Early in Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Captain Nemo's mysterious submarine the Nautilus attacks a U.S. frigate, the Abraham Lincoln. The submarine's namesake (yes, we're going with a nautical reference here because exercise equipment is far too dull) lives on in the Supreme Court's decision on June 2, 2014 in Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 2120 (2014) which lowered the standard for negating patentability due to indefiniteness. The new test requires that the claim scope be “reasonably certain” to one skilled in the art at the time of the patent, a change from the prior "insolubly ambiguous" standard mandated by the Federal Circuit.
(I am already having deep regrets about not using as a reference the USS Nautilus (SS-168) that fought in the Battle of Midway, as well as the USS Nautilus (SSN-571) that was the first nuclear warship, but I figured the Verne/Disney reference would be best. Besides, my copy of 20,000 Leagues was actually published by the U.S. Naval Institute (no seriously) so it is something of a two-fer. As an aside within this parenthetical, do not buy an edition with a translation other than the 1993 Miller/Walter contained in this annotated edition - it is the landmark translation/annotation that replaced original translator Lewis Mercier's act of literary vandalism in 1873 that bowdlerized the original, as well as cutting some 23% of Verne's original text. Seriously - twenty-three percent. It's also the reason the USNI decided to publish the book, because in its original form, it's one of the classics of nautical literature. Until I read it, I thought all French translated this bad - which was one of the reasons French was one of my majors - I couldn't stand to read it in translation.)
Anyway, back to the judicial Nautilus, skippered by Justice Ginsburg (shown here sometime during the Civil War with, Justice, uh, Taney), as opposed to the fictional or historical ones. Today, Dennis Crouch noted in discussing the PTAB's first post-Nautilus decision that indefiniteness "can be" difficult under Nautilus, a deliberate pun on the decision's interpretation of that term.
That has certainly been my experience to date locally. I recently found myself sitting in a Markman hearing in which the Court indicated that it had found all the asserted claims of a patent indefinite applying the new standard. Soup to nuts - no sorbet. As I posted on as recently as, well, yesterday, decisions finding isolated claims indefinite have been relatively common - but invalidation of all of the asserted claims of a patent on indefiniteness grounds was not.
Nice to know we have new things to look forward to. Bon voyage, Nautilus.