The Federal Circuit Reverses Precedent on Functional Claiming Standard

The Federal Circuit Reverses Precedent on Functional Claiming Standard
The Federal Circuit Reverses Precedent on Functional Claiming Standard. In Williamson v. Citrix Online, LLC the Federal Circuit redefined functional claiming for US patent applications and issued patents. In Williamson, the Court reconsidered its prior holdings regarding when a claim recitation was to be construed as a means-plus-function limitation. A claim recitation that is construed to be a means-plus-function limitation is limited to the actual structure disclosed in the specification that performs the claimed function. If there is not adequate disclosure of such structure, then the claim is unpatentable/invalid due to lack of definiteness.

Williamson overruled the prior characterization that there was a ‘strong’ presumption that failure to recite the word “means” meant that a claim recitation was not a means-plus-function recitation. Williamson also overruled the prior requirement of a showing that a claim recitation that lacked recitation of the word “means” was also “devoid of anything that …[could] be construed as structure,” for the claim recitation to be a means-plus-function recitation. Consequently, a substantially larger class of recitations will now be held to be means-plus-function limitations.

source: Maier & Maier, PLLC

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