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TC Technology LLC v. Sprint Corp.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

September 22, 2017

TC TECHNOLOGY LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
SPRINT CORPORATION AND PRINT SPECTRUM, L.P., Defendants.

          Kelly E. Farnan, Esq., RICHARDS, LAYTON & FINGER, P.A., Wilmington, DE; Katharine L. Mowery, RICHARDS, LAYTON & FINGER, P.A., Wilmington, DE; Lawrence J. Gotts, Esq. (argued), LATHAM & WATKINS LLP, Washington, D.C.; Saswat Misra, Esq., LATHAM & WATKINS LLP, Washington, D.C.; Stephanie N. Grace, Esq., LATHAM & WATKINS LLP, San Diego, CA; Anant K. Saraswat, Esq. (argued), LATHAM & WATKINS LLP, Boston, MA. Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          Shanti M. Katona, Esq., POLSINELLI PC, Wilmington, DE; Robert H. Reckers, Esq. (argued), SHOOK, HARDY, & BACON LLP, Houston, TX; Chrissie Guastello, Esq. (argued), SHOOK, HARDY, & BACON LLP, Kansas City, MO. Attorneys for Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Presently before the Court is the issue of claim construction of multiple terms in U.S. Patent No. 5, 815, 488 ("the '488 patent"). The Court has considered the Parties' Joint Claim Construction Brief. (D.I. 71). The Court heard oral argument on September 11, 2017. (D.I. 89).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed this action on March 10, 2016, alleging infringement of the '488 patent. (D.I. 1). The patent-in-suit claims a method for allowing multiple remote locations to simultaneously transmit data via a shared channel to a single central location.

         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). '"[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.'" Soft View LLC v. Apple Inc., 2013 WL 4758195, at *1 (D. Del. Sept. 4, 2013) (quoting Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1324) (alteration in original). 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.

         "[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 (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. "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.

         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 TevaPharm. 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. 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) (citation omitted).

         III. CONSTRUCTION OF DISPUTED TERMS

         The '488 patent is directed to a method for enabling a plurality of remote locations (or users) to share a channel to simultaneously transmit data to a central location with a high degree of immunity to channel impairments. Claim 2 is representative and reads as follows:

2. A method for enabling a plurality of remote locations to transmit data to a central location ...

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