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IPC Systems, Inc. v. Cloud9 Technologies LLC

United States District Court, D. Delaware

October 29, 2018

IPC SYSTEMS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
CLOUD9 TECHNOLOGIES LLC, Defendant.

          Karen Jacobs, Stephen J. Kraftchik, MORRIS, NICHOLS, ARSHT & TUNNELL LLP, Wilmington, Delaware; Peter D. Shapiro, FITZPATRICK, CELLA, HARPER, AND SCINTO, New York, New York; Jason M. Dorsky, FITZPATRICK, CELLA, HARPER, AND SCINTO, Washington, District of Columbia; Edward J. DeFranco, Patrick D. Curran, Joseph Milowic III, QUINN EMANUEL URQUHART & SULLIVAN LLP, New York, New York; Jonathan Berschadsky, MERCHANT & GOULD, P.C., New York, New York; Thomas J. Leach, MERCHANT & GOULD, P.C., Minneapolis, Minnesota Counsel for the Plaintiff

          Kenneth L. Dorsney, MORRIS JAMES LLP, Wilmington, Delaware; John M. Desmarais, Justin P.D. Wilcox, Steven Balcof, Jordan N. Malz, DEMARAIS LLP, New York, New York Counsel for Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CONNOLLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The parties have presented the Court with ten patent terms to construe. The terms come from claims in two patents: U.S. Patent No. 8, 189, 566 ("the '566 Patent") and U.S. Patent No. 6, 212, 177 ("the '177 Patent"). I held a Markman hearing on October 11, 2018. During the hearing, I construed eight of the terms from the bench. In this Memorandum Opinion, I discuss my construction of the two remaining terms, both of which are found only in the '177 Patent.

         Background

         The '177 Patent is titled "Remotely Accessible Key Telephone System." The first paragraph of the Patent reads as follows:

A line telephone stations, often referred to as "trader turrets", are widely used in financial trading networks such as between banks, brokerage houses, and other types of financial institutions. Telephones of this type provide access to a large number of telephone lines, typically a hundred or more. A line is selected by depressing a single key. A trading room can include many telephone key stations so that many transactions can be completed simultaneously.

'177 Patent, at 1:5-12. The peculiar grammar and diction of the quoted language give rise to a number of questions and ambiguities. Did the drafter actually have in mind in the first sentence "a line o/telephone stations"? But if so, why did he use the plural "are" instead of the singular "is" as the verb form? Perhaps, the drafter meant to refer in the first sentence to "a-line" telephone stations that are each connected separately to a telephone network by a private line? But then again, in the next sentence, the drafter seems to suggest that a "telephone station" is a "type" of telephone that provides access to a "large number of lines." Perhaps the first word of the patent ("A") is a typographical error - an indefinite article left over from a prior draft of the patent; and the drafter really had in mind "line telephone stations," whatever they might be. Things are further complicated by the introduction in the paragraph's third sentence of the concept of "telephone key stations." Are these the same "telephone stations" referred to in the first sentence or something different? Is a "telephone key station" also a type of "telephone"?

         Unfortunately, the grammar and diction peculiarities of the first paragraph are typical of what follows in the written description and claims of the '177 Patent's specification.[1] Parsing the' 177 Patent is no easy task.

         The patent's written description has a three-paragraph "Summary of Invention" section. The first of the three paragraphs reads as follows:

The system according to the invention provides both a voice channel and a data channel to a remote trader turret via public networks. The voice channel is preferably established using the public telephone network. The data channel is established via the Internet. The World Wide Web (WWW) is used to supply graphical information via the Internet to provide a line status display at the remote site. The channels on these two public networks are coordinated to provide remote access to the trading room switching network. With this arrangement a trader can engage in trading activities from a home office or while traveling.

Id. at 1:30-40. Thus, according to this summary, the invention purports to connect a remote trader turret to "the trading room switching network" using one of more "public networks."

         The "Detailed Description of A Preferred Embodiment" section of the patent describes a "typical office switching network" which "establishes a voice path" between "trader turrets (key telephones)" and "selected lines," and which uses "line cards" to "maintain the status of each of the lines." Id. at 2:15-20. According to the preferred embodiment description, "[i]n most cases lines are private lines connecting to other brokers and financial traders." Id. at 2:20-22. According to the "background of the invention" section of the written description, "[e]ach key telephone station in a trading room has voice channel access to other stations in the trading room and to a large number of outside lines of different types (public, private, four wire, etc.)." Id. at 1:13-16 (emphasis added).

         There is no mention of "private lines" in the written description other than in the two sentences just quoted. Claim 1 of the patent refers to "private line key telephones" and claim 8 refers to "a private line office network"; but those terms are recited nowhere else in the specification. The term "an office network" is recited in numerous claims, see, e.g., Id. at 3:30; id. at 4:42-43, but it is not mentioned in the written description. The written description appears to use the terms "office system," "office switching network," "trading room switching network," and "switching network" interchangeably. See, e.g., Id. at 1:54-56 ("The office system connects to the calling party and then dials the remote trader via the public telephone system to connect the parties."); id. at 2:15-18 ("FIG. 1 illustrates a typical office switching network 10 which includes the backroom switching gear such as in the MX system sold by IPC Information Systems Inc., assignee of this application."); id. at 1:36-38 ("The channels on these two public networks are coordinated to provide remote access to the trading room switching network."); Id. at 2:19-20 ("Trader turrets (key telephones) 12 and 13 are coupled to the switching network which establishes a voice path to selected lines 11."). The written description also appears to equate "public telephone network," "public switching telephone network," and "public telephone system." See Id. at 1:33-34 ("The voice channel is preferably established using the public telephone network.")', Id. at 2:58-60 ("A voice channel can be completed from the office ...


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