Federal Circuit Holds “A” Means “Two or More

In Eidos Display LLC v. AU Optronics Corp. (Fed. Cir. 2015), the Federal Circuit depended on the standard practice in the field of the invention to determine that “a contact hole for source wiring and gate wiring connection terminals” meant each terminal has its own hole because the industry practice was to form one contact hole for each of the connection terminals and the patentee did not show any teaching of how to depart from the common practice.

Although it was technically feasible to form a shared hole for multiple terminals, the Federal Circuit stated that “if the patentee wanted to deviate from the standard practice … some teaching of how to depart … would not only be expected, but is required.”

The analysis went further into the construction of the word at issue, “a.” The Federal Circuit analogized that “a,” in this particular context, meant “two or more” just like how the phrase “I am going to create an electric car for the United States and United Kingdom” means that two cars are to be created—one left sided steering for the U.S. and another right sided steering for the U.K.

The Federal Circuit distinguished this analysis from rewriting the claim, which the court is not permitted to do. Instead, the Federal Circuit considered it as interpreting how one of ordinary skill in the art would construe the claim language.

Click here to read the full opinion.