Federal Circuit Affirms PTAB’s Holding of Obviousness in Google’s IPR Against Michael Meiresonne

| Benjamin Anger

The Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s final written decision holding that claims from Michael Meiresonne’s patent were obvious in Meiresonne v. Google, Inc., Case No. 16-1755 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 7, 2017).

In the final written decision of an IPR brought by Google, the Board found four claims of Meiresonne’s patent obvious in view the prior art. Meiresonne’s patent claimed an Internet search engine for identifying suppliers of goods or services. The challenged claims recited a website comprising (1) links to supplier websites, (2) written descriptions of website content, and (3) “a rollover window” that displays additional information when the user’s cursor is near a corresponding link.

Features 1 and 2 of the patent were disclosed in the Hill reference, which describes popular search engines of the 1990s. Feature 3 of the patent was taught by the Finseth reference. However, both Hill and Finseth described the limited usefulness of descriptive text in existing search engines. On appeal, Meiresonne argued that these statements taught away from combining text abstracts with a rollover viewing window. The Federal Circuit disagreed, finding “substantial evidence” to support the Board’s holding that the prior art did not teach away from the claimed combination of features. Although the references described the limited usefulness of text descriptions of the era, the references did not advocate wholesale abandonment of text descriptions. Instead, the references encouraged supplementing existing text descriptions with additional information, such as a rollover window.