Judge Moore (Fed. Cir.) Notes Need to Clarify Claim Construction Principles
Check out this dissent from a denial of a petition for rehearing en banc in Retractable Technologies, Inc. v. Becton, Dickinson and Co. 659 F.3d 1369 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 31, 2011), in which Judge Moore stresses the need for more clarity in the claim construction area:
Claim construction is the single most important event in the course of a patent litigation. It defines the scope of the property right being enforced, and is often the difference between infringement and non-infringement, or validity and invalidity. Despite the crucial role that claim construction plays in patent litigation, our rules are still ill-defined and inconsistently applied, even by us. Commentators have observed that claim construction appeals are “panel dependent” which leads to frustrating and unpredictable results for both the litigants and the trial court. See, e.g., Fed. Cir. Split for 2nd Time In 2011 On Use of Patent Specification In Claim Construction, BNA Patent, Trademark & Copyright Law Daily (noting the “disagreement within the Federal Circuit on the extent to which judges may look to the patent specification to interpret claims continues”); Court Continues to Struggle with Claim Construction, Patently–O (2011), http:// www. patentlyo. com/ patent/ 2011/ 07/ court- continues- to- struggle- with- claim- construction. html (noting the “panel dependence” in claim construction); see also Wegner, H.C., Arlington Indus. v. Bridgeport Fittings: The 20 Year Claim Construction Debate, IP Frontline, http:// www. ipfrontline. com/ depts/ printable template. aspx? id= 24829 (“Until there is a final resolution of this debate there will never be clarity in claim construction at the Federal Circuit.”). Nowhere is the conflict more apparent then in our jurisprudence on the use of the specification in the interpretation of claim language. The familiar mantra is “there is a fine line between construing the claims in light of the specification and improperly importing a limitation from the specification into the claims.” Retractable Techs., Inc. v. Becton, Dickinson & Co., 653 F.3d 1296, 1305 (Fed.Cir.2011). This case is a good vehicle to address two important claim construction principles: the role of the specification in construing the claims and whether deference should be given to the district court in the claim construction process. Accordingly, I dissent from the denial of rehearing en banc.