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Intellectual Property Law

New Matter SUMMER 2019, Volume 44, Number 2

Federal Circuit Report

Rex Hwang
Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP

Shenel Ozisik
Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP

INTRODUCTION

In the Summer 2019 column, we will take a look at the Federal Circuit’s recent decision in PersonalWeb Technologies, LLC v. Apple, Inc.1In PersonalWeb, the Federal Circuit reversed the Patent Trial and Appeals Board’s (the "Board") cancellation of U.S. Patent No. 7,802,310 (the "’310 patent") based on inherent obviousness. Another in a rising number of reversals by the Federal Circuit of improper inherent obviousness findings, PersonalWeb illustrates a discrepancy between the Federal Circuit’s articulation of inherent obviousness on one hand, and the Board’s and district courts’ applications of the doctrine on the other hand. Although the Federal Circuit has cautioned that inherent obviousness is a narrow doctrine, lingering uncertainty about its precise scope has led to its persistent misuse.

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