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TQ Delta LLC v. 2Wire Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

February 7, 2018

TQ DELTA, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
2WIRE, INC., Defendant. TQ DELTA, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
ZYXEL COMMUNICATIONS, INC and ZYXEL COMMUNICATIONS CORPORATION, Defendants. TQ DELTA, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
ADTRAN, INC., Defendant. ADTRAN, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
TQ DELTA, LLC, Defendant.

          Brian E. Farnan, Esq., FARNAN LLP, Wilmington, DE; Michael J. Farnan, Esq., FARNAN LLP, Wilmington, DE; Peter J. McAndrews (argued), Paul W. McAndrews (argued), and Rajendra A. Chiplunkar, MCANDREWS, HELD & MALLOY, Chicago, IL. Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          Colm F. Connolly and Jody Barillare, MORGAN LEWIS & BOCKIUS LLP, Wilmington, DE; Brett M. Schuman (argued), Rachel M. Walsh (argued), and David L. Simson, GOODWIN PROCTOR LLP, San Francisco, CA. Attorneys for Defendant 2WIRE, Inc.

          Kenneth L. Dorsney, Esq., MORRIS JAMES LLP, Wilmington, DE; Paul M. Sykes, BRADLEY ARANT BOULT CUMMINGS, Birmingham, AL; Melissa Hotze, WEIL, GOTSHAL & MANGES LLP, Houston, TX; and Elizabeth J. Rader, ALSTON & BIRD LLP, Washington, D.C. Attorneys for Defendants Adtran Inc. and Zyxel Communications Inc.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Presently before the Court is the issue of claim construction of multiple terms in U.S. Patent Nos. 7, 453, 881 ("the '881 patent"); 7, 809, 028 ("the '028 patent"); 7, 978, 706 ("the '706 patent"); and 8, 422, 511 ("the '511 patent"). The Court has considered the Parties' Joint Claim Construction Brief. (Civ. Act. No. 13-01835-RGA, D.I. 346; Civ. Act. No. 13-02013-RGA, D.I. 332; Civ. Act. No. 14-00954-RGA, D.I. 185; Civ. Act. No. 15-00121-RGA; D.I. 187).[1] The Court heard oral argument on November 2, 2017. (D.I. 399).

         I. BACKGROUND

         The patents-in-suit represent "Family 2" of the patents that Plaintiff has asserted against Defendants, and they all share a common specification. (D.I. 346 at 7 n.1). The Family 2 patents relate to reducing latency, or end-to-end delay of data transmission, in asynchronous transfer mode ("ATM") communications systems. The patents claim both methods and systems for distributing a data stream across multiple digital subscriber lines ("DSL") PHY's[2] at a transmitter, and recombining the multiple data streams at a receiver, thereby generating a high data rate connection in ATM communications systems.

         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. A WH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1312 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc) (citation 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) (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, 979-80 (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. . . . [This 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. "[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 Teva Pharms. 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 asserted patents contain method and apparatus claims covering the reliable exchange of diagnostic and test information over a multicarrier communications system. Plaintiff asserts claims 17 and 18 of the '881 patent, claims 1 and 2 of the '706 patent, claims 2 and 6 of the '511 patent, and claims 1 and 2 of the '028 patent. (D.I. 346 at 27).

         Claim 17 of the '881 patent reads as follows:

17. A plurality of bonded transceivers, each bonded transceiver utilizing at least one transmission parameter value to reduce a difference in latency between the bonded transceivers, wherein a data rate for a first of the bonded transceivers is different than a data rate for a second of the bonded transceivers.

('881 patent, claim 17) (disputed terms italicized). Claim 18 depends from claim 17. The additional limitations of claim 18 do not contain disputed terms.

         Claim 1 of the '706 patent reads as follows:

1. A method to combine multiple DSL transceivers to generate a single high data rate connection between a service provider and a DSL subscriber over a plurality of twisted pair communications channels comprising:
utilizing at least one transmission parameter value, for each of the multiple DSL transceivers, to reduce a difference in latency between the multiple DSL transceivers; and
transmitting a plurality of packets or cells from the service provider to the DSL subscriber, wherein a data rate for a first DSL transceiver of the multiple DSL transceivers is different than a data rate for a second DSL transceiver of the multiple DSL transceivers, wherein the at least one transmission parameter value is a Reed Solomon coding parameter value or an interleaving parameter value, and wherein the combined multiple DSL transceivers generate the single high data rate connection between the service provider and the DSL subscriber over the plurality of twisted pair communications channels.

('706 patent at claim 1) (disputed terms italicized). Claim 2 depends from claim 1. The additional limitations of claim 2 do not contain disputed terms.

         Claim 2 of the '511 patent depends from claim 1. Claims 1 and 2 of the '511 patent read as follows:

1. A method to combine multiple DSL transceivers to generate a single high data rate connection between a service provider and a DSL subscriber over a plurality of twisted pair communications channels comprising
determining at least one transmission parameter value, for each of the multiple DSL transceivers, to reduce a difference in latency between the multiple DSL transceivers; and
transmitting a plurality of packets or cells from the service provider to the DSL subscriber utilizing the at least one transmission parameter value, wherein a data rate for a first DSL transceiver of the multiple DSL transceivers is different than a data rate for a second DSL transceiver of the multiple DSL transceivers and wherein the combined multiple DSL transceivers generate the single high data rate connection between the service provider and the DSL subscriber over the plurality of twisted pair communications channels.
2. The method of claim 1, further comprising receiving, at the DSL subscriber, the plurality of cells or packets using multiple DSL transceivers.

('511 patent at claims 1, 2) (disputed terms italicized). Claim 6 of the '511 patent reads as follows:

6. A system, capable of combining multiple DSL transceivers to generate a single high data rate connection between a service provider and a DSL subscriber over a plurality of twisted pair communications channels, comprising:
multiple DSL transceivers, each of the multiple DSL transceivers capable of utilizing at least one transmission parameter value to reduce a difference in latency between the multiple DSL transceivers; and
a plurality of transmitter portions capable of transmitting a plurality of packets or cells from the service provider to the DSL subscriber, wherein a data rate for a first DSL transceiver of the multiple DSL transceivers is different than a data rate for a second DSL transceiver of the multiple DSL transceivers and wherein the combined multiple DSL transceivers generate the single high data rate connection between ...

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