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TF3 Ltd. v. TRE Milano, LLC

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

July 13, 2018

TF3 LIMITED, Appellant
v.
TRE MILANO, LLC, Appellee

          Appeal from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Trial and Appeal Board in No. IPR2015-00649.

          Bradford J. Badke, Sidley Austin LLP, New York, NY, argued for appellant. Also represented by Ching-Lee Fukuda; Thomas Anthony Broughan, III, Anna Mayergoyz Weinberg, Washington, DC.

          Jeffrey Glenn Sheldon, Cislo & Thomas LLP, Los Angeles, CA, argued for appellee. Also represented by Laura Lloyd; Douglas Hunt Morseburg, Leech Tish-man Fuscaldo & Lampl, LLC, Pasadena, CA; Thomas J. Peistrup, Tre Milano, LLC, Culver City, CA.

          Before Newman, Lourie, and Hughes, Circuit Judges.

          Newman, Circuit Judge.

         TF3 Limited ("TF3") appeals the decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board ("PTAB" or "Board")[1] in an inter partes review of U.S. Patent No. 8, 651, 118 ("the '118 Patent"), requested by Tre Milano, LLC. Tre Milano challenged the validity of claims 1-5 and 11, and did not challenge the validity of claims 6-10 and 12-15 of the '118 Patent. The PTAB instituted review of all of the claims that were challenged.

         We conclude that the Board erred in its finding of anticipation, for the Board erroneously construed two claim terms: "the length of hair can pass through the secondary opening" and "free end," broadening the claims beyond the description in the '118 Patent specification. On the correct claim construction, the claims are not anticipated.

         I

         Background

         A. The '118 Patent

         The '118 Patent is for a "hair styling device" that automates the curling of hair. In operation, a strand of hair is fed into a chamber of the device, the hair is wound around a rotating curling member in the chamber, the wound hair is heated to preserve the curl, and the curled hair slides off the curling member and exits the chamber. TF3 explains that "because the secondary opening 50 is annular and surrounds elongate member 20 the length of hair is not required to pass any obstruction or otherwise be forced to uncurl during its removal from the hair styling device 10, so that the curvature of the curls created by the device can be substantially maintained." '118 Patent, col. 6, 11. 39-44.

         Figures 1 and 2 show the claim elements related to this appeal: the elongate member 20, primary opening 24, secondary opening 50, and movable abutment 52:

         (Image Omitted)

         In operation the device receives a section of hair 26 through primary opening 24 into chamber 16. A motor-driven rotatable element 34 rotates and its leading edge 38 engages and captures the hair 26. The rotating element winds the hair around elongate member 20 until it reaches abutment 52. The abutment prevents twisting of the hair by stopping the hair from rotating around the free end of the elongate member 20. The wound hair is then heated. The user then releases the grip on handle parts 60 and 62, see Fig. 2, automatically moving abutment 52 from its closed position to its open position, and releasing the curled hair through the second opening 50.

         Claim 1 is deemed representative:

1. A hair styling device having: a body defining a chamber adapted to accommodate a length of hair, the chamber having a primary opening through which the length ...

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