United States District Court, D. Delaware
Richard D. Kirk, Stephen B. Brauerman, Vanessa R. Tiradentes, Sara E. Bussiere, BAYARD P.A., Wilmington, DE
Paul V. Storm, Sarah M. Paxson, GARDERE WYNNE SEWELL LLP, Dallas, TX Attorneys for Plaintiff.
Richard L. Horwitz, David E. Moore, Erich W. Struble, POTTER ANDERSON & CORROON LLP, Wilmington, DE
James F. Valentine, James C. Pistorino, Nancy Cheng, Wing H. Liang, PERKINS COIE, LLP, Palo Alto, CA Attorneys for Defendant.
LEONARD P. STARK, District Judge.
Pending before the Court is the issue of claim construction for the disputed term "sticky path" in the claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 7, 840, 619 (the '"619 patent") and 8, 280, 932 (the '"932 patent") (collectively, "the patents-in-suit").
Plaintiff Technology Innovations Associates (hereinafter "TIA" or "Plaintiff') filed this patent infringement action against Defendant Google, Inc. (hereinafter "Google" or "Defendant") on March 4, 2013. (D.I. 1) The patents-in-suit claim a computer data processing system for the management of data objects. TIA alleges infringement of the patents-in-suit by products running Google's Android operating system. ( Id. at ¶ 8) Specifically, TIA alleges that a "sticky path object hierarchy viewing system, " which displays the path back to a top item in a scrollable area, infringes.
The parties advised the Court early in the suit that this case might be amenable to an extremely early claim construction process relating to a single term in dispute, "sticky path." Over the course of several letters and teleconferences, the parties exchanged their proposed constructions of the disputed term and argued over the impact of the Court's adopting either proposed construction. By order dated June 9, 2014, the Court agreed with Google that its proposed early, limited claim construction process would likely facilitate the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of this action, even if the Court's construction did not prove to be case dispositive. (D.I. 33)
The parties completed early claim construction briefing on the disputed term on July 11, 2014. (D.I. 34, 36, 38, 39) The Court held a Markman hearing on July 21, 2014. ( See Transcript) ("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. AWH Corp., 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 ...