Intel will face more legal proceedings after the Federal Circuit ruled that a lower court erred in its analysis of the scope of claims in a patent infringement suit.
In a decision on Friday, February 8, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said the US District Court for the District of Arizona had misinterpreted claims in patents owned by Arizona-based company Continental Circuits and vacated its judgment that Intel did not infringe the patents.
In 2017, Continental accused Intel of infringing four of its patents (US numbers 7,501,582; 8,278,560; 8,581,105; and 9,374,912) which are directed to making multilayer electrical devices, such as circuit boards.
The inventions covered by the patents create a “unique surface structure ... comprised of teeth” that are “angled or hooked like fangs or canine teeth to enable one layer to mechanically grip a second layer”.
In its decision, the Federal Circuit said the district court erred in its decision because it “narrowed the scope of the claims” covered by the patents, to require a process called “desmearing” to form the teeth structures.
The patents also described how to make the claimed invention using an electric insulator, called Probelec XB 7081.
The Federal Circuit agreed with Continental’s argument that although its patents mention a “double desmear process”, the patent does not limit the claimed electrical device to require a repeated desmear process.
It cited its 2002 ruling in Teleflex Inc v Ficosa N Am Corp, that “even when the specification describes only a single embodiment, the claims of the patent will not be read restrictively unless the patentee has demonstrated a clear intention to limit the scope of the claim”.
The Federal Circuit added that “phrases such as ‘one technique’, ‘can be carried out’ and ‘a way’” which are used in the patents, indicate that using Probelec XB 7081 is only “one method for making the invention” and does not limit the scope of the claims.
The case will now be sent back down to the US District Court in Arizona for further proceedings.