JTEKT Corp. v. GKN Automotive Ltd., No. 17-1828 (Fed. Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
GKN’s patent describes a drivetrain for a four-wheel drive vehicle, consisting of primary and secondary drivetrains. The drivetrain can be switched between two-wheel drive mode and four-wheel drive mode. The claimed drivetrain operates to reduce the number of rotating components when the secondary drivetrain is disconnected. JTEKT petitioned for inter partes review (IPR). The Patent Trial and Appeal Board instituted IPR on all challenged claims. The IPR focused on whether claims 2 and 3, which specify that two side-shaft couplings connect the secondary axle rather than one side-shaft coupling to provide both transverse and longitudinal power distribution between the left and right wheels and the front and rear wheels, would have been obvious over prior art and whether claims 6 and 7 would have been obvious over prior art. The Board held that claims 6 and 7 would have been obvious but that JTEKT did not show that claims 2 and 3 would have been obvious. The Federal Circuit dismissed an appeal for lack of standing. While the fact that JTEKT has no product on the market does not preclude Article III standing, either in IPRs or in declaratory judgment actions, JTEKT has not established at this stage of the development that its product creates a concrete and substantial risk of infringement or will likely lead to infringement claims.