Justia Aviation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Patents
Fleming v. Cirrus Design Corp.
Cirrus petitioned for inter partes review of a patent that describes ballistic parachute systems that use a rocket to deploy a parachute, slowing the fall of a crashing aircraft. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board determined that the challenged claims are unpatentable as obvious over a combination of Cirrus Design’s Pilot Operation Handbook (POH) and the James patent. The POH describes the operation of a ballistic parachute system installed on the Cirrus SR22 airplane. The James patent, titled “Semiautonomous Flight Director,” describes a “device for programming industry-standard autopilots” to allow “for the safe operation of any aircraft by an unskilled pilot. The Board determined that proposed amended claims lacked written description.The Federal Circuit affirmed. The determination that the ordinarily skilled artisan would program James’s autonomous system to perform the claimed flight maneuvers suggested by POH is the result of a faithful application of precedent on obviousness, including a directive to consider the creativity of the ordinarily skilled artisan. That the prior art cautioned pilots not to use autopilot in some emergency situations on some aircraft does not mean that the skilled artisan would have been dissuaded from doing so in all emergency situations on all aircraft. Substantial evidence supports the finding of lack of written description. View "Fleming v. Cirrus Design Corp." on Justia Law