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Comcast IP Holdings I, LLC. v. Sprint Communications Co., L.P.

United States District Court, Third Circuit

August 16, 2013

COMCAST IP HOLDINGS I, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
SPRINT COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY L.P.; SPRINT SPECTRUM L.P.; and NEXTEL OPERATIONS, INC., Defendants.

Arthur G. Connolly, Esq., Wilmington, Delaware; David J. Lisson, Esq. (argued), Menlo Park, California; Anthony I. Fenwick, Esq. (argued), Menlo Park, California; Attorneys for Plaintiff Comcast IP Holdings I, LLC Technology, Inc.

Richard K. Herrmann, Esq., Wilmington, Delaware; Robert H. Reckers, Esq. (argued), Houston, Texas; Peter E. Strand, Esq. (argued), Washington, D.C.; Attorneys for Defendants Sprint Communications Company L.P., Sprint Spectrum L.P., and Nextel Operations, Inc.

CLAIM CONSTRUCTION

ANDREWS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

This is a claim construction opinion. Plaintiff Comcast IP Holdings I, LLC ("Comcast") asserts certain patent rights against Defendants Sprint Communications Company L.P., Sprint Spectrum L.P., and Nextel Operations, Inc. (collectively, "Sprint").[1] Those rights include one group of patents, referred to by the parties as the "Low Patents, " and an unrelated patent, U.S. Patent No. 6, 873, 694. The "Low Patents" are U.S. Patent Nos. 7, 012, 916, 7, 206, 304, 7, 903, 641, 8, 170, 008, 8, 189, 565, 8, 204, 046, and 8, 223, 752.

The "Low Patents" claim inventions facilitating the integration of traditional telephone networks with computer networks. The '694 Patent claims the invention of systems and methods to optimize a telephony network by accounting for different telephony parameters to determine whether a request for telephony network service should be accepted.

A. "Low Patents"

1. "switched telecommunication system / telecommunication system"

Claim term

Comcast's Construction

Sprint's Construction

"switched telecommunication system"

8, 170, 008: Claims

1, 3, 6, 7, 12, 13, 19, 27, and 29;

8, 189, 565: Claims 1 and 3; and

8, 223, 752: Claims 16, 24, and 30.

A system comprising a bearer network with switches for setting up a bearer channel through the network. A datagram-based communication system where each data packet is independently routed through a bearer network without following a predetermined bearer channel is not a "switched telecommunication system."

A system comprising a bearer network with switches for setting up a bearer channel through the network that does not include datagram-based communication systems where each data packet is independently routed through a bearer network without following a predetermined bearer channel.

"telecommunication system"

8, 170, 008: Claims 19 and 29.

A system comprising a bearer network with switches for setting up a bearer channel through the network. A datagram-based communication system where each data packet is independently routed through a bearer network without following a predetermined bearer channel is not a "telecommunication system."

A system comprising a bearer network with switches for setting up a bearer channel through the network that does not include datagram-based communication systems where each data packet is independently routed through a bearer network without following a predetermined bearer channel.

The parties dispute the construction of "switched telecommunication system." They do agree that a "switched telecommunication system" is defined in the specification as "a system comprising a bearer network with switches for setting up a bearer channel through the network." See "008 Patent at 1:31-33. They differ over whether a "switched telecommunication system" may include certain additional elements, those being elements of a "datagram-based communication system [] where each data packet is independently routed through a bearer network without following a predetermined bearer channel" ("datagram-based system"). Id. at 1:52-55. Sprint argues that the specification specifically defines the "switched telecommunication system" to exclude the elements of a "datagram-based system." This is because the specification states that a "communication system" in general is a broader concept than the "switched based telecommunication system" because a "communication system" may include a "datagram-based system." See id, at 1:50-55. Comcast disagrees, arguing that a "communication system" is broader than a "switched telecommunication system" because a "communication system" includes a system without switches, but this does not necessarily mean that a "switched telecommunication system" cannot also have aspects of a "datagram-based system." That is, so long as a "switched telecommunication system" indeed has switches, it may also have aspects of a "datagram-based system."

The Court agrees with Comcast. A system with elements of both switches and a "datagram-based system" is not necessarily outside the scope of a "switched telecommunication system." The fact that the "communication system" is understood to be broader than the "switched telecommunication system" does not mean a "switched telecommunication system" is precluded from having some overlap with elements of a "datagram-based system." A "communication system" is still a broader concept than a "switched telecommunication system" even where the "switched telecommunication system" has elements of a "datagram-based system, " because a "switched telecommunication system" at a minimum must have switches and function on a bearer network. A "communication system" does not have those requirements. Sprint's argument that a system would no longer be a "switched telecommunication system" so long as it includes datagram elements, even if it indisputably includes switches and is on a bearer network, is not justified by the claims or specification.

2. "requesting.. .a communication to be set up through the switched telecommunication system"

Claim term

Comcast's Construction

Sprint's Construction

"requesting... a communication to be set up through the switched telecommunication system"

8, 189, 565: Claim 1

Requesting a communication to be set up through a bearer network or a signaling network of the switched telecommunication system.

Requesting a communication to be set up through a bearer channel of the switched telecommunication system.

At oral argument, the parties agreed to the plain and ordinary meaning of this ...


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