Intel Corp. v. FuzzySharp Technologies, Inc.

Addressing the merits in an inter partes review of a patent for improved computer graphics calculations, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board) found all challenged claims unpatentable.  Intel Corp. v. FuzzySharp Technologies, Inc., IPR2014-00001 (PTAB Jan. 13, 2015) (McKone, APJ).  The Board concluded that an ordinary artisan would have combined a primary reference with a textbook explaining an object mentioned in that reference.

FuzzySharp asserted two related patents against Intel in the U.S. District for the Northern District of California, and Intel responded by filing inter partes review (IPR) petitions against both patents.  In the review against the parent patent, Intel asserted that nine claims were anticipated by an article on a computer rendering algorithm and a tenth claim was rendered obvious by that article in combination with a computer graphics textbook.  Intel also supplied a declaration from an MIT professor stating that the textbook was a standard textbook in the field of computer science.

FuzzySharp’s response was silent as to eight of the nine claims alleged to be anticipated, so the Board found them unpatentable.  For the ninth claim, which required a three-dimensional “bounding volume,” FuzzySharp argued that the prior art article only disclosed two-dimensional cells.  But the Board noted that the cells were associated with values corresponding to depth and thus concluded that they constituted three-dimensional volumes.  FuzzySharp also advanced a teach-away argument, but the Board rejected that argument as irrelevant to anticipation.

The Board then turned to the remaining claim, which required three-dimensional surfaces with varying levels of detail.  Intel admitted that the article lacked this disclosure but pointed to the textbook as providing the missing limitation.  Intel asserted that the references would have been combined because the article discussed extending the algorithm to objects called “Bézier patches,” which the textbook described as being three-dimensional surfaces with varying levels of detail.  The Board agreed that an ordinary artisan faced with the identification of such objects in the article would have looked to the standard textbook for an explanation of what those objects are and would have thus combined the references.  The Board dispensed with FuzzySharp’s remaining teach-away arguments and held the claim to be unpatentable.