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

Broadest Reasonable Interpretation Encompasses Non-Standard, But Not Excluded, Approach

Steuben Foods, Inc. v. Nestle USA, Inc., 2018 WL 1277407 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 13, 2018) (Dyk, Reyna, HUGHES) (PTAB) (2 of 5 stars)

Fed Cir affirms IPR obviousness determination. The opinion rejects Steuben Foods’ argument that the PTAB erred in claim interpretation. Steuben Foods argued that the term “sterilant concentration levels” had to mean levels of sterilant within the air of the sterilization tunnel—not the levels of sterilant in “a random droplet on a container” somewhere within the tunnel. The opinion finds no reason why the broadest interpretation of sterilization “at any point within the sterilization tunnel” should mean only the gaseous environment and not condensed droplets on containers. The opinion also rejects Steuben Foods’ argument that the prior art failed to teach certain numerical levels of sterilant required by the claims. The opinion discusses the levels of sterilant concentration described in the prior art and finds them sufficient to support the PTAB’s approach.

KEYWORDS: INTER PARTES REVIEW; BROADEST REASONABLE INTERPRETATION; OBVIOUSNESS (YES)