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Rivera v. International Trade Commission

Patentee May Not Rely on Background Knowledge for Written Description Support Absent Some Suggestion in the Specification

Rivera v. International Trade Commission, (Fed. Cir. May 23, 2017) (Reyna, LINN, Chen) (ITC: Essex, ALJ) (3 of 5 stars)

Fed Cir affirms determination of no Tariff Act violation due to invalidity for lack of written description. Mr. Rivera’s patent related to single-serve coffee brewing, and addressed compatibility between disk-shaped coffee “pods” and cup-shaped coffee “cartridges.” The ITC correctly determined that Mr. Rivera’s patent did not describe the full scope of his claim (specifically, it did not describe a “cartridge or pod adapter assembly” that was itself the “pod;” it described only how to adapt a cartridge so that a pod could be put into it). The opinion rejects Mr. Rivera’s citation to Honeywell, 609 F.3d 1292 (Fed. Cir. 2010). In Honeywell, disclosure of a CRT-type monitor provided written description support for other types of monitors; it did not address the situation here, where Mr. Rivera was relying on an “undisclosed configuration that eliminates a fundamental component [the ‘pod’].” Op. at 12. The opinion also rejects Mr. Rivera’s argument that background knowledge of one of skill in the art could supplement the written description to provide written description support. Per Lockwood, 107 F.3d 1565 (Fed. Cir. 1997), the knowledge of ordinary artisans can inform the specification, but not fill in limitations not disclosed therein, even if those limitations would be obvious. Falkner, 448 F.3d 1357 (Fed. Cir. 2006), and Boston Scientific, 647 F.3d 1353 (Fed. Cir. 2011), are not contradictory, as in those cases the specifications at least alluded to the relevant material as a potential configuration of the claims.

KEYWORDS: WRITTEN DESCRIPTION (NO); INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION