Monday, April 24, 2017

PTAB IPR decision in Synopsys v. ATopTech reversed by CAFC

The decision of PTAB was reversed in the Synopsys case; Synopsys wins :

The present appeal arises from an inter partes review
(“IPR”) involving ATopTech, Inc. (“ATopTech”) and Synopsys,
Inc. (“Synopsys”). ATopTech petitioned for IPR of
independent claims 1 and 32 of Synopsys’ U.S. Patent No.
6,567,967 (the “’967 patent”). The Patent Trial and Appeal
Board (the “Board”) instituted IPR and held that
claim 1 would have been obvious in light of the combination
of Carol A. Fields, Creating Hierarchy in HDL-Based
High Density FGPA [sic] Design, Euro-DAC ’95, 594–99
(Sep. 18–22, 1995) (“Fields”) and Hsiao-Pin Su, et al.,
Performance-Driven Soft-Macro Clustering and Placement
by Preserving HDL Design Hierarchy, Proceedings, 1998
International Symposium on Physical Design: ISPD-98,
12–17 (April 8, 1998) (“Su”).1 The Board also found that
Su anticipated claim 32. Synopsys appeals to our court.
Because the Board’s decision is not supported by substantial
evidence, we reverse.

As to the Su reference:

The cited disclosures from Su do not provide substantial
evidence to support the Board’s determination that Su
teaches or suggests elimination of a level of hierarchy
above the atomic blocks.

An inconsistency between PTAB and the appellee ATopTech was noted:

Every reference in Su to improved
performance attributes that improved performance
to its placement of soft blocks. We fail to see how a disclosure
which repeatedly touts the value of optimizing the
placement of soft blocks expressly discloses the claimed
“optimal placement” of hard blocks.

ATopTech argues that because Su teaches a “performance-driven”
method, the commercial floorplanner used
to place hard blocks must place those blocks in their
optimal location. This argument is inconsistent with the
Board’s findings. The Board found that although Su
expressly anticipated claim 32, it did not inherently
anticipate the claim. J.A. 27 n.2. This distinction is fatal
to ATopTech’s argument.
A reference inherently anticipates
a limitation only when it “must necessarily include
the unstated limitation.” King Pharm., Inc. v. Eon Labs,
Inc., 616 F.3d 1267, 1274 (Fed. Cir. 2010) (emphasis in


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