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PIVOTAL PATENT CASE HITS FEDERAL CIRCUIT Hundreds of people flocked to the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday to listen to arguments in a case that could affect how patents are interpreted. The Federal Circuit addressed in an en banc hearing whether courts should rely primarily on dictionaries to define the terms that describe the scope of an invention, or look to the description in the patent itself. Phillips v. AWH, 363 F.3d 1207, is one of the most pivotal patent issues to come before the Federal Circuit, generating more than 50 amicus curiae briefs. The court was prepared for a big turnout. As people arrived, they received a numbered slip of paper for a seat in the courtroom or a standing-room-only spot. The hourlong proceedings were piped into a second courtroom and lobby set up for the overflow crowd. James Benjamin, a deputy clerk at the Federal Circuit, estimated that at least 300 people attended. “We’ve had some big cases,” said Benjamin, a 25-year veteran of the court, “but nothing to my knowledge with the audience as in this case.” Beth Brinkmann, a partner in Morrison & Foerster’s Washington, D.C., office, said she arrived two hours before the hearing started and was No. 7 for an SRO slot in the courtroom. MoFo held a seminar on the case at the Crowne Plaza Cabana in Palo Alto on Tuesday, and also aired the event over the Internet. Hooked into the event via phone, Brinkmann summed up the Federal Circuit arguments. In addition to the question of dictionary use, the judges focused on whether the description of a patent — its so-called specification — could limit the claims. They also touched on how much deference district judges should be given in their interpretation of patent claims. Brinkmann said she couldn’t guess how the judges would rule on the case. “Not too many judges were tipping their hand,” she said. — Brenda Sandburg JURORS’ NOTES LEAVE STEWART TEAM UPBEAT NEW YORK — Lawyers for defense attorney Lynne Stewart and her co-defendants in a federal terror trial were cheered Tuesday after jurors sent notes asking to speak to Judge John Koeltl. The notes prompted the Southern District of New York judge to meet individually with two jurors in the robing room. He opted to have representatives from both sides present: Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Barkow and David Ruhnke, attorney for co-defendant Mohamed Yousry. After the interviews, Ruhnke emerged to brief his fellow attorneys in a huddle that brought smiles to the faces of the lawyers as well as Stewart, Yousry and another co-defendant, Ahmed Abdel Sattar. Barry Fallick and Kenneth Paul, who represent Sattar, refused to comment on the notes or the meetings, the records of which have been placed under seal. They also adamantly refused to speculate on whether their light-hearted gathering near the defense tables meant there were indications the deliberations were breaking their way — either for an acquittal or a mistrial. “Clearly, from what you saw, there are some juror issues going on,” was Paul’s only comment as he left the courthouse. That the jury may have run into problems reaching a verdict was not unexpected. They began discussing the evidence on Jan. 12 and have now had 11 days of deliberations. Judge Koeltl has already cautioned the jurors that, if they should run into difficulty, they were not to tell him where the jury stands at any point. Stewart and her co-defendants are accused of conspiring to defraud the government by acting as communications conduits between imprisoned Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and his followers in the Islamic Group, which the U.S. State Department has labeled a foreign terrorist organization for its role in violent attacks against tourists and government targets in Egypt. — New York Law Journal

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