Declare Development and Due Course of: Inspecting NST International v. Sig Sauer Inc. within the Supreme Courtroom

by Dennis Crouch

NST Global, LLC, dba SB Tactical v. Sig Sauer Inc. (Supreme Court 2023)

This case has a low probability of being granted certiorari, however it nonetheless has some attention-grabbing parts concerning declare building and process.  This can be a good case for the Supreme Courtroom to challenge a GVR (Grant-Vacate-Remand) with an order to the Federal Circuit to elucidate its reasoning.

The setup is frequent. Tactical sued Sig Sauer for patent infringement; Sig Sauer responded with an IPR petition that was finally profitable.  Tactical appealed based mostly upon the PTAB’s sua sponte declare building that discovered the preamble to be limiting, however the Federal Circuit Affirmed with out opinion.

The Supreme Courtroom petition asks three questions:

  1. Whether or not the declare building discovering the preamble limiting was improper.
  2. Whether or not the PTAB violated due course of by construing the time period sua sponte and failing to offer the patentee with discover or a possibility to current proof.
  3. Whether or not the Federal Circuit’s use of Rule 36 violates constitutional ensures  of due course of and the statutory protections of 35 U.S.C. 144.

The Tactical patents cowl a forearm stabilizing brace that may be connected to a pistol. U.S. Patent Numbers 8,869,444 and 9,354,021. Sig Sauer initially was a distributor of Tactical’s product, however later started making its personal competing product. At that time Tactical sued.

Within the IPR petition, Sig Sauer didn’t request any declare building. Likewise, the petition resolution granting the IPR said that no declare phrases wanted any categorical building.  “We agree—we’d like not expressly construe any declare time period
to resolve the events’ dispute.”  Throughout briefing, neither celebration requested building of any side of the declare preambles.  Ultimately although, in its last written resolution, the PTAB interpreted the preambles as limiting after which used that building to conclude that the claims had been invalid as apparent.

Sure, I stated that the slender building led to the claims being discovered invalid.  That’s uncommon — often the addition of limitations helps to keep away from the prior artwork. On this case although the main target was on goal indicia of non-obviousness. NST’s gross sales; copying by Sig; reward; and so forth.  However, by giving weight to the preamble phrases, the PTAB was in a position to destroy the presumed nexus between the claims and NST’s product.  The end result, these secondary indicia had been discovered wanting as a result of NST had not offered extra proof “commensurate with the claims” as newly construed.

For context, the claims are directed to the attachment, however the preamble recites “a handgun” and “a help construction extending rearwardly from the rear of the handgun:”

1. A forearm-gripping stabilizing attachment for a handgun, the handgun having a help construction extending rearwardly from the rear finish of the handgun, the forearm-gripping stabilizing attachment, comprising: . . .

The PTAB dominated that the claims require the handgun and likewise the help construction  as recited within the preamble together with the forearm attachment described within the physique.  The issue for the patentee is that its goal indicia proof centered on the forearm attachment, not the entire bundle.  Thus, no nexus and no weight given to these secondary components.  In its resolution, the PTAB when by means of the entire life and that means evaluation: “we conclude that the preambles of claims 1, 3, and 5 are ‘essential to offer life, that means, and vitality to the declare[s],’ and, as such, are limiting.”

The case was already shut as a result of there’s a lengthy historical past of this type of stabilizer going again to the nineteenth Century, and so the absence of secondary issues led to the obviousness conclusion.

Through the IPR trial, Sig Sauer had argued that the excessive gross sales had been as a result of an odd regulatory scheme towards semi-automatic rifles, and the pistol attachment was really widespread primarily as a result of it allowed the pistol to be shouldered.  On enchantment, that was raised instead justification for the judgment. However, in my opinion, the PTAB didn’t really rule on that challenge within the first place.

The patentee appealed, however the Federal Circuit panel of Judges Reyna, Schall, and Chen affirmed with out opinion.