Federal Circuit Rules for Substance Over Form

– National Law Journal

A decision that has perhaps not yet received the recognition it deserves is the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit's June en banc decision Williamson v. At Home Bondholder.

It deals with a fairly arcane bit of patent law—"means plus function" claim drafting. As the terms suggests, it describes one mode of drafting a patent "claim" (such as the numbered paragraphs at the end of a utility patent that describe the "invention" protected by the patent. A "means plus function" claim typically reads as follows: "a means to" or "means for" followed by a description of the function achieved.

This format has long been used by patent drafters. The drawback, however, is that once a patent claim is considered to be in that format, Section 112, paragraph 6 of the Patent Act and its requirements for what must also be spelled out in the patent in order for that claim to be valid kick in.

Read the article here



pursuant to New York DR 2-101(f)

© 2024 Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP.

All rights reserved