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Nestle USA, Inc. v. Steuben Foods, Inc.

Lexicography Determination in Related Patent Applies to IPR Via Collateral Estoppel

Nestle USA, Inc. v. Steuben Foods, Inc.2018 WL 1277405 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 13, 2018) (Dyk, Reyna, HUGHES) (PTAB) (3 of 5 stars)

Fed Cir vacates, remands IPR determination of nonobviousness. The PTAB improperly construed the term “aseptic” in Steuben Foods’ claim in a manner incompatible with the Fed Cir’s previous construction of that term in a related Steuben Foods patent, per Nestlé USA, Inc. v. Steuben Foods, Inc., 686 F. App’x 917 (Fed. Cir. 2017). Collateral estoppel barred Steuben Foods from disputing that both patents reflected “binding lexicography” defining the term. Per Ohio Willow Wood, 735 F.3d 1333 (Fed. Cir. 2013), collateral estoppel is not limited to identical patent claims, but to the “identity of the issues that were litigated[.]” Op. at 4 (quoting Ohio Willow Wood).

KEYWORDS: INTER PARTES REVIEW; COLLATERAL ESTOPPEL; CLAIM CONSTRUCTION; LEXICOGRAPHY