The various ARMS cases have been mentioned several times in this blog. One of them went up to the Federal Circuit, which just issued its decision. In it the Federal Circuit affirmed Judge Saris’ invalidation of ARMS’ Reissue Patent No. 39,465 (directed to a firearm handguard) for failing to meet the written description requirement, but it also vacated a million dollar jury verdict because of a potential jury taint issue. The appeals court’s logic was as follows:
Because the claims covered a yoke/barrel nut attachment point that provides complete support for the handgun accessory, but the specification did not disclose such an embodiment, the patent was invalid for improper written description. (Evidence shows that the inventor felt that design was a “trade secret” and didn’t include it in the patent application. Oops.)
During deliberations a juror brought in a clamp from home to make a point to his fellow jurors. But only that juror was specifically questioned about the clamp and the Federal Circuit held that the District Court failed to conduct an adequate investigation as to whether the presence of external evidence prejudiced other members of the jury. Thus a mistrial was declared, sinking the $1.8 million jury award and the attorneys' fees.
With the patent issue put aside, the trade secret case now returns to Judge Saris, to take its place alongside all the other ARMS v. Troy cases.
Atlantic Research Marketing Systems, Inc. v. Troy, 2011-1002, -1003 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 6, 2011)