After an inter partes review instigated by longtime rival ClearCorrect, the Patent Trial & Appeals Board found that four claims in the patent were invalid for obviousness. The PTAB ruling found that key prior art from three other patents made the Align patent obvious to anyone skilled in the art.
San Jose, Calif.-based Align appealed to the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the PTAB decision misconstrued the disclosures in one of the prior art patents, was wrong about a skilled artisan’s combination of the three prior art patents and should have considered secondary arguments on non-obviousness.
The appeals court agreed, finding that the patent board was mistaken to conclude that the prior art combination was obvious.
“Neither the board’s decision nor ClearCorrect’s brief on appeal reveals substantial evidence in support of those findings,” Judge Richard Taranto wrote in the Federal Circuit decision, vacating the PTAB ruling and sending the case back to the patent board for reconsideration in light of the latest ruling.
Last year Straumann Holding agreed to pay approximately $150 million to acquire ClearCorrect. In February, Align touted a win in its intellectual property war with ClearCorrect after a PTAB panel refused to initiate an inter partes review sought by ClearCorrect looking to challenge a patent covering “Automated Treatment Staging for Teeth.”