Intel Corp. must keep fighting a patent infringement lawsuit because a district court misinterpreted claims and erroneously ruled that the chipmaker didn’t infringe the patents, a federal appeals court said.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Feb. 8 sent back Continental Circuit LLC’s lawsuit to the lower court. Continental accused Intel of infringing four patents on making electrical devices, such as circuit boards, by joining insulation to material that conducts electricity with teeth-like structures on at least one surface.
The ruling clarifies how courts should apply specifications, which are detailed descriptions of an invention, when interpreting claims, which are numbered sentences capturing the essence of an invention.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona erred when it narrowed the scope of the claims to require creating the sandwiched layer by repeatedly removing impurities through a process called desmearing, the Federal Circuit said.
Continental’s patent mentions a “double desmear process.” The patent’s specification only describes how to make the claimed invention using a preferred electrical insulator, called Probelec XB 7081, in a new way from a prior invention, the Federal Circuit said. The patent doesn’t limit the claimed electrical device to require a repeated desmear process, it said.
The Federal Circuit cited its 2002 ruling in Teleflex Inc. v. Ficosa N. Am. Corp. that said “even when the specification describes only a single embodiment, the claims of the patent will not be read restrictively unless the patentee has demonstrated a clear intention to limit the claim scope using ‘words or expressions of manifest exclusion or restriction.’”
Disclosing only the use of Probelec XB 7081 without more detail doesn’t limit the patent claims, the Federal Circuit said.
The appeals court also cited its 2005 ruling in Phillips v. AWH Corp, which requires courts to apply a narrow standard that uses the plain and ordinary meaning of disputed terms in interpreting a patent.
“Phrases such as ‘one technique,’ ‘can be carried out’ and ‘a way’ indicate that using Probelec XB 7081 is only one method for making the invention and does not automatically lead to finding a clear disavowal of claim scope,” the Federal Circuit said.
Judge Alan Lourie wrote the opinion with Judges Richard Linn and Richard Taranto.
MoloLamken LLP represented Contitental. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP and Matthew Hult, senior litigation attorney at Intel, represented Intel.
The case is Continental Circuits LLC v. Intel Corporation, Fed. Cir., No. 18-01076, 2/8/19.