Takeaway: The Board may deny institution of a Petition in the case where neither the Petitioner nor its declarant adequately explains how the prior art disclosure of a particular “hardness” teaches the recitation in the claims of an “average hardness.”

In its Decision, Board denied a Petition that had sought inter partes review of claims 1-20 of the ’271 patent. Thus, the trial that Petitioner had requested with respect to the ’271 patent was not instituted.

The ’271 patent relates to a specific type of bottle cap – known as a “crown cap” – “that is made of thinner and harder steel [as] compared to conventional crown caps.” Because a lesser amount of steel is needed, especially when it is considered that potentially billions of such caps are produced each year, the crown cap of the ’271 patent purportedly provides the added benefit of reducing carbon emissions.

Petitioner had challenged each of the twenty claims of the ’271 patent, including independent claims 1, 12, and 20, based on various proposed combinations of the prior art, each of which included a document that the Board referred to as “Beer Packaging.” In its claim construction, the Board agreed with Petitioner’s proposed constructions of the terms “average hardness” and “hardness” recited in each of the independent claims.

As characterized by the Board, “[a] dispositive issue in this Decision is whether Petitioner has shown sufficiently that the Beer Packaging reference discloses a ‘shell formed of a [material/metal] comprising steel having an average hardness of greater than 62 on the 30T scale.’” The Board ultimately agreed with Patent Owner on this point, finding that “Petitioner merely points out that the Beer Packaging reference discloses the material of a crown cap shell having a hardness of greater than 62, but does not explain how this discloses a material of a crown cap shell having an average hardness of greater than 62, as required by the claims.” (Italics in original.) This led the Board to conclude that Petitioner had not demonstrated a reasonable likelihood of showing that claims 1-20 of the ’271 patent are unpatentable.

World Bottling Cap, LLC v. Crown Packaging Technology, Inc., IPR2015-00296

Paper 6: Decision Denying Institution of Inter Partes Review

Dated: May 14, 2015

Before: Linda M. Gaudette, William V. Saindon, and Stacey G. White

Written by: Saindon