Archive | Indefiniteness

Federal Circuit Holds Coined Phrases to Be Means-Plus-Function, and Indefinite

In Advanced Ground Information Systems, Inc. v. Life360, Inc., No. 2015-1732 (Fed. Cir. July 28, 2016), the Federal Circuit cautioned against coining verbal nouns and phrases without specifying sufficient structure or algorithms in the patent specification. The court affirmed a finding of indefiniteness of claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,031,728 and 7,672,681, and held the […]

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When Is a Patent Claim Indefinite for Encompassing Two Statutory Classes of Invention (e.g., System and Method)?

Patent claims can recite the functionality of a system or apparatus without being indefinite under 35 U.S.C. § 112 for encompassing two statutory classes (e.g., system and method), the Federal Circuit has explained in UltimatePointer, LLC v. Nintendo Co., Ltd., No 2015-1297 (Fed. Cir. March 1, 2016). Thus, the three-judge panel (Judge Lourie wrote for […]

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Learning from a Finding of Indefiniteness at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board

A recent decision from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) provides a lesson in avoiding indefiniteness under 35 U.S.C. § 112(b). In In re Hyde, Appeal 2013-003305, Application 12/387,151 (PTAB Nov. 4, 2015), the Applicant appealed prior art rejections under 35 U.S.C. §§ 102(b) and 103 only to have these grounds of rejection mooted […]

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PTAB Finds Means-Plus Function Indefiniteness

Following Williamson v. Citrix Online, LLC, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board has held means-plus-function patent claims indefinite under 35 U.S.C. § 112 for failing to “disclose sufficient corresponding structure for the [means-plus-function claim] limitation.”  Boku Account Services, Inc. v, Xilidev, Inc., Cases CBM2014-00140 and CBM2014-00148 (US Patent 7,273,168) (Nov. 2, 2015).  Even assuming the […]

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A Reminder to Patent Drafters: Consistent and Well-Defined Terminology Is Important

Because the patent specification inconsistently referred to, and failed to define, a critical claim term, the court granted a motion for summary judgment of indefiniteness under 35 U.S.C. § 112, ¶ 2, concerning claims of U.S. Patent No. 5,463,374.  Signal IP, Inc. v. Mazda Motor of North America, Inc., (C.D. Cal. Nov. 2, 2015.)  The […]

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Another Federal Circuit Lesson on Functional Software Claims

The Federal Circuit’s most recent pronouncement on functional software patent claims can only reinforce drafters’ concerns about claim language being construed as a means-plus-function recitation.  In Media Rights Technologies, Inc. v. Capital One Financial Corp., No. 2014-1218 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 4, 2015), the court held that, under 35 U.S.C. § 112, ¶ 6, the term […]

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Williamson v. Citrix Online, LLC, and Lessons for Patent Drafting

Williamson v. Citrix Online, LLC, No. 11-CV-2409 (Fed. Cir. June 16, 2015), raises the specter that software patent claims, already oft-challenged in the wake of Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank, could face the additional challenge of being unexpectedly construed as “means-plus-function” claims under 35 U.S.C. § 112(f). (Or, prior to the America Invents Act, “Section 112, […]

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Functionally-Described Structural Recitations in Method Patent Claims Can Be Indefinite

A patent claim’s recitation of a structural feature was held indefinite under 35 U.S.C. § 112 because the court found that that the claim term in question – “processing system” – was indefinite functional language. Thus, the court in Cox Communications v. Sprint Communications, No. 12-487-SLR (D. Del. May 15, 2015) granted partial summary judgment […]

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Means-Plus-Function Claims Are Dangerous in Software Patents

The latest example of the danger of drafting software patent claims to include means-plus-function limitations comes from Eon Corp. IP Holdings LLC v. AT&T Mobility LLC, No. 2014-1392 (Fed. Cir. May 6, 2015).  U.S. Patent No. 5,663,757 included eight “means” limitations that the district court had held indefinite under 35 U.S.C. 112.  These limitations required […]

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