High Court Nixes Federal Circuit’s Indefiniteness Test

On June 2, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court in Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instrument, Inc., addressed the standard that Courts must use to determine whether a patent claim complies with 35 U. S. C. §112, ¶2.

A patent “claim” defines the scope of an invention. The patent law requires that a patent specification “conclude with one or more claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter which the applicant regards as [the] invention.” Because of the inherent difficulty in drafting patent claims, there are often times some ambiguity in a claim. In Nautilus, the Supreme Court addressed the level of permissible imperfection.

The patent in dispute involves a heart-rate monitor used with exercise equipment. The patent claims to improve on the prior art by detecting and processing ECG signals in a way that filters out EMG interference. The claim called for a “live” electrode and a “common” electrode “mounted . . . in spaced relationship with each other.”

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