Patent Happenings, April 2008

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Developments in U.S. patent law for the month of April 2008. Topics include: 1) Even where “ordinary meaning” applies, district courts must formally construe claim term if parties have a genuine dispute as to the scope of the claim; 2) Later-developed equivalent may be foreseeable for purposes of prosecution history estoppel if it is “reasonably obvious” from the prior art; 3) Tacking of laches periods may be proper where products are the same or similar; 4) Use of functional language in apparatus claim, and recitation of structure in a method claim, does not improperly mix statutory classes; 5) Express license to component of patented invention created an implied license to sell the component to anybody; 6) Sale “f.o.b. Canada” to U.S. purchaser is a sale “within” the U.S. under § 271(a); 7) Patentee’s burden to prove entitlement to § 120 priority; 8) Covenant not to sue did not moot controversy in ANDA context for declaratory judgment claim; 9) Flaws in pre-suit investigation not relevant to “objective recklessness” inquiry for bad faith enforcement claims; 10) Assignee taking patent subject to a prior nonexclusive licensee not bound by arbitration clause contained in the license agreement; 11) Multi-district panel cites crowded docket conditions in E.D. Texas as a reason for not transferring a centralized case to that forum; 12) Federal Circuit finds noninfringement opinion of counsel defeated willful infringement charge; 13) Denying summary judgment of no willful infringement in view of Seagate; 14) Developments in the PTO.

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