Donner Technology, LLC v. Pro Stage Gear, LLC, No. 20-1104 (Fed. Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Guitar effects pedals are electronic devices that affect the amplified sound of a guitar., usually placed on a pedalboard and controlled by foot operation. Pro Stage’s 023 patent asserts that prior art pedalboards were essentially wooden boards to which guitar effects pedals were mounted. IThe patent explained that there was a need for “an improved pedal effects board which allows easy positioning and changing of the individual guitar effects while providing a confined and secure area for cable routing and placement.”
On inter partes review, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board rejected Donner’s arguments that the claims were invalid as obvious under 35 U.S.C. 103, finding that Donner did not prove that “Mullen” is analogous art. The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded. While the 023 patent and Mullen are not from the same field of endeavor, the Board also failed to properly identify and compare the purposes or problems to which Mullen and the patent relate. The Board’s articulation of the purpose of or problem to be solved by the 023 patent is so intertwined with the patent’s field of endeavor that it would effectively exclude consideration of any references outside that field.