Despite the willingness of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to interpret means-plus-function claims under 35 U.S.C. 112, para. 6, that tribunal has practically gone out of its way to avoid interpreting step-plus-function claim limitations. Even though the court finally defined step-plus-function limitations nearly two years ago, [FOOTNOTE 1]no other Federal Circuit decision had revisited this issue until the recent ruling in Seal-Flex Inc. v. Athletic Track and Court Construction. [FOOTNOTE 2]
The Federal Circuit’s per curiam opinion, however, avoided the issue by assuming — as did both the parties and the U.S. district court in Detroit–that the disputed claim element was subject to � 112, para. 6 without explaining how. [FOOTNOTE 3]Nevertheless, Judge Randall R. Rader’s concurring opinion, albeit technically dicta, may show where the Federal Circuit is headed. [FOOTNOTE 4]
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