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Packers Plus Energy Servs. v. Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations, LLC

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

June 10, 2019, Decided

2018-1490

Opinion

Linn, Circuit Judge.

 [*1084]  Packers Plus Energy Services Inc. ("Packers Plus") appeals the Patent Trial and Appeal Board's ("Board") final written decision, holding claims 1-29 of Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations, LLC's ("Baker Hughes") U.S. Patent Number 6,006,838 ("the '838 patent") not unpatentable as obvious in an inter partes review. See Packers Plus Energy Servs. Inc v. Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations, LLC, No. IPR2016-01099, 2017 Pat. App. LEXIS 13150, 2017 WL 6206291 (P.T.A.B. Nov. 29, 2017) ("Decision").

Because the Board did not err in construing the claim limitation "over the jetting passageways," and because substantial evidence supports the Board's conclusion that independent claims 1, 8, and 16 and the claims dependent therefrom are not unpatentable over the cited prior [**2]  art, we affirm that much of the Board's decision. Because the Board did not independently consider the patentability of independent claim 21 and the claims dependent therefrom, and because we are not persuaded by the alternative grounds for affirmance asserted by Packers Plus, we vacate and remand the Board's decision with respect to those claims.

Packers Plus first argues that the Board erred by construing the limitation "over the jetting passageways" to mean "covering the jetting passageways." Packers Plus contends that the Board erred in imposing a structural relationship between the shiftable sleeve and the jetting passageways when in the "closed" position, rather than the functional relationship of blocking fluid communication between the jetting passageways and the central passageway.

We see no error in the Board's construction. The plain meaning of "over" is to describe the structural arrangement of one object with respect to another, not the functional relationship thereof. Claim 1 does use functional language in describing the shiftable sleeve in its open position "whereby the jetting passageways are in communication with the central passageway of each housing." Claim 1, however, [**3]  does not use parallel language when describing the shiftable sleeve in its closed position, opting instead for the spatial language of "over the jetting passageways." Packers Plus proffers no reason why it would be appropriate to rewrite the claims to make the language used to recite the "closed" and "open" positions parallel.

Packers Plus argues that even if "over" specifies a physical position, it should be construed to mean "above." We disagree. Nothing in the specification shows or describes a shiftable sleeve above the jetting passageway but not also covering it. There is simply no support for Packers Plus's construction. As the Board recognized, the presence of a single dictionary definition of "over" as meaning "above" does not make that definition a reasonable reading of the limitation in light of the specification. See PPC Broadband, Inc. v. Corning Optical Commc'ns RF, LLC, 815 F.3d 734, 742-43 (Fed. Cir. 2016).

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773 Fed. Appx. 1083 *; 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 17234 **

PACKERS PLUS ENERGY SERVICES INC., Appellant v. BAKER HUGHES OILFIELD OPERATIONS, LLC, Appellee

Notice: THIS DECISION WAS ISSUED AS UNPUBLISHED OR NONPRECEDENTIAL AND MAY NOT BE CITED AS PRECEDENT. PLEASE REFER TO THE RULES OF THE FEDERAL CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR RULES GOVERNING CITATION TO UNPUBLISHED OR NONPRECEDENTIAL OPINIONS OR ORDERS.

Prior History:  [**1] Appeal from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Trial and Appeal Board in No. IPR2016-01099.

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

CORE TERMS

Packers, jetting, passageways, nozzles, sleeve, string, argues, tailpipe, alternative grounds, skill, ordinary person, teaches, substantial evidence, non-obviousness, shiftable, Patent, recite, steam

Patent Law, Jurisdiction & Review, Standards of Review, Infringement Actions, Claim Interpretation, Scope of Claim, Nonobviousness, Elements & Tests, Ordinary Skill Standard, Prior Art