Invalidated Speeding Device Patent Taken Up

     (CN) – Taking up a case involving a device that alerts drivers to speeding, the Supreme Court is poised to rule on the process of invalidating patents under the America Invents Act.
     Cuozzo Speed Technologies faced a hearing before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board when Garmin International challenged Cuozzo’s patent for an interface that displays the vehicle’s current speed as well as the speed limit in the area.
     Cuozzo’s design involves determining the vehicle’s location as tracked by GPS, a technology made possible by Garmin.
     The process of inter partes review in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office challenges the validity of the patent’s claims as anticipated or obvious.
     Garmin especially sought to invalidate claim 10 of Cuozzo’s patent, which describes a speed-limit indicator with a colored display to show drivers when they exceed the posted limit.
     The patent board concluded that Cuozzo’s claims were obvious, but its decision relied on grounds that Garmin did not identify in its original petition.
     Cuozzo petitioned the Supreme Court for review after the Federal Circuit affirmed 2-1 in July.
     The law does not “expressly limit the board’s authority at the final decision stage to the grounds alleged in the IPR petition,” Judge Timothy Dyk wrote for the majority.
     Dyk, a Clinton appointee, was joined in the decision by Judge Raymond Clevenger, a appointee of George H.W. Bush.
     The panel’s majority also found no error in the board’s construction of the patent treating the speedometer and the speed limit as independent.
     “Claim 10 would have been obvious because it encompasses the analog embodiment of the invention discussed in the specification,” Dyk said.
     Judge Pauline Newman dissented, arguing that the court had thwarted the goal of the America Invents Act to ease the patent process for technology-based inventions.
     “The America Invents Act was enacted to enable the PTO to resolve validity issues, at reduced cost and delay,” Newman said. “This goal is defeated by the court’s preservation of the PTO’s new regulatory discrepancy between validity determinations under the America Invents Act and in the district courts. The purpose of invigorating the incentive role of patents, by providing a faster, cheaper, and reliable determination of the validity of issued patents is thus undercut – to no benefit, and in derogation of this once promising legislative initiative.”
     Newman is a Reagan appointee.
     The Supreme Court granted certiorari on Friday, without any comment, as is the court’s custom.
     Law firm Morrison Foerster greeted the news by noting that the “controversial” process of inter partes review “has pushed the envelope in IP cases over the last several years.”
     “Cuozzo was actually the first claimant to have its patent invalidated in an IPR – the fast-track administrative hearings were created as part of the America Invents Act of 2011,” Morrison Foerster added.
     Cuozzo’s petition asked the Supreme Court to decide whether the appeals court erred in holding that the PTAB can “construe claims in an issued patent according to their broadest reasonable interpretation rather than their plain and ordinary meaning.”
     It also asks whether the appeals court erred in holding that the PTAB exceeded its statutory authority in instituting an IPR proceeding and is therefore subject to judicial review.

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