Setting the Standard for Claim Drafting

Claims often reference government or industry standards. However standards can change over time, which has the potential to change the scope of the claim, unless it is understood that the meaning is fixed as of the filing date, and that is what the BPAI does.

In Ex parte McClary, Appeal 2009-001300, Application 11/101,897 (May 17, 2010), the Board reversed the Examiner’s 112 rejection that reference to the ARINC 615 protocol (an industry standard in the field of avionics) was indefinite because it was subject to being changed in the future. The Board said:

Compliance with the provisions of 35 U.S.C. § 112 is determined as
of the filing date of the application. W.L. Gore & Assoc., Inc. v. Garlock,
Inc., 721 F.2d 1540, 1556 (Fed. Cir. 1983). There does not appear to be any
dispute here that a particular version of the ARINC 615 protocol was in
existence as of Appellant’s filing date. Thus, one of ordinary skill in the
art, with reference to the standard in effect as of the filing date of
Appellant’s application, would readily be able to determine the metes and bounds of this element found in claims 10 and 12. Accordingly, we will not sustain the rejection of claims 10 and 12 under 35 U.S.C. § 112, second paragraph, as being indefinite.

Some drafters affirmatively control the meaning of their claims by expressly referencing the standard or protocol “in effect on the filing date.

Claim 11 of U.S. Patent No. 9,945,005 provides:

11. The method according to claim 1 wherein the material is leached for a sufficient period of time that the residue after leaching meets the EPA TCLP limits according to EPA Test Method 1311 procedure in effect on the filing date of this application.

Claim 27 of U.S. Patent No. 7,043,402 provides:

27. The system of claim 20, wherein said electrical indication means is comprised of at least one of: (a) a serial communications port; (b) a bi-directional serial data bus chosen from among standards SAE/TMC J1708/J1587 protocol in effect on the filing date hereof, or SAE J1939 communications protocol in effect on the filing date hereof; (c) a CAN data bus; (d) a RF device; and/or (e) an IR device.

Claim 16 of U.S. Patent No. 6,889,385 provides:

16. The apparatus of claim 8 wherein said DOCSIS cable modem is compatible with any DOCSIS national standard for cable modems as of the filing date of the parent patent application of this patent application.

While claims referencing standards are not indefinite merely because the standard could be changed in the future, claim drafters still have to account for how infringement can be proved if the standard is in fact changed.

Marking Your Territory in Patent Claims

The use of trademarks in patent claims was previously discussed here. Trademarks continue to be used in patent claims, despite the potential for problems, not doubt because the trademark was seen as the best way to properly claim the invention. There is of course the concern that a trademark is indefinite, because the product can be changed at any time by the trademark owner. However changing meaning is a condition that can afflict any word in a claim, not just trademarks, granted changing meaning it is more likely with a trademark because it requires the action of a single person or entity, while changing the meaning of the work requires consensus.

Here are examples of trademarks recently used in patent claims:

AEROSIL– 10,154,954 (claim 2)

Android – 10,417,998 (claim 6), 10,417,008 (claim 6), 10,331,433 (claim 4).

ARSENSA – 10,154,954  (Claim 2)

Bluetooth – 10,420,011 (claim 9), 10,419,592 (claim 1), 10,365,866 (claim 10), 10,341,313 (claim 4), 10,321,516 (claim 6), 10,285,041 (claim 2), 10,027,169 (claim 7), 10,026,018 (claim 5), 9,998,996 (claim 7, 14), 9,955,515 (claim 8), 9,930,669 (claim 1), 9,912,794 (claim 1), 10,129,431 (claim 7, 16), 10,123,333 (claim 3, 14, 28), 10,019,852 (claims 2, 9,16), 9,980,059 (claims 1, 12, 23).

EPO-TEK – 10,330,233 (claim 17)

ETHERNET – 10,303,160 (claim 3,8)

Felica – 10,126,703 (claim 13)

Inconel – 10,392,728 (claim 10)

JAVA – 9,930,201 (claim 1)

JavaScript – 10,365,868 (claim 7)

Java Virtual Machine – 9,727,374 (claim 6)

Kahoot! 10,026,331 (claim 1)

KOVAR – 10,139,700 (claim 3)

Linux – 10,417,998 (claim 5), 10,417,008 (claim 5).

MIFARE – 10,126,703 (claim 13)

Monel – 10,392,728 (claim 10)

TRITON X – 10,254,276 (claim 5)

TWEEN – 10,254,276 (claim 5)

PARLEAM – 10,154,954 (claim 2)

QR Code – 10,223,625 (claim 5), 9,940,565 (claims 7, 10).

RLSA – 10,190,217 (claim 3), 10,017,853 (claim 7, 8)

SOFTISAN – 10,154,954 (claim 2)

VELCRO – 10,151,558  (claims 4, 7)

Vespel – 10,047,863 (claim 20)

VITRALI – 10,330,233 (claim 16)

Wi-Fi – 10,244,055 (claim 11), 10,044,903 (claims 6, 18), 10,129,431 (claims 6, 8, 17).

Wi-Fi Direct – 10,416,941 (claim 8), 10,342,071 (claim 12), 9,942,759 (claim 6).

Windows – 10,275,192 (claim 9).

ZIRCON – 10,240,814 (claims 1, 2, 9)

ZYLON – 10,201,999 (claim 8, 18)

Additional examples are relatively easy to find by search for the word trademark in the text of the claims, or searching for the R-in-the-circle symbol “.RTM.”

Although the meaning of a trademark can change over time, this is apparently understood by those of ordinary skill in the art, and rarely if ever is it necessary to specify that the meaning is determined “as of the filing date.”

Hope is not Enough to Create a Reasonable Expectation of Success

In OSI Pharmaceuticals, LLC v. Apotex Inc., [2018-1925] (October 4, 2019), the Federal Circuit reversed the PTAB’s determination that claims 44-46 and 53 of U.S. Patent No. 6,900,221 on the use of erlotinib on non smallcell lung cancer (NSCLC) would have been obvious because the Board’s finding of a reasonable expectation for success was not supported by substantial evidence.

The Board found that the disclosures in OSI’s own 10-K that erlotinib targeted a variety of cancers including NSCLC, and that erlotinib had entered Phase II clinical trials, would have provided a person of ordinary skill with a reasonable expectation of success in light of the other prior art references. The Board concluded that an ordinary artisan would under-stand from the commencement of Phase I studies referenced in the 10-K that “pre-clinical animal efficacy data” had been submitted to the FDA.

The Federal Circuit said that an obviousness determination requires finding that a person of ordinary skill in the art would have been motivated to combine or modify the teachings in the prior art and would have had a reasonable expectation of success in doing so. The Federal Cicuit said that when the references are properly read, the Board’s finding that the asserted references provide a reasonable expectation of success also is not supported by substantial evidence.

The Federal Circuit noted that the record does not contain any clinical (human) data or pre-clinical (animal) data. It did not even include in vitro (test tube) data regarding erlotinib’s effect on NSCLC. The Federal Circuit added that at the same time, it is undisputed that NSCLC treatment was highly unpredictable with an over 99.5% rate of failure for drugs entering Phase II clinical studies. On this record, the Federal Circuit was not persuaded that a reasonable fact finder could conclude that a person of ordinary skill would have reasonably expected success based on the combination of the references and OSI’s 10-K.

The Federal Circuit examined one reference (Gibbs) that said “these compounds appear to have good anti-cancer activity in preclinical models, with an acceptable therapeutic index, particularly in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. The Federal Circuit consulted the footnotes and conclude that the reference as a whole would not be understood by a person of ordinary skill in the art to refer to erlotinib, because the supporting article did not refer to erlotinib. The Federal Circuit said that the Board’s finding that there is a “clear inference” in Gibbs that “erlotinib has anti-cancer activity against non-small cell lung cancer” is thus not supported by substantial evidence.

On the specific issue of reasonable expectation of success the Federal Circuit found that the asserted references do not disclose any information about erlotinib’s efficacy in treating NSCLC in a mammal (in Scnhur and Gibbs). These references contained no data or other promising information regarding erlotinib’s efficacy in treating NSCLC, just cancer generally and this was not enough “because of the highly unpredictable nature of treating NSCLC.” With respet to OSI’s own 10-K the Board emphasized the 10-K’s statement that erlotinib had completed Phase I clinical trials, which require preclinical animal efficacy data. However, the Federal Circuit noted, there was nothing in OSI’s 10-K suggesting the existence of erlotinib preclinical efficacy data that is specific to NSCLC.

The Federal Circuit concluded that “[t]hese references provide no more than hope—and hope that a potentially promising drug will treat a particular cancer is not enough to create a reasonable expectation of success in a highly unpredictable art such as this.”

When They Came for My Software and Medicine, I did Nothing; “Monstrous” Law Now Targets Mechanical Arts

In American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc. v. Neapco Holdings LLC, [2018-1763] (October 3, 2019), the Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment that the asserted claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,774,911 on a method for manufacturing driveline propeller shafts designed to attenuate vibrations transmitted through a shaft assembly were ineligible under §101.

1. A method for manufacturing a shaft assembly of a driveline system, the driveline system further including a first driveline component and a second driveline component, the shaft assembly being adapted to transmit torque between the first driveline component and the second driveline component, the method comprising:
providing a hollow shaft member;
tuning at least one liner to attenuate at least two types of vibration transmitted through the shaft member; and
positioning the at least one liner within the shaft member such that the at least one liner is configured to damp shell mode vibrations in the shaft member by an amount that is greater than or equal to about 2%, and the at least one liner is also con-figured to damp bending mode vibrations in the shaft member, the at least one liner being tuned to within about ±20% of a bending mode natural frequency of the shaft assembly as installed in the driveline system.

Two types of attenuation were involved — resistive attenuation and reactive attenuation. Resistive attenuation of vibration employs something that deforms as vibration energy is transmitted through it absorbing the vibration energy. Reactive attenuation of vibration refers to a mechanism that can oscillate in opposition to the vibration energy to thereby ‘cancel out a portion of the vibration energy.

The analysis of § 101 follows the Supreme Court’s two-step test established in Mayo and Alice, asking first whether the claims are directed to a law of nature, natural phenomenon, or abstract idea, and second whether the claims embody some “inventive concept”—i.e., whether the claims contain “an element or combination of elements that is sufficient to ensure that the patent in practice amounts to significantly more than a patent upon the ineligible concept itself.

The claims are directed to tuning liners—i.e., controlling a mass and stiffness of at least one liner to configure the liner to match the relevant frequency or frequencies. It was known that vibrations could be damped by resistive attenuation and that bending mode vibrations could be damped by reactive attenuation. the selection of frequencies for the liners to damp the vibrations of the propshaft at least in part involves an application of Hooke’s law. The problem, the Federal Circuit found, was that the solution to these desired results is not claimed in the patent.

The elements of the method here that AAM argues take the patent outside the realm of ineligible subject matter i.e., the mechanisms for achieving the desired result—are not actually claimed in the claims. The Federal Circuit noted that “the patent specification recites only a nonexclusive list of variables that can be altered to change the frequencies exhibited by a liner and a solitary example of a tuned liner (though not the process by which that liner was tuned).” “Most significantly,” the Federal Circuit said, the claims do not instruct how the variables would need to be changed to produce the multiple frequencies required to achieve a dual-damping result, or to tune a liner to dampen bending mode vibrations.

The Federal Circuit said that this case might well be significantly different, if, for example, specific models were included in the claims. But, the claims’ general instruction to tune a liner amounts to no more than a directive to use one’s knowledge of Hooke’s law, and possibly other natural laws, to engage in an ad hoc trial-and-error process of changing the characteristics of a liner until a desired result is achieved. The Federal Circuit said that this claiming of a natural law runs headlong into the very problem repeatedly identified by the Supreme Court in its cases shaping eligibility analysis.

Citing Parker v. Flook, the Federal Circuit said “if a claim is directed essentially to a method of calculating, using a mathematical formula, even if the solution is for a specific purpose, the claimed method is nonstatutory.” In contrast, the Federal Circuit noted that in Diamond v. Diehr, the claims recited other steps apparently adding to the formula something that in terms of patent law’s objectives had significance—they transformed the process into an inventive application of the formula.

The Federal Circuit concluded that the claims here simply instruct the reader to tune the liner—a process that, as explained above, merely amounts to an application of a natural law (Hooke’s law) to a complex system without the benefit of instructions on how to do so. The focus of the claimed advance here is simply the concept of achieving that result, by whatever structures or steps happen to work. Thus the subject matter of the claims was not patent eligible.

Judge Moore dissented, observing that “[t]he majority opinion parrots the Alice/Mayo two-part test, but reduces it to a single inquiry: If the claims are directed to a law of nature (even if the court cannot articulate the precise law of nature) then the claims are ineligible and all evidence of non-conventionality will be disregarded or just plain ignored.” Judge Moore quoted the majority that “it makes no difference to the section 101 analysis whether the use of liners to attenuate bending mode vibration was known in the prior art,” saying that this disregarded the second part of the Mayo test.

Judge Moore argues that the majority’s concern with the claims at issue had “nothing to do with a natural law and its preemption and everything to do with concern that the claims are not enabled.” Respectfully, there is a clear and explicit statutory section for enablement, § 112. We cannot convert § 101 into a panacea for every concern we have over an invention’s patentability, especially where the patent statute expressly addresses the other conditions of patentability and where the defendant has not challenged them.”

Judge Moore was also concerned that the natural law two which the claims were supposedly directed, was never identified, saying “Section 101 is monstrous enough, it cannot be that now you need not even identify the precise natural law which the claims are purportedly directed to.”

Judge Moore also took exception to the majority’s rejection of the inventive concepts asserted by the patentee, first as inaccurate (a fact finding made by the majority on appeal and contrary to all the evidence of record) and second as irrelevant. Judge Moore said that “[u]ltimately, the majority says the inventive concept “makes no difference to the section 101 analysis” — a statement she takes to be an outright rejection of the second step of the Alice/Mayo test.

Judge Moore concludes that “[t]he majority’s true concern with these claims is not that they are directed to Hooke’s Law (because this is clearly a much more complex system not limited to varying mass and stiffness), but rather the patentee has not claimed precisely how to tune a liner to dampen both bending and shell mode vibrations.” Thus the issue was really not one of eligibility, but rather one of enablement. She said: “[a] patentee’s failure to enable his invention renders the claims invalid under § 112, it does not, however, render the claims ineligible under § 101.

Judge Moore finishes: “The majority’s validity goulash is troubling and inconsistent with the patent statute and precedent. The majority worries about result-oriented claiming; I am worried about result-oriented judicial action. I dissent.”

Posted in 101

Campbell’s Primary Reference in Design Patent Challenge was Mmm Mmm Good

In Campbell Soup Company v. Gamon Plus, Inc., [2018-2029, 2018-2030] (September 26, 2019) the Federal Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded, Board determinations that U.S. Patent Nos. D612,646 and D621,645 were nonobvious from the cited prior art.

The ‘645 and ‘646 patents are directed to ornamental design for a gravity feed dispenser display.

The Figures from U.S. Patent Nos. D612646 and D621645

The figures are identical except that the edges at the top and bottom of the cylindrical object lying on its side and the stops at the bottom of the dispenser are shown in broken lines in the ‘645 patent, and there is a small circle shown in broken lines near the middle of the label area.

Campbells filed IPR against both designs, arguing that the designs were obvious in view of (1) Linz in view of Samways, (2) Samways, or (3) Samways in view of Linz.

Linz (left) and Samways (right)

The Board held that Campbells did not establish unpatentability by a preponderance of the evidence because it found that neither Linz nor Samways was similar enough to the claimed designs to constitute a proper primary reference.

In the design patent context, the ultimate inquiry under section 103 is whether the claimed design would have been obvious to a designer of ordinary skill who designs articles of the type involved. To determine whether one of ordinary skill would have combined teachings of the prior art to create the same overall visual appearance as the claimed design, the fact finder must first find a single reference, a something in existence, the design characteristics of which are basically the same as the claimed design. To identify a primary reference, one must: (1) discern the correct visual impression created by the patented design as a whole; and (2) determine whether there is a single reference that creates “basically the same” visual impression. If a primary reference exists, related secondary references may be used to modify it.

The Board found that Linz was not a proper primary reference because it does not disclose any object, including the size, shape, and placement of the object in its display area and fails to disclose a cylindrical object below the label area in a similar spatial relationship to the claimed design. The Federal Circuit reversed for lack of substantial evidence support. Accepting the Board’s description of the claimed designs as correct, the Federal Circuit found that the ever-so-slight differences in design, in light of the overall similarities, do not properly lead to the result that Linz is not “a single reference that creates ‘basically the same’ visual impression” as the claimed designs.

The Board also found that Samways was not a proper primary reference. The Board found that significant modifications would first need to be made to Samways’ design, such as combining two distinct embodiments of the utility patent, which was “not a design in existence.” The Board found that considering the designs as a whole, the design characteristics of Samways are not basically the same as the claimed design. The Federal Circuit agreed, saying accepting the Board’s description of the claimed designs as correct, substantial evidence supports the Board’s finding that Samways is not a proper primary reference. The Federal Circuit noted numerous differences, and concluded that given these differences, substantial evidence supports the Board’s finding that Samways does not create basically the same visual impression as the claimed designs.

The Federal Circuit remanded the case to the Board to consider obviousness with Linz as a primary reference.

Board Misread and Mischaracterized Features of the Claims, and Thus Failed to Appreciate that the Claims Provide a Technical Solution to a Technical Problem

In Sipco, LLC v. Emerson Electric Co., [2018-1635] (September 25, 2019), the Federal Circuit reversed the PTAB’s construction of “low power transceiver” and its finding that U.S. Patent No. 8,908,842 does not satisfy the second part of §42.301(b) defining “technological invention.” § 42.301(b). Because the Board did not address the applicability of the first part of § 42.301(b), the Federal Circuit vacated and remanded.

The Board found that the term “low-power” as used in the claims did not necessarily require that the device transmit and receive signals only within a “limited transmission range.” The Federal Circuit reversed, construing “low-power” to mean “a device that transmits and receives signals at a power level corresponding to limited transmission range.”

The Federal Circuit found that the Board’s conclusion that the claims recite an apparatus “for performing data processing or other operations used in the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service” under AIA § 18(d)(1) was not arbitrary and capricious. The definition of a covered business method patent is not limited to products and services of only the financial industry, or to patents owned by or directly affecting the activities of financial institutions such as banks and brokerage houses. § 18(d)(1) on its face covers a wide range of finance-related activities.

While SIPCO argued before the Board and on appeal that because it disclaimed claims 3 and 4, the Board should not have relied on them in analyzing whether the ’842 patent is CBM eligible. However, SIPCO ultimately conceded at oral argument that a patent may be CBM eligible based on a single claim and that the Board could have properly relied on claims 3 or 4.

The Federal Circuit then turned to the Board’s decision as to whether the ’842 patent qualifies as a “technological invention” under § 18(d)(1). Section 18(d)(1) excludes “patents for technological inventions” from CBM review. However, Congress did not define technological invention, instead leaving it to the USPTO to issue regulations for determining whether a patent is for a technological invention. 37 C.F.R. § 42.301:

In determining whether a patent is for a technological invention solely for purposes of the Transitional Program for Covered Business Methods (section 42.301(a)), the following will be considered on a case-by-case basis: [1] whether the claimed subject matter as a whole recites a technological feature that is novel and unobvious over the prior art; and [2] solves a technical problem using a technical solution.

If each part of this definition is satisfied, then the patent is not eligible for CBM review.

The Federal Circuit held that the Board misread and mischaracterized the features of claim 1 in its analysis of dependent claims 3 and 4, it did not appreciate that the claims provide a technical solution to a technical problem, under part 2 of 37 C.F.R. § 42.301. The Federal Circuit said that the question of whether a patent is for a “technological invention” is fact-specific and must be considered on a case-by-case basis. The Federal Circuit said that the problem solved by the claims is technical in nature. The Board limited its characterization of the “problem” being solved to an example problem provided in the background that is resolved by the claims—automating machine service requests. But it is clear from both the claims and the specification that the claimed invention implements a communication system that connects an unconnected, remote device with a central station.

The Federal Circuit identified the technical problem solved by the claims as: how to extend the reach of an existing communication system from a central location to a remote, unconnected device while protecting against unwanted interference with the transmitted signals. The Federal Circuit found that the claims solved this problem with a technical solution. Because SIPCO’s claims combine certain communication elements in a particular way to address a specific technical problem with a specific technical solution, the Federal Circuit reversed the Board’s finding that the patent does not satisfy the second part of its “technological invention” regulation.

The Federal Circuit found that the Board did not analyze whether the ’842 patent satisfied the first part of § 42.301(b) because it found that the patent did not satisfy the second part. Rather than address this issue in the first instance on appeal, the Federal Circuit remanded the case for the Board to address the first part of § 42.301(b) under the proper claim construction.

Judge Reyna dissented because the majority’s opinion was contrary to basic tenants of claim construction set forth in Phillips, and the deference owed to underlying factual findings under Teva. Judge Reyna said that the majority reached its own construction by improperly reading a functional limitation into the claim from a preferred embodiment. Further, the Board’s construction rests on factual findings that are supported by substantial evidence, including expert testimony on the meaning of the claim term “low-power transceiver” to a person of ordinary skill in the art.

Federal Circuit Holds that a Basket is Not a Chair

In Curver Luxembourg, SARL v. Home Expressions Inc., [2018-2214] (September 12, 2019), the Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an action alleging Home Expressions baskets infringed U.S. Patent No. D677946 on a Pattern For a Chair.

The application that resulted in the ‘946 patent was filed as a “design for a Furniture Part,” although none of the drawings illustrate a chair, any furniture, or any furniture part. The USPTO objected to the title because PTO regulations require that the title designate a “particular article,” and the use of “Part” was too vague to constitute an article of manufacture. The Examiner suggested that the title be amended to “Pattern for a Chair,” and the applicant complied.

U.S. Patent No. D677946, Fig. 1

The district court construed the scope of the ’946 patent to be limited to the design pattern illustrated in the patent figures as applied to a chair, explaining that “[t]he scope of a design patent is limited to the ‘article of manufacture’—i.e., the product—listed in the patent,” and granted Home expressions motion to dismiss.

The Federal Circuit noted that Curver’s appeal was essentially a request for a patent on a surface ornamentation per se. The Federal Circuit said that Curved acknowledged that the law has never sanctioned granting a design patent for a surface ornamentation in the abstract such that the patent’s scope encompasses every possible article of manufacture to which the surface ornamentation is applied, and the Federal Circuit declined to construe the scope of a design patent so broadly merely because the referenced article of manufacture appears only in the claim language, rather than the figures.

The Federal Circuit, pointing out that it was a case of first impression, addressed the question whether claim language specifying an article of manufacture can limit the scope of a design patent, even if that article of manufacture is not actually illustrated in the Figures. Given that long-standing precedent, unchallenged regulation, and agency practice all consistently support the view that design patents are granted only for a design applied to an article of manufacture, and not a design per se, the Federal Circuit held that claim language can limit the scope of a design patent where the claim language supplies the only instance of an article of manufacture that appears nowhere in the figures.

Objective Indicia Supported PTAB’s Finding of Non-Obviousness

In Henny Penny Corporation v. Frymaster LLC, [2018-1596] (September 12, 2019), the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB determination that claims 1–3, 5–12, 17–21, and 23 of U.S. Patent 8,497,691 were not unpatentable as obvious.

The ‘691 Patent relates to deep fryers, and in particular to TPM sensors that detect accumulating impurities in the cooking oil, and alert the operator when to change oil.

Henny Penny originally argued the claims were the obvious result of replacing the Kauffman analyzer with the Iwaguchi sensor. However, Henny Penny changed its position arguing that Kauffman’s analyzer could simply be modified. The Board refused to consider this impermissible new theory of unpatentability raised for the first time on reply.

As to Henny Penny’s original argument the Board found that the disadvantages from the proposed modification out-weighed the uncertain benefits of the modification. The Board further found that evidence of secondary considerations supported nonobviousness. Frymaster sub-mitted evidence that it marketed a product called the “Oil Quality Sensor” (“OQS”) that won praise from two industry organizations and one customer. The Board also determined that each award specifically praised the TPM sensor in the OQS. While the Board recognized that the individual claim elements were in the prior art, it found that the praise was directed to the claimed combination as a whole. Accordingly, the Board found that the two industry awards weighed in favor of patentability, as did, to a lesser extent, the customer award.

The Federal Circuit found that the Board did not abuse its discretion by holding Henny penny to the obviousness theory in its petition. Because of the expedited nature of IPR proceedings, it is of the utmost importance that petitioners in the IPR proceedings adhere to the requirement that the initial petition identify “with particularity” the ‘evidence that supports the grounds for the challenge to each claim. Accordingly, an IPR petitioner may not raise in reply an entirely new rationale for why a claim would have been obvious.

As to the original obviousness contention, the Federal Circuit noted that the benefits, both lost and gained, should be weighed against one another, and found that the Board’s analysis was consistent with these principles. As to the secondary considerations supporting non-obviousness, the Federal Circuit rejected Henny Penny’s argument that there was no nexus between the evidence and the claimed invention. The Federal Circuit agreed that the identified objective indicia must be directed to what was not known in the prior art, and what was not known in the prior art may well be the novel combination or arrangement of known individual elements.

The Federal Circuit concluded that substantial evidence supported the Board’s determination of non-obviousness.

Celebrating Labor Day in Patents

A number of patents mention Labor Day, most of these relate to calendars or calendar-based games.

U.S. Patent No. D34888 on a Design for Medal
celebrates the laborer
U.S. Patent No. 2,284,256 covers on a Card Game features a Labor Day Card
U.S. Patent No. 3,565,437 on a Discount Store Board Game Apparatus, features a Labor Day sale card (68).

Trick Question: How Many Utility Patents has the USPTO issued?

The as of last Tuesday, August 20, 2019, the USPTO issued U.S. Patent 10,390,470. That would seem to be the answer. A patent nerd would remember, however, that before patents were numbered about 9,957 patents — called the X patents — issued. A serious patent nerd would further know that as of August 20, 2019, for one reason or another, more than 48721 numbers did not correspond to issued patents. An uber patent nerd would know about factional patents, patents with fractional numbers issued between patents with whole numbers. There are at least four fractional patents in the era when patents were numbered.

So as of August 20, and until the next batch on August 27, the number may be 10,351,710.