The patentee alleged infringement of two patents covering ear implants. Following a jury trial, the district court entered judgment of infringement of one claim, and found that the remaining claims were indefinite. The district court also granted the alleged infringer’s judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) of no willful infringement and its motion for a new trial on damages. Both parties appealed.
The Federal Circuit upheld the district court’s findings of infringement and indefiniteness, finding that the claims failed both to disclose the requisite algorithm for generating a data signal, and also to identify where that generation takes place. The court also held that disclosing a “broad class of algorithms does not limit the scope of the claim” to a corresponding structure, but that a well-known algorithm for implementing the means-plus-function limitation (namely Ohm’s law) was sufficient to satisfy the sixth paragraph of Section 112, despite the patent not explicitly identifying Ohm’s law.
Next, applying the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Halo Electronics, the court vacated and remanded the JMOL of no willful infringement and instructed the district court to determine whether the accused conduct “constituted an egregious case...beyond typical infringement.”
Finally, the Federal Circuit determined it did not have jurisdiction to consider whether the district court erred by granting a new trial for damages because no final decision on damages had been reached. The Federal Circuit rejected the patentee’s argument that the case fit within an exception to 28 U.S.C. § 1292 allowing for an appeal of a judgment that is final except for an “accounting.” The court noted that, while the exception allows it to consider liability issues, it is not permitted to consider the validity of the non-final order itself. The Federal Circuit also found that the grant of a new trial is not an appealable decision within the meaning of Fed. R. Civ. P. 54 (b) holding that that rule applies only to decisions that are final. Here, because the grant of a new trial meant no final decision on damages had been reached, the rule did not apply.