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Immersion Corporation v. HTC Corporation

United States District Court, D. Delaware

February 11, 2015

IMMERSION CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
HTC CORPORATION, and HTC AMERICA INC. Defendants.

Richard L. Horwitz, Esq., Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP, Wilmington, DE; David E. Moore, Esq., Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP, Wilmington, DE; Bindu A. Palapura, Esq., Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP, Wilmington, DE; Bryan Wilson, Esq., Morrison & Foerster LLP, Palo Alto, CA; Marc D. Peters, Esq., (argued), Morrison & Foerster LLP, Palo Alto, CA; Michael J. Kryston, Esq., Morrison & Foerster LLP, Palo Alto, CA; Stefan J. Szpajda, Esq., (argued), Morrison & Foerster LLP, Palo Alto, CA; Harold J. McElhinny, Esq., Morrison & Foerster LLP, San Francisco, CA, attorneys for the Plaintiff.

John G. Day, Esq., Ashby & Geddes, Wilmington, DE; Tiffany Geyer Lydon, Esq., Ashby & Geddes, Wilmington, DE; John P. Schnurer, Esq., (argued), Perkins Coie LLP, San Diego, CA; Michael J. Engle, Esq., (argued), Perkins Coie LLP, San Diego, CA; Ryan B. Hawkins, Esq., Perkins Coie LLP, San Diego, CA; Jack Ko, Esq., Perkins Coie LLP, San Diego, CA; Ryan McBrayer, Esq., Perkins Coie LLP, Seattle, WA; Sher S. Kung, Esq., Perkins Coie LLP, Seattle, WA, attorneys for the Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RICHARD G. ANDREWS, District Judge.

Presently before the Court is the issue of claim construction of multiple terms in U.S. Patent Nos. 6, 429, 846; 7, 969, 288; 7, 982, 720; 8, 031, 181; and 8, 059, 105. The Court has considered the Parties' Joint Claim Construction Brief (D.I. 231). The Court heard oral argument on some of the terms on November 25, 2014. (D.I. 324). The remaining terms were submitted on the papers. (Id. at pp. 119-20).

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Immersion Corporation filed a complaint on March 2, 2012 alleging that HTC Corporation, HTC (B.V.I.) Corporation, HTC America Holdings, Inc., HTC America, Inc., and Exedea, Inc. infringed U.S. Patent Nos. 6, 429, 846 ("the 846 patent"), 7, 592, 999 ("the 999 patent"), 7, 969, 288 ("the 288 patent"), 7, 982, 720 ("the 720 patent"), 8, 031, 181 ("the 181 patent"), and 8, 059, 105 ("the 105 patent"). (D.I. 1). The case was stayed on April 12, 2012 pending an International Trade Commission investigation. (D.I. 7). The case was reopened on May 1, 2013 and an amended complaint was filed against HTC Corporation and HTC America, Inc. (D.I. 11). The other defendants were terminated as parties. A second amended complaint was filed on June 10, 2013, which dropped the infringement allegations with respect to the 999 patent. (D.I. 28). Defendants responded to the second amended complaint on June 28, 2013. (D.I. 33). There are no counterclaims or cross-claims.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

"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) (en banc) (internal quotation marks omitted). "[T]here is no magic formula or catechism for conducting claim construction.' Instead, the court is free to attach the appropriate weight to appropriate sources in light of the statutes and policies that inform patent law.'" SoftView LLC v. Apple Inc., 2013 WL 4758195, at *1 (D. Del. Sept. 4, 2013) (quoting Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1324). When construing patent claims, a court considers the literal language of the claim, the patent specification, and the prosecution history. Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 977-80 (Fed. Cir. 1995) (en banc), aff'd, 517 U.S. 370 (1996). Of these sources, "the 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." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1315 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

"[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." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1312-13 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). "[T]he ordinary meaning of a claim term is its meaning to [an] ordinary artisan after reading the entire patent." Id. at 1321 (internal quotation marks omitted). "In some cases, the ordinary meaning of claim language as understood by a person of skill in the art may be readily apparent even to lay judges, and claim construction in such cases involves little more than the application of the widely accepted meaning of commonly understood words." Id. at 1314 (internal citations omitted).

When a court relies solely upon the intrinsic evidence-the patent claims, the specification, and the prosecution history-the court's construction is a determination of law. See Teva Pharm. USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., 135 S.Ct. 831, 841 (2015). The court may also make factual findings based upon consideration of extrinsic evidence, which "consists of all evidence external to the patent and prosecution history, including expert and inventor testimony, dictionaries, and learned treatises." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1317-19 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Extrinsic evidence may assist the court in understanding the underlying technology, the meaning of terms to one skilled in the art, and how the invention works. Id. Extrinsic evidence, however, is less reliable and less useful in claim construction than the patent and its prosecution history. Id.

"A claim construction is persuasive, not because it follows a certain rule, but because it defines terms in the context of the whole patent." Renishaw PLC v. Marposs Societa' per Azioni, 158 F.3d 1243, 1250 (Fed. Cir. 1998). It follows that "a claim interpretation that would exclude the inventor's device is rarely the correct interpretation." Osram GmbH v. Int'l Trade Comm'n, 505 F.3d 1351, 1358 (Fed. Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

III. CONSTRUCTION OF DISPUTED TERMS

1. "touch input device"

a. Plaintiff's proposed construction: No construction is necessary. If construed, the term should be given its plain and ordinary meaning, within the context of the claim and consistent with the intrinsic evidence, which is a "device that allows a user to provide input by touching an area on the device." A touch input device may include a touch surface, a display, a touch sensor, and a controller.
b. Defendants' proposed construction: the touch surface and the touch sensor
c. Court's construction: device that allows a user to provide input by touching an area on the device, and may include a touch surface, a display, and a touch sensor

2. "touch screen"

a. Plaintiff's proposed construction: No construction is necessary. If construed, the term should be given its plain and ordinary meaning, within the context of the claim and consistent with the intrinsic evidence, which is a "display device that allows a user to provide input by touching an area on the device." A touch screen may include a touch surface, a display, a touch sensor, and a controller.
b. Defendants' proposed construction: a touch surface, through which computer-generated graphical objects can be viewed, and a touch sensor
c. Court's construction: a display device that allows a user to provide input by touching an area on the device, and may include a touch surface, a display, and a touch sensor

Because the claim construction issues with respect to these terms are the same, and the parties argued them together, the Court will address them together. Plaintiff argues that Defendants' construction improperly limits the scope of the terms by excluding components identified in the specification as part of the touch screen/touch input device. (D.I. 231 at p. 4). For example, Plaintiff notes that the specification[1] requires the touch screen to be "operative to output a first signal" and "operative to display a graphical image." (Id. ). In arguing its motions for summary judgment, Plaintiff maintained that the touch screen included the touch surface, touch sensor, display, and bezel.[2] (D.I. 273 at pp. 10-11). Plaintiff argues that all of these components are necessary for the devices to function, and are therefore part of the touch screen. (Id. at p. 11; D.I. 231 at p. 12).

Defendants argue that the display, bezel, and other components of the touch devices are separate from the touch screen. (D.I. 231 at p. 6). Defendants note that the touch screen and housing are labeled separately in the specification's drawings. (Id. at p. 7). Defendants further argue that, in a design guide, Plaintiff's own engineers differentiate the touch screen from the display, bezel, and controller. (Id. at p. 10).

The Court finds that the proper construction lies between the parties' proposed constructions. The Court agrees that the display is part of the touch screen/touch input device and therefore finds that Defendants' construction is too narrow. The specification discloses that the touch screen must be "operative to display a graphical image, " and it therefore must include a display. However, the Court also finds that Plaintiff's construction is too broad. The Court does not find that the bezel and controller are components of the touch screen/touch input device. While it is true that the bezel is necessary to bind the touch screen to the other components of the device, it does not follow that the bezel is part of the touch screen. Presumably, all components of the device play some part in making it function. That does not mean that they are all part of the touch screen, which is but one part of the device. The controller, or printed circuit board, is separated from the display by the bezel (D.I. 273 at p. 10), and is therefore similarly not part of the touch screen.

3. "cursor"

a. Plaintiff's proposed construction: a visual indicator of position
b. Defendants' proposed construction: graphical pointer that moves in unison with a pointing device
c. Court's construction: movable, visible mark used to indicate a position of interest on a display device

Plaintiff argues that the claim language emphasizes the importance of the cursor's position, and that Defendants' construction reads in limitations. (D.I. 231 at p. 18). Plaintiff maintains that while a cursor can be movable, it does not necessarily have to be. (Id. at p. 19). Plaintiff supports its construction with several definitions from technical dictionaries. (Id. at p. 19, Exs. 34, 35, 38). In addition, Plaintiff argues that a graphical pointer is just one type of cursor and the construction should not be limited to a single example. (Id. at p. ...


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