United States District Court, D. Delaware
Brian E. Farnan, Esq., Michael J. Farnan, Esq., Farnan LLP, Wilmington, DE; Scott F. Partridge, Esq. (argued), L. Gene Spears, Esq. (argued), Ryan Pinckney, Esq. (argued), Baker Botts L.L.P., Houston, TX, attorneys for Plaintiff.
Jack B. Blumenfeld, Esq., Paul Saindon, Esq., Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, Wilmington, DE; Cono A. Carrano, Esq. (argued), David C. Vondle, Esq., Ashraf A. Fawzy, Esq., Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Washington, D.C., attorneys for Defendant.
RICHARD G. ANDREWS, District Judge.
Presently before the Court is the issue of claim construction of multiple terms in U.S. Patent No. RE44, 550 ("the '550 patent"). The Court has considered the Parties' Joint Claim Construction Brief. (D.I. 84). The Court heard oral argument on several terms on May 12, 2015. The remaining terms were submitted on the papers. (Tr. 145).
Plaintiff ARTࣣ Innovationpool GmbH filed this patent infringement action against Google Inc. on February 20, 2014. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant infringes the '550 patent. The '550 patent is a reissue of U.S. Patent No. RE41, 428, which is a reissue of U.S. Patent No. 6, 100, 897.
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." Id. 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
Claim 1 is representative and reads:
1. A method of providing a pictorial representation of space-related data of a selectable object, the representation corresponding to a view of the object by an observer with a selectable location and a selectable direction of view comprising:
(a) providing a plurality of spatially distributed data sources for storing space-related data;
(b) determining a field of view including an area of the object to be represented through a selection of a distance of the observer to the object and an angle of view of the observer to the object;
(c) requesting data for the field of view from at least one of the plurality of spatially distributed data sources;
(d) centrally storing the data for the field of view;
(e) representing the data for the field of view in a pictorial representation having one or more sections;
(f) using a computer, dividing each of the one or more sections having image resolutions below a desired image resolution into a plurality of smaller sections, requesting higher resolution space-related data for each of the smaller sections from at least one of the plurality of spatially distributed data sources, centrally storing the higher resolution space-related data, and representing the data for the field of view in the pictorial representation; and
(g) repeating step (f), dividing the sections into smaller sections, until every section has the desired image resolution or no higher image resolution data is available.
1. "centrally storing the data for the field of view"
a. Plaintiff's proposed construction: storing requested data for the field of view in memory at the location of the request
b. Defendant's proposed construction: storing the field of view data such that it is accessible by a plurality of networked display devices
c. Court's construction: storing requested data for the field of view in memory at the location of the request
Plaintiff argues that Defendant's construction adds a limitation and excludes an embodiment disclosed in the specification. (D.I. 84 at p. 5; Tr. 7). Plaintiff maintains that nothing in the specification requires that the central storage be accessible by a plurality of networked devices. (Tr. 11). To the contrary, Plaintiff argues that Figure 2 of the patent discloses a central storage that is at the user's location and connected to "the display device, " not multiple display devices. (D.I. 84 at pp. 5-6 (quoting '550 patent, col. 8, 11. 2-3)). Plaintiff further argues that the specification supports that the central storage is at the location of the request. ( Id. at pp. 10-11). For instance, the specification gives examples of storage requirements for the central memory that are consistent with storage at the requesting machine. (Tr. 15).
Defendant responds that Figure 1 of the patent displays some central memories (nodes 1 and 2) that are connected to multiple devices. (D.I. 84 at pp. 6-7). Defendant also argues that its construction does not exclude Figure 2 because, while the central storage node there depicted (node 3) is directly connected to only one display device, a person of skill in the art would understand that it is indirectly networked to other devices. ( Id. at p. 8). Defendant maintains that its construction captures the "big picture of what the claim is calling for, " namely, displaying space-related data. (Tr. 24).
I do not think that the claim requires that the central storage be accessible by a plurality of devices. The patent discloses node 3 as a central memory. (' 550 patent, col. 6, 1. 20). The specification states, "The tertiary node 3 has only one connection to the display unit 5 and to the interchange network 7." ('550 patent, col. 6, 11. 43-44). Defendant's construction would exclude that embodiment. Node 3 is also what requests data from the distributed data sources. (' 550 patent, col. 7, 11. 61-63 ("[T]he node 3 determines the field of view of the observer and calls up the data via the interchange network 7 and the nodes 1 and 2.")). That is to say, the computer that requests the data then centrally stores it. I will therefore construe "centrally storing the data for the field of view" as "storing requested data for the field of view in memory at the location of the request."
2. "image resolutions"
a. Plaintiffs proposed construction: plural of "the level of detail or spatial precision contained in an image"
b. Defendant's proposed construction: Indefinite
c. Court's construction: plural of "the level of detail or spatial precision contained in an image"
The parties agree that the singular form of "image resolution" should be construed as "the level of detail or spatial precision contained in an image." (D.I. 84 at p. 16). The dispute centers on the plural of the term. Defendant argues that "image resolutions" is indefinite because the claim recites "dividing each of the one or more sections having image resolutions below a desired image resolution into a plurality of smaller sections." ( Id. (quoting '550 patent, col. 10, II. 33-35)). Defendant contends that the claim requires a single section to have multiple image resolutions. ( Id. ). Defendant argues that a person of ordinary skill in the art "would not understand how a single section could have more than one image resolution in view of the disclosure in the intrinsic record." ( Id. at p. 18). Defendant maintains that the focus should be on what a person of skill would understand, not "a plain English understanding." (Tr. 37-38).
Plaintiff responds that a person of skill-or any English speaker-would understand that each section has one image resolution. (Tr. 33). If there are multiple sections, there could be multiple image resolutions. (D.I. 84 at p. 16). Plaintiff notes that, if someone were told to build "one or more snowmen having top hats, " it would be clear that each snowman has a single top hat. ( Id. at 17). Similarly, Plaintiff argues that each section has one image resolution. ( Id. ).
I agree with Plaintiff that the language does not call for a single section to have multiple image resolutions. It is perfectly clear that each section has one image resolution, and the plural is used to account for the fact that there can be multiple sections. Defendant's argument attempts to manufacture an ambiguity where the plain English is clear. I am not persuaded by Defendant's argument that a person of skill could not ascertain the scope of the claim where the grammatical plain English is ...