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United States Supreme Court Remands Patent Case For Review As To Whether Terms In The Patent Are Sufficiently Define Under The Patent Act

 The United States Supreme Court, on June 2, 2014, handed down the opinion in the case of Nautilus Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc, 13-369. Biosig Instruments, Inc. (Biosig) held a patent for a heart rate monitor and filed a patent infringement action against Nautilus, Inc. (Nautilus) that claimed that Nautilus used the heart rate monitor in its exercise machines.

The case was initially filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and the District Court granted summary judgment in favor of Nautilus after determining that a key term in the patent, “spaced relationship,” as construed, was indefinite under the Patent Act, specifically 35 USCS § 112.

In Biosig Instruments, Inc. v. Nautilus, Inc., 715 F.3d 891 (Fed. Cir. 2013), the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit disagreed and determined that the patent and the key term in question survived indefiniteness review. The Circuit Court remanded the case and Nautilus ultimately filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari.

Twenty-six total briefs were filed in the case.

In its opinion, the Supreme Court noted that “it cannot be sufficient that a court can ascribe some meaning to a patent’s claims; the definiteness inquiry trains on the understanding of a skilled artisan at the time of the patent application, not that of a court viewing matters post hoc.” (p. 12). The Supreme Court remanded the action back to the Circuit Court for reconsideration as to whether the claims are sufficiently definite under the Patent Act.

For further review of the District Court’s original opinion, see 2009 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 447965.

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