The Toro Company sought inter parties review of an MTD Products patent. While the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) knocked the patent out holding the claims obvious, the PTAB determined the claim term “mechanical control assembly” was not a means-plus-function term subject to 35 U.S.C. § 112, ¶ 6. In MTD Products Inc. v. Iancu, the Federal Circuit disagreed. The court remanded the case noting the term is a “nonce term” that is not sufficiently structural to a person of ordinary skill in the art. The court further noted the specification does not demonstrate that the patentee intended to define the nonce term as the “ZTR control assembly” of the preferred embodiment.
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