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Mastermine v. Microsoft: Following Precedent or Pivoting Away?

At the end of October, in Mastermine Software, Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., No. 2016-2465 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 30, 2017), the Federal Circuit reversed a district court’s determination that a system claim was invalid for indefiniteness. The Federal Circuit disagreed with the district court’s conclusion that certain claims were indefinite for improperly claiming two different classes of subject matter.[1] The court found that the claims informed those skilled in the art with “reasonable certainty”[2] in conformity with the Nautilus guidance, specifically on the basis that one can determine when infringement occurs.[3] Overview of the District Court’s decision Mastermine asserted U.S. Patent Nos. 7,945,850 and 8,429,518 against Microsoft in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. In its claim construction order, the District Court held that claims in both patents were invalid for indefiniteness for claiming two different classes – apparatus and method.[4] Claim 8 of the ’850 Patent recites,… Continue Reading

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