Wednesday, September 20, 2017

CAFC discusses inurement in NFC case

The CAFC noted in NFC v. Matal, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 18164

We note that the foregoing analysis assumes that conception is relevant under the present circumstances. Our cases that the Board read as establishing that proof of conception is relevant to inurement involved third-party recognition during testing that the invention would work for its intended purpose. See Cooper II, 240 F.3d at 1380-86; Genentech, 220 F.3d 1352-54; Cooper I, 154 F.3d at 1331-33. Here, there is no evidence that CE did anything other than fabricate the prototype. Although NFC appears to recognize this distinction, see NFC Br. 40-42, NFC only uses it to argue that interference law should not be applied to this case. As NFC has not challenged whether and to what extent conception must be shown to establish inurement under interference law in the present circumstances, we leave that question for another day.

The determination that fabrication of the prototype inures to Charrat's benefit does not resolve this case. As explained previously, the Board assumed, but did not decide, that the prototype embodied the claimed invention. That issue must be decided in order to determine whether Sears can be antedated. Thus, we remand the case for that determination in the first instance. Fortunately, whether the prototype embodied the claimed invention was a disputed issue between HTC and NFC during the initial IPR. See J.A. 455-66. Accordingly, the Board may decide the case on the briefing previously submitted.


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