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Archived updates for Thursday, August 28, 2008

Water Supply Recharge Port Obvious Improvement to Laproscopic Gas Humidifier

In Lexion Medical, LLC v. Northgate Tech. Inc. (August 28, 2008), the Federal Circuit affirmed grant of JMOL on obviousness where it viewed the addition of a water supply recharge port as an obvious improvement to a laproscopic gas humidifier.

According to the opinion by Circuit Judge Schall,
Lexion’s ’474 and ’609 patents disclose and claim a method and apparatus for heating and humidifying the gas used to inflate a patient’s abdomen during laparoscopic surgery. The heated gas helps reduce the side effects of post-operative shivering and
shoulder pain frequently experienced following laparoscopic surgery.

. . . The ’609 patent improves upon the ’474 patent by including a recharge port on the humidifier that allows the humidifier’s water supply to be replenished during extended surgeries.

. . . Prior to trial, the district court granted JMOL of obviousness with respect to the ’609 patent. On appeal, Lexion contends that the district courts’ grant of JMOL was erroneous for reasons which we find unpersuasive. The ’609 patent simply modifies the invention described in the ’474 patent via a simple and minor improvement: adding a recharge part that allows for the replenishment of water for extended use during laparoscopic surgeries. In KSR, the Supreme Court stated: "[w]hen a work is available in one field, design incentives and other market forces can prompt variations of it, either in the same field or in another. If a person of ordinary skill in the art can implement a predictable variation, and would see the benefit of doing so, § 103 likely bars its patentability. Id. at 1731. We think that the ’609 patent was nothing more than a predictable variation or improvement of the ’474 patent that was well within the skill and ordinary creativity of a skilled artisan. We therefore affirm the district court’s grant of JMOL of obviousness with respect to the ’609 patent.
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