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Claim Construction and Jurisdictional Discovery Are More Than Skin Deep

Referencing the use of antecedents from a “wherein” clause, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a district court’s claim construction and vacated its summary judgment ruling of indefiniteness that relied on that construction. University of Massachusetts v. L’Oréal S.A., Case No. 21-1969 (Fed. Cir. June 13, 2022) (Prost, Mayer, Taranto, JJ.) The Court also reversed the dismissal of a defendant based on personal jurisdiction, finding error in the district court’s refusal to permit jurisdictional discovery before granting a motion to dismiss on that basis.

This case involved two patents directed towards the topical treatment of skin with a composition of adenosine at a certain concentration, held by the University of Massachusetts (UMass). L’Oréal is French-based company (L’Oréal S.A.) and its US-based company (L’Oréal USA) were involved in the suit. L’Oréal S.A. moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, and the district court granted the motion without an opportunity for UMass to conduct jurisdictional discovery. After the dismissal, the district court ruled on the construction of a claim limitation and subsequently wielded that construction to invalidate another limitation as indefinite. The district court entered a final judgment of invalidity on this basis. UMass appealed, challenging the claim construction and lack of jurisdictional discovery.

Construction Using “Wherein” Clause

The Federal Circuit explained that there are two steps in reviewing claim construction: determining whether there is a plain meaning of a disputed term and, as necessary, properly construing the term. After determining that there was no plain meaning of the claim term “concentration,” the Court addressed the construction of the phrase “topically applying to the skin a composition comprising a concentration of adenosine.” The Court found that the district court erred in its determination that the “concentration applied to the dermal cells” meant that the concentration must be measured by the concentration directly applied to the dermal cells beneath the skin, rather than the composition applied to the surface of the skin. The Patent Trial & Appeal Board had adopted the same interpretation in an inter partes review, and therefore “concentration applied to the dermal cells” required no further construction.

UMass challenged that the proper construction. The Federal Circuit, citing to support in the specification, stated that the concentration of adenosine found in the composition should be construed as that applied to the epidermis. Viewing the claim as a whole and use of antecedents, the Court explained that “applied” could relate to both direct and indirect application. The Court specifically noted the use of the word “the” in the wherein clause, and found that this read, for antecedent, as the concentration of the composition. In viewing the prosecution history, the Court determined there was no disavowal of indirect application, and the specification and dependent claims supported a read of the term “concentration” to mean the composition applied to the surface of the skin, rather than requiring testing of the concentration to which the dermal cells were actually exposed. The Court also noted that in the prosecution history, UMass [...]

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Can’t Hide Behind Minor Clerical Error to Escape Willful Infringement Verdict

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court decision correcting a clerical error in a claim. Pavo Solutions LLC v. Kingston Technology Company, Inc., Case Nos. 21-1834 (Fed. Cir. June 3, 2022) (Lourie, Prost, Chen, JJ.)

The Pavo patent is generally directed to a “flash memory apparatus having a single body type rotary cover.” CATR Co., later substituted by Pavo, sued Kingston for infringing the Pavo patent. Supported by the patent specification and prosecution, the district court judicially corrected the claim language in its claim construction order to read “pivoting the cover with respect to the flash memory main body,” not “pivoting the case with respect to the flash memory main body” (change emphasized). Pavo’s damages expert, Bergman, presented a profit-based model of reasonable royalty damages, relying on an earlier settlement agreement between CATR and IPMedia to arrive at a profit split of 18.75%, amounting to 40 cents/unit for Kingston. The jury returned a verdict of willful infringement and awarded Pavo a 20% reasonable royalty.

Judicial Correction

The Federal Circuit addressed and affirmed three issues on appeal, the first being that the district court approximately corrected an obvious minor clerical error in the claims. Correction is appropriate “only if (1) the correction is not subject to reasonable debate based on consideration of the claim language and the specification and (2) the prosecution history does not suggest a different interpretation of the claims.” In deciding whether a particular correction is appropriate, a court “must consider how a potential correction would impact the scope of a claim and if the inventor is entitled to the resulting claim scope based on the written description of the patent.”

The Federal Circuit decided that the error was clear from the full context of the claim language, supported by the specification, and did not broaden the claim scope. Additionally, the correction was not subject to reasonable debate. Judicial correction “is merely giving to it the meaning which was intended by the applicant and understood by the examiner.” Kingston’s alternative correction would just reverse the order in which the structural components appear in the claim.

The prosecution history also did not suggest a different interpretation of the claim. The applicant and the examiner consistently characterized the claims as describing pivoting the case within the cover, which both the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (Board) and the court recognized. Each reviewing body understood the nature and scope of the invention consistent with correcting “case” to “cover.” Kingston argued that the Board denied the applicant’s request to correct the language, but the denial was on procedural grounds.

Willfulness

Second, the Federal Circuit determined that Kingston could form requisite intent to support a willful infringement verdict despite its arguments that it reasonably relied on not infringing the claims as originally written, and it could not anticipate that a court would later correct the claims. However, “reliance on an obvious minor clerical error in the claim language is not a defense to willful infringement.” By definition, [...]

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“Self-Similar” More Objective Than One Might Think

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a Patent Trial & Appeal Board (Board) decision holding that the term “self-similar” was not indefinite and denying leave to file a sanctions motion. ClearOne, Inc. v. Shure Acquisition Holdings, Case No. 2021-1517 (Fed. Cir. June 1, 2022) (Moore, Newman, Hughes, JJ.)

Shure owns a patent relating to arrays of microphones and housings that can be fitted to a drop ceiling grid, providing “equivalent beamwidth performance at any given look angle.” During inter partes review, Shure moved to amend the claims to add a new claim reciting microphones “arranged in a self-similar configuration.” The Board granted that motion, holding that “self-similar” was not indefinite. The Board denied ClearOne’s motion for rehearing and separate motion for sanctions alleging a failure to disclose prior that Shure had asserted in a post-grant review initiated against one of ClearOne’s patents.

The Federal Circuit first reviewed the Board’s indefiniteness holding. Since “[d]efiniteness is a matter of claim construction,” the Court applied de novo review while reviewing underlying factual determinations for substantial evidence. The Court held that the intrinsic record alone supported the Board’s definiteness finding because it provided the scope of “self-similar” with reasonable certainty. The specification disclosed microphones arranged in a “self-similar or repeating configuration”; a “fractal, or self-similar, configuration surrounding a central microphone”; and arrangements in circular or other repeating shapes, such as “ovals, squares, rectangles, triangles, pentagons, or other polygons.” Thus, “self-similar,” when read in view of the specification, informed skilled artisans about the scope of the invention with reasonable certainty.

The Federal Circuit rejected ClearOne’s argument that “self-similar or fractal-like” and “self-similar or repeating” distinguished self-similar from other types of patterns, holding that in context, it was clear that the phrases equated, not juxtaposed, self-similar with those patterns. Reviewing the extrinsic evidence, the Court also rejected ClearOne’s arguments premised upon “a series of rhetorical questions to show [ClearOne’s] varying interpretations of the self-similar term.” The possibility of varying interpretations, the Court held, “does not render [a term] indefinite,” as otherwise nearly every term would be indefinite if susceptible to alternative plausible constructions.

The Federal Circuit also rejected ClearOne’s motion for leave to seek sanctions. The Board held that allowing the sanctions motion would lead to an inefficient proceeding because the sanctions motion raised the same arguments as the denied request for rehearing, a ruling that ClearOne conceded on appeal. The Board also found a lack of intent to breach a duty to disclose references. Without analysis and applying the abuse of discretion review standard, the Court found that these factual determinations sufficiently established that the Board did not abuse its discretion.




Except Where Futile, Litigant Must Preserve Issue at Jury Instruction Phase to Preserve Claim Construction Dispute

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the denial of a defendant’s post-judgment motion for a new trial based on a failure to preserve an O2 Micro challenge. The Court also reversed the denial of a prejudgment interest award to the plaintiff. Kaufman v. Microsoft, Case Nos. 21-1634; -1691 (Fed. Cir. May 20, 2022) (Dyk, Reyna, Taranto, JJ.)

Michael Philip Kaufman brought a patent infringement suit against Microsoft asserting his now-expired patent that covered a method for operating a computer to automatically generate an end-user interface that permit users to interact with data in relational databases (which store data in multiple tables that are related to each other in defined ways). Kaufman alleged infringement by Microsoft’s development tools for the .NET framework software platform, specifically Microsoft’s Dynamic Data product that allegedly automatically generated a web application for viewing and editing data. A jury found Microsoft liable for infringement and awarded $7 million in damages. Post-trial, Microsoft moved for judgment as a matter of law and a new trial, arguing that the district court failed to resolve claim construction disputes before trial and that Microsoft was therefore entitled to a new trial under 02 Micro. Kaufman moved for prejudgment interest. Both motions were denied, and both sides appealed.

Microsoft argued that the district court erred by not clarifying the claim term “automatically” and that a new trial was warranted under O2 Micro because the clarification reasonably could have led the jury to a different verdict. The Federal Circuit disagreed, explaining that Microsoft failed to preserve its O2 Micro challenge by not pursuing the matter at the jury instruction phase. The Court reasoned that the parties did not request a construction of “automatically” during the original Markman proceeding, nor did Microsoft propose a definition of “automatically” in its proposed jury instructions defining the term. Further, in its summary judgment briefing, Microsoft only said that there was a “fundamental legal dispute” as to the definition of “automatic.” Microsoft never clearly stated that a construction was needed on the term or offered the district court a formulation of such a claim construction. Microsoft also never defined a proposed construction for the term that would accommodate its action after trial. While the Court allowed that a claim construction issue does not always need to be re-raised in the specific setting of making proposals for, or airing objections to, jury instructions, that exception is limited to situations where the issue was sufficiently raised and settled earlier. The Court explained that application of that principle was settled in O2 Micro, “referring to circumstances in which the claim-construction position of the appellant was ‘made clear to the district court,’ a further objection would have been ‘not only futile but unnecessary,’ and the issue was ‘fully litigated and decided at the Markman stage of the litigation.’”

Turing to Kauffman’s appeal, the Federal Circuit reversed the denial of prejudgment interest. The district court had reasoned that the jury verdict “subsumed interest” and that Microsoft was prejudiced by [...]

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Use of Negative Claim Construction is Unsound

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated a district court’s noninfringement decision that was based on a negative claim construction and remanded with instructions for the district court to determine what affirmative claim construction should be adopted. Sound View Innovations, LLC v. Hulu, LLC, Case No. 21-1998 (Fed. Cir. May 11, 2022) (Prost, Mayer, Taranto, JJ.)

Sound View owns a now-expired patent directed to streaming multimedia information over public networks. Sound View asserted the patent against Hulu based on Hulu’s use of a central content server that’s connected to end users through intermediate edge servers. The asserted claim recites downloading streaming content from a buffer in a helper server to an end user while concurrently retrieving more streaming content from a content server. During claim construction, the district court construed the downloading/retrieving limitation to require using the same buffer, as opposed to two different buffers.

With that claim construction in hand, Hulu sought summary judgment that, in the edge servers of its content delivery networks, no single buffer hosts both the video portion downloaded to the client and the retrieved additional portion. In response, Sound View argued that a factual dispute remained about whether “caches” in the edge servers met the concurrency limitation as construed. The district court held, however, that a “cache” cannot be a “buffer,” and on that basis granted summary judgment of noninfringement. The district court also excluded Sound View’s expert testimony on reasonable royalty damages. Sound View appealed.

The Federal Circuit first reviewed construction of the downloading/retrieving limitation, which was reviewed de novo since the district court relied on only the intrinsic evidence. The Court first analyzed the claim, noting that its wording “reasonably suggests allocating a single buffer” and did not suggest additional buffers. When reviewing the specification, the Court found that it was not inconsistent with reading the claims requiring that the same buffer be used for both downloading and retrieving and observed that it disclosed an embodiment with only one buffer. The Court also reviewed the prosecution history, noting that the applicants added the limitation at issue to distinguish prior art and specifically emphasized the “concurrent[]” limitation. Thus, the Court affirmed the district court’s construction of the downloading/receiving limitation.

Turning to the noninfringement finding, the Federal Circuit rejected the district court’s finding that a “cache” was a different, distinct physical component when compared to a “buffer.” In particular, the Court took issue with this interpretation because it was a negative construction, and the district court never provided an affirmative construction to be used in the infringement analysis. The Court also found that the intrinsic evidence did not support determining that “buffers” and “caches” were mutually exclusive. The Court thus reversed and remanded for the district court to determine an affirmative construction of “buffer.”

The Federal Circuit next addressed the district court’s decision to exclude evidence from Sound View’s expert on reasonable royalty damages. First, the Court determined that the expert could not rely on a study performed in Sydney, Australia [...]

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Missed Connection: Avoid Claim Construction Rendering Independent Claim Narrower Than Dependent Claim

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated a district court’s claim constructions concerning generic independent claims that were amended after a species restriction requirement, because the district court disregarded the doctrine of claim differentiation after incorrectly concluding that the examiner had mistakenly rejoined withdrawn claims. Littelfuse, Inc. v. Mersen USA EP Corp., Case No. 21-2013 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 4, 2022) (Prost, Bryson, Stoll, JJ.)

Littelfuse owns a patent directed to a fuse end cap for providing an electrical connection between a fuse and an electrical conductor. The specification teaches three embodiments of the invention:

  1. A single-piece machined end cap comprising a mounting cuff and a terminal
  2. A single-piece stamped end cap comprising a mounting cuff and a terminal
  3. A two-piece assembled end cap comprising a mounting cuff, a terminal and a fastening stem attaching the mounting cuff to the terminal.

The originally filed claims included independent claims covering an end cap with a mounting cuff and a terminal, and dependent claims directed to the three embodiments. The claims directed to the two-piece assembled end cap embodiment contained the limitation that the terminal is press-fit onto the fastening stem.

During prosecution, the examiner issued a restriction requirement, asserting that the independent claims were generic to the three species in the dependent claims. Littelfuse elected to prosecute the assembled end cap species and the examiner withdrew the claims directed to the other embodiments. In response to a novelty rejection, Littelfuse amended the independent claims by adding the fastening stem element without specifying that the terminal is press-fit onto the stem. After allowing the amended independent claims, the examiner concluded that the previously withdrawn claims “require all the limitations of the . . . allowable claims,” and thus rejoined them.

Littelfuse sued Mersen for selling allegedly infringing fuses. The parties asked the district court to determine whether the fastening stem element in the independent claims limited Littelfuse’s patent to multi-piece end caps, despite the rejoined dependent claims being directed to one-piece embodiments. The district court found that the claim language, the specification and the prosecution history required the invention to have a multi-piece construction. First, the district court determined that the plain meaning of “fastening stem” was “a stem that attached or joins the other two components of the apparatus.” The district court then noted that the fastening stem was only mentioned in the specification in relation to the multi-piece embodiment in which the terminal is joined to the mounting cuff by the fastening stem. While Littelfuse argued that the US Patent & Trademark Office’s rejoining of the withdrawn claims meant that the independent claims covered unitary and multi-piece embodiments, the district court reasoned that the claims were rejoined based on a “misunderstanding” because they referred to the original independent claim, which did not include a fastening stem. In light of the district court’s finding that the independent claims covered only a multi-piece apparatus, the parties stipulated to non-infringement. Littelfuse appealed.

Applying the doctrine of claim differentiation, the [...]

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Game Reset: Extrinsic Evidence Can’t Limit Claim Scope Beyond Scope Based on Unambiguous Intrinsic Evidence

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a district court’s grant of summary judgment of noninfringement after concluding that the district court erred by relying on expert testimony to construe a claim term in a manner not contemplated by the intrinsic evidence. Genuine Enabling Tech. LLC v. Nintendo Co., Ltd., et al., Case No. 20-2167 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 1, 2022) (Newman, Reyna, Stoll, JJ.)

Genuine owns a patent directed to a user interface device (UID) that, in the process of synchronizing and merging data streams into a combined data stream, directly receives microphone speech input and transmits speech output via a speaker. During prosecution, the inventor distinguished “slow varying” physiological response signals discussed in a prior art reference from the “signals containing audio or higher frequencies” in his invention, arguing that the latter posed a signal “collision” problem that his invention solved. In distinguishing the prior art, the inventor explained that his invention “describes, in its representative embodiments, how to combine the data from a UID (mouse) and from a high-frequency signal, via a framer, which is unique and novel.”

Genuine subsequently filed a lawsuit against Nintendo, accusing Nintendo’s Wii Remote, Wii Remote Plus, Nunchuk, WiiU GamePad, Switch Joy-Con Controller and Switch Pro Controller of infringing the patent. During claim construction, the parties asked the district court to construe the term “input signal.” Genuine proposed the construction of the disputed claim term to be “a signal having an audio or higher frequency,” whereas Nintendo proposed the narrower construction of “[a] signal containing audio or higher frequencies.” Relying on expert testimony, Nintendo also argued that the inventor “disclaimed signals that are 500 [Hz] or less . . . generated from positional change information, user selection information, physiological response information, and other slow-varying information.”

The district court found that the inventor’s arguments amounted to a disclaimer. Crediting Nintendo’s expert testimony, the district court construed “input signal” as “signals above 500 Hz and excluding signals generated from positional change information, user selection information, physiological response information, and other slow-varying information.” The district court subsequently granted summary judgment of noninfringement, finding that the accused controllers produced the types of slow-varying signals that the inventor had disclaimed during prosecution. Genuine appealed.

Genuine argued that the district court erred in construing “input signal” by improperly relying on extrinsic evidence and improperly finding that the inventor disclaimed certain claim scope during prosecution. The Federal Circuit agreed, reiterating that although extrinsic evidence can be helpful in claim construction, “the intrinsic record ‘must be considered and where clear must be followed,’” such that “where the patent documents are unambiguous, expert testimony regarding the meaning of a claim is entitled to no weight.” In this case, although the parties agreed that the inventor had disavowed claim scope during prosecution, there was a dispute as to the scope of the disclaimer beyond signals below the audio frequency spectrum.

The Federal Circuit explained that for a statement made during prosecution to qualify as a disavowal of claim scope, it [...]

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Not a Bullseye: Defendant Must Rebut Presumption That Claims Lacking “Means” Language Don’t Fall Under § 112 ¶ 6

Reversing a district court finding of indefiniteness under 35 U.S.C. § 112 ¶ 6, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that the district court erred by ignoring unrebutted evidence that the challenged claim terms would have been understood to connote sufficiently definite structure to avoid means-plus-function construction. Dyfan, LLC v. Target Corp., Case No. 21-1725 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 24, 2022) (Lourie, Dyk, Stoll, JJ.)

Dyfan sued Target for infringement of two patents directed to location-based message delivery. During claim construction proceedings, Target argued that certain claim limitations should be construed as means-plus-function limitations and that the specification failed to disclose the requisite corresponding structure. The district court found that three claim terms were subject to § 112 ¶ 6. For the terms “code” and “application,” the court assigned a “special-purpose computer function” as the corresponding structure and found that the specification did not disclose a requisite algorithm for the functions of the computer. The district court also found that the claim term “system” was subject to § 112 ¶ 6 because it recited purely functional language without disclosing sufficient corresponding structure, and that it was unclear which of the recited components performed the recited function. The district court concluded that all three terms were indefinite under § 112 ¶ 2 for lack of corresponding structure. Dyfan appealed.

Reviewing de novo, the Federal Circuit first addressed whether the claim language invoked § 112 ¶ 6. As the Court had stated previously, there is a rebuttable presumption that a claim limitation is not drafted in a means-plus-function format if it does not contain the term “means.” However, that presumption can be overcome if a challenger demonstrates that the term fails to recite sufficiently definite structure. The Court also explained that for purposes of § 112 ¶ 6, certain “nonce words that reflect nothing more than verbal constructs” are tantamount to using the word “means.”

Turning to the case merits, the Federal Circuit first considered the terms “code” and “application.” Given the absence of “means” language, Target was required to show by a preponderance of the evidence that persons of ordinary skill in the art would not have understood those terms to connote structure considering the claim as a whole. The Court found that the district court erred in concluding that Target overcame the presumption that § 112 ¶ 6 did not apply. The Court relied on unrebutted testimony from Target’s expert witness that the district court ignored. The expert testified that both terms would have connoted structure, such as off-the-shelf software. The Court found that this unrebutted testimony demonstrated that neither claim limitation recited purely functional language.

The Federal Circuit explained that the district court failed to follow its 2018 decision in Zeroclick v. Apple. In that case, the Court reversed a district court’s finding that the claim terms “program” and “user interface” invoked § 112 ¶ 6, finding that both terms were references to conventional program code existing in the prior [...]

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Count On It, Plural Term Means More Than One

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed Patent Trial & Appeal Board (Board) patentability decisions after determining that the Board did not err in construing multiple terms within the challenged patents. Apple Inc. v. MPH Technologies Oy, Case Nos. 21-1532; -1533; -1534 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 9, 2022) (Moore, C.J.; Prost, Taranto, JJ.)

MPH owns three patents related to a method for forwarding a message from a first computer to a second computer via an intermediate computer via a network and provides secure message forwarding without relying on any extra encapsulation overhead. Apple petitioned for inter partes review (IPR) of MPH’s patents, challenging the claims in the three patents as obvious over a combination of non-patent literature (RFC3104) and a US patent (Grabelsky). During the proceedings, a series of claim construction disputes were raised. The Board issued final written decisions, finding that Apple failed to show that some claims would have been obvious over the combination of RFC3104 and Grabelsky. Apple appealed.

In seeking to overturn the Board’s decision, Apple raised four claim construction disputes. First, Apple argued that the Board erred in finding that the claim limitation “information fields” requires “two or more fields.” Apple argued that “a plural term covers one or more items” and thus the claim limitation was taught by Grabelsky, which uses a single field. Apple further argued that a word such as “plurality” must be used to clarify that the limitation requires more than one item. The Federal Circuit rejected Apple’s argument, explaining that common English usage presumes that a plural term refers to two or more items. The Court found that the Board did not err in construing the claim limitation because the term “information fields” is plural, thus requiring more than one field, and nothing in the claim language or written description suggested otherwise.

Second, Apple argued that the Board’s interpretation that the message was sent from the mobile computer directly to the first address was inconsistent with the claim limitation “intermediate computer configured to receive from a mobile computer a secure message sent to the first network address” in one of MPH’s patents. Apple argued that the passive language of the claim limitation suggested that “the mobile computer need not send the message to the first network address so long as the message is sent there eventually,” and thus the claim limitation was taught by RFC3104, in which a message sent to a first network address is received at another address before being forwarded to the first network address. The Federal Circuit rejected Apple’s arguments, finding that the Board did not err in construing the claim limitation because the plain language established direct sending of the message from the mobile computer to the first address, and nothing in the remainder of the claims or written description suggested otherwise.

Third, Apple argued that the Board erred in construing the term “substitute” in the claim limitation “substitute the unique identity read from the secure message with another unique identity prior to [...]

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Specification Sheds Light on Broadest Reasonable Interpretation

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a Patent Trial & Appeal Board (Board) obviousness decision, finding that the Board did not err in restricting the broadest reasonable interpretation of a claim term based on its use in the specification. Quanergy Systems, Inc. v. Velodyne Lidar USA, Inc., Case Nos. 20-2070; -2072 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 4, 2022) (Newman, Lourie, O’Malley, JJ.)

Velodyne owns a patent directed to a lidar-based 3D point cloud measuring system that can be used in self-driving vehicles to sense their surroundings. Quanergy petitioned for inter partes review of Velodyne’s patent, challenging the claims as obvious over a Japanese patent application (Mizuno). During the proceedings, the Board construed the broadest reasonable interpretation of the term “lidar (light detection and ranging)” to mean “pulsed time-of-flight (ToF) lidar” based on the written description of Velodyne’s patent and found that Mizuno’s system was not a ToF lidar system. The Board also presumed a nexus between the claimed pulsed ToF lidar system and Velodyne’s evidence of commercial success, relying on mapping the features of the claimed ToF lidar system to Velodyne’s commercial products. Based on its obviousness analysis and presumption of nexus, the Board issued final written decisions, finding that Velodyne’s patent was not unpatentable as obvious. Quanergy appealed.

Quanergy raised two arguments on appeal: The Board erred in its construction of the term “lidar,” and the Board erred in its obviousness analysis. Addressing claim construction, Quanergy argued that the Board did not use the broadest reasonable interpretation of “lidar” since “lidar” merely requires the use of laser light for detection and ranging, and thus “lidar” includes not only “pulsed ToF lidar” but also triangulation and other detection techniques described in Mizuno. The Federal Circuit rejected Quanergy’s argument, finding that the Board did not err in construing the term “lidar” according to its broadest reasonable interpretation because the written description focuses exclusively on “pulsed ToF lidar.”

Turning to obviousness, Quanergy argued that the Board erred in concluding that Velodyne’s claims were nonobvious over Mizuno because the expert testimony that the Board relied upon focused only on one particular embodiment of Mizuno’s device, which was not directed to a pulsed ToF lidar system. The Federal Circuit rejected this argument, finding that the Board did not err because Mizuno described “detect[ing] light reflected at an angle using position or image sensors, neither of which are used in pulsed time-of-flight lidar systems.” Based on this description, the Court found that Mizuno’s device was not a ToF lidar system.

Quanergy also argued that the Board failed to consider the issue of unclaimed features before presuming nexus. Quanergy argued that Velodyne’s evidence of commercial success related to those unclaimed features, such as a 360-degree horizontal field of view, a wide vertical field of view, a dense 3D point cloud and software, all of which were critical and materially impacted the functionality of Velodyne’s products. The Federal Circuit rejected this argument, finding that the Board did not err in finding a presumption of nexus [...]

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