Erroneous Claim Interpretation and Misunderstanding of Case Law Results in Reversal of No Anticipation

In Technical Consumer Products, Inc. v. Lighting Science Group Corp., [2019-1361] (April 8, 2020) the Federal Circuit, citing an erroneous interpretation of the claim language and a misunderstanding of our case law, vacated the Board’s decision of no anticipation or obviousness solely as to claims 2–4, 6–8, 12, and 16 of U.S. Patent No. 8,201,968 directed to replacement light emit-ting diode (LED) light fixtures, and remanded,

At issue was whether the prior art met the height-to-dimension ratio of the claimed low profile light fixture. According to the Federal Circuit, the Board’s conclusion that it did not resulted from the erroneous inclusion of the extra heat sink in the prior art reference into the calculation. Only the claimed elements needed to be included in the calculation.

The Federal Circuit said that this was not a case like Chudik, where the prior art reference did not anticipate the claim because it could only meet the claim language if the anchoring element was physically removed, thus distorting the original design. The Federal Circuit said that under a proper reading of claim 1, heat sink 14 need not be physically removed from Chou for Chou to anticipate the claim. Rather, heat sink 14 is irrelevant to the calculation of the height-to-dimension ratio, or any of the other claim limitations, because it is not the “heat sink” contemplated by claim 1 and claim 1 does not require a single heat sinking element.

Ironically, the Federal Circuited notes, the Board reached nearly the opposite result in assessing Chou’s disclosure of a nearly identical claim limitation in a related patent. The Federal Circuit said that it is difficult to reconcile these seemingly inconsistent findings, and it agreed with the Board’s analysis in the earlier case.

Licensing of Process, and Sale of the Business using Process, did not put Invention on Sale

In BASF Corp. v. SNF Holding Co., [2019-1243] (April 8, 2020), the Federal Circuit reversed summary judgment of invalidity of claims U.S. Patent 5,633,329, finding that the asserted prior art did not create an on-sale bar, an public use bar, or prior knowledge or use.

The Federal Circuit held that the asserted prior art Sanwet® Process does not create an on-sale bar to the ’329 patent under § 102(b), and further that the district court misinterpreted § 102(a) and the public-use bar of § 102(b), and that under the proper legal standard, genuine issues of material fact preclude the entry of summary judgment on those issues.

§102(a) Prior Knowledge or Use
BASF first argued that the district court misinterpreted the phrase “known or used” in § 102(a) and erroneously disregarded the confidentiality of Celanese’s knowledge and use. In BASF’s view, knowledge or use that is not publicly accessible does not qualify as prior art under § 102(a). The Federal Circuit agreed, noting that it has This court has uniformly interpreted the “known or used” prong of § 102(a) to mean “knowledge or use which is accessible to the public.” The Federal Circuit concluded that the record reveals genuine issues of material fact as to whether the asserted Sanwet® Process was “known or used” within the meaning of § 102(a), as set forth above.5 We therefore reverse the district court’s summary judgment of invalidity and remand for a determination of SNF’s § 102(a) defense at trial.

§ 102(b) Public Use
BASF also argued that the district court’s summary judgment on public use was in error, conntending that the district court misinterpreted the public-use bar of § 102(b) to apply to a third party’s secret commercial use. The Federal Circuit again agreed with BASF, noting that in Shimadzu, the Supreme Court explained that the public-use bar applies to uses of the invention “not purposely hidden” and held that the use of a process in the ordinary course of business—where the process was “well known to the employees” and no “efforts were made to conceal” it from anyone else—is a public use. The Federal Circuit noted that it has applied Shimadzu in its public-use cases. The Federal Circuit concluded that the district court erred in finding, on summary judgment, that the claimed process was publicly accessible. Neither party disputes that members of the public were given access to the Portsmouth plant on numerous occasions, where they could view the shape of the conical taper, and that no evidence suggests that any of these guests was a skilled artisan. The parties dispute whether the remaining elements of the Sanwet® Process were known, and to the extent they were not, whether they were concealed from the public on these tours, in newspaper articles, and in the commemoration video.

The Federal Circuit rejected as “simply wrong” SNF’s second contention—that a third party’s commercial exploitation of a secret process creates a per se public-use bar to another inventor.

§102(b) On Sale
BASF argued that the agreement between Sanyo and Celanese to license the Sanwet® Process was not a sale under In re Kollar. The Federal Circuit agreed that the district court’s judgment must be reversed. Neither the Sanyo-Celanese license agreement nor the 1987 Hoechst acquisition of Celanese is a sale of the invention within the meaning of § 102(b). The Federal Circuit said the invention itself must be sold or offered for sale, and the mere existence of a “commercial benefit . . . is not enough to trigger the on-sale bar” on its own. To determine whether such a commercial sale or offer for sale has occurred, we look to how those terms are defined in the Uni-form Commercial Code. The Federal Circuit recognized that a process, however, is a different kind of invention; it consists of acts, rather than a tangible item, as is contemplated by the U.C.C.’s definition of sale. Yet, in cer-tain circumstances, a process may be sold in a manner which triggers the on-sale bar. For example, performing the process itself for consideration is sufficient. So is a patentee’s sale of a product made by his later-patented process.

Because the district court misinterpreted § 102(a) prior knowledge and use, as well as the public-use bar of § 102(b), the Federal Circuit reversed its summary judgment and remand for trial on those defenses.

Motivation to Combine Prior Art Can Come from Knowledge of those Skilled in the art, the Art Itself, or the Nature of the Problem

In Acoustic Technology, Inc. v. Itron Networked Solutions, Inc., [2019-1061] (February 19, 2020), the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s determination in IPR2017-01024 that the challenged claim of U.S. Patent No. 6,509,841 was unpatentable,

The patent owners first ground of attack was that nine days after institution of the IPR, Silver Spring agreed to merge with Itron, Inc., an entity undisputedly time-barred under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b). However, the Federal Circuit held that the patent owner waived this argument because it failed to present those arguments before the Board.

As the the merits of the anticipation finding, the patent owner complained that the petitioner’s expert improperly testified about what a person of ordinary skill in the art would “recognize” from the reference, — arguing that this might be appropriate for obviousness, but not anticipate. The Federal Circuit disagreed, noting that in an anticipation analysis, the dispositive question is whether a skilled artisan would “reasonably understand or infer” from a prior art reference that every claim limitation is disclosed in that single reference. Expert testimony may shed light on what a skilled artisan would reasonably understand or infer from a prior art reference. Moreover, expert testimony can constitute substantial evidence of anticipation when the expert explains in detail how each claim element is disclosed in the prior art reference.

The Federal Circuit examined the testimony of Petitioner’s expert and concluded that he conducted a detailed analysis and explained how a skilled artisan would reasonably understand the cited prior art. The Court thus concluded that the Board’s finding of anticipate was supported by substantial evidence.

The Federal Circuit also rejected the patent owner’s argument that the Board improperly relied on “the same structures to satisfy separate claim limitations.” The Federal Circuit explained that it was clear from the disclosure that the identified structure may have different functions in a given embodiment.

Finally with respect to the obviousness of the claimed invention, the Federal Circuit rejected patent owners argument that the Board erroneously mapped the prior art onto the elements of the claim and that the Board’s motivation-to-combine finding is not supported by substantial evidence. On this later point the Federal Circuit pointed out that the motivation to combine prior art references can come from the knowledge of those skilled in the art, from the prior art reference itself, or from the nature of the problem to be solved. The Board found that motivation was adequately explained by expert testimony which was not conclusory or otherwise defective, and thus the Board was within its discretion to rely upon it.

Federal Circuit Asks PTAB to Give it a Go and Decide Whether Indefinite Claims Were otherwise Patentable

In Samsung Electronics America, Inc. v. Prisua Engineering Corp., 2019-1169, 2019-1260 (February 4, 2020) the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB determination that claim 11 of U.S. Patent No. 8,650,591 was invalid for obviosuness, but vacated the PTAB’s decision declining to decide whether claims 1-4 and 8 were patentable because these claims were indefinite.

The claims of the ‘591 patent are directed to methods and apparatuses for generating a displayable edited video data stream from an original video data stream. The Board determined that claim 1 (and claims 2-4 and 8) claimed both an apparatus and a method, and thus was indefinite under IPXL Holdings. Because the claims were indefinite, the Board declined to determine whether they otherwise defined patentable subject matter. The Board also found the claims indefinite because of the inclusion of “digital processing unit” which the Board found invoked 112(f), without identifying any corresponding stucture in the claims.

Samsung appealed arguing that the Board should have declared the claims in valid for indefiniteness. The Federal Circuit agreed with the Board that the Board did not have the authority to invalidate claims on that ground.

Samsung’s secondary argument was that the Board should have nonetheless assessed the patentability of claims 1 and 4–8 under sections 102 or 103. On this point, the Federal Circuit agreed.

The Federal Circuit noted that on the first ground of indefiniteness — mixed method and apparatus claiming, the indefiniteness problem was one of understanding when infringement occurred, and not necessarily what the claim actually means. Moreover, the Federal Circuit noted that the Board had previously held that IPXL-type indefiniteness does not prevent the Board from addressing patentability.

Thus the Federal Circuit remanded the case for the Board to attempt to apply 102 and 103 to the claims.

As to the second ground of indefiniteness, that “digital processing unit” invoked 112(f) without providing corresponding structure in the claims, the Federal Circuit disagreed. The Federal Circuit said that the question whether the term “digital processing unit” invokes section 112, paragraph 6, depends on whether persons skilled in the art would understand the claim language to refer to structure, assessed in light of the presumption that flows from the drafter’s choice not to employ the word “means. The Federal Circuit said that the Board pointed to no evidence that a person skilled in the relevant art would regard the term “digital processing unit” as purely functional. In fact, the patent owner argued to the Board, based on testimony from its expert (the inventor), that the digital processing unit recited in the claims is “an image processing device that people in the art are generally familiar with.” Moreover, the fact that claim 1 required the “digital processing unit” to be operably connected to a “data entry device” supports the structural nature of the term “digital processing unit,” as used in the claim.

The Federal Circuit rejected the Board’s conclusion that the term “digital processing unit,” as used in claim 1, invoked means-plus-function claiming,
and that for that reason claims 1 and 4–8 cannot be analyzed for anticipation or obviousness.

Points of Difference from Prior Art Did Not Make it to the Claims; Claims were Anticipated

In Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. One World Technologies, Inc., [2018-2112](December 17, 2019), the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s decision that claims 18-25 of U.S. Patent No. 7,196,611 were anticipated.

Claims 18–25 of the ’611 patent are directed to an “interactive learn mode” that guides a user through installation and learn mode actions. One World challenged the patent based on a prior Chamberlain patent that allows the user to program the upper and lower limits for the garage door’s movement. Chamberlain tried to distinguish its earlier patent, arguing that the prior patent taught setting limits in sequence, rather than at the same time. The Board rejected this argument finding that nothing in the claims of the ‘611 patent required setting limits at the same time.

The Federal Circuit agreed with the Board that nothing in the claims requires the activities to be identified together or at the same time. The Federal Circuit noted that Chamberlain’s own expert testified that claims were “silent on any timing requirement.” Given the absence of any timing limitation, the Board reasonably found that the prior patents disclosure of transmitting the signals in sequence, one after the other in response to the previously-completed steps of identifying the garage door operator’s present status and activities to be completed taught the “responsive to” step. Thus, the Federal Circuit held that Board’s finding that Schindler anticipates claims of the ’611 patent is supported by substantial evidence, and affirmed.

Inventor Diligence Removed 102(e) Prior Art

In Arctic Cat Inc. v. GEP Power Products, Inc., [2018-1520, 2018-1521] (March 26, 2019), the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s invalidity determination as to U.S. Patent No. 7,420,822, but reversed as to U.S. Patent No. 7,072,188 because the Board improperly considered Boyd, U.S. Patent No. 6,850,421 as prior art.

The Board concluded that Boyd, whose filing date of April 1, 2002, is about seven months before the October 2002 filing date of the ’188 patent, was prior art to the ‘188 patent under 35 U.S.C. § 102(e). The Board rejected Arctic Cat’s argument of prior conception and diligence in reduction to practice. The Board also rejected the argument that the allegedly anticipatory portions of Boyd are not actually “by another,” as required by 35 U.S.C. § 102(e), even though the only named inventor on Boyd is Mr. Boyd himself, not Mr. Janisch, the inventor of the ‘188 patent.

The Federal Circuit agreed that Janisch had shown prior invention, in particular that the record established that Mr. Janisch was reasonably diligent during the critical period so as not to have abandoned his invention or unreasonably delayed its reduction to practice. While the Board concluded that the evidence did not establish diligence throughout the period from April 1, 2002, to October 29, 2002, the Board’s analysis rested on too rigid a standard, and the record establishes diligence under the correct standard.

The Federal Circuit found that the gaps in activity relied upon by the Board could be explained by third party testing activity and that lack of diligence cannot be inferred from putting the invention into someone else’s hands for needed testing and awaiting test results for a short period commensurate with the testing need, at least where oversight was diligent. That course of action, as a way of reducing an invention to practice, does not give rise to an inference of unreasonable delay or abandonment of the invention.

Reasonable Royalty Cannot Include Non-Infringing Activities

In Enplas Display Device Corporation v. Seoul Semiconductor Company, Ltd., [2016-2599](November 19, 2018), the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment that claim 20 of U.S. Patent No. 6,007,209 and the asserted claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,473,554 are not anticipated; affirmed the district court’s denial of JMOL of no inducement; but reversed the denial of JMOL that the damages award was not supported by substantial evidence, and remanded.  The ’209 and ’554 patents are directed to methods of back lighting display panels, particularly LED displays used in televisions, laptop computers, and other electronics.

On the anticipation of the ‘209 patent, Emplas argued that because an inventor of the ‘209 patent testified that the prior art reference did not exclude mounting light sources as required by the claim, there was an issue of fact for the jury.  The Federal Circuit disagreed, saying that this was not enough for anticipation.  Anticipation requires that a single reference disclose each and every element of the claimed invention, while at most, the testimony suggests that the reference could have been modified to include light sources on the bottom wall.  The Federal Circuit said that “Prior art that must be modified to meet the disputed claim limitation does not anticipate the claim.”

On the anticipation of the ‘554 patent the Federal Circuit noted that it came down to conflicting expert testimony about the prior art,  and that “when there is conflictingtestimony at trial, and the evidence overall does not make only one finding on the point reasonable, the jury is permitted to make credibility determinations and believe the witness it considers more trustworthy.”  Because the jury’s verdict was based upon the reference itself as well as expert testimony, it was supported by substantial evidence.

On the issue of induced infringement, the Federal Circuit noted that in order to succeed on a claim of inducement, the patentee must show, first that there has been direct infringement, and second that the alleged infringer knowingly induced infringement and possessed specific intent to encourage another’s infringement.  Mere knowledge of infringement is insufficient. Liability for inducement can only attach if the defendant knew of the patent and knew as well that the induced acts constitute patent infringement.  Although the text of §271(b) makes no mention of intent, the Court infers that at least some intent is required, so both specific intent and action to induce infringement must be proven.

Although it was a close case, the Federal Circuit concludedthat there was substantial evidence whereby both Enplas’ knowledge and intent to induce infringement could be reasonably found.  The Federal Circuit noted that Enplas also did not dispute that it was informed that the product it manufactured, co-developed, and sold to SSC was covered by SSC’s patents, and that Enplas knew its customers sold televisions in the US and other countries.  SSC had sent Enplas a pre-suit letter,informing it that SSC had found infringing lenses made with Enplas parts in televisions sold in the United States. Further Enplas provided its customers with product specifications that recommended infringing configurations for its accused lenses.  The Federal Circuit said that it has held that providing instructions to use a product in an infringing manner is evidence of the required mental state for inducing infringement.

Enplas argued that this evidence did not establish that it knew its lenses would be incorporated in U.S. televisions and that in any event mere knowledge was not enough to establish specific intent. The Federal Circuit agreed that mere knowledge of possible infringement is not enough, there was circumstantial evidence that would allow a jury to reasonably find that Enplas had knowledge of the patents and of its customers’ infringing activity and that it intended to induce their infringement, and affirmed the denial of JMOL.

Finally on the issue of damages, Enplas argued that the only evidence supporting the $4 million award was testimony from SSC’s damages expert that explicitly and improperly included non-infringing devices in the royalty calculation.  Enplas filed a Daubert motion regarding this testimony, that the district court deferred, and a motion in limine regarding this testimony, which the district court denied.  SSC’s expert testified that the parties would have negotiated a premium freedom to operate” license to avoid the need to test and negotiate licenses for additional or future potentially infringing lenses that Enplas might sell, and to determine this premium that Enplas would pay, SSC’s expert assessed the volume of sales of all non-accused lenses made by Enplas, which the expert estimated from Enplas’ website.

The Federal Circuit agreed with Enplas, noting a reasonable royalty cannot include activities that do not constitute patent infringement, as patent damages are limited to those “adequate to compensate for the infringement.”

Do Over — Different Evidence and Different Evidentiary Standard Allow IPR to Reach Different Conclusion of Validity than ITC

in Nobel Biocare Services AG v. Instradent USA, Inc., [2017-2256] (September 13, 2018), the Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s determination that claims 1-5 and 19 of U. S. Patent No. 8,714,977,directed to dental implants, were anticipated.

The undisputed critical date of the ‘977 patent was May 23, 2003, and Instradent alleged that the claims were anticipated by an ABT “Product Catalog” with the date
“March 2003” on the cover.  The ITC, applying a clear and convincing evidentiary standard, had previously determined that the claims were not anticipated, and the Federal Circuit affirmed.

Meanwhile, Instradent petitioned for IPR.  While the Board adopted the same claim construction as the ITC, and considered the same evidence presented to the ITC, the Board also considered new evidence not considered by the ITC, including the declarations and deposition testimony of Hantman and Chakir that the catalog was available to the industry in March 2003.  The Board determined that a preponderance of the evidence establishes that the ABT Catalog qualifies as a prior art printed publication under 35 U.S.C. § 102(b).

On appeal, the parties disputed whether the ABT Catalog qualifies
as a “printed publication” under § 102(b).  The Federal Circuit said that whether a reference qualifies as a “printed publication” is a legal conclusion based on underlying factual findings, including The parties dispute whether the ABT Catalog qualifies
as a “printed publication” under pre-AIA § 102(b). Whether a reference qualifies as a “printed publication” is a legal conclusion based on underlying factual findings, including whether a reference was publicly accessible. Public accessibility has been called the touchstone in determining whether a reference constitutes a “printed publication.”  A reference will be considered publicly accessible if it was disseminated or otherwise made available to the extent that persons interested and ordinarily skilled in the subject matter or art exercising reasonable diligence can locate it.

The Federal Circuit noted that it was not bound by its prior affirmance of the ITC’s holding that there was insufficient evidence to find pre-critical date public accessibility, observing that the evidentiary standard in IPRs, “preponderance of the evidence” is different from the higher standard applicable in ITC proceedings.  The Federal Circuit further noted that the Board also had more evidence on this issue than what was before the ITC.  Finally the Federal Circuit said that under the substantial evidence standard, the inconsistent conclusions from the evidence does not prevent an administrative agency’s finding from being supported by substantial evidence.

The Federal Circuit agreed with Instradent that substantial evidence supported the Board’s finding that the ABT Catalog was publicly accessible prior to the critical date. The Board credited Chakir and Hantman’s testimony that Chakir obtained a copy of the ABT Catalog at the March 2003 IDS Conference and that Hantman retained that copy in
his records thereafter. Furthermore, Hantman’s declaration included excerpts of his copy of the ABT Catalog taken from his files. The Board found that Hantman’s copy of the ABT Catalog and the copy offered as prior art by Instradent in the IPR had identical pages except for some handwriting on the cover of Hantman’s copy.

The Federal Circuit noted that corroboration is required of any witness whose testimony alone is asserted to invalidate a patent, regardless of his or her level of interest.  Corroborating evidence may include documentary or testimonial evidence, and circumstantial evidence can be sufficient corroboration.  The Federal Circuit listed eight factors to be considered in evaluating corroboration:

(1) the relationship between the corroborating witness and the alleged prior user,
(2) the time period between the event and trial,
(3) the interest of the corroborating witness in the subject matter in suit,
(4) contradiction or impeachment of the witness’ testimony,
(5) the extent and details of the corroborating testimony,
(6) the witness’ familiarity with the subject matter of the patented invention and the prior use,
(7) probability that a prior use could occur considering the state of the art at the time,
(8) impact of the invention on the industry, and the commercial value of its practice.

Applying a “rule of reason” analysis to the corroboration requirement, which “involves an assessment of the totality of the circumstances including an evaluation of all pertinent evidence, the Federal Circuit held the corroboration to be sufficient, noting “there are no hard and fast rules as to what constitutes sufficient corroboration, and each case must be decided on its own facts.”

The Federal Circuit rejected the challenges to the claim construction, and affirmed the Board.



Unreasonably Broad Construction Unlimited by the Specification, Resulted in Incorrect Finding of Anticipation

In TF3 Limited v. Tre Milano, LLC, [2016-2285] (July 13, 2018), the Federal Circuit reversed the PTAB’s decision in IPR2015-00649 that the claims in U.S. Patent No. 8,651,118 on a hair styling device were anticipated, holding that on the correct claim construction, the claims are not anticipated.

The Federal Circuit said that the Board held that two references each shows the same device as claimed in the ’118 Patent, rendering
the claims invalid for anticipation. However, as is apparent, the devices are not the same. The Federal Circuit said that anticipation was
decided on a flawed analysis, whereby the ’118 Patent claims were construed to have a breadth beyond the scope supported by the device described in the ’118 Patent, the Board then holding that the unduly broad ’118 Patent claims read on the two different prior devices
and thus are anticipated.

The Federal Circuit said that the Board declined to construe “the length of hair can pass through the secondary opening,” as set forth in the  specification, instead ruling that in accordance with the broadest reasonable interpretation, “claim 1 does not require that the length of hair is allowed to slide along the elongate member towards and subsequently off its free end.”  The Federal Circuit found that the Board misconstrued the use of “i.e.” in the specification, explaining that the usage “i.e.” (“id est” or “that is”), “signals an intent to define the word to which it refers.”   The Federal Circuit said that the ’118 Patent describes the device as improving curl retention by the structure that “permits a formed curl to be slid off the end of the elongate member without being
uncurled,” and neither of the allegedly anticipating references has such a structure.  The Federal Circuit quoted itself that:

The claims, of course, do not stand alone. Rather, they are part of a fully integrated written instrument, consisting principally  of a specification that concludes with the claims. For that reason, claims must be read in view of the specification, of which they are a part.

The Federal Circuit concluded that it is not reasonable to read the claims more broadly than the description in the specification, thereby broadening the claims to read on the prior art over which the patentee asserts improvement.

The Federal Circuit also noted that the Board construed “free end” to mean “an end of the elongate member that is unsupported when the movable abutment is in the open position,” because given their broadest interpretation, the ’118 Patent claims do not require that the movable abutment operates as described in the specification.  Thus, the Federal Circuit observed, the Board construed the claims as “unlimited by the specification.”  The Federal Circuit observed:

Claims are construed with reference to the specification and prosecution history, for these are the resources by which persons in the field of the invention understand what has been invented.

The Federal Circuit found that the Board’s construction was contrary to the specification, and concluded that The ’118 Patent claims, construed in light of the specification, do not read on the prior art and are not anticipated by the prior art.


The Novelty of an Optical Isomer is not Negated by the Prior Art Disclosure of its Racemate

In UCB, Inc. v. Accord Healthcare, Inc., [2016-2610, 2016-2683, 2016-2685, 2016-2698, 2016-2710, 2017-1001] (May 23 2018), the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s determination that UCB’s patents on lacosamide, an anti-epileptic drug, were not invalid for obviousness-type double patenting, obviousness, and anticipation.

On the issue of double patenting, the Federal Circuit noted that in chemical cases, the double patenting inquiry is not whether a person of ordinary skill in the art would select the earlier compound as a lead compound, but rather whether the later compound would have been
an obvious or anticipated modification of the earlier compound — the underlying patent in the double patenting analysis need not be prior art to the later claim.  The Federal Circuit found that the district court did not err by focusing its double patenting analysis on the claims’ differences, as well as the claims as a whole.  The Federal Circuit said that proving that a claim is invalid for obviousness-type double patenting “requires identifying some reason that would have led a chemist to modify the earlier compound to make the later compound with a reasonable expectation of success.  Acknowledging that it was a close case, because it discerned no clear error in the district court’s underlying fact finding that there would have been no reasonable expectation of success in making the modifications needed to make the claimed combination, the Federal Circuit agreed with the district court that the asserted claims of the ‘551 patent were patentably distinct from the ’301 patent.

With respect to obviousness, the Federal Circuit applied a lead compound analysis, rejecting the proposition that the test does not apply in purification cases.  The lead compound analysis first determines whether a chemist of ordinary skill would have selected the asserted prior art compounds as lead compounds, or starting points, for further development efforts, and then determines “whether the prior art would have supplied one of ordinary skill in the art with a reason or motivation to modify a lead compound to make the claimed compound with a reasonable expectation of success.  The Federal Circuit found substantial evidence supported the district court’s conclusion that a person of ordinary skill in the art would not have selected either of the proferred lead compounds.

On anticipation, appellants argued that because the prior art disclosed the chemical structure, it it necessarily disclosed the R-enantiomer (lacosamide) recited in claim 9 of the ’551 patent.  The district court concluded that the prior art disclosed neither the R-enantiomer, nor any of its characteristics.  The Federal Circuit noted that the novelty of an optical isomer is not negated by the prior art disclosure of its racemate, and that the references specifically stated that it prepared the racemic amino acid derivatives rather than the individual enantiomers.  Thus, the Federal Circuit found no clear error in the finding of no anticipation.