The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has vacated the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB’s) rejection of a patent application for a fruit dehydration apparatus. In re Durance, No. 2017-1486 (Fed. Cir., entered June 1, 2018). The inventors applied for a patent for a microwave dehydration container containing a rotating chamber to tumble organic materials during the drying process, but the examiner rejected it for prior art and structural identity and PTAB affirmed.

The Federal Circuit found that “the Patent Office continually shifted its position” on its grounds for rejection, resulting in the applicants responding to “moving target rejections.” In addition, the court held that PTAB failed to review the applicants’ reply brief arguments, directing the board to consider them on remand and to determine whether a structural identity rejection can be used to find a prima facie case of obviousness for method claims.

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