April 19, 2021

Volume XI, Number 109

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April 19, 2021

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April 16, 2021

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Software Claims Lacking an Algorithm Are Held Indefinite for Lack of Sufficient Structure

In Rain Computing, Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., the Federal Circuit reversed the district court’s determination that “user identification module” was not indefinite.

The Federal Circuit first analyzed whether “user identification module” is a means-plus-function term. For terms not including “means for” language, the term will only be construed as means-plus-function if it recites a function without sufficient structure for performing the function. The Federal Circuit found the term was a means-plus-function term because Rain failed to identify claim language that provided the structure for performing the claimed function and that the term itself “merely describe[ed] the function of the module: to identify a user.” Slip op. at 5.

The analysis next turned to identifying the function and corresponding structure in the specification, consistent with procedures for construing means-plus-function terms. Under relevant precedent, “[w]here a general-purpose computer is the corresponding structure and it is not capable of performing the controlling access function absent specialized software,” the patent must disclose an algorithm for performing the claimed function. Id. at 9. Because no algorithm could be found, the Federal Circuit held that the term “user identification module” lacked sufficient structure, rendering the claims indefinite.

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© 2021 Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLPNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 67
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About this Author

Associate

Shannon Patrick focuses on patent litigation related to Abbreviated New Drug Applications (ANDA), patent prosecution, proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), and client counseling. She has technical experience in the chemical and mechanical fields, including technologies such as aluminum alloys and joining solutions, as well as a background in biology.

Shannon’s litigation experience with district court matters includes preparing motions, managing discovery efforts, and working with expert witnesses. She has participated in...

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Kara Specht Patent Litigation Attorney Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner Law Firm Atlanta GA
Associate

Kara Specht focuses on patent litigation before district courts and before the International Trade Commission (ITC). Her practice covers a wide range of electronic and electrical technology areas related to computers, consumer electronics, and computer-implemented business methods.

Kara has experience in all aspects of patent litigation before district courts, the ITC, and the Federal Circuit. Before district court and the ITC, Kara has experience from both a plaintiff and defendant perspective, ranging from pre-filing planning and strategy,...

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Elizabeth Ferrill Patent Attorney Finnegan Law Firm
Partner

Elizabeth Ferrill is an “undisputed expert on design patents” who is “always updated and enlightening others with her deep knowledge,” “very involved in the design bar,” and “gives her clients an outstanding service” as noted in Intellectual Asset Management Patent 1000. She focuses her practice on all aspects of design patents, including prosecution, counseling, post-grant, and litigation.

Elizabeth counsels clients who hold design patents as well as those accused of infringement. She has experience with design patents related to consumer and industrial products, medical...

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