On November 15, 2023, Donald Heckenberg published “Federal Circuit Decision Suggests Patent Prosecutors Should Think Twice When Citing References” in IPWatchdog. The following is an excerpt:
Most patent prosecutors err on the side of caution when deciding whether to cite prior art references to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Indeed, the consequence of not citing known prior art can be a finding during patent litigation that there was a violation of the USPTO’s duty of disclosure amounting to inequitable conduct, with the patent thereby being deemed unenforceable. But the United States Court of Appeals the Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Elekta Limited v. Zap Surgical Systems (Case 2021-1985, September 21, 2023) suggests that patent prosecutors should think about ways that the fact that references are being cited could be used against the patent owner, and prosecutors might consider clarifying the record to negate potential inferences being drawn based on the citation of references.
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