SHOES BY FIREBUG LLC v. STRIDE RITE CHILDREN’S GROUP, LLC

SHOES BY FIREBUG LLC v. STRIDE RITE CHILDREN’S GROUP, LLC, Appeal Nos. 2019-1622 and 2019-1623 (Fed. Cir. June 25, 2020).  Before Lourie, Moore, and O’Malley.  Appealed from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.  (Claim Construction)

Background:

Stride Rite filed two inter partes review (IPR) petitions alleging that two of Firebug’s patents, the ‘574 patent and ‘038 patent, were obvious over a combination of two references, Parker and Rosko.  Firebug’s patents are directed to internally illuminated footwear including light sources located between an interfacing layer and a light diffusing layer within the sole.

In the Final Written Decision in each IPR, the Board performed a claim construction of the preambles for the respective independent claims.  The preambles both recited “[a]n internally illuminated textile footwear…”  The Board found that the term “textile” in the preambles did not limit the scope of the claims to require any structure within the body of the claims to be formed of a textile material.  The Board then held that Parker’s light distribution system disclosed substantially all of the features of the independent claims of the patents, except for a plurality of illumination sources.  The Board held that a skilled artisan would have found it obvious to replace Parker’s optical fiber with Rosko’s array of LEDs in a light diffuser, which would have rendered obvious the independent claims of the patents.  Despite the claim construction, the Board noted that Rosko teaches using textile materials for footwear.  Firebug appealed.

Issues/Holdings:

Did the Board err in finding that the term “textile footwear” in each preamble does not limit the scope of the claims?

Did the Board err in finding the claims obvious in view of the combination of Parker and Rosko? (continue reading)

Summary by:  Matt Stanford

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