Structures well known as of the filing date need not be expressly described for purpose of priority

The Federal Circuit vacates the Board's conclusion in an interference proceeding that certain claims were means-plus-function claims and that certain claims were not entitled to claim priority to earlier-filed applications. The patent application relates to a self-powered switch for use to, e.g., turn on and off lights, and the claims in question relate to a "receiver" and means for receiving a signal, such as "signal reception means."--more-->

EnOcean GMBH v. Face Int'l Corp., __ F.3d __ (Fed. Cir. Jan. 31, 2014) (Rader, Lourie, PROST) (BPAI) (3 of 5 stars)

Means-Plus-Function Claims: Rejecting the Board's conclusion, the Federal Circuit held that the "receiver" claims did not invoke 112, 6 because the term "receiver" conveys sufficient definite structure to a person of ordinary skill in the art. Notably, the Board's own factual finding, extensive evidence in the record, and precedent supported this conclusion.

Priority: The Federal Circuit held that the means plus function claims, e.g., "signal receiving means," were entitled to claim the benefit of earlier-filed applications' priority dates because they provided sufficient disclosure of a structure to support the claims. The priority applications recited "a single receiver," thus allowing a skilled artisan to understand the bounds of the invention because the inventors did not invent the receiver and “the structure was well known as of the filing date.” Slip op. at 11. The Board applied the wrong standard by requiring that the priority applications "expressly describe the structure of the receiver." Id.