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In this IPR proceeding, the PTAB cancelled all of the claims-at-issue as being obvious over the asserted prior art.  The claims related to wheelchairs designed to travel stably over obstacles.  On appeal, Pride contended that the PTAB erred by misconstruing the requirement of claim 7 of a “substantially planar” mounting plate “oriented perpendicular” to the axis of the wheelchair’s drive wheel and erred by concluding that one of ordinary skill in the art would have been motivated to make the claimed wheelchair by lowering the position of a pivot in a prior-art wheelchair.  The court reversed the PTAB as to the construction of claim 7 because it “is unreasonable to read that straightforward language as meaning anything other than that the drive-wheel axis is perpendicular to the surface of the mounting plate that makes the plate substantially planar. In terms of simple geometry, if the plate were translated in space (without rotation) so that it intersected the axis, the axis would intersect the substantially planar surface at a single point (not more) and make a right angle.”  With this construction, the court held that claim 7 was not obvious, as the prior art did not disclose the element as properly construed.  As to the issue of motivation, the PTAB had substantial evidence of obvious and thus this part of its decision was affirmed. 

Pride Mobility Products Corporation v. Permobil, Inc., Case Nos. 2015-1585, -1586 (April 5, 2016); Opinion by: Taranto, joined by Reyna and Chen; Appealed From: United States Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Read the full opinion here.

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