Final Written Decision IPR2013-00424

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Takeaway: Although, in general, the process by which a product is made is irrelevant in a product claim, the process may provide evidence of no anticipation where the process imparts structural and functional differences over the prior art.

In its Final Written Decision, the Board found that Petitioner had not shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the challenged claims of the ‘000 patent are unpatentable.

The ’000 patent relates to a vehicle interior monitoring system that monitors, identifies, and locates occupants and other objects in the passenger compartment of a vehicle and objects outside of the vehicle.” Trial was instituted based on three grounds of unpatentability: claims 10, 11, 16, 17, 19, 20, and 23 anticipated by Lemelson; claims 10, 11, 19, and 23 obvious over Lemelson and Asayama; and claims 16, 17, and 20 obvious over Lemelson and Yanagawa.

The Board began its analysis with claim construction. Neither of the parties disputed any of the interpretations taken by the Board in the Decision to Institute, and thus the Board maintained those interpretations.

The Board then turned to the grounds of unpatentability. The Board found that the dispositive issue was whether Lemelson discloses the “generating the pattern recognition algorithm” limitations.  In its analysis of these limitations, the Board found it necessary to additionally construe “generated from.”  Patent Owner argued that the limitations related to generating the pattern recognition algorithm “require a specific type of training,” whereas Petitioner argued the limitation was not limited to the specific “training with real data” as urged by Patent Owner.  The Board consulted the specification and found that the sole example of training used real objects, and therefore, found that Petitioner’s arguments were not consistent with the specification.  Thus, the Board construed the term consistent with Patent Owner’s arguments.

Turning to Lemelson, Patent Owner argued that although the reference discloses identifying objects exterior to a vehicle, the reference does not disclose the “specific type of training to generate the claimed algorithm” that the claim language requires. In this regard, Patent Owner argued that Lemelson’s disclosure of training using “known inputs” could encompass simulated (i.e., not real) data, and therefore, Lemelson does not anticipate the claims.  The Board agreed, finding that Petitioner equated “training with ‘known inputs’ to the specified training” without providing “sufficient evidence to support a finding by a preponderance of the evidence that ‘known inputs’ refers to training, either expressly or inherently, with actual data of possible exterior objects.”

In this regard, the Board accorded little weight to Petitioner’s expert testimony because “he has limited experience with pattern recognition in vehicles,” in contrast to Patent Owner’s expert whose “dissertation was in neural networks, particularly methods of training neural networks.” Petitioner attempted to bolster its arguments by introducing arguments in its Reply related to (1) the level of skill in the art and (2) whether the limitation at issue structurally limits the claim in any way.  Such new evidence and arguments are improper in a Reply, but the Board nevertheless found them unpersuasive.  In particular, the Board noted that although, in general, “the process by which the product is made is irrelevant,” the process may provide evidence of no anticipation where it “imparts ‘structural and functional differences.’”  In this case, the Board found that structural or functional differences could result from the different training methods.  Because Petitioner did not establish that Lemelson discloses the “pattern recognition algorithm generated from …” limitations, and Lemelson was relied upon in each ground, Petitioner had not shown any claim to be unpatentable by a preponderance of the evidence.

Toyota Motor Corporation v. American Vehicular Sciences LLC, IPR2013-00424
Paper 50: Final Written Decision
Dated: January 12, 2015
Patent: 5,845,000
Before: Jameson Lee, Trevor M. Jefferson, and Lynne E. Pettigrew
Written by: Jefferson
Related Proceedings: (1) American Vehicular Sciences LLC v. Toyota Motor Corp., Civil Action No. 6:12-CV-406 (E.D. Tex.); (2) American Vehicular Sciences LLC v. BMW Grp. A/K/A BMW AG, Civil Action No. 6:12-CV-413 (E.D. Tex.); and (3) American Vehicular Sciences LLC v. Mercedes-Benz U.S. Intl., Inc., Civil Action No. 6:13-CV-308 (E.D. Tex.)