Published 01/15/2020 by CIONCA IP
On December 18, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit made decision in FOX Factory, Inc. v. SRAM, LLC. On April 2, 2018, FOX Factory, Inc. (“FOX”) filed a petition for inter partes review with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) of a patent belonging to SRAM, LLC. The patent belonging to SRAM, LLC. is U.S. Patent No. 9,182,027 (“the ‘027 patent”), and generally covers an improved chainring structure that better maintains the chain, obviating the need for extraneous structures that improve chain retention. The independent claims of the ‘027 patent recite a chainring with alternating narrow and wide tooth tips and teeth offset (“outboard offsets”). FOX posited that claims 1-26 of the ‘027 patent were obvious in view of Japanese Utility Model No. S5642489 (“JP-Shimano”) in combination with U.S. Patent No. 5,285,701 (“Parachinni”). Upon review, the Board determined that JP-Shimano and Parachinni together disclose every limitation of the outboard offset independent claims and that a skilled artisan would have been motivated to combine the references. However, the Board determined that FOX had not shown that the challenged claims would have been obvious, based on the analysis of secondary considerations evidence pertaining to SRAM’s X-Sync products.
The Board determined that SRAM was entitled to a presumption of nexus between the challenged outboard offset claims and the secondary considerations evidence. The Board reasoned that SRAM’s secondary considerations evidence pertaining to a specific X-Sync product is only coextensive with the claims broadly covering that particular product. FOX argued that SRAM’s products are not coextensive with the claims because the products include numerous unclaimed features, and that the X-Sync products also embody the claims of additional patents that cover a different invention than the claims of the ‘027 patent. Upon weighing the evidence, the Board determined that FOX could not rebut the nexus presumption, and that FOX had not shown that the challenged claims would have been obvious. FOX appealed the Board’s obviousness decision. The Federal Circuit vacates the obviousness decision and remands the Board to reevaluate the import of the evidence of secondary considerations with the burden of proving nexus placed on SRAM.
Naturally, the Federal Circuit performed an analysis of all the Board’s final determinations, as described below:
1. Presumption of Nexus. In the appeal before the Federal Circuit, FOX argues that the Board erred in its determination that SRAM was entitled to a presumption of nexus between the challenged claims and SRAM’s evidence of secondary considerations. In short, a nexus exists if the commercial success of a product is limited to the features of the claimed invention, therefore making the product coextensive with the claims at issue. FOX and SRAM dispute whether the X-Sync chainrings are coextensive with the independent claims. Although it is not required that the patentee proves perfect correspondence to meet the coextensiveness requirement, it is required that the patentee demonstrates the product is essentially the claimed invention. As such, no reasonable fact finder could conclude, under proper standard, that the X-Sync chainrings are coextensive with the patent claims. Because the X-Sync chainrings include critical unclaimed features (e.g., 80% gap filling), the patent claim is not coextensive with the product. The Federal Circuit concludes that because the independent claims do not include the critical features, it cannot say that the X-Sync chainrings are the invention claimed. Accordingly, the Federal Circuit holds that the Board erred in presuming nexus between the independent claims of the ‘027 patent and secondary considerations evidence pertaining to SRAM’s X-Sync chainrings.
The Federal Circuit finds SRAM’s counterarguments unpersuasive. According to SRAM, the coextensiveness requirement is met if the patent claim broadly covers the product that is the subject of the secondary considerations evidence. However, in this particular case, because there are features not claimed by the ‘027 patent that materially impact the functionality of the X-Sync products, nexus may not be presumed.
2. Remand. In response to FOX’s appeal, separate from the issue of nexus, SRAM briefly contends that substantial evidence does not support the Board’s conclusions that a skilled artisan would have been motivated to combine the prior art references. The Federal Circuit affirms the Board’s determination of motivation based on JP-Shimano and Parachinni and declarations submitted by FOX’s expert.
In its appeal, FOX also raises a SAS-based (decision made in SAS Institute v. Iancu) remand request, that is, that the Board review all grounds of unpatentability raised by FOX, rather than just two of the eight grounds the Board originally reviewed. SRAM argues that FOX waived its right to a remand pursuant to SAS because FOX did not raise its SAS objection before the Board. However, SAS issued after the Board’s final written decision, and the Federal Circuit does not require filing a request for reconsideration to preserve a SAS-based remand. FOX therefore did not waive its right to a remand, according to the Federal Circuit. Thus, the Federal Circuit remands the Board to consider all remaining non-instituted grounds of unpatentability.
For the reasons above, the Federal Circuit vacates the Board’s obviousness decision and remands the case to the Board and allows SRAM the opportunity to prove nexus between the challenged independent claims and the evidence of secondary considerations. More specifically, SRAM will bear the burden of proving that the evidence of secondary considerations is attributable to the claimed combination, as opposed to the unclaimed features. The Federal Circuit also affirms the Board’s determination that a skilled artisan would have been motivated to combine the references.
It is important to realize and understand the implications of the decision made in FOX Factory, Inc. v. SRAM, LLC. The Federal Circuit determined that the Board erred in its presumption of nexus between the challenged independent claims of the ‘027 patent and the X-Sync product. SRAM and the Board took the position that the coextensiveness requirement for a nexus to exist is met so long as the patent broadly covers the subject of the secondary considerations evidence. Such a position would suggest that the coextensiveness requirement rests entirely on minor variations in claim drafting. The Federal Circuit holds that resting the coextensiveness inquiry on nothing more than minor variations in patent claim language would turn the inquiry into one of form over substance. Thus, nexus can only be presumed where the evidence of secondary considerations is tied to a specific product that is the invention disclosed and claimed in a patent.
Full FOX Factory, Inc. v. SRAM, LLC decision can be read here: http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions-orders/18-2024.Opinion.12-18-2019.pdf
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed throughout this blog are the views and opinions of the individual author(s) and/or contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of our firm, CIONCA IP Law. P.C.
CIONCA IP - MC1/14/2023 2:21:06 PM
Broad specification or broad claims in a patent application?
CIONCA IP - EC12/23/2022 9:28:33 PM
Is Mariah Carey the “Queen of Christmas”?
CIONCA IP - MC10/7/2022 9:33:56 PM
Rejection of Invention or Rejection of Patent Claims?
CIONCA IP (MC)7/13/2022 5:27:56 PM
Who is the owner of the trademark? Priority and Senior User Disputes
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)5/6/2022 5:19:00 PM
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)4/29/2022 4:56:42 PM
An Apple from the Apple Tree
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)4/22/2022 4:44:26 PM
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)4/8/2022 4:51:08 PM
CIONCA IP TEAM (BS)4/1/2022 5:05:16 PM
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)3/25/2022 4:58:23 PM
Internet Protocol Addresses
CIONCA IP TEAM (BS)3/16/2022 5:00:54 PM
We TINK It Should Be Protected
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)3/4/2022 4:54:18 PM
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)2/25/2022 5:01:34 PM
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)2/18/2022 4:22:47 PM
Machine or Transformation
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)2/11/2022 4:52:28 PM
Air Force 1
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)1/14/2022 4:52:22 PM
Fees and more Fees?
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)12/17/2021 4:51:21 PM
Royalty or Lowborn
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)12/10/2021 5:06:54 PM
Short-Range Wireless Networks
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)12/3/2021 4:58:39 PM
TIGHT or TITE
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)11/19/2021 4:57:10 PM
TAG Your It!
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)11/12/2021 4:56:57 PM
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)11/5/2021 4:40:14 PM
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)10/29/2021 4:49:28 PM
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)10/22/2021 4:10:03 PM
Free Speech and Trademarks
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)10/15/2021 4:55:32 PM
DNA of Patents
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)10/8/2021 5:02:03 PM
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)10/1/2021 4:58:25 PM
Take a seat and read about seats
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)9/24/2021 5:15:50 PM
Let's take a ride on the Segway!
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)9/17/2021 4:57:53 PM
An Apple off the Apple Tree
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)9/10/2021 4:59:08 PM
VROOM VROOM VROOM
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)9/3/2021 4:56:24 PM
On Copyrights of Annotations.
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)8/27/2021 4:55:40 PM
Rejecting Trademark Contracts
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)8/20/2021 4:42:46 PM
It's a Bratz Girl, in a Barbie World (Pt. 2)
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)8/13/2021 4:57:49 PM
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)8/6/2021 4:39:04 PM
It's a Bratz Girl, in a Barbie World
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)7/31/2021 3:21:56 AM
Ice Cream, You Scream
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)7/23/2021 4:12:50 PM
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)7/16/2021 5:00:45 PM
Buy me a ring, darling
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)7/7/2021 2:52:33 PM
Offensiveness vs Free Speech in Trademark Law
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)6/25/2021 4:45:12 PM
Woof Woof - Trademark Law
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)6/18/2021 5:29:44 PM
Forum Selection 101
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)6/11/2021 4:23:58 PM
Willful v Innocent
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)5/17/2021 2:38:30 PM
Thryv, Inc. v. Click-To-Call Technologies, LP
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)4/23/2021 5:34:02 PM
Oracle Patent Problems
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)4/5/2021 5:38:23 PM
Blockchain and the Expanding US Patent Landscape
CIONCA IP TEAM (MC)3/24/2021 2:19:11 PM
Invention and Art Analogy
CIONCA IP TEAM (BR)1/19/2021 4:57:54 PM
QuikTrip West, Inc. v. Weigel Stores, Inc.
CIONCA IP TEAM (AP)12/7/2020 4:06:28 PM
St Jude Medical LLC v Snyders Heart Valve LLC
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)12/1/2020 5:07:58 PM
Allen v. Cooper, Governor of North Carolina
CIONCA IP TEAM (JM)10/8/2020 2:57:24 PM
Royal Crown Company Inc., Dr. Pepper/Seven Up Inc., v The Coca-Cola Company
CIONCA IP TEAM (SG)10/6/2020 2:42:35 PM
Apple, Inc., v. Voip-Pal.com, Inc.: Sanction Orders and Obviousness
CIONCA IP Team (SE)9/16/2020 4:21:45 PM
CIONCA IP Launches New Online Patent Website
CIONCA IP Team9/15/2020 5:11:49 PM
Comparing Apples to Apples: TTAB on In re Horizon Group USA, Inc.
CIONCA IP Team9/3/2020 4:30:41 PM
D2 Holdings v. House of Cards
CIONCA IP Team8/31/2020 12:09:17 PM
Blackbird Tech LLC, DBA Blackbird Technologies, v. Fitbit, Inc., Wahoo Fitness LLC: Obviousness
CIONCA IP Team8/11/2020 11:56:24 AM
Adidas AG v. Nike INC.
CIONCA IP Team7/20/2020 7:40:21 PM
Fitbit Inc. v. Valencell Inc.: Joint Parties in IPR Proceeding
CIONCA IP Team7/14/2020 7:51:31 PM
CIONCA IP Launches New Online Trademark Website
CIONCA IP 5/19/2020 7:36:30 PM
Uber Technologies, Inc. v. X One, Inc.: “Obvious to Try” Rationale
Marin Cionca4/15/2020 4:41:43 PM
The Day After COVID-19 Pandemic – Hope or Fear?
CIONCA IP4/13/2020 9:33:36 PM
Two of a Kind: TTAB on Shannon DeVivo v. Celeste Ortiz
CIONCA IP3/16/2020 8:43:10 PM
GS CleanTech Corporation v. Adkins Energy, LLC: Inequitable Conduct
CIONCA IP3/10/2020 7:45:30 PM
Koninklijke Philips N.V. v. Google LLC, Microsoft Corporation, Microsoft Mobile Inc.
Marin Cionca2/9/2020 7:46:10 PM
Analogous Prior Art or Not? A critical patent obviousness question
CIONCA IP 1/15/2020 4:47:19 PM
FOX Factory, Inc. v. SRAM, LLC: Presumption of Nexus
CIONCA IP 1/9/2020 4:43:58 PM
The Bigger Picture: TTAB’s Decision in In re James Haden, M.D., P.A.
CIONCA IP 12/31/2019 4:29:41 PM
The Chamberlain Group, INC. v. One World Technologies, INC.
Marin Cionca12/9/2019 8:07:20 PM
A “glove” approach to patent claim construction
11/15/2019 8:15:11 PM
Liqwd, Inc. v. L’Oreal USA, Inc.: Objective Indicia and Copying
CIONCA IP10/16/2019 1:28:13 PM
To Use or Not to Use: The Statutory Period of Trademark Nonuse Prior to Presumed Abandonment
CIONCA IP10/7/2019 5:44:50 PM
A Decision in Henny Penny Corporation v. Frymaster LLC
Marin Cionca9/27/2019 9:32:48 PM
Can an Online Patent Attorney File My Patent?
CIONCA Team Member9/4/2019 7:20:46 PM
Guangdong Alison Hi-Tech Co. v. International Trade Commission: Objective Boundaries
CIONCA Team Member8/19/2019 7:46:17 PM
In re Yarnell Ice Cream, LLC: Trademark Descriptiveness and Acquired Distinction
CIONCA Team Member8/5/2019 2:29:33 PM
Is Speculation Enough Evidence for an Appeal?: General Electric Company v. United Technologies Corporation
CIONCA Team Member7/5/2019 2:22:42 PM
In re: Global IP Holdings LLC: Broadening Claims Through Reissue Applications
CIONCA Team Member6/27/2019 7:41:52 PM
Obviousness in a Single Prior Art Instance: Game and Technology Co., LTD., v. Activision Blizzard INC., Riot Games, INC.
Marin Cionca6/11/2019 8:43:17 PM
Can I Successfully License My Invention?
CIONCA Team Member5/20/2019 8:25:57 PM
PTAB Designates Cases as Precedential
CIONCA Team Member5/7/2019 7:13:41 PM
The Federal Circuit Defines a Technological Invention
Marin Cionca4/17/2019 3:48:33 PM
What Qualifies as Proper Use in Commerce Claim in a USPTO Trademark Application?
CIONCA Team Member4/3/2019 7:25:37 PM
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Designates Three Decisions Precedential
CIONCA Team Member3/21/2019 3:49:43 PM
Defining Inherency: A Decision in Personal Web Technologies, LLC v. Apple, Inc.
Marin Cionca3/1/2019 9:36:50 PM
USPTO Director Andrei Iancu Visits Orange County!
CIONCA Team Member2/19/2019 7:12:46 PM
Revised Guidance by USPTO on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility and Examining Computer-Implemented Functional Claims
CIONCA Team Member2/5/2019 7:22:27 PM
TiVo Puts Tivoli on Pause: TTAB’s Decision in TiVo Brands LLC v. Tivoli, LLC
Marin Cionca1/23/2019 9:45:30 PM
Patent Law Alert: All Sales of the Invention, Including Secret Sales May Invalidate a Patent
CIONCA Team Member1/4/2019 4:12:21 PM
In re: Tropp: New Matter in a Continuation Can Be Relevant to Written Description Requirement
CIONCA Team Member12/18/2018 6:12:48 PM
Schlafly v. The Saint Louis Brewery: The Registration of Merely a Surname
Marin Cionca12/8/2018 8:35:06 PM
IP Assets - Procurement, Enforcement, Monetization
CIONCA Team Member11/19/2018 1:07:51 PM
The Appeals Process
CIONCA Team Member10/16/2018 6:50:31 PM
A Double-Edged Sword: Benefit of Priority or Longer Patent Term
Marin Cionca10/1/2018 7:42:12 PM
Can I Register a Color as a Trademark or Service Mark?
CIONCA Team Member9/17/2018 4:33:20 PM
Trademarks and Likelihood of Confusion: Federal Circuit’s Decision in In re: Detroit Athletic Co.
Staff8/31/2018 7:26:58 PM
Patent Claim Interpretation By Federal Circuit's on Facebook's Contiguous Image Layout
Staff8/16/2018 4:24:01 PM
Correcting or Changing a Patent After Issue Through the Central Reexamination Unit
Marin Cionca7/31/2018 6:50:05 PM
My patent expired? Can I still sue for patent infringement?
7/3/2018 7:44:33 PM
Impax Laboratories Inc. v Lannett Holdings Inc. on Claim Invalidation
CIONCA IP5/17/2018 9:54:58 PM
Marin Cionca Presents at OCIPLA May 2018 Luncheon
5/4/2018 7:37:51 PM
The Hague System for Protection of International Designs
CIONCA Staff4/20/2018 5:25:25 PM
USPTO Changes Examination Procedure Pertaining to Subject Matter Eligibility in View of Berkheimer v. HP, Inc.
CIONCA Staff4/13/2018 9:10:04 PM
It Take Two to Tango: Knowles v. Iancu, a Standing Dispute in a PTAB Decision
3/20/2018 12:50:05 PM
Andrei Iancu - New Director of the USPTO
3/8/2018 1:25:46 PM
Proceed with Caution: Consider Carefully when Narrowing Claims for Allowance
CIONCA Team2/16/2018 4:07:48 PM
Fashion and Intellectual Property
CIONCA Team1/17/2018 8:12:06 PM
A Fork in the Road: Production or Protection?
1/2/2018 7:47:09 PM
The Lanham Act: Disparagement Provision Violates the First Amendment
12/26/2017 6:04:25 PM
CIONCA Sets Foot in San Francisco
12/1/2017 8:01:27 PM
An Introduction to Patent Cooperation Treaty Applications
11/17/2017 1:24:20 PM
An Introduction to Patent Searches
11/10/2017 6:47:44 PM
An Introduction to Design Patent Applications
Staff11/3/2017 4:20:04 PM
An Introduction to Provisional Patent Applications
Staff9/28/2017 7:27:22 PM
staff9/27/2017 5:12:07 PM
CIONCA - Patent and Trademark Law Attorney
staff9/27/2017 5:00:12 PM
Claim Indefiniteness During Patent Pre-Issuance: Define Your Invention, Not Just Your Audience
staff9/15/2017 9:33:30 PM
CIONCA Staff8/20/2017 3:16:11 PM
CIONCA on Patents: Think Twice Before Suing for Patent Infringement and Fight Back when Unreasonably Sued
CIONCA - Staff8/9/2017 5:39:58 PM
Patent Case Study: The Novelty Of An “Invention” Is NOT Enough To Make It Patentable
CIONCA - Staff6/28/2017 8:26:07 PM
Patent Law: Conditions Precedent May Expose Method Claim to Broad Interpretation During Prosecution
CIONCA - Staff6/15/2017 5:32:14 PM
Patent Law: Challenging the Patent Claim Definiteness Requirement
Marin Cionca4/25/2017 9:48:49 PM
Monetization of Patents: How to Make Money with Patents
Marin Cionca2/21/2017 12:30:52 AM
Software Patent Law Update: Federal Circuit Finds Graphical User Interface Patentable
Marin Cionca9/15/2016 9:47:39 PM
Patent Law Alert: Federal Circuit Opens Door for More Software Patents
Marin Cionca9/6/2016 9:26:12 PM
Patent Case Law: New Example of Software as Patentable Subject Matter
Iris Kim, PhD6/1/2016 7:04:50 PM
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board Designates Five More Decisions as Precedential
Marin Cionca5/17/2016 8:57:23 PM
Patent Claims Rejection Based on Inherency
Iris Kim, PhD3/25/2016 8:34:14 PM
Challenging a Claim’s Validity with Different Standards of Claim Construction
I. Kim PhD2/26/2016 8:47:51 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court Will Review Claim Construction Standards and Institution Decision Reviewability.
Marin Cionca2/16/2016 6:34:53 PM
In IPRs, patentees have to show that substitute patent claims are patentable
M. Cionca and I. Kim2/4/2016 5:55:16 PM
Software Inventions Are Still Patentable!
Marin1/28/2016 9:15:16 PM
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board Designates Two Decisions as Precedential
Marin1/28/2016 9:10:56 PM
How Unpredictability Can Affect Obviousness Challenges
Marin11/19/2015 2:13:05 PM
An Innovator’s Dilemma: Design or Utility Patent?
Marin11/18/2015 7:31:35 PM
When Is a Thesis Prior Art?
Marin11/18/2015 6:15:40 PM
Covered Business Method Claims Are Not Required to Particularly Target Financial Industry
Marin11/18/2015 6:11:11 PM
PTAB Decisions Give Examples of Patent Eligible Subject Matter
Marin Cionca, Esq.
Registered Patent Attorney
USPTO Reg. No. 63899
About CIONCA® IP Law firm: We are an Orange County, CA based boutique intellectual property firm with a focus on patent and trademark application, prosecution, opinion, licensing and IP enforcement services, offering its IP services primarily at flat fee rates. We serve local OC clients, as well as clients throughout US and international clients.
We’d love to hear from you…we just need a little info
about your plans to take over the world!
P.S…Feel free to call us! (800)985-9198
Thank you for your message. We will respond within 24-72 hours. Thank you.