Thursday, October 12, 2017

Owens Corning wins at CAFC

Fast Felt Corporation owns U.S. Patent No. 8,137,757, which describes and claims methods for printing nail tabs or reinforcement strips on roofing or building cover material. Fast Felt sued Owens Corning for infringement, and Owens Corning then filed a petition with the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) seeking an inter partes review of claims 1, 2, 4, 6, and 7 under 35 U.S.C. §§ 311–19. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board, acting as the delegate of the PTO’s Director under 37 C.F.R. § 42.4(a), instituted a review of all of the challenged claims on grounds of obviousness. Institution of Inter Partes Review at 26, Owens Corning v. Fast Felt Corp., No. IPR2015-00650 (P.T.A.B. Aug. 13, 2015), Paper No. 9 (Institution Decision). After conducting the review, the Board concluded that Owens Corning had failed to show obviousness of any of the challenged claims. Final Written Decision, Owens Corning v. Fast Felt Corp., No. IPR2015-00650, 2016 WL 8999740, at *23 (P.T.A.B. Aug. 11, 2016) (Final Decision).

Owens Corning appeals from the Board’s decision. It contends that, once the key claim term is given its broadest reasonable interpretation, the record conclusively establishes obviousness. We agree, and we reverse the Board’s decision.


Owens Corning first argues that the Board, when evaluating obviousness in light of the prior art, at least implicitly adopted an erroneous claim construction. Specifically, it contends that the Board effectively treated the “roofing or building cover material” as limited to material that either has been or would be coated or saturated with asphalt or asphalt mix. And it contends that such a construction is legally incorrect under the broadest-reasonable-interpretation standard applicable in the IPR. We agree as to both parts of this contention


In this case, it is not necessary or appropriate to remand for the Board to reassess the evidence in light of the correct claim construction. On the evidence and arguments presented to the Board, there is only one possible evidence-supported finding: the Board’s rejection of Owens Corning’s challenge, when the correct construction is employed, is not supported by substantial evidence. See, e.g., Belden Inc. v. Berk-Tek LLC, 805 F.3d 1064, 1077, 1082 (Fed. Cir. 2015) (reversing rejection of IPR challenge). Moreover, in this court, after Owens Corning sought outright reversal on this ground in its opening brief, Fast Felt in its responsive brief did not ask for a remand if this court adopted a claim interpretation not limited by any requirement of asphalt coating or saturation.


Owens Corning’s petition did not restrict the claim scope based on coating or saturation; the Institution Decision did not adopt such a limiting construction, Institution Decision at 5; and when Fast Felt relied on a limitation based on asphalt coating or saturation in its Patent Owner’s Response, Owens Corning clearly asserted in its Reply that “Asphalt Saturated Substrates Cannot Be Used To Distinguish The Prior Art Because No Such Limitation Is Recited In The Claims,” J.A. 339. In these circumstances, where only one answer is supported by substantial evidence and there is neither a request nor an apparent reason to grant a second record-making opportunity, reversal is warranted.


Post a Comment

<< Home