In a non-precedential show of its power, the CAFC reversed de novo in another case involving a JMOL motion reviewed under Ninth Circuit law. In today’s ruling in Heuft v. IDC, the panel finds a prosecution disclaimer in a parent patent, applies that to claims later issued from a divisional, then rules in toto on infringement, even the 112P6 issue that was not in the record. What need is there for district courts?
Maybe its just happenstance that the Heuft decision follows reversals of JMOL rulings by the CAFC applying the Pavao v. Pagay (9th Cir.) precedent. Prior reversals include the CAFC decisions in CollegeNet, Wechsler and Callicrate (the castration tools case). What none of these rulings illuminate is what cases will be decided, fully and finally, on appeal, and what cases the CAFC will decide in part with other issues remanded for further consideration. When the record is complete, and a correct claims interpretation made in the district court or CAFC, then the case should be decided in toto. That’s perhaps why the leading case on this point is captioned SeaChange. In Heuft, the lower court trial never considered 112P6 equivalents, but the CAFC went the extra kilometer, and ruled that the accused apparatus never could be “structurally equivalent” to the claims as construed (that is, as narrowed on appeal by prosecution disclaimer of the parent claims).
Guess that the function, way, result inquiries were unworthy of further consideration. Finding prosection disclaimer, then extending it to related patents, deciding issues not presented to the jury, and reversing on the law and facts in a patent case by applying a regional circuit case that affirmed a JMOL ruling in a civil rights case, alogether strikes this observer as strongarming results.