Cartoon short producer Marlin "Ren" T. Hoek.
Blawgletter® sometimes thinks we live for opinions like one the Federal Circuit offered today.
How should we describe it? Kafka-esque doesn't quite get us there; too harsh. More like Ren Hoek-ey, we think.
The ruling dealt with a pet subject of the Federal Circuit — patent "claim construction". The process aims to divine the True Meaning of terms and phrases in a patent claim or claims, which define the metes and bounds of the patent. But you knew that.
The opinion made our head feel funny. The court tried to teach that a "de novo" review of a claim construction differs from doing "an independent analysis in the first instance". It said:
Although claim construction is a question of law, we generally refuse to construe claims in the first instance. . . . We have explained that this court’s review, although de novo, is not to function as an independent analysis in the first instance. . . . In this case, however, we accept the parties’ invitation to construe the "probability density function estimation" claim term, for three reasons. First, although the district court did not specifically construe the claim term, its opinion references the question of claim construction, and it is apparent that the district court’s views on the matter have been exhausted. . . . Second, both parties have agreed that we should construe the claim limitation. Third, we agree that the record, which includes considerable evidence and expert testimony, has been sufficiently developed to enable us to construe the claim term without prejudicing either party.
Wavetronix, LLC v. EIS Electronic Integrated Systems, No. 08-1129, slip op. at 13-14 (Fed. Cir. July 29, 2009) (citations omitted). Got that? The court refuses to do X "in the first instance" because it prefers to do X "de novo" in the second instance. And when de novo X happens, it doesn't count as "independent". Hmm.
The effect on our noggin reminded us of a 1993 cartoon-within-a-cartoon, one that featured a canine it called Explodey the Pup. You can guess what happened when Explodey's admirer gave him a smooch. If you prefer not to guess, watch the short – from Ren & Stimpy – for yourself here.