Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions AB v. Oticon Medical AB, No. 19-1105 (Fed. Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Cochlear’s patent describes a hearing aid with several parts. A vibration-producing component is implanted and mechanically anchored into a patient’s skull on the patient’s deaf side. An external component, which includes a microphone, picks up sound on the patient’s deaf side, processes the sound, and generates vibrations in the implanted part, which are transmitted through th skull to the patient’s non-deaf ear, which then perceives sound originating from the deaf-ear side. The Patent and Trademark Office instituted two inter partes reviews, 35 U.S.C. 311–319, and concluded that claims 4–6 and 11–12 had been proven unpatentable; claims 7–10 were not unpatentable. Cochlear disclaimed claims 1–3 and 13.
The Federal Circuit affirmed except with respect to claim 10, as to which it vacated. The Board correctly held that the preamble phrase “for rehabilitation of unilateral hearing loss” is not a limitation on the scope of the apparatus claims. The court upheld obviousness determinations concerning claims 4-6 and found claims 11-12 anticipated by prior art. On remand with respect to claim 10, the Board should consider whether the directivity-dependent-microphone alternative is outside the scope of 35 U.S.C. 112, because it recites a structure (the directivity dependent microphone) that sufficiently corresponds to the claimed directivity means.