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Preamble Limits Claim Where Body Of Claim Fails To Recite Complete Invention


In Bicon, Inc. v. Straumann Co. (No. 05-1168; March 20, 2006), the Federal Circuit affirms the district court's grant of summary judgment of noninfringement. Bicon and Diro, Inc. sued Straumann for infringement of a patent for a dental implant prosthesis, i.e., an emergence cuff member for use in preserving interdental papilla. Central to the claim construction and infringement analyses of the Federal Circuit is a determination of whether the preamble of the claim at issue limits the claim.

The Federal Circuit finds that the preamble of the claim recites essential elements of the invention pertaining to the structure of an abutment that is used with the claimed emergence cuff, because the preamble contains structural features of the abutment, and the body of the claim refers back to the features of the abutment described in the preamble. Moreover, the Federal Circuit determines that if the claim is not limited by the preamble, some of the limitations of the claim would be rendered meaningless. Thus, the Federal Circuit concludes that the preamble limits the claim.

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