The Federal Circuit recently issued two opinions directly impacting software patent practitioners. Grounded in 35 U.S.C. §112(f) (or pre–American Invents Act §112, para. 6), the cases deal with claims containing “functional language,” and hold that there must be detailed support in the patent’s specification that describes the “means” by which a claimed function is carried out.
In Williamson v. Citrix, the en banc Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) addressed the “means-plus-function” language of the asserted patent and held that the claim terms were invalid under §112(f) because there was no supporting structure (the “means”) disclosed in the patent’s specification for performing the claimed functions. Williamson v. Citrix Online, 792 F.3d 1339 (Fed. Cir. June 16, 2015).