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Parallel Networks Licensing LLC v. Microsoft Corporation

United States District Court, D. Delaware

September 26, 2017

PARALLEL NETWORKS LICENSING, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
MICROSOFT CORPORATION, Defendants.

          Adam W. Poff, Esq., Pilar G. Kraman, Esq., Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, 1000 N. King Street, Wilmington, DE 19801, Counsel for Plaintiffs

          Douglas A. Cawley, Esq., Christopher T. Bovenkamp, Esq., Eric S. Hansen, Esq., Avery R. Williams, Esq., Justin W. Allen, Esq., McKool Smith, PC John B. Campbell, Esq., Leah Bhimani Buratti, Esq., Kevin P. Hess, Esq., McKool Smith, PC Martina Tyreus Hufnal, Esq., Nitika Gupta, Esq., Ronald P. Golden, III, Esq., Fish & Richardson PC Juanita R. Brooks, Esq., Jason W. Wolff, Esq., Joanna M. Fuller, Esq., Fish & Richardson PC Stephen A. Marshall, Esq., Fish & Richardson PC Counsel for Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          JORDAIF, CIRCUIT JUDGE, SITTING BY DESIGNATION

         Parallel Networks filed this action on December 20, 2013, alleging that Microsoft infringed U.S. Patent Nos. 5, 894, 554 ("the '554 patent") and 6, 415, 335 ("the '335 patent"). (D J. 1.) The case went to trial from May 8 to May 11, 2017. (D.I. 442-45.) At the conclusion of Microsoft's defense, Parallel Networks sought judgment as a matter of law under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(a) as to invalidity and infringement. (Tr. 1074, 1096.) I granted the motion with respect to invalidity and denied the motion with respect to infringement.[1] (Tr. 1074, 1099.) At the conclusion of the trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Microsoft. (D.I. 435.) Parallel Networks then filed a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b). (D.I. 456) It argued that "Microsoft failed to raise any legally sufficient evidentiary basis for the jury to find that it did not infringe the three disputed claim terms: request, releasing, and intercepting." (D.I. 457 at 4.) At the same time, Parallel Networks filed a motion for a new trial under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59, (D.I. 458) arguing that Microsoft made several improper arguments that caused juror confusion. (D.I. 459 at 1.) For the following reasons, I will deny both motions.

         I. Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law

         "Entry of judgment as a matter of law is a 'sparingly' invoked remedy [.]" Marra v. Phila, Hous. Auth., 497 F.3d 286, 300 (3d Cir. 2007). A motion for judgment as a matter of law may be granted only if "there is no legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find" as it did. Bullen v. Chaffinch, 336 F.Supp.2d 342, 346 (D. Del. 2004) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a)) (citing Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 149 (2000)). In deciding whether a verdict is reasonable, I must review all the evidence in the record and "draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party[.]" Reeves, 530 U.S. at 150. I must then "disregard all evidence favorable to the moving party that the jury is not required to believe." Id. at 151.

         At trial, Microsoft presented three non-infringement arguments. First, it argued that the accused systems did not satisfy the "single request" limitation. (Tr. 1204.) Second, it argued that the accused systems did not satisfy' the "release" limitation. (Tr. 1205.) And third, it argued that the accused systems did not satisfy the "intercept" limitation.[2] (Tr. 1209-12.)

         To show infringement, a plaintiff has to prove that the accused product satisfies each limitation of a claim. Pfizer, Inc. v. leva Pharm., USA, Inc., 429 F.3d 1364, 1376 (Fed. Cir, 2005); Dynacore Holdings Corp. v. U.S. Philips Corp., 363 F.3d 1263, 1273 (Fed. Cir. 2004). As a result, I must uphold the verdict if a reasonable jury could have found in favor of any of Microsoft's non-infringement arguments.

         My inquiry at this point starts and ends with the "intercepting" limitation. Parallel Networks argues that Microsoft's non-infringement arguments "improperly narrowed the Court's claim construction[.]" (D.I. 457 at 19.) I disagree. During claim construction, the parties agreed that "intercepting" means "diverting the handling of said request before the request is processed by the Web server/HTTP-compliant device." (D.I. 67 at 6.) At trial, Microsoft argued that it did not infringe because its systems engaged in substantial processing before the request was diverted. As counsel for Microsoft said in her closing, "you saw over and over again we handle truly the living daylights out of these requests at the web server before they're diverted." (Tr. 1210.) Because Microsoft's theory is consistent with the ordinary meaning of the parties' agreed claim construction, I cannot conclude that Microsoft's arguments were improper. Cf. Hewlett-Packard Co. v. Mustek Sys., Inc., 340 F.3d 1314, 1321 (Fed. Cir. 2003) ("The verdict must be tested by the charge actually given and by giving the ordinary meaning of the language of the jury instruction.").

         With respect to the evidence itself, there is no doubt that Microsoft presented sufficient evidence to show that its systems engaged in a great deal of processing of its systems' requests before diverting them. (See Tr. 891-95 (Microsoft witness Alam testifying about the processing that takes place at the web server); Tr. 952 (Microsoft witness Dr. Maltz testifying about the processing that takes place at the "FrontDoor" part of the web server).) Parallel Networks conceded as much when it acknowledged that its renewed motion challenges Microsoft's legal theory, rather than the factual sufficiency of its defense. (D.I. 466 (Parallel Networks acknowledging that "Microsoft... present[ed] overwhelming evidence ... support[ing] its non-infringement theories"); see also Tr. 480- 84 (Parallel's expert, Dr. Jones, indicating that he did not recall what processing took place in Microsoft's web server).)[3] That should end the matter.

         It has not ended it, however, because Parallel Networks insists that the noninfringement theory was geared to a faulty interpretation of my claim constructions. In presenting its argument, Parallel Networks relies in large part on my summary judgment decision. But that reliance ignores vital differences between that context and this. Before the trial, Microsoft sought summary judgment of non-infringement, suggesting that, under the Court's construction, the "intercepting" limitation could only be satisfied if no processing took place at the web server. (D.I. 360 at 9.) In rejecting that argument, which functionally amounted to a newly proposed claim construction, I explained that the claim allows for "at least some processing" to take place at the web server before the request is diverted. (Id. at 10.) Cf. Network Commerce, Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., 422 F.3d 1353, 1358 n.4 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (explaining that a court can use summary judgment to clarify a claim construction). That conclusion does not undermine the non-infringement theory Microsoft offered at trial. Saying that claims allow for "at least some processing" does not mean that the claims allow a "substantial" amount of processing, and it certainly does not mean that they allow the web server to engage in extensive processing (e.g., at "the living daylights" level). (Tr. 1210.) My summary judgment decision fully accommodates Microsoft's non-infringement theory.

         Because a reasonable jury could conclude that the accused products did not satisfy the "intercepting" limitation, and thus that Microsoft did not infringe, I do not need to consider the remaining limitations.[4]

II. Motion for a New Trial

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(a)(1)(A), "ft]he court may ... grant a new trial ... after a jury trial, for any reason for which a new trial has heretofore been granted in an action at law in federal court[.]" The decision to grant a motion for a new trial should not be made lightly - "[a] new trial should be granted only where the 'great weight' of the evidence cuts against the verdict and 'where a miscarriage of justice would result if the verdict were to stand."' Springer v. Henry,435 F.3d ...


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