Archive for April, 2013

Confirmation Hearing for Raymond Chen

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013


The Senate Judiciary Committee quietly conducted the confirmation hearing for Raymond Chen last Wednesday.  While only three senators on the committee were present for the hearing, the questioning was refreshingly more patent-centric than in recent hearings for Federal Circuit nominees.

The video of the April 24th hearing is available at this page: [Link].

You can view the introduction of Mr. Chen at the 23:20 minute mark.

Mr. Chen makes his own introductions at the 29:25 minute mark.  There was an impressive turnout of supporters.

The questioning by the senators can be viewed at approximately the 38:00-41:16 (Hirono), 41:16-49:48 (Grassley), and 58:40-1:01:59 (Lee) minute segments.

One might wonder if Senator Hirono has drunk the Kool-Aid of the anti-software-patent lobby, based on some of her questioning.  She strikes me, however, as much more astute than that.

In re Karl Urquhart

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

The Federal Circuit recently affirmed the PTO in the appeal of In re Karl Urquhart by way of a Rule 36 Judgment.  The oral argument is of interest in that it addresses broadest reasonable interpretation (BRI) of claim language as well as functional language.

Claim 13 of the application was one of the claims at issue.  Claim 13 recited:

Claim 13 (REJECTED)  A semiconductor processing
system comprising:
     a semiconductor process tool including a tank, wherein the semiconductor tool is
configured to process a semiconductor component; and
     a blender system comprising:
          a blender unit configured to receive and blend at least two chemical compounds
and deliver a solution comprising a mixture of compounds at selected
concentrations to the tank, wherein the tank retains a selected volume of a
chemical solution bath; and
          a controller configured to maintain at least one compound within a selected
concentration range in the chemical solution bath, wherein the controller
controls at least one of:
              operation of the blender unit to maintain the concentration of the at
least one compond within a selected concetration range within the solution
delivered to the tank; and

               a change in flow rate of solution into and out of the tank when a
concentration of the at least one compound within the chemical solution bath falls outside
of a target range.

The claim was deemed anticipated by a patent directed at a bathtub that mixed hot and cold water, US Patent 1522120.

The Appellant argued that the PTO had failed to properly apply the language “a semiconductor process tool.”  For example, in its appeal at the Board level the Applicant/Appellant cited In re Suitco Surface:

Claim 13 requires the claimed system to have “a semiconductor process tool including a tank, wherein the semiconductor tool is configured to process a semiconductor component.”  Even if you disregard the “configured to” portion, the claim still requires “a semiconductor process tool including a tank.”  The Examiners insist that a bathtub is a semiconductor process tool.  A bathtub is not even remotely related to a semiconductor process tool.  The absurdity of this claim construction argument is matched only by the Examiner’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge that it is absurd. Unfortunately, this sort of thing has become all too commonplace within the USPTO.  MPEP §2111; In re Suitco Surface, Inc. (Fed. Cir. Case No. 2009-1418, decided April 14, 2010)(“The PTO’s construction here, though certainly broad, is unreasonably broad.  The broadest-construction rubric coupled with the term ‘comprising’ does not give the PTO unfettered license to interpret claims to embrace anything remotely related to the claimed invention.”).

You can listen to the oral argument [here].

You can view the Rule 36 Judgment [here] that affirmed the rejection of the claims.

Audio of Oral Argument in AMP v. Myriad

Friday, April 19th, 2013

The Supreme Court has released the audio of the oral argument in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc.

You can listen to the oral argument here: [Listen].

Oral Argument by Telephone

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

The Federal Circuit illustrated its flexibility last month by conducting an oral argument with one of the parties participating by telephone.  It appeared to be a rare circumstance.  The oral argument was scheduled for March 7th and a snowstorm along the East Coast caused many flights to be canceled.  So, in this particular circumstance the appellant was allowed to argue by telephone.  The USPTO appeared in court as the appellee.

You can listen to the oral argument here: [Listen].

You can review the Rule 36 Judgment here: [Link].