Reading Markman rulings sometimes reminds me of the Curies going through mountains of pitchblende to find a little radium. In this case, the valuable part for most readers is the Court’s decision finding two claims indefinite.
Waco’s newest “must-see” location is actually not the federal courthouse, nor even the latest Magnolia venue, but instead the new memorial on the riverfront to Waco native Doris Miller, who was awarded the Navy Cross by fellow Central Texan Admiral Chester Nimitz (who was a Fredericksburg boy, you know) for his heroism at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. We visited the memorial, with its statue of Miller and backdrop evoking the iconic cage masts of his battleship West Virginia Sunday afternoon on our way home from camping and Top Gun. Meanwhile, a few blocks away, across the rain-swollen Brazos, Judge Albright continues to crank out opinions, including this one rejecting an indefiniteness argument.
I challenge you to find a happier 16 year old than this one, who spent the first day of his summer vacation getting some stick time in a World War II trainer, as reported by the local paper. He was, in fact, smiling as broadly as I expect the defendants were when they got Judge Kernodle’s 122 page claim construction order in this 11 patent case raising over 30 terms, which addressed their indefiniteness arguments. They did pretty well.
Maybe it’s just me, but reading Markman rulings is sometimes a little like watching NASCAR. I’m only interested in the crashes. There are no doubt significant things happening when the Court adopts one party’s construction over the other, but without familiarity with the case it’s not immediately obvious how damaging the holding is. But as this case shows, to paraphrase Rob Lowe’s observation in a somewhat different context in About Last Night… with indefiniteness … you know. You know?
This is a Markman ruling that concluded that a claim term was indefinite. The Court set forth the current standards for such an argument before concluding that the term had been shown by clear and convincing evidence to be indefinite in light of the court’s other constructions. The opinion also addresses several times the argument that a claim term should be given its plain meaning, and provides a good set of examples for when this argument will be accepted.
This case is a little unusual in that the day before the Markman hearing the Federal Circuit affirmed another district court’s grant of summary judgment of indefiniteness based on construction of a single word. The Court asked for additional briefing, and after considering it, issued the attached opinion.
ANDA cases are not the most common bird locally, so it’s worth taking notice when a 160 page opinion containing 309 findings of fact and 89 conclusions of law rolls out the courthouse door, as happened the other day.
I’m working on a trio of cases today, all of which deal with claim construction. The first case includes – buried deep in a 117 page order a finding of indefiniteness with respect to a means-plus-function term that it worth analysis. Of course any opinion of that length will also have a wealth of useful standards that serve as a snapshot of what at least one court understands to be the law as of the end of January, in the year of our Lord 2018 (actually 2011 but once upon a time there was a monk that wasn’t so strong in math, and the rest is, literally, history).
This case came before the district court on objections from the magistrate judge’s ruling denying the defendant’s motion for summary judgment of indefiniteness. On appeal,