Mini Visa Card Claims Declared Invalid

Scott Daniels | June 30, 2009

Vanguard ID Systems Inc. filed a Request in February 2004, for inter partes reexamination of claims 1-17, 20-35, 38-54 and 57 of U.S. Patent No. 6,471,127. The ‘127 patent belongs to Bank of America Corp. and claims a card having a size smaller than normal credit cards, in which “the encoded data can be read by a magnetic stripe reader configured to read magnetic stripes compliant with ISO/IEC 7811.”

The examiner rejected each of the claims on the basis of the prior art references identified in Vanguard’s Request. The Patent Office Board of Appeals has now affirmed the rejection.

Significantly, the Board found that the primary reference relied upon in the Request satisfied the claim limitation which the examiner in the original application had found to be missing from the most relevant prior art reference. The Board also refused to construe the claims in the narrow manner urged by the patentee, giving them instead “their broadest reasonable construction in light of the specification.”

The ‘127 patentee did not argue the separate patentability of any of the dependent claims, and the Board therefore found that the dependent claims rose or fell with the independent claims. The ‘127 patent is not currently the subject of any pending litigation. The primary prior art reference was not before the examiner during the original prosecution, and was, in fact, Vanguard’s own patent.

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