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Supreme Court Directs Federal Circuit to Defer to Trial Courts on Claim Interpretation

Jim Ruttler, Patent Attorney

Posted Sunday, January 25, 2015 by Jim Ruttler

The Supreme Court has overruled a previous practice of the Federal Circuit interpreting claim language de novo – or anew – on appeal. If a trial court decided the meaning of a particular claim term, the Federal Circuit would previously create its own meaning of the particular claim term with no deference to the trial court’s interpretation. Obviously, this created a significant amount of uncertainty for litigants because the claim language could be reinterpreted on appeal. The Supreme Court ended this practice this week by requiring that the Federal Circuit defer to the trial court on factual issues involved in claim interpretation. The full decision is: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/13-854_o7jp.pdf.

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