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Core Wireless Licensing S.A.R.L. v. Apple Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

April 14, 2017

CORE WIRELESS LICENSING S.A.R.L., Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
APPLE INC., Defendant-Appellee

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in No. 6:12-cv-00100-JRG, Judge J. Rodney Gilstrap.

          DEVAN V. PADMANABHAN, Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A., Minneapolis, MN, argued for plaintiff-appellant. Also represented by Paul J. ROBBENNOLT; HENRY CHARLES Bunsow, Brian A. E. Smith, Bunsow, De Mory, Smith & Allison LLP, San Francisco, CA; Denise Marie De Mory, Craig Y. Allison, Redwood City, CA.

          Joseph J. Mueller, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP, Boston, MA, argued for defendant-appellee. Also represented by Cynthia D. Vreeland, Richard W. O'Neill, Michael Wolin.

          Before O'MALLEY, Bryson, and WALLACH, Circuit Judges.

          Bryson, Circuit Judge.

         This appeal arises from a patent infringement action brought in the United States District Court for the East­ern District of Texas. The plaintiff, Core Wireless Licens­ing S.a.r.L, is the owner of U.S. Patent No. 6,978,143 ("the '143 patent"). Claim 17 of the patent, the only claim at issue in this appeal, recites a mobile station, such as a mobile telephone, that is connected to a cellular system or network. The claim is directed to means for sending packet data from the mobile station to the network using a selected channel.

         Following trial, the jury found that the defendant, Apple Inc., did not infringe any of the asserted claims. The district court denied Core Wireless's motion for judgment as a matter of law, and Core Wireless took this appeal. We affirm.

         I

         Mobile stations such as cellular telephones can transmit data packets to a cellular network (known as an uplink) in one of two ways-either by using a shared "common channel," which carries transmissions from multiple mobile stations, or by using a "dedicated chan­nel," which carries transmissions from a single mobile station without competing transmissions from other mobile stations. Dedicated channels are valuable because they permit faster and more reliable transmissions than common channels. But dedicated channels are at a pre­mium, as there are not enough dedicated channels to carry all cellular transmissions. The industry has there­fore worked to solve the problem of how to allocate dedi­cated channels (when the need for a dedicated channel is greatest).

         One aspect of this problem is whether the network or the mobile station should select the channel for the up­link. The network initially has no information about the data packet to be sent, such as data packet size, and therefore does not have the necessary information to make a channel selection decision. In the prior art, the mobile station would send the network information about the data packet to be sent so that the network could make the channel selection decision. As noted in the '143 patent, selection by the network wastes valuable system resources, because it requires the mobile station to send a message to the network regarding the data packet the mobile station wants to transmit, and then requires the network to make the channel selection decision. See '143 patent, col. 3,11. 41-49.

         The solution provided by the '143 patent is to have the mobile station, not the network, make the uplink channel selection decision. The way that is done is for the net­work to provide the mobile station with certain parame­ters that the mobile station is directed to apply in determining whether to use a dedicated channel or a common channel. See '143 patent, col. 3,11. 53-56; id., col. 4,11. 37-58. According to the patent, the described method reduces "the signaling load associated with the allocation of packet data transfer" and reduces "the delay associated with the starting of data transfer." Id., col. 3, 11. 64-67. Because the mobile station makes the channel selection decision, it does not use up traffic capacity by sending the message about the data packet to the network so that the network may select a channel. Id., col. 3,11. 40-49.

         Although Core Wireless initially asserted a number of claims from several different patents against Apple, this appeal involves only a single claim-claim 17 of the '143 patent. That claim reads as follows:

A mobile station connected with a cellular sys­tem, comprising means for sending uplink packet data to the system using a selected channel, wherein the selected channel is either a common channel (RACH) or dedicated channel (DCH), characterized in that it also comprises: means for receiving a threshold value of the channel selection parameter from the system,
means for storing said threshold value of the channel selection parameter, and
means for comparing said threshold value of the channel selection parameter to a current value of the channel selection pa­rameter for basis of said channel selection.

         A magistrate judge conducted the claim construction proceedings and construed the "means for comparing" limitation of claim 17 to have the function of "comparing said threshold value of the channel selection parameter to a current value of the channel ...


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