Yesterday, the Federal Circuit issued a decision in Williamson v. Citrix that includes an en banc portion that broadens the circumstances in which claim limitations may be deemed means-plus-function limitations.  This appears to be an effort by the court to address concerns that some patent claims directed to computer-implemented or software inventions may be too

gavelIn an order issued yesterday by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (that just hit the docket this afternoon), Judge James L. Robart granted Microsoft’s long-pending motion for partial summary judgment and invalidated thirteen claims of three patents Motorola alleged as essential to the AVC/H.264 video coding standard.  Although this ruling stems from the infringement portion of the case, and the major issues between the parties involve the RAND breach of contract claims brought by Microsoft over Motorola’s entire 802.11 and H.264-essential patent portfolios, it’s possible that Judge Robart’s ruling could have some future effect on these RAND claims as well.
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Today, Mon., Apr. 9, 2012, in Noah Sys. v. Intuit, No. 2011-1390, the Federal Circuit (Rader, O’Malley and Reyna) ruled that a special purpose computer-implemented means-plus-function limitation was indefinite because the patent specification did not disclose algorithms to all claimed functions.  The Court ruled that expert testimony on the adequacy of the disclosure was

Today, Mon., Mar. 26, 2012, in Ergo Licensing v. Carefusion, No. 2011-1229, the Federal Circuit (Newman (dissenting), Linn and Moore) affirmed a district court’s ruling that claim limitations “control means” and “programmable control means” – that both parties stipulated were means-plus-function limitations – were indefinite because no corresponding structure was disclosed in the specification.  This case provides incremental insight into computer-based means limitations and litigating the gray area of how specific structural disclosure must be to satisfy §112 ¶ 6.
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