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Arendi S.A.R.L. v. LG Electronics Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

August 19, 2019

ARENDI S.A.R.L., Plaintiff,
v.
LG ELECTRONICS, INC., LG ELECTRONICS USA, INC., and LG ELECTRONICS MOBILECOMM U.S.A., INC., Defendants. ARENDI S.A.R.L., Plaintiff,
v.
APPLE, INC., Defendant. ARENDI S.A.R.L., Plaintiff,
v.
BLACKBERRY LIMITED and BLACKBERRY CORPORATION, Defendants. ARENDI S.A.R.L., Plaintiff,
v.
MICROSOFT MOBILE, INC., Defendant. ARENDI S.A.R.L., Plaintiff,
v.
MOTOROLA MOBILITY LLC, f/k/a MOTOROLA MOBILITY, INC. Defendants. ARENDI S.A.R.L., Plaintiff,
v.
SONY MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS USA INC. f/k/a SONY ERICSSON MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS USA INC., SONY CORPORATION and SONY CORPORATION OF AMERICA, Defendants. ARENDI S.A.R.L., Plaintiff,
v.
GOOGLE LLC, Defendant. ARENDI S.A.R.L., Plaintiff,
v.
OATH HOLDINGS INC. and OATH INC., Defendants.

          Neal C. Belgam, Eve H. Ormerod, and Beth A. Swadley, SMITH, KATZENSTEIN & JENKINS, LLP, Wilmington, DE; Stephen Susman, Seth Ard, and Max Straus, SUSMAN GODFREY, LLP, New York, NY; John Lahad, SUSMAN GODFREY, LLP, Houston, TX Attorneys for Plaintiffs.

          Jeremy D. Anderson, FISH & RICHARDSON, P.C., Wilmington, DE; Steven R. Katz and Matthew C. Berntsen, FISH & RICHARDSON, P.C., Boston, MA Attorneys for Defendants LG Electronics, Inc., LG Electronics USA, Inc. and LG Electronics MobileComm U.S.A., Inc.

          Denise S. Kraft, Brian A. Biggs, and Erin E. Larson, DLA PIPER LLP (US), Wilmington, DE; Mark D. Fowler, Christine K. Corbett, and Summer Torrez, DLA PIPER LLP (US), East Palo Alto, CA; Robert C. Williams and Kevin C. Hamilton, DLA PIPER LLP (US), San Diego, CA Attorneys for Defendant Apple Inc.

          Richard K. Herrmann, Mary B. Matterer, and Kenneth L. Dorsney, MORRIS JAMES LLP, Wilmington, DE; Brian C. Riopelle and David E. Finkelson, McGuireWoods LLP, Richmond, VA; Rachelle Thompson, McGuire Woods LLP, Raleigh, NC Attorneys for Defendants Blackberry Limited and Blackberry Corporation.

          Jack B. Blumenfeld and Jeremy A. Tigan, MORRIS, NICHOLS, ARSHT & TUNNELL LLP, Wilmington, DE; Heidi L. Keefe and Lowell D. Mead, COOLEY LLP, Palo Alto, CA; DeAnna Allen and Phillip E. Morton, COOLEY LLP, Washington, DC Attorneys for Defendants Microsoft Mobile, Inc. f/k/a Nokia Inc.

          David E. Moore, Bindu A. Palapura, and Stephanie E. O'Byrne, POTTER ANDERSON & CORROON LLP, Wilmington, DE; Robert W. Unikel, Robert Laurenzi, Michelle Marek Figueiredo, and John Cotiguala, PAUL HASTINGS LLP, Chicago, IL Attorneys for Defendants Motorola Mobility LLC f/k/a Motorola Mobility Inc. and Google Inc.

          Rodger D. Smith II, MORRIS, NICHOLS, ARSHT & TUNNELL LLP, Wilmington, DE; Jeffri A. Kaminski and Justin E. Pierce, VENABLE LLP, Washington, DC Attorneys for Defendants Sony Mobile Communications (USA) Inc., Sony Corporation, and Sony Corporation of America.

          Jack B. Blumenfeld and Anthony David Raucci, MORRIS, NICHOLS, ARSHT & TUNNELL LLP, Wilmington DE; Jeffri A. Kaminski, VENABLE LLP, Washington, DC Attorneys for Defendants Oath Holdings Inc. and Oath Inc.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STARK, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Arendi S.A.R.L. ("Arendi") sued Defendants LG Electronics, Inc., LG Electronics USA, Inc., LG Electronics MobileComm U.S.A., Inc. (together, "LG"), Apple Inc. ("Apple"), Blackberry Limited, Blackberry Corporation (together, "Blackberry"), Microsoft Mobile, Inc. f/k/a Nokia Inc. ("MMI"), Motorola Mobility LLC f/k/a Motorola Mobility Inc. ("Motorola"), Sony Mobile Communications (USA) Inc., Sony Corporation, Sony Corporation of America (together, "Sony"), Google Inc. ("Google"), Oath Holdings Inc., and Oath Inc. (together, "Oath"), alleging patent infringement. (CA. No. 12-1595 D.I. 1; CA. No. 12-1596 D.I. 1; CA. No. 12-1597 D.I. 1; D.I. 12-1599 D.I. 1; D.I. 12-1601 D.I. 1; CA. No. 12-1602 D.I. 1; CA. No. 13-919 D.I. 1; CA. No. 13-920 D.I. 1) Arendi alleges that LG, Apple, Blackberry, MMI, Motorola, and Sony infringe Arendi's U.S. Patent Nos. 7, 917, 843 ("the '843 patent") and 8, 306, 993 ("the '993 patent"). Arendi alleges that Oath infringes the '843 and '993 patents, and also Arendi's U.S. Patent No. 7, 496, 854 ("the '854 patent"). Arendi alleges that Google infringes the '843, '993, and '854 patents as well as Arendi's U.S Patent No. 7, 921, 356 ("the '356 patent"). Each asserted patent is entitled, "Method, System and Computer Readable Medium for Addressing Handing from a Computer Program."

         Presently before the Court are the parties' disputes over the meaning of certain terms in the asserted claims. The parties submitted technology tutorials (CA. No. 13-919 D.I. 115, 116), and two sets of claim construction briefs: one pertaining to terms appearing in the '843 and '993 patents, which is joined by all defendants (CA. 12-1595 D.I. 111, 112, 119, 120); and the other pertaining to terms that only appear in the '854 patent, which is joined by Defendants Google and Oath (CA. No. 13-919 D.I. 117, 119, 127, 130). The Court held a claim construction hearing on July 26, 2019. (CA. No. 12-1595 D.I. 125 ("Tr."))

         I. LEGAL STANDARDS

         The ultimate question of the proper construction of a patent presents an issue of law. See Teva Pharm. USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., 135 S.Ct. 831, 837 (2015) (citing Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 517 U.S. 370, 388-91 (1996)). "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) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). "[T]here is no magic formula or catechism for conducting claim construction." Id. at 1324. Instead, the court is free to attach the appropriate weight to appropriate sources "in light of the statutes and policies that inform patent law." Id.

         "[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 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). "[T]he ordinary meaning of a claim term is its meaning to the ordinary artisan after reading the entire patent." Id. at 1321 (internal quotation marks omitted). The patent "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." Vitronics Corp. v. Conceptronic, Inc., 90 F.3d 1576, 1582 (Fed. Cir. 1996).

         While "the claims themselves provide substantial guidance as to the meaning of particular claim terms," the context of the surrounding words of the claim also must be considered. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314. Furthermore, "[o]ther claims of the patent in question, both asserted and unasserted, can also be valuable sources of enlightenment. . . [b]ecause claim terms are normally used consistently throughout the patent." Id. (internal citation omitted).

         It is likewise true that "[differences among claims can also be a useful guide .... For example, the presence of a dependent claim that adds a particular limitation gives rise to a presumption that the limitation in question is not present in the independent claim." Id. at 1314-15 (internal citation omitted). This "presumption is especially strong when the limitation in dispute is the only meaningful difference between an independent and dependent claim, and one party is urging that the limitation in the dependent claim should be read into the independent claim." SunRace Roots Enter. Co., Ltd. v. SRAM Corp., 336 F.3d 1298, 1303 (Fed. Cir. 2003).

         It is also possible that "the specification may reveal a special definition given to a claim term by the patentee that differs from the meaning it would otherwise possess. In such cases, the inventor's lexicography governs." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1316. It bears emphasis that "[e]ven when the specification describes only a single embodiment, the claims of the patent will not be read restrictively unless the patentee has demonstrated a clear intention to limit the claim scope using words or expressions of manifest exclusion or restriction." Hill-Rom Servs., Inc. v. Stryker Corp., 755 F.3d 1367, 1372 (Fed. Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         In addition to the specification, a court "should also consider the patent's prosecution history, if it is in evidence." Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 980 (Fed. Cir. 1995), aff'd, 517 U.S. 370 (1996). The prosecution history, which is "intrinsic evidence," "consists of the complete record of the proceedings before the [Patent and Trademark Office] and includes the prior art cited during the examination of the patent." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1317. "[T]he prosecution history can often inform the meaning of the claim language by demonstrating how the inventor understood the invention and whether the inventor limited the invention in the course of prosecution, making the claim scope narrower than it would otherwise be." Id.

         "In some cases, ... the district court will need to look beyond the patent's intrinsic evidence and to consult extrinsic evidence in order to understand, for example, the background science or the meaning of a term in the relevant art during the relevant time period." Teva, 135 S.Ct. at 841. "Extrinsic evidence consists of all evidence external to the patent and prosecution history, including expert and inventor testimony, dictionaries, and learned treatises." Markman, 52 F.3d at 980. For instance, technical dictionaries can assist the court in determining the meaning of a term to those of skill in the relevant art because such dictionaries "endeavor to collect the accepted meanings of terms used in various fields of science and technology." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1318. In addition, expert testimony can be useful "to ensure that the court's understanding of the technical aspects of the patent is consistent with that of a person of skill in the art, or to establish that a particular term in the patent or the prior art has a particular meaning in the pertinent field." Id. Nonetheless, courts must not lose sight of the fact that "expert reports and testimony [are] generated at the time of and for the purpose of litigation and thus can suffer from bias that is not present in intrinsic evidence." Id. Overall, while extrinsic evidence "may be useful to the court," it is "less reliable" than intrinsic evidence, and its consideration "is unlikely to result in a reliable interpretation of patent claim scope unless considered in the context of the intrinsic evidence." Id. at 1318-19. Where the intrinsic record unambiguously describes the scope of the patented invention, reliance on any extrinsic evidence is improper. See Pitney Bowes, Inc. v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 182 F.3d 1298, 1308 (Fed. Cir. 1999).

         Finally, "[t]he construction that stays true to the claim language and most naturally aligns with the patent's description of the invention will be, in the end, the correct construction." 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) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         II. CONSTRUCTION OF DISPUTED TERMS[1]

         A. '843 and '993 Patents[2]

         1."document"[3]

Arendi

"electronic document containing textual information"

Defendants

"a word processing or spreadsheet file into which text can be entered"

Court

"a word processing, spreadsheet, or similar file into which text can be entered"

         With respect to the term "document," the parties have two disputes. First, the parties disagree as to whether a "document" must be a word processing or spreadsheet file (as Defendants contend), or whether it may be any electronic display of text (as Arendi contends). (D.I. 111 at 5-8; D.I. 112 at 4-8) Second, the parties disagree as to whether a "document" is a file into which text can be entered (as Defendants contend), or whether it may be non-editable (as Arendi contends). (D.I. 111 at 8-9; D.I. 112 at 9-11) The Court addresses each dispute in turn.

         First, although the claims use "document" in a manner more narrow than its plain meaning, it is not solely limited to conventional word processing and spreadsheet files. As the patents explain, the invention relates to "name and address handling ... within a document created by [a] computer program." ('843 patent, [4] 1:18-26) Each described embodiment either uses a word processing program or a spreadsheet program, and the patents' figures specifically depict the use of Microsoft® Word and Microsoft® Excel. ('843 patent, Figs. 3-15) The patents also effectively "define[]" the invention as limited to "word processing documents:"

Although the present invention is defined in terms of word processing documents, such as WORD™ documents and EXCEL™ spreadsheets, the present invention is applicable to all types of word processing documents such as NOTEPAD™, WORDPAD™, WORDPERFECT™, QUATRO-PRO™, AMIPRO™, etc. as will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art.

('843 Patent, 9:61-67) (emphasis added) Yet the patents also define the term "word processor" more broadly than its plain meaning:

In recent years, with the advent of programs, such as word processors, spreadsheets, etc. (hereinafter called ''word processors") users may require retrieval of information, such as name and address information, etc., for insertion into a document, such as a letter, fax, etc., created with the word processor.

(See '843 patent, 1:28-32) (emphasis added)

         The patents' definition of the invention "in terms of word processing documents" must be read in light of its definition of "word processor." Notably, inclusion of the word "etc." in the definition of "word processor" means that "word processor" includes not only conventional word processors and spreadsheet programs, but also similar programs that are not conventionally thought of as word processors or spreadsheets. See Indacon, Inc. v. Facebook, Inc., 824 F.3d 1352, 1355 (Fed. Cir. 2016) ("[T]he use of'etc' in [a] definition implies additional, but similar forms of expression.") (emphasis added); see also Sports Graphics, Inc. v. United States, 24 F.3d 1390, 1392 (Fed. Cir. 1994) ("[W]here an enumeration of specific things is followed by a general word or phrase, the general word or phrase is held to refer to things of the same kind as those specified.") (emphasis added). Applying this definition of "word processor," it follows that "document" includes not only conventional word processor files and spreadsheet files, but also files from similar programs.

         It follows that neither side's proposed construction is correct. Arendi's proposed construction of "document" is overbroad because it is not limited to documents that are similar to word processing or spreadsheet files, ignoring that "the present invention is defined in terms of such word processing documents. ('843 patent, 9:61-67) On the other hand, Defendants' construction is unduly narrow. Although Defendants' construction of "document" properly includes files produced by word processors (as that term is conventionally used) and spreadsheet programs, Defendants would exclude files created by any other type of computer program. In doing so, Defendants essentially read the "etc." out of the patents' definition of "word processors." See Hormone Research Found., Inc. v. Genentech, Inc., 904 F.2d 1558, 1563 (Fed. Cir. 1990) ("[A] patentee is free to be his or her own lexicographer . . . and thus may use terms in a manner contrary to or inconsistent with one or more of their ordinary meanings.") (internal citations omitted).

         Defendants' suggestion that the claimed invention would not work outside of the context of word processors (as that term is conventionally understood) lacks merit. (See D.I. Ill. at 7) Defendants argue that the purpose of the invention is "to address the problem of locating and inserting contact information into a document being edited by a user," and that the patents "do not suggest how the invention would work outside the context" of a user working in a word processor. (See D.I. 111 at 5-6) But, as Arendi points out (D.I. 112 at 4), the record discloses no reason why the methods taught in the specification could not be applied to certain other computer programs - for example, a web browser in which a user is drafting an email.

         For these reasons, the Court will construe "document" in relevant part as "a word processing, spreadsheet, or similar file."

         Turning to the parties' second dispute - whether a "document" is a file into which text can be entered (as Defendants contend), or whether it may be non-editable (as Arendi contends) - the Court agrees with Defendants. (See D.I. 111 at 8-9; D.I. 112 at 9-11)

         A "document" as used here must be editable. As the Abstract explains, the invention is directed to "look[ing] up data corresponding to what [a] user types, or partly typed," such that the data is "displayed and possibly entered into the word processor, if such related data exists." ('843 patent, Abstract) (emphasis added) The patents define "word processor" more broadly than the plain meaning of the term, but the patent's definition of the term - "word processors, spreadsheets, etc." - is necessarily limited to computer programs in which a user can enter data. See Indacon, 824 F.3d at 1355. The 15 invention-specific figures, the seven examples, and the "object[s] of the invention" provided in the specification support the understanding that the invention's purpose is to retrieve and possibly enter data into a document based on information entered by the user. (See, e.g., '843 patent, Figs. 1-15, 1:53-2:34, 5:59-8:67) This understanding is reinforced by the patents' repeated use of the phrase "the present invention is defined in terms of to limit the invention to a particular technological context.[5] The patents never suggest how the invention would operate if the document were non-editable; if the document were non-editable, it is unclear how a user could type data and how a computer could enter related address data into the document. The term "document" must be construed consistent with the patents' repeated and consistent requirement in the specification that documents be editable. See GPNE Corp. v. Apple Inc., 830 F.3d 1365, 1370-71 (Fed. Cir. 2016). This is "faithful to the invention disclosed in the specification." Wi-Fi One, LLC v. Broadcom Corp., 887 F.3d 1329, 1346 (Fed. Cir. 2018).

         Arendi's claim differentiation argument lacks merit. (See D.I. 120 at 9-10) Arendi argues that requiring a "document," in itself, to be editable would render redundant limitations in certain claims that explicitly require the document to be editable. (Id.) But the claims Arendi differentiates are not an independent claim and one of its dependent claims - a situation in which claim differentiation is at its strongest; instead, they are two distinct independent claims. See generally Atlas IP, LLC v. Medtronic, Inc., 809 F.3d 599, 607 (Fed. Cir. 2015) (explaining that because "patentees often use different language to capture the same invention," doctrine of claim differentiation is "discount[ed] where it is invoked based on independent claims rather than the relation of an independent and dependent claim"). Atlas' reasoning carries special force here, where the two independent claims on which Arendi relies are in different patents filed years apart. See Id. Arendi's claim differentiation argument, therefore, does not outweigh "the clear import of the specification." See Edwards Lifesciences LLC v. Cook Inc., 582 F.3d 1322, 1331 (Fed. Cir. 2009).

         For these reasons, the Court construes a "document," in relevant part, as "a file into which text can be entered."

         2."first information"[6]

Arendi

"text in a document that can be used as input for a search operation in a source external to the document"

Defendants

"information entered by the user into a document"

Court

"text in a document that can be used as input for a search operation in a source external to the document"

         The parties dispute whether "first information" must be entered by a "user" (as Defendants propose) or whether it need not be entered by the user (as Arendi proposes). (D.I. 111 at 12; D.I. 112 at 11) The Court agrees with Arendi.

         Nothing in the patents justifies limiting "first information" to information entered by "the user." The claims recite a "user" who enters a user command (e.g., pressing a button) to "initiate an operation" on the first information (e.g., looking up contact information). (See, e.g., '843 patent, cl. 1; 5:63-6:5) Defendants' construction would require the first information to be entered by the same user who ultimately initiates the lookup operation. Nothing in the specification indicates that it is "essential," "necessary," or even "important" for the same user both to enter first information and initiate the lookup operation. Defendants' construction is unduly limiting.[7] See Hill-Rom, 755 F.3d at 1372.

         3."computer program"[8]

Arendi

"independently executable computer application"

Defendants

"a self-contained set of instructions, as opposed to a routine or library, intended to be executed on a computer so as to perform some task"

Court

"a self-contained set of instructions, as opposed to a routine or library, intended to be executed on a computer so as to perform some task"

         Defendants' construction was first proposed by Arendi in a related case, which settled before the Court issued a Markman opinion. (D.I. 111 at 10) Arendi contends that its prior construction is not wrong, but that its current construction - which is taken from the PTAB's subsequent construction of "application program" in a related IPR - is both clearer and "avoids a possible pitfall" in Defendants' construction: that Defendants' construction might be read (improperly, in Arendi's view) to include modules and utilities, which, to Arendi, are not "computer programs." (D.I. 112 at 12-14; Tr. at 69) Defendants argue that a module or utility could be a "computer program," depending on how the module or utility is implemented. (D.I. 119 at 12-14; Tr. at 76)

         The Court agrees with Defendants' that modules and utilities can be "computer programs." As Defendants point out (D.I. 119 at 12-14), Arendi's position that neither a "module" nor a "utility" can be an "application program" was squarely rejected by the PTAB in a decision that was affirmed by the Federal Circuit. (See D.I. 107-3 Ex. 6T at 10-11) The Federal Circuit's affirmance is not dispositive; it establishes the meaning of "application program" but not necessarily the meaning of "computer program," which is the term being disputed before the Court.[9] Even so, the Court is persuaded by the PTAB's reasoning that nothing in the specification categorically prevents modules and utilities from being "application programs." This same reasoning applies with equal force to "computer program."

         Notwithstanding certain of Arendi's rhetoric (see, e.g., D.I. 120 at 10-11), Arendi has only identified one potential point of disagreement between the parties pertinent to this claim term: whether a module or utility can possibly be a "computer program." (See id.) In resolving this dispute, the Court has (for now) met its obligation to resolve "actual" claim construction disputes. See 02 Micro Int'l Ltd. v. Beyond Innovation Tech. Co., 521 F.3d 1351, 1362 (Fed. Cir. 2008).

         4."to determine if the first information is at least one of a plurality of types of information that can be searched for"[10]

Arendi

"to determine if the first information belongs to one or more of several predefined categories of information that can be searched for"

Defendants

Indefinite

Court

"to determine if the first information belongs to one or more of several predefined categories of identifying information (e.g., a name) or contact information (e.g., a phone number, a fax number, or an email address) that can be searched for in an information source external to the document"

         Claims 1 and 23 of the '843 patent include the following limitation:

while the document is being displayed, analyzing in a computer process first information from the document to determine if the first information is at least one of the plurality of types of information that can be searched for to find second information related to the first information.

(Emphasis added) Defendants contend that the highlighted claim term is indefinite because it fails to describe (1) what kind of "information" is claimed and (2) where the search is performed. (D.I. Ill. at 13) Defendants have not met their burden to show indefiniteness by clear and convincing evidence. See Nautilus, Inc. v. BiosigInstruments, Inc., 572 U.S. 898, 901 (2014).

         A POS A would understand with reasonable certainty what kind of information is "first information." The specification makes clear that the invention relates to address handling. (Seee.g., '843 patent, Title ("Method, System and Computer Readable Medium for AddressingHandling from a Computer Program") (emphasis added); '843 patent, Abstract (noting that invention "look[s] up data corresponding to ... [a] name and/or address") (emphasis added); '843 patent, 1:18-20 ("This invention relates to a method, system and computer readable medium for name and address handling . . . .") (emphasis added); '843 patent, 1:53-55 ("[A]n object of the present invention is to provide a method, system and computer readable medium for address handling within a computer program . ...") (emphasis added); '843 patent, 10:8-10 ("[T]he present invention is defined in terms of providing an input device, such as a button 42 in a word processor for address handling therein ....") (emphasis added); '843 patent, 10:20-27 ("Although the present invention is defined in terms of a program retrieving a name.. .from a document before searching a database[, ] the program may retrieve an address.. .from the document before searching the database and insert, correct, complete, etc. the retrieved address based on the information found in the ...


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