November 8, 2016

Federal Circuit Gives the Board a Lesson on Hearsay

In REG Synthetic Fuels, LLC v. Neste Oil Oyj, [2015-1773] (November 8, 2016), the Federal Circuit affirmed-in-part, reversed-in-part, vacated-in-part, and remanded the PTAB’s unpatentability determinations for claims U.S. Patent No. 8,231,804 directed to paraffin compositions containing primarily even-carbon-number paraffins, and the Board’s exclusion of certain REG exhibits.

REG complained that the allegedly anticipatory reference discloses area percentages rather than the claimed weight percentages, and petitioners conversion of the area percentages to weight percentages was unreliable.  The Federal Circuit agreed with Petitioner that the conversion was reliable, relying in part upon REG’s own expert who agreed that the conversion could be calculated, concluding that substantial evidence supported anticipation.

With respect to anticipation by other claims, the Federal Circuit found that REG had successfully antedated the allegedly anticipating reference based on admitted exhibits, and exhibits that the Board improperly excluded.   With respect to the excluded exhibits, the Board partially excluded emails with a third party in which the inventor disclosed his conception of the invention on grounds of hearsay.  However, the significance of the email was that they were written, not their content, and thus the Federal Circuit found that the email should not have been excluded.

The Federal Circuit reversed the exclusion of evidence, and based upon the evidence of conception in that improperly excluded evidence, concluded that REG has successfully antedated the reference, and reversed the finding of anticipation.