported by Jiaxiao Zhang on

The Federal Circuit reversed the district court’s decision finding a patent directed to a flow cytometry method for sorting particles was ineligible. The court also vacated the lower court’s holding that the patent owner was precluded from asserting certain patents due to claim preclusion. The Federal Circuit found that the lower court erred in holding that the claims were directed toward a mathematical equation under step one of the Alice test. Zhang elaborates:

The Court concluded that the asserted claims are directed to a patent-eligible improvement of a method of sorting particles using flow cytometry technology, not to an abstract idea. XY’s claim described detailed improvements to a physical technique, a step-by-step method for a laboratory process, which is patent eligible.

Regarding claim preclusion, the Federal Circuit held that the lower court erred by failing to compare the scope of the claims in both patents to find that they were essentially the same. Zhang explains:

The district court’s conclusions were based merely on 1) the earlier patents having issued before XY filed the 2012 lawsuit, and 2) their finding that XY’s allegations of infringement “address the same, or substantially the same subject matter as previously filed claims and [are] directed at a previously accused product or process” without further explanation. Comparison of the claims’ scope was necessary.

For more information on this case, see our coverage.

Explain Yourself: “Untethered” Obviousness Determination Reversed

Reported by Colin J. Stalter on

The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded a Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s finding of unpatentability due to inadequate support of its reasoning. Alacritech had appealed the Board’s finding that claims of Alacritech’s network processing patent were obvious over prior art. The Federal Circuit found that the Board’s analysis did not meet the standard of review under the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires the Board to include evidence on which its findings are based and its reasoning in reaching its conclusions. Stalter explains the Federal Circuit’s finding:

The Court explained that the Board, after only briefly reciting the parties’ arguments, ‘merely concluded’ that the relevant claim limitation was present in the subject claims and the prior art, and in so doing ‘misapprehend[ed] both the scope of the claims and the parties’ arguments.’ …[T]he crux of the dispute was where the claim limitation at issue took place—in the CPU (as in the prior art), or in the INIC (as required by the claims)…the Board’s analysis did not acknowledge this aspect of the parties’ dispute or explain how the prior art taught such a limitation.

Even though Intel argued that the Board did sufficiently support its position by citing to Intel’s arguments, the Court held that in this case, the Board’s decision was “untethered from either party’s position.”

For more information on this case, see our coverage.