Vehicle IP LLC v. AT&T Mobility LLC et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION re claim construction. Signed by Judge Leonard P. Stark on 5/30/17. (ntl)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FORTHE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
VEHICLE IP, LLC,
C.A. No. 09-1007-LPS
CELLCO PARTNERSHIP, NETWORKS IN
MOTION, INC., and
Martina Tyreus Hufnal, FISH & RICHARDSON P .C., Wilmington, DE
Michael J. Kane, William R. Woodford, Jason M. Zucchi, and Phillip W. Goter, FISH &
RICHARDSON P.C., Minneapolis, MN
Juanita Brooks, Geoff D. Biegler, FISH & RICHARDSON P .C., San Diego, CA
Attorneys for Plaintiff.
John G. Day, Tiffany Geyer Lydon, and Andrew C. Mayo, ASHBY & GEDDES, Wilmington,
John P. Schnurer, Kevin J. Patariu, and Evan S. Day, PERKINS COIE LLP, San Diego, CA
Floyd B. Chapman, Kevin P. Anderson, and Karin Hessler, WILEY REIN LLP, Washington, DC
Attorneys for Defendants.
May 30, 2017
Vehicle IP, LLC filed suit against Defendants Telecommunication Systems, Inc.,
Networks in Motion, Inc., and Cellco Partnership (collectively, "TCS"), alleging infringement of
U.S. Patent No. 5,987,377, which claims systems and methods for determining an expected time
of arrival of a vehicle equipped with a mobile unit using a dispatch remotely located from the
Presently before the Court is the issue of claim construction. The Court previously
construed a number of claim terms in this case. (See D.I. 167) The parties subsequently filed
cross-motions for summary judgment regarding, among other issues, infringement. (See D.I.
375, 378) The Court denied those motions, finding there to be a genuine dispute of material fac(
created by the parties' expert opinions, which both reasonably applied the Court's construction of
the term "dispatch." (See D.I. 538atl1) The Court also noted that further construction of
"dispatch" may be appropriate. (See id. at 12 n.1) Thereafter, TCS sought leave to pursue
further construction of the term (see D.I. 545), which the Court granted. 1 The parties submitted
suppJemental claim construction briefs. (See D.I. 552, 553, 556, 557). The Court held a claim
construction hearing on April 28, 2017. (See D.I. 561 ("Tr."))
A district court may engage in "rolling" claim construction, updating its constructions as
the record develops. See, e.g., Jack Guttman, Inc. v. Kopykake Enterprises, Inc., 302 F.3d 1352,
1361 (Fed. Cir. 2002) ("District courts may engage in a rolling claim construction, in.which the
court revisits and alters its interpretation of the claim terms as its understanding of the technology
evolves."); Sofamor Danek Grp., Inc. v. DePuy-Motech, Inc., 74 F.3d 1216, 1221 (Fed. Cir.
1996) ("Markman does not obligate the trial judge to conclusively interpret claims at an early
stage in a case. A trial court may exercise its discretion to interpret the claims at a time when the
parties have presented a full picture of the claimed invention and prior art.").
The ultimate question of the proper construction of a patent is a question 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) (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"[ d]ifferences 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 131415 (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 ':l 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) (quoting Liebel-Flarsheim Co. v. Medrad, Inc., 358
F.3d 898, 906 (Fed. Cir. 2004)) (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 PTO [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
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 ofthe 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) (citing Vitronics, 90
F.3d at 1583).
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'! Trade Comm 'n, 505 F.3d 1351, 1358 (Fed. Cir. 2007)
(quoting Modine Mfg. Co. v. U.S. Int'! Trade Comm 'n, 75 F.3d 1545, 1550 (Fed. Cir. 1996)).
CONSTRUCTION OF DISPUTED TERM
"computer-based communication and processing system remotely located from the vehicle that
manages and monitors vehicles," wherein "manages vehicles" means "generates and provides
information that facilitates or directs the vehicle's movement along the travel route" and
"monitors vehicles" means "receives and processes information relating to the vehicle's status
or position along the travel route"
"a computer-based communication and processing system remotely located from the vehicle
that supervi~es and controls vehicles to a destination sp~cified by the computer-based system"
"a computer-based communication and processing system remotely located from the vehicle
that supervises and controls vehicles to a destination specified exclusively by the computerbased system"
The Court previously construed "dispatch" to be a "computer-based communication and
processing system remotely located from the vehicle that manages and monitors vehicles." (D.I.
167 at 11) The parties' dispute centers on the meaning of"manages and monitors" in the Court's
construction. Vehicle IP argues that the claimed dispatch manages vehicles by supplying ·
information, but not necessarily the destination, to facilitate the vehicle's movement along a
This term appears in all claims of the '3 77 patent.
travel route, and that the dispatch monitors vehicles by receiving and processing information
about the vehicle's status or position along the route. (See D.I. 552 at 3-5) TCS contends that
the "dispatch's management and monitoring functions work together to control vehicles.:_ by
assigning them destinations, by collecting surveillance data about the vehicles and their journeys,
and then by using that data to update their destinations and routes as circumstances change." .
(D.I. 553 at 1)
As there is no evidence that "dispatch" has a plain or established meaning in the relevant
art, the Court will not construe it more broadly than the specification's disclosure. See lndacon,
Inc. v. Facebook, Inc., 824 F.3d 1352, 1357 (Fed. Cir. 2016). The Court previously determined
that the dispatch is "not just any computer-based system remotely located from the vehicle."
(D.l. 167 at 12) Rather, the specification makes clear that the dispatch performs particular
functions. (See id. at 11-13)
· TCS' s proposed construction is consistent with those functions. The dispatch generates ·
destination information and communicates it to the mobile unit. See, e.g., '377 patent col. 411.
58-59. The specification teaches that the dispatch selects the vehicle's destination. See, e.g., col.
1 11. 55-57; col. 2 11. 16-19; col. 2 1. 66 - col. 3 1. 12; col. 5 11. 53-56. Further, the dispatch
receives information from the mobile unit and "processes this information to determine expected
time of arrival, locate, track, dispatch, and communicate with [the] mobile unit." Col. 13.113-6.
Based on the information received, the dispatch can reroute and reschedule vehicles as necessary,
based on, for example, traffic delaxs, changed destinations, or updated appointment times. See
col. 6 11. 51-60.
Vehicle IP contends that TCS 's proposed construction cannot be correct because it would
exclude embodiments described in the specification in which the vehicle operator, not the
dispatch, selects the destination. In particular, Vehicle IP identifies a passage that begins:
"System 10 supports the remote sending of destination information to vehicle 40 from dispatch .
20. If destination inf0,rmation is only input into mobile unit 42 just prior to departure of vehicle
40 from its origin, mobile unit 42 only has available destination information that is current as of
the moment of departure." Col. 6 11. 40-67. But this passage does not indicate that the vehicle
operator selects the destination. Rather, this passage is about the dispatch sending destination
information to the mobile unit. It describes a problem -the mobile unit not having current
information - and provides a solution to that problem - the dispatch provides destination
information to the mobile unit before departure and updates that information during a trip to
prevent the information from becoming stale. Thus, "at the moment of departure, destination
information input into mobile unit 42" - by the dispatch- "may include the prefe~ed route for
vehicle 40 and several destinations with corresponding appointment times," and during the trip
"event[s] may compel dispatch 20 to send updated destination information." Col. 611. 51-60.
Other passages cited by Vehicle IP, considered in context, similarly do not suggest that the
vehicle operator selects the destination.· See, e.g., col. 111. 57 - col. 121. 5; col. 12 11. 6-13.
Instead, the patent indicates that "[t]he dispatch generates destination information for the vehicle,
specifying at least one destination." Col. 111. 55-57.
The Court finds that the plain and ordinary meaning of the term· "dispatch" in the context
of the '377 patent requires the destination to be provided by the _dispatch, ·and only the dispatch.
Accordingly, the Court will adopt TCS's proposed construction of "dispatch," as modified to
make this point explicitly clear.
The Court construes the disputed term as explained above. An appropriate Order follows.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?