Airbus S.A.S. v. Firepass Corp., No. 19-1803 (Fed. Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
On inter partes reexamination after the Federal Circuit vacated the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s prior decision, the Board reversed the patent examiner’s rejection of new claims presented by Firepass (the patent owner). The patent discloses a fire prevention and suppression system that prevents and extinguishes fires using breathable air instead of water, foam, or toxic chemicals— each of which can present risks to personnel or electronic equipment. The invention is based on the inventor’s alleged discovery that a low-oxygen (hypoxic” but normal pressure (normbaric) atmosphere inhibits fire ignition and combustion, yet remains breathable for humans. The Federal Circuit vacated the Board’s reversal of the examiner’s rejection of the claims. The Board erred in its analogous art analysis by declining to consider record evidence relied on by Airbus to demonstrate the knowledge and perspective of a person of ordinary skill in the art at the time of the invention. The court remanded for consideration whether a particular prior art reference is analogous art in view of the four prior art references relied on by Airbus to demonstrate the knowledge and perspective of a person of ordinary skill in the art at the time of the invention.