In re: Fought, No. 19-1127 (Fed. Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
The 2012 patent application relates to the construction of travel trailers with two compartments, living quarters and a garage portion, separated by a wall assembly. Claim 1 covers a travel trailer with first and second compartments separated by a wall assembly which is movable so as to alter the relative dimensions of the compartments without altering the exterior appearance of the travel trailer. Claim 2 covers a travel trailer having compartments separated by a wall assembly having a side member located adjacent to and movable in parallel with respect to a sidewall of the trailer, and the wall assembly moved along the longitudinal length of the trailer by drive means positioned between the side member and the sidewall. The examiner rejected both claims under 35 U.S.C. 102(b) as anticipated by patents that describe a conventional truck trailer and that describe a bulkhead for shipping compartments. The inventors argued that a “travel trailer” is “a type of recreational vehicle” and that the examiner erred by rejecting the claims without addressing the level of ordinary skill in the art. The Board affirmed, concluding the preamble term “travel trailer” is a mere statement of intended use that does not limit the claim. The Federal Circuit reversed. The Board erred in concluding “travel trailer” does not limit the scope of the claims; "no one would confuse a travel trailer with a truck trailer."