Results for Intent
It is unresolved whether an incorrect claim of small entity status under 37 C.F.R. § 1.27(a) qualifies as information material to patentability. However, where there is no evidence that small entity status was deliberately falsely claimed, underpayment of the application fee can be remedied by payment of the deficiency, rather than eradication of the patent. If immaterial to the patentability of the application, litigation related to the application need not be disclosed.
Information that directly contradicts an applicant’s statements, even if not prior art, is most likely material and should not be excluded from submission to the Examiner for consideration. For a finding of intent, a court must provide detailed factual findings with respect to crucial facts. Joint infringement can only be found if there is sufficient evidence for a finding or inference of “control” or “direction.”
The Federal Circuit affirms an inequitable conduct holding based in part on a finding that an undisclosed reference was not cumulative of a cited foreign reference because of the inadequacy of the translation of the foreign reference submitted to the Office.
Failure to cite office actions articulating new rejections of a continuation application in the reexamination of the parent application is material and may lead to a finding of inequitable conduct.
With respect to inequitable conduct, a finding of gross negligence without more is not enough to infer intent to deceive. Inequitable conduct is a question of equity and not a question of law.
A patentee commits inequitable conduct by failing to cite material prior art discovered by one examiner in a co-pending case before a different examiner, by failing to cite a rejection of a “substantially similar” claim to a different examiner or by failing to cite an allowance of related claims by the same examiner in a continuation application.
Finding that particular conduct amounts to “gross negligence” does not justify inference of intent to deceive unless involved conduct, viewed in light of all evidence, including evidence indicative of good faith, indicates sufficient culpability to require finding of deceptive intent, and ultimate question of whether inequitable conduct occurred is equitable in nature and as such is reviewed by appellate court under abuse of discretion standard; final determination that inequitable conduct occurred in relation to one or more claims renders entire patent unenforceable.
Plaintiffs’ patents directed to compositions that claim pain control over four-fold dosage range in approximately 90 percent of patients are unenforceable for inequitable conduct during prosecution, since plaintiffs’ repeated assertion that inventors’ “surprisingly discovered” that pain could be relieved over this claimed reduced dosage range was deliberate decision to represent mere “expectation” or “insight” as precisely quantified “result” or “discovery.”
Inequitable conduct was found based upon the presentation of an example in the past tense when the example had never been performed as written. The court found that the misrepresentation was made with an intent to deceive and was material to patentability, despite the failure of the claims to recite the misrepresented subject matter.