CCS Technology, Inc. v. Panduit Corp.
Docket No. 2018-1733, -1734 (IPR2016-01647, -01648)
TARANTO, MAYER, CHEN
July 19, 2019
Brief Summary: Board’s IPR claim construction (broadest reasonable construction) and findings of invalidity for anticipation and obviousness affirmed.
Summary: CCS appealed Board IPR decision for certain claims of US 6,869,227 and 6,758,600 (identical specifications) related to systems for managing bi-directional fiber optic communications (“universal breakout harness”) invalid for anticipation or obviousness. Each of the challenged claims include the terms “optical ribbon” and “optical fiber ribbon”, which the Board construed under the broadest reasonable construction (BRC; Cuozzo, US 2016; Teva, US 2015) to “encompass optical fibers that are bonded together in a generally planar array or optical fibers that are grouped and aligned in a generally planar array” (In re Varma, FC 2016 (“the same limitation in different claims of the same patent should carry the same construed meaning…overcome only if it is clear that the same limitation has different meanings in different claims”)). CCS argued that the Board erred in concluding that the fibers “are not necessarily bound together”, which would avoid the prior art, based on the specification statement that “[a]n optical ribbon includes a group of optical fibers that are coated with a ribbon common layer.” The FC panel, “[u]pon reading the entire patent”, disagreed since “[t]he claims do not recite a ribbon common layer coating”, “other references in the specification indicate that the fibers…do not need to be bound together”, and CCS’s definition “would improperly exclude the disclosed embodiment of Figure 2” which is “rarely, if ever, correct” (Accent Pkg., FC 2013; Phillips, FC 2005) (e.g., “‘includes’ is best understood as introducing an illustrative example, in the context of this patent”). The FC panel also disagreed with CCS’s argument “that the Board’s construction…eliminates two supposed ‘key advantages of the invention’” as CCS did not provide “any compelling reason why the claims are limited to embodiments with this optional feature”, and CCS’s reliance on technical dictionaries. Based on this construction, the FC panel also found the Board’s anticipation and obviousness conclusions to be supported by substantial evidence.