• May 22 2019
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  • Category: CAFC Updates

Sony owns U.S. Patent No. 6,097,676 relating to an information recording medium that can store audio data having multiple channels and a reproducing device that can select which channel to play based on a default code or value stored in nonvolatile memory. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board instituted an IPR and found claims 5 and 8 of the ’676 patent un-patentable as obvious. Sony appealed. The CAFC concludes that the “reproducing means” (a means-plus-function limitation, invoking 35 U.S.C. § 112 ¶ 6) is appropriately construed as computer-implemented, and that the corresponding structure is a synthesizer and controller that performs the algorithm disclosed in the specification. Because the Board did not reach the question of whether the prior art, which is computer-implemented, disclosed the algorithm of the ’676 patent or the equivalent, the CAFCvacates the Board’s decision and remands for further consideration. Judge Newman dissents, because the patent has expired and thus in her view both the decision on this appeal and the remand for further PTAB proceedings are devoid of substance and consequence and appear to be advisory.

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