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In re Global IP Holdings LLC

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

July 5, 2019

IN RE: GLOBAL IP HOLDINGS LLC, Appellant

          Appeal from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Trial and Appeal Board in No. 14/632, 238.

          Frank A. Angileri, Brooks Kushman PC, Southfield, MI, argued for appellant. Also represented by Robert C.J. Tuttle.

          Kakoli Caprihan, Office of the Solicitor, United States Patent and Trademark Office, Alexandria, VA, argued for appellee Andrei Iancu. Also represented by Thomas W. Krause, Sarah E. Craven.

          Before Moore, Reyna, and Stoll, Circuit Judges.

          Stoll, Circuit Judge.

         Global IP Holdings, LLC appeals the Patent Trial and Appeal Board's decision affirming the examiner's rejection of its reissue claims for failure to comply with the written description requirement. Because the legal standard applied by the Board conflicts with our precedent, we vacate the Board's decision and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         Background

         Global owns U.S. Patent No. 8, 690, 233, which claims carpeted automotive vehicle load floors having sandwich-type composite panels with cellular cores. In one embodiment, the load floor refers to the back-side of a car seat, which operates as the trunk floor when folded down. See '233 patent, Fig. 5. Figure 6 of the '233 patent shows the composition of the claimed load floor:

         (Image Omitted)

         The specification discloses that hinged panel 10 is typically manufactured from a stack of material including "first and second reinforced thermoplastic skins 16 and 18, respectively, a thermoplastic cellular core 20 disposed between the skins 16 and 18 and a top layer of a substantially continuous covering layer generally indicated at 21." Id. at col. 411. 35-42.

         Global filed a reissue application, seeking to broaden its claims in the '233 patent. In particular, it replaced the term "thermoplastic" with "plastic" in independent claims 1, 14, and 17. Global's reissue claim 1 is representative and reproduced below, with strikeouts indicating the deletions made to the original claim:

         1. A carpeted automotive vehicle load floor comprising:

a composite panel having first and second reinforced thermoplastic skins and a thermoplastic cellular core disposed between and bonded to the skins, the ...

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