There are a few patent cases to keep track of in the future that may have an impact on claim construction, indefiniteness, and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decisions. Here is a list of cases to watch:
The Supreme Court granted certiorari in the Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. v. Sandoz Inc. (Dkt. No. 13-854) to consider whether claim construction of claim terms should continue to be reviewed de novo or for clear error. As noted in the petition:
Rule 52(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that in matters tried to a district court, the court’s “[f]indings of fact. . . must not be set aside unless clearly erroneous.”
The question presented is as follows:
Whether a district court’s factual finding in support of its construction of a patent claim term may be reviewed de novo, as the Federal Circuit requires (and as the panel explicitly did in this case), or only for clear error, as Rule 52(a) requires.
In Nautilus, Ing. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc. (June 2, 2014, Dkt. No. 13–369 (Slip Opinion)), the Supreme Court noted that “the expressions ‘insolubly ambiguous’ and ‘amenable to construction,’ which permeate the Federal Circuit’s recent decisions concerning §112, ¶2's … leave courts and the patent bar at sea without a reliable compass.” Thus, the case was remanded “so that the Court of Appeals can reconsider, under the proper standard, whether the relevant claims in the ’753 patent are sufficiently definite.” Look for further guidance from the courts on evaluating whether claims are sufficiently definite in the future.
In SAP America, Inc. v. Versata Data Development Group (PTAB Case CBM2012-00001) SAP filed a petition seeking a covered business method patent review of Versata’s patent pursuant to section 18 of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA). The PTAB held “Versata’s claims 17, and 26-29 to be unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. §101.” Versata has now appealed the PTAB’s finding of invalidity to the Federal Circuit, notably challenging the PTAB’s broadest reasonable interpretation (“BRI”) standard for claim construction. As one of the early cases involving PTAB reviews under the AIA, it will be interesting to see what impact this case will have on such PTAB reviews in the future.