Intellectual Property Alert: The Federal Circuit Upholds Cybor’s Rule that Claim Construction Is Subject to De Novo Appellate Review

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Feb. 24, 2014 — On Friday, the Federal Circuit reaffirmed 6–4 in Lighting Ballast Control LLC v. Philips Electronics North America Corp., that its holding in Cybor Corp v. FAS Technologies is still good law. In short, patent claim construction is a purely legal issue that is subject to de novo review on appeal. Judge Newman authored the majority opinion, which rested largely on principles of stare decisis. Judge Lourie joined the majority and authored a concurrence. Judge O’Malley offered a strong dissent. This was a high-profile case in intellectual property circles, as 38 individuals and organizations — including three Banner & Witcoff attorneys — had filed 21 amicus briefs.

Background -

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit granted en banc review of a petition filed by Lighting Ballast Control to reconsider the standard of appellate review given to districtcourt interpretations of the meaning and scope of patent claims (claim construction). The Federal Circuit had previously held in Cybor that patent claim construction receives de novo review for correctness as a matter of law.

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