Icon Health & Fitness v. Strava

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In Icon Health & Fitness, Inc. v. Strava, Inc., 849 F.3d 1034 (Fed. Cir. 2017), the Federal Circuit upheld the invalidation based on obviousness of some patents by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), while overturning and vacating other invalidations by the PTAB.

The Court set forth the standard of review on appeal from the PTAB:

"We review the PTAB's factual findings for substantial evidence and its legal conclusions de novo." Redline Detection, LLC v. Star Envirotech, Inc., 811 F.3d 435, 449 (Fed. Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). "Substantial evidence is something less than the weight of the evidence but more than a mere scintilla of evidence." In re NuVasive, Inc., 842 F.3d 1376, 1379-80 (Fed. Cir. 2016) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

A patent claim is invalid as obvious "if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a person having ordinary skill in the [relevant] art [('PHOSITA')] ...." 35 U.S.C. § 103(a) (2006). The ultimate determination of obviousness is a question of law, but that determination is based on underlying factual findings. See In re Gartside, 203 F.3d 1305, 1316 (Fed. Cir. 2000). The underlying factual findings include (1) "the scope and content of the prior art," (2) "differences between the prior art and the claims at issue," (3) "the level of ordinary skill in the pertinent art," and (4) the presence of secondary considerations of nonobviousness such "as commercial success, long felt but unsolved needs, failure of others," and unexpected results. Graham v. John Deere Co. of Kan. City, 383 U.S. 1, 17-18, 86 S. Ct. 684, 15 L. Ed. 2d 545 (1966); United States v. Adams, 383 U.S. 39, 50-52, 86 S. Ct. 708, 15 L. Ed. 2d 572, 174 Ct. Cl. 1293 (1966).

Id. at 1039.