Philips owned a patent directed to mobile device keypads that display primary characters (e.g., letters and numbers) and secondary characters (e.g., accents and currency symbols). The keypad displays the secondary characters upon holding a primary character for an extended period of time, and upon selection of a secondary character, the keypad returns to the default state of displaying the primary characters.
Philips sued Acer Inc. and others for infringement based on their use of the Google Chrome web browser and Android OS. Google then challenged the Philips’ patent in inter partes review as one of the interested parties. Google argued that the patent would have been obvious over a Japanese prior art reference that discloses mobile device keypads which have all of the claim features except the last step of the keypad returning to the default state after secondary-character-selection. The prior art reference teaches instead, after the secondary-character-selection, maintaining the display of secondary characters and not returning to the default state of displaying the primary characters. Google argued that it would have been obvious to try the return-to-default techniques in lieu of the disclosed last step of the prior art reference.
In response, Philips argued, and the PTAB ultimately agreed, that it would not have been obvious to try the return-to-default techniques because such is merely one of many potential keypad techniques available. Google appealed.
Did the PTAB err in deciding that the Philips’ patent is not obvious? (continue reading)
Summary by: Ashley Yeum
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