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Burdens Can’t Be Avoided No Matter How They’re Dressed Up

Addressing a multitude of issues, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling dismissing infringement of one patent and finding a trade dress invalid but reversed the invalidation of the other patent and vacated dismissal of an inequitable conduct defense. Mosaic Brands, Inc. v. Ridge Wallet LLC, Case Nos. 22-1001, -1002 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 20, 2022) (Newman, Prost, Stark, JJ.)

Mosaic Brands sued Ridge Wallet alleging infringement of a patent relating to a combination money clip and card holder adapted to retain paper currency and to removably store flexible cards such as credit cards, as well as Mosaic’s associated trade dress. Ridge denied the allegations and counterclaimed that Mosaic infringed a Ridge patent directed to a nearly identical wallet. In response to the counterclaim, Mosaic raised inequitable conduct as an affirmative defense.

During claim construction, the district court construed the terms “lip” and “varying thickness” in Mosaic’s patent. Following claim construction, the parties stipulated to noninfringement of Mosaic’s patent. The district court also found the trade dress of Mosaic’s wallet to be functional and thus invalid. As to Ridge’s patent, the district court granted summary judgment of invalidity based on a prior art product sold by Mosaic, and further denied summary judgment that Ridge had obtained its patent through inequitable conduct. Mosaic filed a motion for reconsideration regarding the inequitable conduct defense and to clarify remaining merits issues. The district court exercised its discretion to address the defense and identify deficiencies. The district court noted that Mosaic had only met a portion of its burden and later proceedings would present an opportunity to present more evidence of inequitable conduct. Both parties appealed.

The Federal Circuit first addressed a potential issue of appellate jurisdiction since the assertion of inequitable conduct was an affirmative defense and not a counterclaim yielding a final judgment to review. The Court found it had jurisdiction because the inequitable conduct defense merged and became final when the judgment denying summary judgment for inequitable conduct was entered.

Turning to the merits, the Federal Circuit addressed the two claim terms appealed by Mosaic. Mosaic argued that the district court’s interpretation of “lip” was too narrow because it required the lip to be made of “extruded plastic.” The Court quickly dispatched this argument by citing the specification of Mosaic’s patent, which described the lip as being made of extrudable plastic and extolled the benefits of such material. The Court focused on the context of how the patent used the phrase “the present invention” and found it to be limiting. As to the other claim term (“varying thickness”), Mosaic advocated for a plain and ordinary meaning of the term. The Court rejected Mosaic’s argument, finding that Mosaic failed to provide intrinsic evidence or meaningful explanation of how the district court’s construction differed from the plain and ordinary meaning. As such, the Court found that the district court made no error in either construction.

Turning to the appeal of Ridge’s patent, the Federal Circuit found that [...]

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ANDA Filing Alone Insufficient for Induced Infringement of Method Patent

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a district court’s findings of invalidity and noninfringement in a Hatch-Waxman case involving two sets of method patents directed to modulating dosages of pirfenidone, a drug used to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The Court found that the first set of patents were obvious over the prior art and standard medical practice, while the second set were not directly infringed in light of actual physician prescription practice. Genentech, Inc. v. Sandoz Inc., Case No. 22-1595 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 22, 2022) (Newman, Lourie, Prost, JJ.) (Newman, J., dissenting).

Sandoz submitted two abbreviated new drug applications (ANDAs) for approval to market a generic version of pirfenidone, which Genentech sells under the brand name Esbriet®. Genentech sued Sandoz under the Hatch-Waxman Act, asserting that Sandoz’s generic version would induce infringement of two sets of patents: one directed to modifying dosages of pirfenidone in patients with abnormal liver biomarkers (LFT patents), and the other directed to avoiding adverse interactions in patients also taking fluvoxamine (DDI patents).

The LFT patents are directed to methods of administering pirfenidone to a patient who has exhibited Grade 2 abnormalities in liver function biomarkers alanine transaminase (ALT) and/or aspartate transaminase (AST) in response to pirfenidone. The LFT patents generally recite the following administration options:

  • Temporarily reducing the dose before returning to the full dose
  • Maintaining the full dose
  • Reducing the dose
  • Temporarily discontinuing pirfenidone before returning to the full dose
  • Temporarily discontinuing pirfenidone before returning to a reduced dose.

Sandoz’s proposed label included a “Dosage Modification due to Elevated Liver Enzymes” section, which stated that if a patient exhibits grade 2 elevations of ALT and/or AST, “[t]he full daily dosage may be maintained, if clinically appropriate, or reduced or interrupted (e.g., until liver chemistry tests are within normal limits) with subsequent re-titration to the full dosage as tolerated.” Genentech argued that these instructions constituted induced infringement of the LFT patents. The district court disagreed and held that the LFT patents were obvious over the prior art and standard medical practice and that the defendant would not induce infringement because the labels “merely described” the infringing uses but did not recommend them.

The DDI patents are directed to methods for avoiding adverse interactions between pirfenidone and fluvoxamine and generally involve the steps of discontinuing fluvoxamine or modifying the dose of pirfenidone and continuing fluvoxamine. Sandoz’s proposed label warned of the adverse interactions between pirfenidone and fluvoxamine and stated that fluvoxamine should be discontinued prior to administering pirfenidone or the dose of pirfenidone should be reduced. Genentech similarly argued that these instructions constituted induced infringement of its DDI patents, but the district court held that there was insufficient evidence for infringement because Genentech had not shown that a patient would actually be prescribed both pirfenidone and fluvoxamine in practice.

Genentech appealed the district court’s holdings with respect to both the LFT and DDI patents.

LFT Patents

The Federal Circuit first observed that “varying doses in response to the occurrence [...]

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Tag, You’re It: Sanctions Award Must Reflect Violative Conduct

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit determined that an accused infringer was entitled to a new trial relating to validity issues but still faced sanctions for its continuous disregard of its discovery obligations. ADASA Inc. v. Avery Dennison Corp., Case No. 22-1092 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 16, 2022) (Moore, Hughes, Stark, JJ.)

ADASA owns a patent relating to methods and systems for commissioning radio-frequency identification (RFID) transponders. ADASA sued Avery Dennison for patent infringement, alleging that its manufacture and sale of certain RFID tags infringed ADASA’s patent. Both parties sought summary judgment following discovery. Avery Dennison asserted that the patent was ineligible for patent protection under 35 U.S.C. § 101, and ADASA argued that the asserted claims were not anticipated or obvious based on the book RFID for Dummies. The district court granted ADASA’s motion on validity and denied Avery Dennison’s motion for patent ineligibility. Prior to trial, ADASA moved in limine to exclude Avery Dennison’s damages expert’s testimony related to certain licenses, and the district court granted the motion.

At trial, ADASA entered licenses into evidence as part of its damages case and alleged that they reflected lump-sum agreements to practice the asserted patent. The district court declined to include a jury instruction on lump-sum damages and a lump-sum option on the verdict form, observing that Avery Dennison’s expert had not offered a lump-sum damages opinion and concluding that the licenses alone were insufficient for the jury to award lump-sum damages. The jury returned an infringement verdict and awarded ADASA a running royalty of $0.0045 per infringing RFID tag, which resulted in an award of $26.6 million.

In its post-trial motions, Avery Dennison moved for a new trial, arguing it was reversible error for the district court to exclude its damages expert’s testimony and to decline to provide a jury instruction for a lump-sum damages award. Before the district court ruled on its motion, Avery Dennison revealed to ADASA that it had discovered additional previously undisclosed RFID tags in its databases. A subsequent investigation determined that the number of undisclosed tags was more than two billion. Avery Dennison agreed to pay an additional $9.5 million in damages, which corresponded to the royalty rate determined by the jury. ADASA subsequently moved for sanctions. The district court award $20 million in sanctions after finding that Avery Dennison had engaged in protracted discovery failures and a continuous disregard for the seriousness of the litigation and its expected obligations. The sanctions award corresponded to a $0.0025 per-tag rate applied to both the adjudicated and late-disclosed tags. Avery Dennison appealed.

Avery Dennison challenged the district court’s summary judgment rulings, its denial of a new trial and its imposition of sanctions. The Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s patent eligibility determination, finding that the patent “is directed to a specific, hardware-based RFID serial number data structure designed to enable technological improvements to the commissioning process,” which “is not a mere mental process,” and concluded that the claim was directed to patent-eligible subject matter.

[...]

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Bad Connection: Claim Construction Argument without Explanation Given No Weight

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a Patent Trial & Appeal Board (Board) obviousness decision after finding that the patent owner failed to explain how its cited extrinsic evidence supported its proposed claim construction. Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Netflix, Inc., Case No. 21-2085 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 15, 2022) (Dyk, Taranto, Hughes, JJ.) (nonprecedential).

Uniloc owns a patent directed to a “more efficient” method for encoding videos by only coding at the pixel level when necessary and, where possible, reusing code for macroblocks in the background area. Netflix petitioned for inter partes review of several claims in Uniloc’s patent. The Board ultimately found the claims unpatentable as obvious. Uniloc appealed.

Uniloc argued that the Board erred in its claim construction of a limitation that required “dividing the stationary background region and the object region from an inputted video in a macroblock-by-macroblock basis by using a difference between the previous frame and the current frame.” The dispute before the Federal Circuit was whether the “macroblock-by-macroblock basis” required that the act of dividing be done macroblock-by-macroblock, as urged by Uniloc, or whether the dividing resulted in separate macroblock-based regions, as urged by Netflix and found by the Board. The Court concluded that Netflix and the Board were correct.

The Federal Circuit first addressed the intrinsic record, finding that it was ambiguous as to the meaning of “macroblock-by-macroblock basis.” Although the claim language supported either interpretation, Uniloc’s argument would require the Court to read language into the claim that was “simply not there.” The specification did not clarify the claim construction issue either. Although Uniloc pointed to one example where the dividing step occurred one macroblock at a time, the Court stated that it did not limit claim language to examples used in the specification. Lastly, the Court explained that the portions of the specification describing the purpose of the invention and avoiding problems in the prior art also failed to clarify the meaning of the macroblock-by-macroblock basis. Because the purpose was merely to make coding more efficient and avoid dividing at the pixel level, either interpretation could apply.

Relatedly, the Federal Circuit rejected Netflix’s argument that Uniloc forfeited the arguments on appeal related to the portions of the specification explaining the purpose of the claimed invention and how it purportedly solved problems in the prior art. The Court explained that the forfeiture doctrine does not “preclude a party from proffering additional or new supporting arguments, based on evidence record, for its claim construction.” Here, Uniloc “merely cited additional support in the specification to support the same argument it had always made” related to the macroblock-by-macroblock basis.

The Federal Circuit next addressed the extrinsic evidence and agreed with the Board’s decision that a “macroblock-by-macroblock basis” required dividing results in separate macroblock-based regions. Uniloc’s only extrinsic evidence was a dictionary definition of “basis,” and Uniloc offered no additional expert evidence to explain technological facts or usage in the field that would support its interpretation. In contrast, Netflix provided expert testimony and [...]

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Full Speed Ahead: District Court Entitled to Explore Litigation Funding Arrangements

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit denied a patent owner’s mandamus petition, clearing the way for a district court to probe who is funding the patent owner’s infringement litigation. In re Nimitz Techs. LLC, Case No. 23-103 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 8, 2022) (Lourie, Reyna, Taranto, JJ.) (per curiam) (nonprecedential).

Nimitz filed a complaint for patent infringement against Buzzfeed in the US District Court for the District of Delaware. The case was assigned to Chief Judge Connelly. Judge Connelly has two standing orders that require parties to disclose third-party litigation funders and the name of every individual and corporation with a direct or indirect ownership interest in the party. Nimitz filed a disclosure statement identifying Mark Hall as the sole owner and LLC member of Nimitz, and a statement representing that Nimitz has not entered any arrangement with third-party funders.

The district court later became aware that an entity called IP Edge was arranging assignments of patents to various LLCs that were plaintiffs in other actions before the district court. Based on the review of the documents in the other cases, it appeared to the district court that Hall had a connection with IP Edge. The district court ordered Hall and Nimitz’s counsel to appear at a hearing. During the hearing, the district court explored the relationship between Nimitz and an entity called Mavexar. After the hearing, the district court ordered production of communications between Hall, Mavexar and IP Edge, and communication and documents relating to the formation of Nimitz, Nimitz’s assets, Nimitz’s potential scope of liability resulting from the acquisition of the patent, the settlement or potential settlement of the cases and the prior evidentiary hearing. The district court also ordered production of monthly bank statements from Nimitz. Nimitz appealed to the Federal Circuit by filing a petition for writ of mandamus seeking an order vacating the district court’s order.

The Federal Circuit initially stayed the district court’s order pending the Court’s decision. While the mandamus petition was pending, the district court issued a memorandum explaining that the records sought in its prior order were relevant to addressing several concerns, including the following:

  • Compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct
  • Compliance with the district court’s orders
  • Determining whether real parties in interest other than Nimitz, such as Mavexar and IP Edge, were hidden from the Court and the defendants
  • Determining whether those real parties in interest perpetrated a fraud on the district court by fraudulently conveying to a shell LLC the patent-in-suit and filing a fictitious patent assignment with the US Patent & Trademark Office designed to shield those parties from the potential liability they would otherwise face in asserting the patent in litigation.

Nimitz had argued that the district court’s order was improper because it would require disclosure of highly confidential litigation materials, including material protected by the attorney-client privilege and work-product immunity. In its decision on mandamus, the Federal Circuit rejected that argument, finding that the district court order made clear that Nimitz [...]

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Applying Collateral Estoppel in IPRs

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit considered whether a dependent claim invalidated by collateral estoppel also invalidates its parental independent claim. Google LLC v. Hammond Devel. Int’l, Inc., Case No. 21-2218 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 8, 2022) (Moore, C.J.; Chen, Stoll, JJ.)

The dispute began when Hammond Development sued Google, alleging that Google infringed several of Hammond’s patents on automated voice response systems. In response, Google filed multiple inter partes reviews (IPRs), one of which targeted Hammond’s ’483 patent. In that proceeding, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (Board) held that all claims of the ’483 patent were obvious. Hammond did not appeal the decision in this IPR, which then became final, but only after Google filed an IPR against another of Hammond’s patents—the ’816 patent. The ’816 and ’483 patents are in the same family and share the same specification. In the later-filed IPR, the Board found claims 14 through 19 of the ’816 patent nonobvious and patentable. Google appealed.

Claim 14 is an independent claim and claim 18 depends from it. The parties agreed that the patentability of both claims rose and fell together. On appeal to the Federal Circuit, Google argued that claim 18 was invalid under the doctrine of collateral estoppel based on the prior art that rendered claim 18 of the ’483 patent invalid.

A party seeking to invoke collateral estoppel must show the following:

  • The issue is identical to one decided in the first action.
  • The issue was actually litigated in the first action.
  • Resolution of the issue was essential to a final judgment in the first action.
  • The party against whom collateral estoppel is being asserted had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in the first action.

Because the parties had agreed that all but the first of the elements of collateral estoppel were met, collateral estoppel would apply if the issues of patentability were identical between the adjudicated and unadjudicated claims. The Federal Circuit found that slight differences in the claim language of the involved patents were immaterial because they related only to the number of application servers, and Google’s expert had credibly testified that distributing software applications across multiple servers was well known in the art and obvious. Hammond did not mount a substantive challenge to the expert evidence. As the Court noted, “collateral estoppel may apply even if the patent claims ‘use slightly different language to describe substantially the same invention,’ so long as ‘the differences between the unadjudicated patent claims and adjudicated patent claims do not materially alter the question of invalidity.’”

Google also attacked the validity of independent claim 14 of the ’816 patent. Although Google’s attack against claim 14 was based on a different combination of references (as compared to claim 18), the Federal Circuit apparently applied collateral estoppel to find claim 14 invalid as well, citing an agreement between the parties that “if claim 18 is unpatentable, then independent claim 14 is as well.”

Finally, Google argued that dependent [...]

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PTO Announces Cancer Moonshot Expedited Examination Pilot Program

On December 8, 2022, the US Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) announced the launch of the Cancer Moonshot Expedited Examination Pilot Program (Cancer Moonshot Pilot). This program begins on February 1, 2023, and replaces the Cancer Immunotherapy Pilot Program. The Cancer Moonshot Pilot is scheduled to run until either January 31, 2025, or the date the PTO accepts a total of 1,000 grantable petitions, whichever comes first.

The Cancer Moonshot Pilot expands the scope of technologies that are eligible for expedited examination. The Cancer Immunotherapy Pilot Program required that applications contain a claim to a method of treating a cancer using immunotherapy. To be eligible for the Cancer Moonshot Pilot, original applications must be in the field of oncology or smoking cessation and must contain at least one method claim that falls into one of the following six categories:

  1. A method of treating or reducing the incidence of a cancer using an immunotherapeutic compound or composition
  2. A method of treating a cancer by targeting specific genetic markers or mutations using a specific pharmaceutical composition
  3. A method of treating a rare or childhood cancer using a specific pharmaceutical composition
  4. A method of detecting or treating a cancer using a medical device specifically adapted to detect or treat the cancer
  5. A method of treating a cancer by administering a specific pharmaceutical composition wherein the method comprises a step to diagnose the cancer
  6. A method of treating nicotine dependency and promoting smoking cessation by administering a specific pharmaceutical composition.

Eligible patent applications must have or be amended to have no more than three independent claims and 20 claims total, and no multiple dependent claims. If a petition for expedited examination under the pilot is granted, the application will be treated as special until a first Office Action, including a restriction requirement, issues. After the first Office Action issues, the application will no longer be treated as special. There is no expedited examination fee for eligible applications.

For further details about the Cancer Moonshot Pilot, see the Federal Register notice.




Game Over when Expert Fails to Use Correct Claim Construction

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit concluded that a district court did not abuse its discretion in striking expert testimony where the testimony did not rely on an agreed and court-adopted claim construction. Treehouse Avatar LLC v. Valve Corp., Case No. 22-1171 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 30, 2022) (Lourie, Reyna, Stoll, JJ.)

Treehouse owns a patent that describes a “method of collecting data from an information network in response to user choices of a plurality of users navigating character-enabled network sites on the network.” Valve owns two video games. To play the games, a user downloads the software onto a computer. The software contains data, images, sounds, text and characters. Treehouse sued Valve for patent infringement based on the operation of the accused video games. During the district court proceeding, both parties adopted the interpretation of the term “character enabled (CE) network sites” (CE limitation) that the Patent Trial & Appeal Board reached in a previous inter partes review. Despite the agreed-upon and court-adopted construction for the CE limitation, Treehouse’s infringement expert submitted a report that applied plain and ordinary meaning.

Valve filed a motion to strike portions of the expert’s testimony that relied on the plain and ordinary meaning of the term. Valve also filed a motion for summary judgment of noninfringement while this motion to strike was pending. Treehouse’s opposition appeared to concede that Valve was entitled to summary judgment if Valve’s motion to strike was granted, stating that “assuming that [the expert’s] testimony is not stricken, this portion of Valve’s motion should be denied.” The district court struck every paragraph of the expert’s report that Valve requested and granted Valve summary judgment of noninfringement. Treehouse appealed.

The Federal Circuit found that the district court did not abuse its discretion in striking portions of Treehouse’s expert report that did not address the claim construction of the CE limitation agreed upon by the parties and the district court. Treehouse argued that an expert report that does not recite an agreed claim construction remains admissible as long as the opinions expressed in the report are not inconsistent with that construction. The Court rejected Treehouse’s argument, explaining that “the grant of a motion to strike expert testimony is not improper when such testimony is based on a claim construction that is materially different from the construction adopted by the parties and the court.” The Court further explained that when a trial court has adopted a construction that the parties requested and agreed upon, any expert theory that does not rely upon that agreed-upon construction is suspect. The Court thus concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in striking the portions of the expert’s report that applied a “plain and ordinary meaning” of the CE limitation instead of the parties’ agreed-upon construction. In the absence of any admissible expert testimony by Treehouse regarding infringement of the CE limitation, the Court found that the district court properly granted summary judgment of noninfringement.




No Mulligans Here: PTO Rewinds Reexamination Based on Estoppel

The US Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) terminated a pending ex parte reexamination after finding that the challenger was estopped because the prior art references could have been raised in a prior inter partes review (IPR). In re Tyler, Reexam. No. 90/014,950 (PTO Nov. 15, 2022).

In 2017, GITS Manufacturing filed two IPR petitions against a patent owned by G.W. Lisk after Lisk asserted the patent against GITS in district court. In 2018, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board issued final written decisions in each IPR, finding some claims unpatentable and maintaining the patentability of other claims. The Federal Circuit affirmed both IPR decisions in 2021.

In February 2022, the PTO initiated an ex parte reexamination of one of the patents based on a request filed by GITS. The reexamination proposed multiple grounds of unpatentability based on four prior art references that were not involved in the IPRs. GITS included a lengthy discussion and an expert declaration describing the prior art searches GITS performed in support of the certification that it was not estopped under 35 U.S.C. § 315(e)(l) from asserting the grounds in the reexamination. Lisk filed a petition to vacate the reexamination proceeding, alleging that GITS was estopped because the reexamination references reasonably could have been raised in the previous IPRs. Lisk’s petition was supported by its own expert declaration describing prior art searches that a skilled searcher would have conducted.

A party is estopped under § 315(e)(1) from requesting a reexamination proceeding based on grounds that the party “raised or reasonably could have raised” during an IPR. The legislative history of § 315(e) defines “reasonably could have raised” as “prior art which a skilled searcher conducting a diligent search reasonably could have been expected to discover.” The PTO cited legislative history stating that “reasonably could have raised” does not require a “scorched-earth search,” leaving open the possibility that a diligent search may not discover a particular reference. But the PTO also distinguished the search an examiner or lawyer may conduct from the more robust search that a skilled searcher is assumed to conduct prior to filing a petition for a IPR proceeding.

The PTO evaluated each of the four references in GITS’s reexamination grounds based on the criteria described above. Two of the references were patent documents available in commercial databases that a skilled searcher could be expected to find. The third reference was a “seminal textbook” that GITS itself stated was used in the field to train those of skill in the art. The textbook reference was also found through standard citation searching of the patent at issue. The fourth reference was provided by a publisher that GITS stated “was an established publisher that was well known to those interested in the field,” and which maintained an online searchable database of its publications. The PTO determined that the fourth reference would have been found by a reasonably diligent search, despite the fact that a subscription fee was required to search the database.

The PTO also weighed [...]

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Construing the Construction: Federal Circuit Chips Away at IPR Win

Addressing claim construction issues in inter partes review (IPR) proceedings before the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (Board), the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed an obviousness finding as to some claims but reversed and remanded an obviousness finding as to another claim because of a claim construction error. VLSI Technology LLC v. Intel Corporation, Case Nos. 21-1826, -1827, -1828 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 15, 2022) (Chen, Bryson, Hughes, JJ.)

VLSI owns a patent directed to a technique for alleviating the problems of defects caused by stress applied to bond pads of an integrated circuit. Bond pads are a portion of an integrated circuit that sit above interconnected circuit layers and are used to attach the chip to another electronic component, such as a computer or motherboard. When a chip is attached to another electronic component, forces are exerted on the chip’s bond pad, which can result in damage to the interconnect layers. The patent discloses improvements to the structures of an integrated circuit that reduce the potential for damage to the interconnect layers when the chip is attached to another electronic component while also permitting each of the layers underlying the pad to be functionally independent in the circuit.

VLSI filed suit against Intel alleging infringement of the patent. During claim construction, the district court construed the claim term “force region” to mean a “region within the integrated circuit in which forces are exerted on the interconnect structure when a die attach is performed.” Before the district court’s construction but after the suit was filed, Intel filed petitions for IPR of the patent and advocated in its petitions for the same construction of “force region” that the district court ultimately adopted.

VLSI did not contest Intel’s construction, but it later became apparent that the two parties disagreed over the meaning of “die attach,” which formed part of the construction. Intel argued that the term “die attach” refers to any method of attaching a chip to another electronic component, including a method known as wire bonding, which was taught by a prior art reference included in Intel’s petitions. VLSI argued that the term refers to a method of attachment known as “flip chip” bonding and does not include wire bonding. In the Board’s final written decisions, it did not address the term “die attach,” but found that “force region” was not limited to flip chip bonding and subsequently found the challenged claims invalid as obvious. The Board also construed a second disputed term “used for electrical interconnection not directly connected to the bond pad,” which is recited in only one claim of the patent, in favor of Intel, and subsequently found that claim unpatentable. VLSI appealed.

On appeal, VLSI raised a number of procedural and substantive challenges to the Board’s construction of the two disputed terms. VLSI argued that the Board failed to acknowledge and give appropriate weight to the district court’s construction of “force region.” The Federal Circuit dismissed this argument, as there was ample evidence in [...]

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