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Immersion Corp. v. Motorola Mobility LLC

United States District Court, D. Delaware

October 25, 2018

IMMERSION CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
MOTOROLA MOBILITY LLC and MOTOROLA MOBILITY HOLDINGS LLC, Defendants. Claim Term Construction

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

         Presently before the Court is the issue of claim construction of multiple terms in U.S. Patent Nos. 7, 969, 288 ("the '288 patent"), 9, 323, 332 ("the '332 patent"), 6, 429, 846 ("the '846 patent"), 7, 982, 720 ("the '720 patent"), and 8, 031, 181 (the '181 patent"). I have considered the parties' joint claim construction brief. (D.I. 67). I heard oral argument on September 12, 2018. (D.I. 73).

         I. BACKGROUND

         On August 3, 2017, Plaintiff brought this action against Defendants alleging infringement of the '288, '332, '846, '720, and '181 patents. (D.I. 1 ¶ 2). Plaintiff asserts that Defendants licensed several of Plaintiff s patents until November 2015. At that point, Defendants allegedly declined to renew the license agreement and the existing license expired. The parties agree that a previous license agreement did exist and expire, and that the agreement identified all the patents at issue, except the '332 patent. (Id. ¶¶ 1-2; D.I. 9 ¶ 2).

         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) (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). 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.3dat 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 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. 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. PATENTS AT ISSUE

         Claim 18 of the '288 patent reads (as amended by the February 10, 2014 Ex Parte Reexamination Certificate):

18. A software method in a multi-tasking environment comprising:
storing a plurality of data sets in memory, each data set comprising a representation of one or more force effects, wherein each one of the plurality of data sets is associated with one software application;
calling an application programming interface;
determining which one of a plurality of concurrently running application programs is active in the multi-tasking environment; and
generating a signal representing the data set associated with the active application program.

('288 patent, claim 18 (emphasis added)).

         Claim 1 of the '332 patent reads:

1. A software method in a multi-tasking environment comprising:
concurrently running a plurality of application programs, wherein each application program includes one or more data sets, each data set comprising a representation of one or more force effects;
receiving from an active application program a force effect command;
generating a signal representing the force effect command;
and outputting a force effect based on the signal.

('332 patent, claim 1 (emphasis added)).

         Claim 1 of the '846 patent reads (as corrected by the July 31, 2012 Certificate of Correction):

1. A haptic feedback touch control for inputting signals to a portable computer and for outputting forces to a user of the touch control, the touch control comprising:
a touch input device integrated in a housing of said portable computer, said touch input device including an approximately planar touch surface operative to input a position signal to a processor of said computer based on a location on said touch surface which said user contacts, said position signal representing a location in two dimensions, wherein said computer positions a cursor in a graphical environment displayed on a display device based at least in part on said position signal; and at least one actuator coupled to said touch input device, said actuator outputting a force on said touch input device to provide a haptic sensation to said user contacting said touch surface, wherein said actuator outputs said force based on force information output by said processor, said actuator outputting a force directly on said touch input device.

('846 patent, claim 1 (emphasis added)).

         Dependent claim 16 of the '846 patent reads (as corrected by the July 31, 2012 Certificate of Correction):

16. A haptic feedback touch control as recited in claim 1 wherein said touch input device includes a plurality of different regions, wherein at least one of said regions provides said position signal and at least one other region provides a signal that is used by said computer to control a different function.

('846 patent, claim 16 (emphasis added)).

         Claim 10 of the '720 patent reads (as amended by the February 18, 2014 Ex ...


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