The overall means-plus-function analysis is a two-step process (1) determine whether a claim limitation is drafted in means-plus-function format (2) determine what structure if any disclosed in the specification corresponds to claim function.
Results for Means-plus-function
The Board cannot cancel contested claims based on indefiniteness during inter parties review, but, if the claims are construable, the Board may invalidate the claims based on prior art under 35 U.S.C. § 102 and § 103.
Claims may invoke § 112 ¶ 6 and be held indefinite if, read in light of the specification, the claims fail to provide sufficient structure for performing a function. In cases where the function is performed by a general purpose computer, an algorithm may be required to disclose how the computer performs to accomplish the function.
The patentee has a right to defend its patent against cancellation by the USPTO even after expiration — and up to the six-year timeline for back-damages. Means-plus-function language can be interpreted as being directed to software if an algorithm is described in the specification and hardware is not fully described.
The means-plus-function and adequate disclosure paragraphs of 35 U.S.C. § 112 may invalidate a patent claim unless there is support in the specification for the claimed structure.
The Federal Circuit holds that the claim recitation “readily installed” is not indefinite, and that an interference fit (in a hearing aid) is equivalent to a threaded joint, ball and socket joint, and adhesive joint for purposes of interpreting means-plus-function claims.