The Federal Circuit today upheld a judgment of invalidity because the patent specification didn’t disclose a structure capable of performing a "control" function. Biomedino, LLC v. Waters Technologies Corp., No. 06-130 (Fed. Cir. June 18, 2007).
The court pointed to paragraph 6 of 35 U.S.C. 112 as allowing a "means" element in patent claims — as in a "control means" for accomplishing a step or function. But paragraph 6 also requires, as quid pro quo for imprecision in the patent claim, that the means element covers only the "structure, material, or acts described in the specification or equivalents thereof." The specification in Biomedino included no structure that corresponded to the "control means". The patent therefore failed for indefiniteness.