The Proper Claim Construction of a Term is Not Necessarily the Sum of its Parts

In Intel Corp. v. Qualcomm Inc., [2020-1664] (December 28, 2021), the Federal Circuit affirmed the final written decision of the originally challenged claims of U.S. Patent No. 8,229,043, but vacated and remanded as to the substitute claims.

The Federal Circuit addressed first considered the phrase “radio frequency input signal” in ’043 patent claims 17, 19, and 21. Intel argued that the term should be given its ordinary meaning, while Qualcomm argued for a more specific construction. The Federal Circuit noted that ‘[e]ven without considering the surrounding claim language or the rest of the patent document, . . .it is not always appropriate to break down a phrase and give it an interpretation that is merely the sum of its parts.” The Federal Circuit said that the surrounding language points in favor of Qualcomm’s construction, adopted by the Board. The Federal Circuit said the linguistic clues suggested that “radio frequency input signal,” to the relevant audience, refers to the signal entering the device as a whole, not (as Intel proposes) to any radio frequency signal entering any component. The Federal Circuit said that the specification provides further support for the Board’s reading.

The Federal Circuit concluded that in sum, while Intel’s interpretation may have superficial appeal, Qualcomm’s better reflects the usage of “radio frequency input signal” in the intrinsic record, and affirmed it.

On the question of obviousness, the Federal Circuit concluded that substantial evidence does not
support the Board’s determination that a skilled artisan would have lacked reason to combine the prior art to achieve substitute claims 27, 28, and 31. The Federal Circuit rejected the Board’s rationale for determining that it would not have been obvious to combine the references. The Federal Circuit noted that a rationale is not inherently suspect merely because it’s generic in the sense of having broad applicability or appeal.

Merry Christmas 2021

Merry Christmas, and warm wishes that you can celebrate safely and happily with your friends and family, Celebrating Christmas is a long standing tradition, and the U.S. patent collection documents a steady stream of inventive effort to make Christmas happier and safer. Once of the earliest references to Chistmas in the patent collection is this patent from 1867 on a candllestick for a Christmas tree:

A few years later, an improved Candle Holder was patented with a more patriotic bent:

The fascination with open flames continued, and later that same year, a patent issued on a candle-powered Rotating Christmas Tree:

By 1872, someone finally came up with the idea of at least enclosing the flame in a Wax-Lantern, no doubt saving many trees (and Christmases):

However, candles remained in use and efforts continued to improve them in the 1870’s and 1880’s:

It wasn’t until 1891, when its was proposed to apply electric lighting to Christmas trees:

Best wishes to all for a happy holiday season, and an innovative 2022.