Trade Updates for Week of May 24, 2017

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit


Affirmed Decision that Finding No Violation of Section 337

In Adrian Rivera, Adrian Rivera Maynez Enterprises v. ITC, Court No. 2016-1841 (May 23, 2017), Rivera filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission (“Commission”), alleging that Solofill, LLC (“Solofill”) was importing beverage capsules that infringed claims 5–8 and 18–20 of the ’320 patent, in violation of Section 337. Rivera thereafter withdrew its allegations with respect to claims 8 and 19, leaving currently pending claims 5–7, 18, and 20. Solofill’s K2 and K3 beverage capsules are made to fit into a Keurig® brewer, and include an integrated mesh filter surrounding a space designed to accept loose coffee grounds. The main issue in this case was whether the ‘320 patent contained a written description of the invention so as to include “container(s)  . . . adapted to hold brewing material,” or a pod adaptor assembly with a filter in the cartridge.  According to the Commission, the description focused simply on a “pod adaptor assembly” or “brewing chamber” but did not disclose a container that was a pod itself, or that contained an integrated filter.  Moreover, the parties agreed that nothing in the ‘320 patent explicitly describes a pod adaptor assembly with a filter integrated into the cartridge.

The Federal Circuit agreed with the Commission and Solofill, Intervenor in this case, and held that the underlying concern that the ‘320 patent addressed was the compatibility between pods used in pod-type beverage brewers and cartridges used in cartridge-type beverage brewers. Moreover, the Commission’s failure to apply a broad definition of “pod” was not reversible error.    Finally, the Federal Circuit rejected the idea that those skilled in the art of pod or beverage capsule machines may supplement the specification to provide written description support.  A written description inquiry looks to the “four corners of the specification” to determine the extent to which inventor possesses the invention claimed.

For the reasons above, the Federal Circuit affirmed the Commission’s conclusion that claims 5-7, 18, and 20 are invalid for lack of written description and that Solofill did not violate Section 337.