Stragent, LLC v. Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. et al
MEMORANDUM ORDER AND OPINION. The Court adopts the constructions set forth in this Order. Signed by Magistrate Judge John D. Love on 05/10/11. cc:attys 5-10-11(mll, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
HUAWEI TECHNOLOGIES CO.,
LTD., ET. AL.
Civil Action No. 6:10cv77-LED-JDL
JURY TRIAL DEMANDED
MEMORANDUM ORDER AND OPINION
This claim construction opinion construes the disputed terms in U.S. Patent No. 7,095,753
(“the ‘753”). The parties have presented their claim construction positions. (Doc. No. 73, “PL.’S
BR.;” Doc. No. 75, “DEF.’S RESP.” and Doc. No. 81, “PL.’S REPLY”). On April 14, 2011, the Court
held a Markman hearing and heard argument. See (Doc. No. 83). For the reasons stated herein, the
Court adopts the construction set forth below.
CLAIM CONSTRUCTION PRINCIPLES
“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) (quoting Innova/Pure Water, Inc. v. Safari Water Filtration Sys., Inc., 381 F.3d
1111, 1115 (Fed. Cir. 2004)). The Court examines a patent’s intrinsic evidence to define the
patented invention’s scope. Id. at 1313-1314; Bell Atl. Network Servs., Inc. v. Covad Commc’ns
Group, Inc., 262 F.3d 1258, 1267 (Fed. Cir. 2001). Intrinsic evidence includes the claims, the rest
of the specification and the prosecution history. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1312-13; Bell Atl. Network
Servs., 262 F.3d at 1267. The Court gives claim terms their ordinary and customary meaning as
understood by one of ordinary skill in the art at the time of the invention. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 131213; Alloc, Inc. v. Int’l Trade Comm’n, 342 F.3d 1361, 1368 (Fed. Cir. 2003).
Claim language guides the Court’s construction of claim terms. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314.
“[T]he context in which a term is used in the asserted claim can be highly instructive.” Id. Other
claims, asserted and unasserted, can provide additional instruction because “terms are normally used
consistently throughout the patent.” Id. Differences among claims, such as additional limitations
in dependent claims, can provide further guidance. Id.
“[C]laims ‘must be read in view of the specification, of which they are a part.’” Id. (quoting
Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 979 (Fed. Cir. 1995)). “[T]he 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.’” Id. (quoting Vitronics Corp.v. Conceptronic,
Inc., 90 F.3d 1576, 1582 (Fed. Cir. 1996)); Teleflex. Inc. v. Ficosa N. Am. Corp., 299 F.3d 1313,
1325 (Fed. Cir. 2002). In the specification, a patentee may define his own terms, give a claim term
a different meaning that it would otherwise possess, or disclaim or disavow some claim scope.
Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1316. Although the Court generally presumes terms possess their ordinary
meaning, this presumption can be overcome by statements of clear disclaimer. See SciMed Life Sys.,
Inc. v. Advanced Cardiovascular Sys., Inc., 242 F.3d 1337, 1343-44 (Fed. Cir. 2001). This
presumption does not arise when the patentee acts as his own lexicographer. See Irdeto Access, Inc.
v. EchoStar Satellite Corp., 383 F.3d 1295, 1301 (Fed. Cir. 2004).
The specification may also resolve ambiguous claim terms “where the ordinary and
accustomed meaning of the words used in the claims lack sufficient clarity to permit the scope of
the claim to be ascertained from the words alone.” Teleflex, Inc., 299 F.3d at 1325. For example,
“[a] claim interpretation that excludes a preferred embodiment from the scope of the claim ‘is rarely,
if ever, correct.” Globetrotter Software, Inc. v. Elan Computer Group Inc., 362 F.3d 1367, 1381
(Fed. Cir. 2004) (quoting Vitronics Corp., 90 F.3d at 1583). But, “[a]lthough the specification may
aid the court in interpreting the meaning of disputed language in the claims, particular embodiments
and examples appearing in the specification will not generally be read into the claims.” Constant
v. Advanced Micro-Devices, Inc., 848 F.2d 1560, 1571 (Fed. Cir. 1988); see also Phillips, 415 F.3d
The prosecution history is another tool to supply the proper context for claim construction
because a patentee may define a term during prosecution of the patent. Home Diagnostics Inc. v.
LifeScan, Inc., 381 F.3d 1352, 1356 (Fed. Cir. 2004) (“As in the case of the specification, a patent
applicant may define a term in prosecuting a patent”). The well established doctrine of prosecution
disclaimer “preclud[es] patentees from recapturing through claim interpretation specific meanings
disclaimed during prosecution.” Omega Eng’g Inc. v. Raytek Corp., 334 F.3d 1314, 1323 (Fed. Cir.
2003). The prosecution history must show that the patentee clearly and unambiguously disclaimed
or disavowed the proposed interpretation during prosecution to obtain claim allowance. Middleton
Inc. v. 3M Co., 311 F.3d 1384, 1388 (Fed. Cir. 2002). “Indeed, by distinguishing the claimed
invention over the prior art, an applicant is indicating what the claims do not cover.” Spectrum Int’l
v. Sterilite Corp., 164 F.3d 1372, 1378-79 (Fed. Cir. 1988) (quotation omitted). “As a basic
principle of claim interpretation, prosecution disclaimer promotes the public notice function of the
intrinsic evidence and protects the public’s reliance on definitive statements made during
prosecution.” Omega Eng’g, Inc., 334 F.3d at 1324.
Although, “less significant than the intrinsic record in determining the legally operative
meaning of claim language,” the Court may rely on extrinsic evidence to “shed useful light on the
relevant art.” Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1317 (quotation omitted). Technical dictionaries and treatises
may help the Court understand the underlying technology and the manner in which one skilled in
the art might use claim terms, but such sources may also provide overly broad definitions or may
not be indicative of how terms are used in the patent. Id. at 1318. Similarly, expert testimony may
aid the Court in determining the particular meaning of a term in the pertinent field, but “conclusory,
unsupported assertions by experts as to the definition of a claim term are not useful.” Id. Generally,
extrinsic evidence is “less reliable than the patent and its prosecution history in determining how to
read claim terms.” Id.
Overview of Patents-in-Suit
The ‘753 patent is directed to a system or method that provides network processor(s) that can
efficiently implement multiple network protocols in a “pipelined” fashion. ‘753 at 1:58-62. Figure
2 of the ‘753 patent depicts an exemplary configuration of pipelined network processors as
contemplated by the patent:
See ‘753 at 3:34-37. Another aspect of the claimed invention includes a network switch or router
including multiple pipelined network processors, each implementing a portion of the functionality
of the network switch or router. Id. at 4:6-21. The network processors include data and control
ports through which the pipelined processors communicate to implement data transmission and
network data flow protocols. Id. at 1:65-2:15.
“data flow control protocol” [‘753, cl. 18]; “network flow control protocol” [‘753, cl. 17];
“network data flow control protocol” [‘753, cl. 11, 18, 21]
Plaintiff’s Proposed Construction
Defendant’s Proposed Construction
rules or conventions for managing the
flow of data between devices in a network
rules or conventions for managing the flow of
data in a network, including the flow of data
between devices or within a device
The parties agree that the these three terms should be construed together. DEF. RESP. at 9-11;
PL.’S REPLY at 2-3. While the parties largely agree on the construction of these terms, the specific
dispute was articulated during the Markman hearing. Defendant’s proposed construction would
allow the flow control protocols to be implemented solely within a network device. See DEF. RESP.
at 10-11. Defendant primarily supports its position via Figure 4 of the ‘753 and the related portions
of the specification. DEF. RESP. at 10-11. Figure 4 of the patent depicts a network device
“implementing egress feedback flow control.” ‘753 at 4:6-8. Defendant contends that the
specification describes the implementation of the “egress feedback flow control” managing the flow
of data within a network device. DEF. RESP. at 10-11. Defendant further argues that Plaintiff’s
proposed construction is too narrow and excludes the embodiment disclosed in Figure 4. Id.
Plaintiff, on the other hand, proposes a construction that limits the flow control protocols to
managing the flow of data between network devices. PL.’S REPLY at 2-3. Plaintiff contends that
Figure 4 of the patent and related disclosure describes pipelined processors implementing systemlevel flow control. Id. Plaintiff further argues that the system-level flow control is directed to
managing the flow of the data between devices. Id.
Plaintiff is correct that the ‘753 patent is directed to managing network level protocols in a
network environment. See ‘753 at 1:14-16 (“[t]he present invention relates to network devices . .
. for implementing network protocols that control data flow.”); see also id. at 1:58-62; id. at 4:1-4.
Indeed, the patent defines “flow control” as “the management of data between devices.” Id. at 1:4547 (emphasis added). Accordingly, the specification supports a construction wherein the claimed
protocols manage the flow of the data between devices.
Figure 4 and the related description are not to the contrary. Figure 4 depicts a network
device with three pipelined network processors implementing “egress feedback flow control.” ‘753
at 4:8-15. As previously explained, the ‘753 specification describes “flow control” as the managing
of data between devices. Id. at 1:45-47. Moreover, the network processors depicted in Figure 4 are
described as “each implementing a portion of the functionality of” the network device. Id. at 4:8-15.
In other words, the pipelined processors in the network device of Figure 4 each implement a portion
of the egress feedback flow control, which manages the flow of data between devices.
Defendant’s proposed construction would allow the “flow control protocols” to be
implemented solely within one device. Such a construction would be contrary to the directed
purpose of the patent – the management of data flow in a network environment. See e.g. ‘753 at
1:14-16; id. at 1:58-62; id. at 4:1-4. Moreover, if the protocols could be implemented independent
of a “network” connection, the word “network” itself would be rendered meaningless in the claim
terms.1 Accordingly, limiting implementation of a network protocol to one device is improper and
contrary to the teaching of the patent.
Based on the foregoing, the Court finds that the proper construction of “data flow control
protocol,” “network flow control protocol” and “network data flow control protocol” is “rules or
conventions for managing the flow of data between devices in a network.”
For the foregoing reasons, the Court adopts the constructions set forth above. For the ease
of reference, the Court’s claim interpretation is set forth in a table attached to this Order.
So ORDERED and SIGNED this 10th day of May, 2011.
JOHN D. LOVE
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Claim 18 of the ‘753 recites a “data flow control protocol” absent the word “network.” However, this
term refers back to the earlier claimed “network flow control protocol.”
data flow control protocol
‘753 Patent, Claim 18
rules or conventions for
managing the flow of data
between devices in a network
rules or conventions for
managing the flow of data in a
network, including the flow of
data between devices or within
rules or conventions for
managing the flow of data
between devices in a network
network flow control
‘753 Patent, Claim 17;
network data flow control
‘753 Patent, Claims 11, 18, 21
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