The court remanded the PTAB’s finding that the claims at issue were anticipated and obvious when using a claim construction that the court found was erroneous.  Applying the broadest reasonable interpretation for the claim phrase “a query as to whether the second process is connected to the computer network,” the PTAB adopted the petitioner’s construction that connected to the computer encompasses a processing unit that is “active and on-line at registration.”  The court, however, held that the plain meaning of the claim language (particularly the term “is”) requires a present tense construction only.  The court addressed the significance of the specification in instances where the claim language has a plain meaning and held that, in such instances, “it is particularly difficult to conclude that the specification reasonably supports a different meaning” and therefore, in those situations, the specification plays a more limited role than “the common situation where claim terms are uncertain in meaning in relevant respects.”  Here, the specification does not support a construction that contradicts the plain meaning of the claim language.  Therefore the PTAB relied on an incorrect construction and remand was necessary to consider the validity issue under the correct construction.

In his dissent-in-part, Judge Dyk argues that the majority’s construction is too rigid in requiring absolute currency and he argues that the majority failed to give adequate weight to the specification. 

Straight Path IP Group, Inc. v. Sipnet EU S.R.O., Case No. 2015-1212 (November 25, 2015); Opinion by: Taranto, joined by Hughes; Opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part by Dyk; Appealed From: Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Read the full opinion here.

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