Monday, December 14, 2009

Interpreting claim terms

One recalls the words of the CAFC in Chef America v. Lamb-Weston: "a nonsensical result does not require the court to redraft the claims of the patent."

In ULTIMAX, the CAFC noted of anhydrous calcium sulfate, written in the patent app as
“soluble calcium sulfate anhydride”:

contrary to the district court’s conclusion, interpreting the claim term
to mean “soluble anhydrous calcium sulfate” is not rewriting the claim or correcting a
typographical error. The drafters could not have intended to claim “soluble calcium
sulfate anhydrite,” as that would have been redundant because the word “anhydrite”
itself means “anhydrous calcium sulfate.” See, e.g., Webster’s Third New International
Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged (1986) (defining “anhydrite” as “a
mineral consisting of an anhydrous calcium sulfate CaSO4 . . .”). Instead, the term
“soluble calcium sulfate anhydride” simply means, in the context of the ’556 patent, the
same thing as “soluble anhydrous calcium sulfate.” The neutral expert, Dr. Seible,
agreed that the context of the specification led to the conclusion that the patent drafter
likely meant “anhydrite and not anhydride,” referring to the entire claim term. Id. at *41–
42. As Ultimax points out, CTS and Rice himself, a person of at least ordinary skill in
the art, use the word “anhydride” when they mean “anhydrite,” with no resulting
confusion. Ultimax Br. at 13–14. Thus, interpreting the claim in that way merely
restates its plain meaning.



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