Joseph J. Farnan, Jr., Esq., Brian E. Farnan, Esq., FARNAN LLP, Wilmington, DE. Attorneys for Plaintiff buy SAFE, Inc.
Jack B. Blumenfeld, Esq., Paul Saindon, Esq., MORRIS, NICHOLS, ARSHT & TUNNEL LLP, Wilmington, DE. Attorneys for Defendant Google Inc.
STARK, U.S. District Judge
Pending before the Court is the issue of claim construction of various disputed terms of U.S. Pat. No. 7, 644, 019 ("the '019 patent").
Plaintiff buy SAFE, Inc. ("Plaintiff'') filed this patent infringement action against Defendant Google Inc. ("Defendant") on December 22, 2011, alleging that Google's "Trusted Stores" program infringes the '019 patent. (D.I. 1) The '019 patent is entitled "Safe Transaction Guaranty" and generally relates to providing a guaranty service for online transactions.
The parties completed briefing on claim construction on September 7, 2012. (D.I. 38, 39, 43, 44) The Court held a Markman hearing on October 26, 2012. (D.I. 49) (hereinafter "Tr.")
II. LEGAL STANDARDS
"It is a bedrock principle of patent law that the claims of a patent define the invention to which the patentee is entitled the right to exclude." Phillips v. AWHCorp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1312 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (internal quotation marks omitted). Construing the claims of a patent presents a question of law. See Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 977-78
(Fed. Cir. 1995), aff'd, 517 U.S. 370, 388-90 (1996). "[T]here is no magic formula or catechism for conducting claim construction." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1324. Instead, the Court is free to attach the appropriate weight to appropriate sources "in light of the statutes and policies that inform patent law." Id.
"[T]he words of a claim are generally given their ordinary and customary meaning ...[which is] the meaning that the term would have to a person of ordinary skill in the art in question at the time of the invention, i.e., as of the effective filing date of the patent application." Id. at 1312-13 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). "[T]he ordinary meaning of a claim term is its meaning to the ordinary artisan after reading the entire patent." Id. at 1321 (internal quotation marks omitted). The patent specification "is always highly relevant to the claim construction analysis. Usually, it is dispositive; it is the single best guide to the meaning of a disputed term." Vitronics Corp. v. Conceptronic, Inc., 90 F.3d 1576, 1582 (Fed. Cir. 1996).
While "the claims themselves provide substantial guidance as to the meaning of particular claim terms, " the context of the surrounding words of the claim also must be considered. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314. Furthermore, "[o]ther claims of the patent in question, both asserted and unasserted, can also be valuable sources of enlightenment... [b]ecause claim terms are normally used consistently throughout the patent...." Id. (internal citation omitted).
"Differences among claims can also be a useful guide.... For example, the presence of a dependent claim that adds a particular limitation gives rise to a presumption that the limitation in question is not present in the independent claim." Id. at 1314-15 (internal citation omitted). This "presumption is especially strong when the limitation in dispute is the only meaningful difference between an independent and dependent claim, and one party is urging that the limitation in the dependent claim should be read into the independent claim." SunRace Roots Enter. Co., Ltd. v. SRAM Corp., 336 F.3d 1298, 1303 (Fed. Cir. 2003).
It is also possible that "the specification may reveal a special definition given to a claim term by the patentee that differs from the meaning it would otherwise possess. In such cases, the inventor's lexicography governs." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1316. It bears emphasis that "[e]ven when the specification describes only a single embodiment, the claims of the patent will not be read restrictively unless the patentee has demonstrated a clear intention to limit the claim scope using words or expressions of manifest exclusion or restriction." Liebel-Flarsheim Co. v. Medrad, Inc., 358 F.3d 898, 906 (Fed. Cir. 2004) (internal quotation marks omitted), aff'd, 481 F.3d 1371 (Fed. Cir. 2007).
In addition to the specification, a court "should also consider the patent's prosecution history, if it is in evidence." Markman, 52 F.3d at 980. The prosecution history, which is "intrinsic evidence, " "consists of the complete record of the proceedings before the PTO [Patent and Trademark Office] and includes the prior art cited during the examination of the patent." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1317. "[T]he prosecution history can often inform the meaning of the claim language by demonstrating how the inventor understood the invention and whether the inventor limited ...