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Maxlinear, Inc. v. CF Crespe LLC

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

January 25, 2018

MAXLINEAR, INC., Appellant
v.
CF CRESPE LLC, Appellee

         Appeal from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Trial and Appeal Board in No. IPR2015-00592.

          Gregory Schodde, McAndrews, Held & Malloy, Ltd., Chicago, IL, argued for appellant. Also represented by Ronald Spuhler.

          Craig Robert Smith, Lando & Anastasi, LLP, Cambridge, MA, argued for appellee. Also represented by Eric P. Carnevale.

          Before Dyk, Schall, and Reyna, Circuit Judges.

          Dyk, Circuit Judge.

         Appellant MaxLinear, Inc. ("MaxLinear") appeals from the final written decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board ("Board") in an inter partes review ("IPR"). The Board upheld the patentability of claims 1-4, 6-9, and 16-21 of U.S. Patent No. 7, 075, 585 ("the '585 patent") owned by appellee CF CRESPE LLC ("CRESPE"). MaxLinear seeks review of the Board's decision with respect to dependent claims 4, 6-9, and 20-21.

         The Board based its decision on an analysis of independent claims 1 and 17. However, in a separate IPR, No. IPR2014-00728 ("the '728 IPR"), claims 1 and 17 were held to be unpatentable, and that decision was affirmed by our court during the pendency of this appeal. CF CRESPE LLC v. Silicon Labs. Inc. (CRESPE I), 670 Fed.Appx. 707, 708 (Fed. Cir. 2016) (per curiam). Because the Board did not address arguments concerning patentability of the dependent claims separately from the now-unpatentable independent claims, we vacate the decision and remand to the Board, with instructions to consider the patentability of the dependent claims 4, 6-9, and 21, in light of our decision holding claims 1 and 17 unpatent-able.

         Background

         The '585 patent "relates to a broadband television signal receiver for receiving multi-standard analog television signals, digital television signals and data channels." '585 patent, col. 1 ll. 15-19. A television receiver converts a radio frequency ("RF") signal from the broadcast frequency, filters out interfering signals, and then demodulates or decodes the signal of interest. In layman's terms, the television signal receiver takes incoming television broadcast signals and processes the signal into a viewable medium for eventual display.

         This appeal concerns the final written decision of the Board issued on August 11, 2016. This proceeding commenced on January 28, 2015, when MaxLinear petitioned for an inter partes review of claims 1-21 of the '585 patent. The Board instituted review of claims 1-4, 6-9, and 16-21 based on the prior art combination of Van De Plassche ("VDP") with Ishikawa and other references. MaxLinear, Inc., v. Cresta Tech. Corp., No. IPR2015-00592, 2016 WL 8946032, at *1 (P.T.A.B. Aug. 11, 2016) (the "'592 IPR").[1] In the final written decision, the Board held that the challenged claims were not shown to be unpatentable over the prior art. Id. at *12.

         Claims 1 and 17 are the only independent claims in the patent, with claim 1 conveying the television receiver and claim 17 being the associated method claim. The Board limited its analysis to the independent claims and did not separately analyze the dependent claims. The Board declined to find claims 1 and 17 unpatentable over a combination of VDP and Ishikawa. Id. at *12.

         The Board based its finding of nonobviousness entirely on the analysis of claims 1 and 17. The Board held that "[p]etitioner has not shown . . . independent claims 1 and 17 are unpatentable. Because each of challenged dependent claims 2-4, 6-9, 16, and 18-21 incorporate the limitations of the respective independent claims, we also conclude that [p]etitioner has not shown, by a preponderance of the evidence, that those claims are unpatentable." Id. at *12. The Board never mentioned any separate arguments concerning the dependent claims' patentability. See id. The entire analysis and decision rests on the finding that independent claims 1 and 17 were patentable over the prior art. See id. at *1-12.

         MaxLinear appealed the Board's decision. This court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)(4)(A) and 35 U.S.C. §§ 144, 319.

         Two other IPRs had been instituted concerning the '585 patent.[2] Each of these IPRs had the same Board members as in the '592 IPR but considered different prior art. In the '728 IPR, on October 21, 2015, the Board issued a final written decision that claims 1-3, 5, 10, and 16-19 of the '585 patent were unpatentable over the Thomson reference, No. EP0696854, both alone and in combination with other references. 2015 WL 6441485, at *6-13. Cresta, the original owner of the '585 patent and CRESPE's predecessor, appealed. While the present case was pending on appeal, we affirmed the Board's decision in the '728 IPR. CRESPE I, 670 Fed.Appx. at 708. The result of this affirmation is that independent claims 1 and 17 of the '585 patent are now unpatentable. In the final decision in the '615 IPR, issued on the same day as the '592 IPR, the Board, among other things, held claim 20 of the '585 patent unpatentable over Thomson in combination with other references. 2016 WL ...


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