Thursday, October 19, 2017

Plaintff LUFTHANSA TECHNIK AG loses at CAFC on indefiniteness issue

Proceduraly, the district court was affirmed on an alternative ground:

Lufthansa Technik AG appeals from the district
court’s grant of summary judgment of invalidity with
respect to all claims of U.S. Patent 6,016,016. Because we
conclude that the claim term “control means” is indefinite,
we affirm on that alternative ground.

Of note:

By contrast, reciting a generic term for an electronic
component is insufficient if an ordinary artisan would not
associate the claimed component with a specific, wellknown
structure. Ergo Licensing, 673 F.3d at 1365. In
Ergo Licensing, the patent claimed a “programmable
control means having data fields describing metering
properties of individual fluid flows.” Id. at 1363. The
patent disclosed a “control device” as the corresponding
structure, without any additional details about its design
or circuitry. Id. Importantly, the control device in Ergo
Licensing could have been one of “at least three different
types of control devices commonly available and used at
the time to control adjusting means.” Id. at 1364. We
held that “[t]he recitation of ‘control device’ provides no
more structure than the term ‘control means’ itself, rather
it merely replaces the word ‘means’ with the generic term
‘device.’” Id. at 1363–64. Thus, an ordinary artisan
would not associate the “control device” with a specific
electronic component. Id.

Here, every claim of the ’016 patent requires a “control
means” that is responsive to plug detection and
renders the voltage supply means operative when two
contact pins are detected within a predetermined time value.


Thus, the ’016 patent does not call out a
specific, well-known component to perform the claimed
function. Instead, the “control means” refers to a nebulous
set of logic functions within a black box that also
performs other functions. Like in Ergo Licensing, the
specification “provides no more structure than the term
‘control means’ itself.” Ergo Licensing, 673 F.3d at 1363–

Footnote 2 is of interest:

Lufthansa’s shifting approach to claim construction
underscores how, without a specific corresponding
structure, the “control means” limitation becomes whatever
structure the patentee conveniently identifies during


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