Element that is not Necessarily Present is not Inherent

In Personal Web Technologies, LLC v. Apple, Inc., [2018-1599] (March 8, 2019), the Federal Circuit reversed the PTAB determination that claims 24, 32, 81, 82, and 86 of U.S. Patent No. 7,802,310 are unpatentable.

The ’310 patent explains that in conventional data processing systems, data items such as files are typically identified by their user-created alphanumeric name and/or pathname or location. If one device transfers a data item to a second device using just the name associated with the data item, it is possible that the data item already exists on the second device, and a duplicate of the data item will be created.

The Board found the claims obvious relying on Woodhill inherently disclosing a claim element. The Federal Circuit found that because the element does not necessarily exist in Woodhill, the Board’s reliance on inherency for that element in its obviousness analysis was improper.