MAYER, Chief Judge.
Jaswant S. Pannu and Jaswant S. Pannu, M.D., P.A. (collectively Pannu) appeal the judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Pannu v. Storz Instruments, Inc., 106 F.Supp.2d 1304 (S.D.Fla.2000), granting summary judgment for Storz Instruments, Inc. (Storz) that U.S. Patent No. Re 32,525 is invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 251, the recapture rule. Because the reissued patent improperly broadened claims in a manner directly pertinent to subject matter surrendered during prosecution, we affirm.
In 1980, Pannu filed a patent application for an artificial intraocular lens, S/N 136,243 ('243 application). An intraocular lens is an artificial plastic lens that may be implanted in an eye to replace a natural lens. The '243 application disclosed a round lens called an "optic" that focuses light on the retina, and two or more elements called "haptics" that are attached to the optic and contact internal tissue in the eye for the purpose of positioning and securing the optic. The haptics in Pannu's application included "snag resistant" discs at the end. In 1981, Pannu filed a continuation-in-part application, S/N 261,953 ('953 application), based on the original '243 application. The '953 application added new matter, claiming a lens in which the haptics are "integrally molded" to the lens body, and the lens could be placed in either the anterior or posterior chamber of the eye.
Independent claim 1 of the '953 application reads as follows:
The examiner rejected claims 1-14 as obvious under 35 U.S.C. § 103 in light of four prior art references: U.S. Patent No. 4,159,546 (Shearing patent), a publication showing the "Lindstrom Centrex" lens, U.S. Patent No. 4,249,271 (Poler patent), and U.S. Patent No. 4,092,743 (Kelman patent). In response, Pannu filed a supplemental amendment that cancelled claims 1-7 and 10-14, added new claims 16-22, and modified claims 8 and 9 to be dependent upon claim 16. Independent claim 16 reads as follows:
Pannu raised six arguments for the patentability of claim 16 over the four prior art references, including the distinction of "a continuous substantially circular arc having a diameter greater than the diameter of the lens body ... which significantly enhance the easy insertibility of applicant's lens and significantly reduce any possibility of snagging delicate eye tissue." The examiner accepted Pannu's arguments, and allowed claim 16 subject to minor amendments to set forth precisely the structural details of the haptics. Claim 16 issued as claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 4,435,855 ('855 patent) and reads as follows:
In 1985, Pannu filed an application for reissue of the '855 patent. The supplemental reissue oath stated that Pannu "unduly and without deceptive intent narrowed the claims beyond what was necessitated
The '855 patent reissued as U.S. Patent No. Re 32,525 ('525 reissue).
Pannu filed suit against Storz, alleging that intraocular lenses sold by Storz infringed the '525 reissue. Storz filed a counterclaim seeking a declaratory judgment of patent invalidity, and moved for summary judgment that the '525 reissue improperly recaptures subject matter Pannu surrendered in obtaining allowance of claim 1 of the '855 patent. The court granted Storz's motion for summary judgment of invalidity and Pannu appeals.
"We review a district court's grant of summary judgment de novo." Vanmoor v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 201 F.3d 1363, 1365, 53 USPQ2d 1377, 1378 (Fed.Cir.2000). Determining whether the claims of a reissued patent violate 35 U.S.C. § 251 is a question of law, which we review de novo. In re Clement, 131 F.3d 1464, 1468, 45 USPQ2d 1161, 1163 (Fed. Cir.1997); Mentor Corp. v. Coloplast, Inc., 998 F.2d 992, 995, 27 USPQ2d 1521, 1524 (Fed.Cir.1993). This legal conclusion can involve underlying findings of fact, which are reviewed for substantial evidence. Hester Indus., Inc. v. Stein, Inc., 142 F.3d 1472, 1479, 46 USPQ2d 1641, 1647 (Fed. Cir.1998); Mentor, 998 F.2d at 994, 27 USPQ2d at 1524 (citing Ball Corp. v. United States, 729 F.2d 1429, 1439, 221 USPQ 289, 297 (Fed.Cir.1984)). However, summary judgment is appropriate only when there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Vanmoor, 201 F.3d at 1365, 53 USPQ2d at 1378. The underlying facts in this case are taken directly from the prosecution file histories and the claims of the '855 patent and the '525 reissue, and are not disputed. See Hester, 142 F.3d at 1484, 46 USPQ2d at 1651. Claim construction is a purely legal question, Cybor Corp. v. FAS Techs., Inc., 138 F.3d 1448, 1456, 46 USPQ2d 1169, 1174 (Fed.Cir.1998) (en banc), and therefore, comparison of the claims of the '855 patent and the '525 reissue is a purely legal question appropriate for summary judgment, Westvaco Corp. v. Int'l Paper Co., 991 F.2d 735, 741, 26 USPQ2d 1353, 1358 (Fed.Cir.1993) ("A determination of whether the scope of a reissue claim is identical with the scope of the original claim is a question of law, which we review de novo.").
The recapture rule "prevents a patentee from regaining through reissue
With respect to the shape of the haptics, claim 1 of the '525 reissue is broader than claim 1 of the original '855 patent. Claim 1 of the '855 patent limited the haptics to "a continuous, substantially circular arc having a diameter greater than the diameter of said lens body, said arc curved toward said lens circumference." Claim 1 of the '525 reissue eliminated this limitation on the shape of the haptics. "A reissue claim that does not include a limitation present in the original patent claims is broader in that respect." Hester, 142 F.3d at 1480, 46 USPQ2d at 1648. In addition, Pannu's reissue oath admitted that he unnecessarily narrowed the scope of the claim with respect to the shape of the haptics. He stated that "the [haptics] may actually be of any shape as long as the elements terminate in a free end having snag resistant means as now recited in claim 1." Correction of Pannu's unnecessary narrowing of claim 1 must involve a corresponding broadening of the reissued claim.
Pannu argues that even if the reissued claim is broader, it did not relate to subject matter surrendered during prosecution. This argument is without merit. As originally filed, none of the claims in the '953 application limited the shape of the haptics. The examiner rejected claims 1-14 as obvious. In response to the rejection, Pannu filed a supplemental amendment canceling claim 1 and adding new independent claim 16. Claim 16 described the haptics as "defining a continuous, substantially circular arc having a diameter greater than the diameter of said lens body, said arc curved toward said lens circumference." Pannu argued to the examiner, "no such particular shape is disclosed by the lenses of either Shearing or Lindstrom. In fact, Shearing teaches away from the concept of a continuous substantially circular arc supporting strand ... [and] the Lindstrom lens illustrates a supporting strand with a somewhat irregular, elliptical shape." The addition of the "continuous, substantially circular arc" limitation to claim 16 and the statements made by Pannu to the examiner during prosecution of the '855 patent limited the claim to exclude an interpretation that did not include a continuous, substantially circular arc. See Southwall Techs., Inc. v. Cardinal IG Co., 54 F.3d 1570, 1576, 34 USPQ2d 1673, 1676 (1995). The shape of the haptics was broadened during reissue and was the same subject matter that was surrendered during prosecution.
Pannu argues, however, that because the reissued claims were materially narrowed in other respects, the '525 reissue
The "continuous, substantially circular arc" limitation related to the shape of the haptics. The narrowing aspect of the claim on reissue, however, was not related to the shape of the haptics, but rather the positioning and dimensions of the snag resistant means. Therefore, the reissued claims were not narrowed in any material respect compared with their broadening. Furthermore, "if the patentee is seeking to recover subject matter that had been surrendered during the initial prosecution this flexibility of analysis is eliminated, for the prosecution history establishes the substantiality of the change and estops its recapture." Anderson v. Int'l Eng'g & Mfg., Inc., 160 F.3d 1345, 1349, 48 USPQ2d 1631, 1634 (Fed.Cir.1998); see also Mentor, 998 F.2d at 996, 27 USPQ2d at 1525 ("[I]n this case, the reissue claims are broader than the original patent claims in a manner directly pertinent to the subject matter surrendered during prosecution. Mentor thus attempted to reclaim what it earlier gave up."). In prosecuting the '855 patent, Pannu specifically limited the shape of the haptics to a "continuous, substantially circular arc." On reissue, he is estopped from attempting to recapture the precise limitation he added to overcome prior art rejections.
Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.