Tuesday, July 28, 2015

CAFC addresses analogous art in Circuit Check v. QXQ

In Circuit Check v. QXQ, the jury had found the claims of the patent
of Circuit Check not invalid as obvious, the district court judge granted judgment as a matter of law
that the claims were obvious and invalid, and the CAFC reversed the district court's judgment as a matter of
law. Thus, not obvious, obvious, not obvious.

The END of the Circuit Check opinion states:

Whatever doubts we have about these patents, the ju-
ry verdict was supported by substantial evidence.
We therefore reverse the district court’s grant of judgment as
a matter of law and remand for further proceedings
consistent with this opinion

The big issue in the case was whether certain prior art was analogous:

At trial, QXQ argued that three additional refer-
ences—rock carvings, engraved signage, and a machining
technique known as Prussian Blue (collectively, the
“disputed prior art”)—disclose the limitation
not present in the stipulated prior art and constitute analogous prior
art. Circuit Check argued that
the references were not

The CAFC spoke of the analysis by the district court:

[The district court] found that although there was no
doubt that rock carvings “are not technically pertinent to
the ‘field’ of circuit testers,” and “witnesses credibly
testified that Prussian Blue dye had not been used on
alignment plates,” “any layman ” would have understood
that interface plates could be marked using the tech-
niques described in the disputed prior art (...)
It further noted that “any vandal who has ‘keyed’ a car
knows that stripping the paint with a key will result in
the underlying metal color showing through.”

As to the issue of "analogous art," the CAFC stated:

By finding the claims nonobvious, the jury presuma-
bly found that the disputed prior art is not analogous
and therefore not within the scope of the prior art.
See Jurgens, 927 F.2d at 1557. Substantial evidence supports
the jury’s presumed finding. To be considered within the
prior art for purposes of the obviousness analysis, a
reference must be analogous. Wang Labs., Inc. v. Toshiba
Corp., 993 F.2d 858, 864 (Fed. Cir. 1993). Whether a
reference is analogous art is a question of fact.
Wyers v. Master Lock Co., 616 F.3d 1231, 1237 (Fed. Cir. 2010).
Prior art is analogous if it is from the same field of en-
deavor or if it is reasonably pertinent to the particular
problem the inventor is trying to solve. Id.

The CAFC also stated:

The jury heard testimony that a
person of ordinary skill in the
art would not have thought
about rock carvings, engraved
signage, or Prussian Blue
in considering how to mark
interface plates.


The question is not whether simple concepts
such a s rock carvings, engraved signage, or Prussian Blue
dye are within the knowledge of lay people or even within
the knowledge of a person of ordinary skill in the art.
Rather, the question is whether an inventor
would look to this
particular art to solve
the particular
problem at hand.


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