Raytheon Technologies Corp. v. General Electric Co., No. 20-1755 (Fed. Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Raytheon’s patent is directed to gas turbine engines, which generally consists of a fan section, a compressor section, a combustor section, and a turbine section. On inter partes review, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board found two claims unpatentable as obvious in view of the Knip reference, which discloses the claimed power density limitation for a geared gas turbine engine. During the proceeding, Raytheon submitted unrebutted evidence establishing that Knip’s disclosure of highly aggressive performance parameters for a futuristic turbine engine relied on the use of nonexistent composite materials. The petitioner never supplied any evidence suggesting a skilled artisan could have made a turbine engine with the power density recited in the claims.
The Federal Circuit reversed. The relied-upon prior art fails to enable a skilled artisan to make and use the claimed invention. There is no absolute requirement for a relied-upon reference to be self-enabling in the section 103 context if the overall evidence of what was known at the time of invention establishes that a skilled artisan could have made and used the claimed invention. If an obviousness case is based on a non-self-enabled reference, and no other prior art reference or evidence would have enabled a skilled artisan to make the claimed invention, the invention cannot be said to have been obvious.