Aqua Products, Inc. v. Matal, No. 15-1177 (Fed. Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Aqua’s patent concerns automated swimming pool cleaners that use “an angled jet drive propulsion system” to move in a controlled pattern. Using motor-driven wheels that enable the cleaner to move in a controlled pattern requires a drive motor and integrated circuitry. Cleaners that use suction or water jets do not require a drive motor but often move in erratic patterns. Zodiac sought inter partes review, citing prior art. Aqua moved to substitute new claims to require that the jet creates a downward vector force rear of the front wheels and the wheels control the cleaner's directional movement. Aqua argued that the combination of prior art did not render the substitute claims obvious because it does not suggest the vector limitation. The Patent Board denied Aqua’s motion to amend. The Federal Circuit initially affirmed, but on en banc review, vacated, holding that 35 U.S.C. 316(e) requires the petitioner to prove all propositions of unpatentability, including for amended claims. The court alternatively reasoned that, absent required deference, the most reasonable reading of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act places the burden of persuasion with respect to the patentability of amended claims on the petitioner. The Board must consider the entire record when assessing the patentability of amended claims without placing the burden of persuasion on the patent owner.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on May 25, 2016.