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Dell Inc. v. Acceleron, LLC

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

March 19, 2018

DELL INC., Appellant
v.
ACCELERON, LLC, Appellee

         Appeal from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Trial and Appeal Board in No. IPR2013-00440.

          Kevin J. Meek, Baker Botts, LLP, Austin, TX, argued for appellant. Also represented by Paula D. Heyman, Jennifer Librach Nall.

          Norman Andrew Crain, Thomas | Horstemeyer LLP, Atlanta, GA, argued for appellee. Also represented by Robert Gravois.

          Before Moore, Reyna, and Taranto, Circuit Judges.

          Reyna, Circuit Judge.

         Dell Inc. appeals from a remand determination of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. In the underlying inter partes review proceeding, the Board relied on new argument and evidence presented by Dell for the first time at oral argument, without providing Acceleron, LLC, an opportunity to respond. Both Dell and Acceleron appealed, and this court remanded, among other reasons, on grounds that the Board erred when it failed to give Acceleron an opportunity to respond. On remand, the Board declined to consider both Dell's new argument and Acceleron's proposed response. Dell appeals and argues that the Board was required under our remand order and this court's precedent to consider both Dell's new argument and Acceleron's response. We affirm.

         Background

         A. The '021 Patent

         This appeal involves a single claim of U.S. Patent No. 6, 948, 021 ("the '021 patent"), owned by Acceleron. The '021 patent is directed to a computer network appliance containing a number of hot-swappable components that can be removed and replaced without turning off or resetting the computer system as a whole. '021 patent, col. 1, lines 13-16, 26-28. Figure 1 is illustrative:

         (IMAGE OMITTED)

         As shown in Figure 1, a computer network appliance 100 disclosed in the '021 patent includes central-processing-unit (CPU) modules 102(a)-(e), a power module 106, a microcontroller module 108, and an ethernet switch module 110 connected to the backplane 104 via hot swap connectors. A chassis 150 encloses backplane 104 and a collection of modules. The chassis may also contain caddies 152 that hold the modules while providing air flow from the front to the rear of the chassis. Id. col. 2, lines 5-6; id. col. 3, lines 32-34.

         Claim 3 is the only claim at issue in this appeal. Claim 3 depends indirectly from claim 1 via claim 2. Claims 1, 2, and 3 read:

1. A computer network appliance, comprising:
a plurality of hot-swappable CPU modules, wherein each CPU module is a stand-alone ...

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