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In re Power Integrations, Inc.

Uniform Usage in Specification May Limit BRI; PTAB Should Consider District Court Constructions

In re Power Integrations, Inc., F.3d, 2018 WL 1370551 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 20, 2018) (Moore, MAYER, Stoll) (PTAB) (3 of 5 stars)

Fed Cir reverses EPRx anticipation determination. The PTAB erroneously applied too broad an interpretation of the term “coupled” to describe the connection of two electronic components. The opinion discusses how the board’s interpretation fails to reflect the necessary relationship between the “coupled” components in both the claims and the written description, and notes that in a prior opinion (797 F.3d 1318 (Fed. Cir. 2015)), the Fed Cir had expressly instructed the Board to expressly consider whether the interpretation of the same term in prior district court litigation was “consistent with the broadest reasonable interpretation” of the term. Op. at 7. The opinion is largely specific to the details of PI’s claims and specification, but notes that the board’s treatment read “coupled” so broadly as to basically read it out of the claim, inconsistent with the district court’s interpretation. It also notes that “every embodiment” in PI’s patent depicted a coupling relationship much narrower than the board’s interpretation. The correct construction of “coupled,” even under the broadest reasonable interpretation standard, was the construction applied by the district court in prior litigation (requiring a specific functional relationship between the coupled components). The opinion notes, “The board has had two opportunities to come up with a sustainable interpretation [of “coupled”] that differs from the one that survived litigation and has failed. We conclude there is not one.” Op. at 16. The opinion also reviews the references relied on by the board and concludes that they do not teach two components “coupled” in the necessary relationship.

KEYWORDS: BROADEST REASONABLE INTERPRETATION; EX PARTE REEXAMINATION; CLAIM CONSTRUCTION; ANTICIPATION (NO)