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Not a Cowboy Claim Construction, University of Wyoming’s Patent Adequately Defined Claim Term

| Brok S. HumbertMark Kachner

CHEVRON U.S.A. INC. v. UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING RESEARCH

Before Newman, Lourie, and Schall. Appeal from Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

Summary: Intrinsic evidence is sufficient support for claim construction in an interference proceeding.

In an interference proceeding between the University of Wyoming and Chevron, the PTAB construed the claim terms “gradually and continuously” as used in a method claim for processing solvents. For its construction, the Board relied on Wyoming’s definition contained in its patent specification. On appeal, Chevron argued that the Board improperly relied on extrinsic expert testimony to construe the relevant terms. The Federal Circuit disagreed, finding that the Board correctly relied on the definition of “gradually” and “continuously” as explicitly contained in Wyoming’s own patent. Though the Board cited expert testimony in its decision, its final determination was consistent with the definition contained directly in Wyoming’s patent.

Judge Newman dissented, stating that institution of the interference proceeding was improper because Wyoming and Chevron’s patents did not claim the same invention.

Editor: Paul Stewart