Denying Institution of Inter Partes Review IPR2014-00211


Takeaway: Petitioner relied on a single proposed claim construction to support all of its proposed grounds of unpatentability. When the Board construed one of the terms as a means-plus-function limitation in contradiction with Petitioner, none of the proposed grounds were reasonably likely to prevail.

In its Decision, the Board denied institution of the inter partes review, because the information presented in the Petition did not demonstrate that there is a reasonable likelihood that Petitioner will prevail with respect to at least one of the challenged claims. The ’114 Patent relates to an actuating mechanism for a slide-out room in a mobile living quarter, such as a motor home or travel trailer.

The Board began its analysis with claim construction. Petitioner proposed that the claim term “an engagement means” not be interpreted as a means-plus-function limitation, and instead given its plain and ordinary meaning as an element that interlocks the drive members with the engagement members. Because the term included the word “means,” the Board started with the rebuttable presumption that 35 U.S.C. § 112, ¶ 6 governs the construction. The Board explained that the presumption is overcome when the claim language specifies the exact structure that performs the functions in question without need to resort to other portions of the specification or extrinsic evidence for an adequate understanding of the structure. The Board determined that the recited function was “maintaining a fixed predetermined distance between said drive members and said engagement members regardless of changes in spacing between said slide-our room and said aperture.” The only structure provided in the claim related to “engagement means” was the term “engagement” itself. The Board determined that Petitioner did not provide persuasive evidence that the term “engagement” was a structural term or, even if it was structural, that it defined sufficient structure for carrying out the claimed function of “maintaining a fixed predetermined distance.” Thus, the Board construed the term under 35 U.S.C. § 112, ¶ 6.

The Board found a clear and unambiguous reference to the structure for the term in the Specification. Based on the structure provided in the Specification, the Board construed the term to cover roller, bearing surfaces of gear racks shaped complementary to the cross section of roller, show covering hooked extension, and groove, and equivalents thereof. Based on its construction of “engagement means,” the Board was not persuaded that Petitioner had demonstrated a reasonable likelihood of prevailing on any of the proposed anticipation or obviousness grounds.

AL-KO Kober, LLC v. Lippert Components Manufacturing, Inc., IPR2014-00211
Paper 7: Decision Denying Institution of Inter Partes Review
Dated: June 6, 2014
Patent 8,240,744 B2
Before: Michael J. Fitzpatrick, Barry L. Grossman, and Christopher L. Crumbley
Written by: Grossman
Related Proceedings: Lipppert Components Manufacturing, Inc. v. AL-KO Kober LLC, No. 3:13-cv-697 (N.D. Ind., July 11, 2013); related patents challenged in IPR2014-00213 and IPR2014-00313