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Cochlear Bone Anchored Sols. AB v. Oticon Med. AB

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

May 15, 2020, Decided

2019-1105, 2019-1106

Opinion

Taranto, Circuit Judge.

Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions AB owns U.S. Patent No. 7,043,040, which describes and claims a bone-anchored hearing aid that transmits soundwaves transcranially from a patient's deaf side to the patient's non-deaf ear. Oticon Medical AB, Oticon Medical LLC, and William Demant Holding A/S (together, Oticon) successfully sought from the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) two inter partes reviews of, collectively, all claims of the '040 patent under 35 U.S.C. §§ 311-319. In those reviews, the PTO's Patent Trial and Appeal Board concluded that Oticon proved claims [*2]  4-6 and 11-12 unpatentable, but did not prove claims 7-10 unpatentable. (Cochlear disclaimed claims 1-3 and 13.) Cochlear appeals the ruling on claims 4-6 and 11-12, while Oticon cross-appeals the ruling on claims 7-10. We affirm the Board's conclusions as to all claims except claim 10, as to which we vacate and remand.

The '040 patent describes a hearing aid with several parts. One part is a vibration-producing component implanted and mechanically anchored into a patient's skull on the patient's deaf side. '040 patent, col. 2, lines 16-22, 48-55. An external part of the hearing aid, which includes a microphone, picks up sound on the patient's deaf side, processes the sound, and generates vibrations in the implanted part. Id., col. 2, line 44, through col. 3, line 8. Those vibrations are transmitted through the patient's skull to the patient's non-deaf ear, so that the patient's non-deaf ear perceives sound originating from the deaf-ear side. Id.

Several additional details discussed in the specification are relevant to the issues before us. The '040 patent notes that high-frequency soundwaves, as they traverse the skull, weaken in strength more than do low-frequency soundwaves; that is, transcranial attenuation is [*3]  greater for treble than for bass frequencies. Id., col. 2, lines 56-62. The patent suggests that this differential attenuation may be addressed by selectively amplifying treble frequencies relative to bass frequencies. Id. In addition, the patent describes the following alternative embodiments of the hearing aid: one with a battery in the external part that powers the internal part through induction, another with a battery in the internal part that is recharged through induction. Id., col. 3, lines 11-24.

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2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 15566 *; 958 F.3d 1348; 2020 U.S.P.Q.2D (BNA) 10529

COCHLEAR BONE ANCHORED SOLUTIONS AB, Appellant v. OTICON MEDICAL AB, OTICON MEDICAL LLC, WILLIAM DEMANT HOLDING A/S, Cross-Appellants

Prior History:  [*1] Appeals from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Trial and Appeal Board in Nos. IPR2017-01018, IPR2017-01019.

OTICON MEDICAL AB; OTICON MEDICAL LLC; WILLIAM DEMANT HOLDING A/S,, 2018 Pat. App. LEXIS 9770 (P.T.A.B., Aug. 21, 2018)

Disposition: AFFIRMED IN PART, VACATED IN PART, AND REMANDED.

CORE TERMS

patient's, frequencies, invention, preamble, signal, induction, implanted, external, patent, vibrations, unpatentable, unilateral, ear, recites, treble, rehabilitation, bass, deaf, anticipates, amplifying, microphone, bone-anchored, adapted, means-plus-function, transcranial, apparatus, electromagnetic, corresponding, battery, digital

Patent Law, Infringement Actions, Claim Interpretation, Jurisdiction & Review, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Substantial Evidence, Nonobviousness, Evidence, Fact & Law Issues, Claims, Claim Parts, Preambles, Claim Interpretation, Means Plus Function Clauses, Scope of Claim, Claims & Specifications, Specifications, Definiteness