• ALJ Gildea Issues Claim Construction Order In Certain Electronic Devices, Including Wireless Communication Devices, Portable Music And Data Processing Devices, And Tablet Computers (337-TA-794)
  • June 1, 2012 | Authors: John F. Presper; Eric W. Schweibenz
  • Law Firm: Oblon, Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt, L.L.P. - Alexandria Office
  • On May 16, 2012, ALJ E. James Gildea issued the public version of Order No. 63 (dated May 10, 2012) construing disputed terms of the asserted patent claims at issue in Certain Electronic Devices, Including Wireless Communication Devices, Portable Music and Data Processing Devices, and Tablet Computers (Inv. No. 337-TA-794).

    By way of background, the investigation is based on a complaint filed by Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. and Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC (collectively, “Samsung”) alleging violation of Section 337 by Respondent Apple Inc. (“Apple”) in the importation and sale of certain electronic devices, including wireless communication devices, portable music and data processing devices, and tablet computers that infringe one or more claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,706,348 (“the ‘348 patent”), 7,486,644 (“the ‘644 patent”), 6,771,980 (“the ‘980 patent”), 6,879,843 (“the ‘843 patent”) and 7,450,114 (“the ‘114 patent”).  See our August 1, 2011 post for more details on this investigation.  A Markman hearing was held on January 10 and 11, 2012.

    ALJ Gildea first noted that Samsung had altered several of its proposed claim constructions after the joint submission of disputed claim terms was due on October 21, 2012, and that many of these alterations (i.e., from specific constructions to “plain meaning”) were stricken in Order No. 41.  The ALJ then went on to construe the disputed claim terms as set forth below.

    The ‘348 Patent

    The ‘348 patent discloses an apparatus and method for encoding and decoding a transport format combination indicator (TFCI) in a CDMA mobile communication system.  Independent claims 75 and 82, and dependent claims 76-78 and 83-84 are asserted in the investigation.

    The first disputed term is “TFCI encoding apparatus” in the preamble of claims 75 and 82.  The ALJ agreed with Apple and the Commission Investigative Staff (“OUII”) that “TFCI encoding apparatus” is not a limitation and thus does not require construction.

    The next disputed term is “controller for outputting” in claims 75 and 82.  ALJ Gildea agreed with Samsung and OUII that “controller for outputting” requires no construction and can be understood according to its plain meaning, noting that “[a] controller involves logic, and software provides that logic.”

    The next disputed term is “codeword” in claims 75, 76, 82 and 83.  The ALJ concluded that “codeword” means “coded information,” noting that Samsung’s expert agreed with this definition.

    The next disputed term is “from among a plurality of 30 bit codewords” in claim 75, and “from among a plurality of 32 bit codewords” in claim 82.  ALJ Gildea agreed with Samsung and OUII’s constructions, rejecting Apple’s argument that the apparatus of claims 75 and 82 requires an encoding table to perform the outputting functions.

    The next disputed term is “equivalent” in claims 75 and 82.  ALJ Gildea concluded that “equivalent” carries no special meaning and should be given its plain meaning.

    The next disputed term is “punctured equivalents” in claim 76.  The ALJ concluded that this term means “32 bit codeword that has been punctured such that it corresponds to TFCI information in the same way that a 30 bit codeword corresponds to TFCI information.”

    The next disputed terms are “puncturer” and “puncturing” in claim 82.  ALJ Gildea determined that “puncture” generally means a perforation or hole in an object that has been pierced.  With respect to “puncturer,” the ALJ noted that the specification refers to more than one way of puncturing and that there has to be a performing agent which, given the technology involved, can be either hardware or software.

    The next disputed term is “length” in claim 77.  ALJ Gildea agreed with Apple that this term should be construed as “number of bits.”

    The last disputed term is “predetermined position” in claim 82.  ALJ Gildea determined that this term should be applied according to its plain meaning since the specification suggests no restriction on the locations of the bit positions that are predetermined.

    The ‘644 Patent

    The ‘644 patent discloses an apparatus and method for transmitting control information of a small block size with high reliability in a mobile communication system supporting uplink packet data service.  Independent claims 9 and 13 are asserted in the investigation.

    The first disputed term is “rate-matched block” in claims 9 and 13.  ALJ Gildea construed this term to mean “a block of channel-coded bits that have been matched to transmittable bits on a physical channel by puncturing or repeating bits at predetermined positions.”

    The next disputed term is “rate dematcher” in claim 13.  Samsung and OUII asserted that this term means “hardware and/or software for inserting a bit at each punctured bit position according to the rate matching pattern” (however, Samsung initially proposed the definition “hardware and/or software for inserting at the punctured bit positions according to the rate matching pattern”).  The ALJ adopted the construction proposed by the OUII and Samsung in Markman briefing.

    The last disputed term is “decoding the coded bits at a coding rate of 1/3” in claims 9 and 13.    The ALJ found that there is “no mystery to the words or concept and the term is self-evident according to the words themselves,” interpreting this term as “decoding bits that were encoded according to a coding rate that outputs three bits for every one input bit.”

    The ‘980 Patent

    The ‘980 patent generally discloses methods for phone dialing and registering phone numbers in an electronic phone book in a smart phone during execution of a personal digital assistant (PDA) program.  Independent claims 5 and 10 and dependent claims 6, 7, 9 and 11-13 are asserted in the investigation.

    The first disputed term is “PDA function” in claims 5 and 10.  The parties agreed that this term should mean “a function performed by a personal digital assistant,” but disagreed as to whether a PDA function may not include a webpage-based function or a mobile phone function, as Apple asserted.  ALJ Gildea agreed with Samsung and OUII that there was no unequivocal disclaimer of claim scope with respect to this term in the file history, and thus rejected Apple’s proposed limitation that a “PDA function” may not include a webpage-based function.  The ALJ similarly concluded that there was no special definition or disavowal in the intrinsic record that supports Apple’s argument that “PDA function” expressly excludes mobile phone functions.

    The next disputed term is “mobile phone function” in claims 5 and 10.  Again, the parties agreed that this term means “a telephone function of a mobile phone,” but disagreed as to (i) whether this term should also include Apple’s additional proposed elaboration “such as sending and receiving wireless signals,” and (ii) whether this term expressly excludes a PDA function.  Samsung and OUII contended that the additional language proposed by Apple is unnecessary, and that it would also be inappropriate to add the negative limitation excluding PDA functions.  ALJ Gildea declined to adopt Apple’s proposed language, finding the word “wireless” to appear nowhere in the ‘980 patent, and the remainder of Apple’s language to be open-ended and exemplary only.  The ALJ likewise rejected Apple’s proposed negative limitation excluding PDA functions from “mobile phone function” for the same reasons discussed above with the term “PDA function.”

    The next disputed terms are “a phone program” in claim 5 and “a dialing program” in claim 10.  ALJ Gildea found no language in claims 5 or 10 suggesting that either term has to be a PDA or a mobile phone function, and interpreted these terms according to their plain and ordinary meanings.  Further, the ALJ agreed with Apple that the two terms are very similar to the extent that both programs are, under the plain language of the claims, “for editing a dialing a phone number.”

    The next disputed term is “phone editor” in claims 5-7, 9 and 10.  Based on the specification, ALJ Gildea concluded that “phone editor” should be construed to mean “a user interface that allows the user to edit a phone number prior to dialing.”

    The next disputed term is “loading” in claim 5.  ALJ Gildea construed the term “loading” as “copying or transferring into memory,” citing dictionary definitions and other extrinsic sources.

    The next disputed term is “identifying name” in claims 5 and 10.  ALJ Gildea rejected the parties’ proposed constructions and, after reviewing the specification, concluded that an identifying name could be designated by the claimed smart phone and not necessarily by a user, and thus interpreted this term to mean “a name associated with the selected number.”

    The last disputed term is “dialing state” in claims 6, 10 and 11.  The issue centered primarily on whether the PDA function must be terminated prior to the switch to the dialing state, as Apple asserted.  ALJ Gildea looked to discussions of Figure 4 of the specification which showed a key matrix, a dial PDA mode, and a sending mode, concluding that the display on the smart phone shows that the phone is ready, or in the process of, dialing a number.  Thus, the ALJ sided with Samsung and OUII and construed “dialing state” to mean “a mode in which the smart phone can dial a phone number.”

    The ‘843 Patent

    The ‘843 patent discloses a “method and device for reproducing digital audio data in a mobile station.”  Independent claims 1 and 4 and dependent claims 2, 3 and 5-11 are asserted in the investigation.

    The first disputed term is “phone module” in claims 1 and 4.  Samsung argued that (i) this term should mean “a module to control phone functions;” and (ii) if interpreted pursuant to 35 U.S.C. §112, ¶ 6, the function of claim 1 is “controlling the ordinary functions of said mobile phone, enabling digital audio data to be downloaded from a personal computer to said mobile phone according to a key input through said key pad, and enabling the sound of the digital audio data to be reproduced according to a key input through said key pad,” the function of claim 4 is “mobile communications,” and the corresponding structure for both claims 1 and 4 is “phone module 102” and equivalents thereof.  OUII agreed with Samsung’s proposed construction and disagreed that this term must be construed in means-plus-function language.  ALJ Gildea concluded that Apple did not overcome the presumption that “phone module” is not a means-plus-function limitation, and adopted Samsung and OUII’s proposed construction.

    The next disputed term is “digital audio data module” in claims 1 and 4.  Here again, Samsung and OUII believed that this term means “a module to control digital audio functions,” whereas Apple argued that this term must be interpreted in means-plus-function format.  Samsung asserted in the alternative that if construed in means-plus-function format, the functions of claim 1 and 4 are largely the same as the functions put forth by Apple; the difference is in the proposed structure - Samsung contended that the corresponding structure is CPU 116, memory device 118, D/A converter 112, and MP3 decoder 114, and equivalents, whereas Apple argued that the structure is CPU 116, memory device 118, D/A converter 112, and MP3 decoder 114, but does not include phone module 102.  Again, the ALJ found that Apple did not overcome the presumption that this term is not a means-plus-function limitation, and adopted Samsung and OUII’s proposed construction.

    The next disputed term is “keypad having a plurality of alphanumeric keys” in claim 1.  Samsung and OUII argued that this term means “a keypad that includes at least a plurality of alphanumeric keys,” while Apple asserted that this term should be construed as “a contiguous set of letter and number keys.”  ALJ Gildea found that the specification supported Samsung and OUII’s proposed language.

    The next disputed term is “adapter” in claim 4.  Samsung contended that this term should mean “a connector for transferring data,” whereas Apple and OUII believed this term should be interpreted as “hardware component that converts data from parallel to serial and vice versa.”  The ALJ concluded that the patentee specially defined “adapter” in the Abstract and Summary of the Invention as Apple and OUII construed this term.

    The next disputed term is “detailed menu” in claims 6, 7 and 10.  ALJ Gildea concluded that the dependent claims indicated that a detailed menu is essentially a sort of sub-menu that is displayed when the user selects play mode from the claimed main menu, and that provides a user with the options of keys to activate for certain claimed functions, such as play (as in claim 6), rewind (as in claim 7), and fast-forward (as in claim 10).  ALJ Gildea rejected Apple and OUII’s definitions because they did not convey the hierarchical relationship between the main  and detailed menus.  The ALJ found that Samsung’s proposed construction reflected the plain meaning to some extent, but ultimately construed this term to mean “menu of items that is hierarchically organized under the main menu.”

    The last disputed terms are “enabling digital audio data to be downloaded - according to a key input through said key pad” and “enabling the sound of the digital audio data to be reproduced according to a key input of said keypad” in claim 1.  The parties’ dispute centers on the language “according to a key input” and whether a user is responsible for the key input.  Apple essentially argued that it is common sense that a user would activate (input) a key on the keypad, causing the phone module to enable the claimed activity response, while Samsung and OUII refuted this assertion (without providing any substantive explanation, according to ALJ Gildea).  The ALJ largely agreed with Apple and construed these terms as “enabling digital audio data to be downloaded ... as determined by a user’s key input through said keypad” and “enabling the sound of the digital audio data to be reproduced as determined by a user’s key input through said keypad,” respectively.

    The ‘114 Patent

    The ‘114 patent discloses systems and methods for viewing and manipulating a display of digital documents.  Independent claims 1 and 3 and dependent claims 2, 4 and 5 are asserted in the investigation.

    The first disputed term is “rate based on the determined velocity vector” in claim 1.  Samsung and OUII proposed that this term means “rate calculated from the determined velocity vector,” whereas Apple asserted that this term should be construed as “speed of the last measured velocity vector.”  ALJ Gildea found Apple’s language more restrictive than claim 1 or the specification indicates - the velocity detector takes position readings periodically, from which a page velocity determination may be made, so there is no requirement that rate be based solely on the last measured velocity vector.  Thus, the ALJ adopted Samsung and OUII’s proposed construction.

    The next disputed term is “rate based on the determined velocity vector and a page inertia” in claims 2 and 3.  Again, Samsung and OUII asserted that this term means “rate calculated from the determined velocity vector and a page inertia,” while Apple contended that this term should be construed as “speed of the last velocity vector reduced by page inertia, which is a simulated constant force that decreases velocity.”  ALJ Gildea faulted Apple’s construction for the same reasons discussed above regarding the previous term, and added that Apple’s inclusion of a constant force that decreases velocity is not supported by either the claim language or the specification, and runs afoul of the doctrine of claim differentiation inasmuch as dependent claim 4 adds such a limitation.  Accordingly, the ALJ adopted Samsung and OUII’s proposed construction for this term.

    The next disputed term is “an interface process” in claims 1, 3 and 5.  Again, Samsung and OUII argued that this term should be construed as “a process that handles a user interface.”  Apple, however, asserted that this term must be construed in means-plus-function format with the claimed function of “processing the motion detected by the display monitor to detect one of a plurality of commands, wherein the plurality of commands includes a pan command.”  Moreover, Apple argued that the ‘114 patent fails to disclose any structure corresponding structure to the claimed function and is therefore invalid for indefiniteness.  ALJ Gildea concluded that Apple did not overcome the presumption against construction under 35 U.S.C. §112, ¶ 6 and again adopted Samsung and OUII’s proposed construction.

    The next disputed term is “a display monitor” in claims 1-5.  Again, Samsung and OUII proposed that this term be construed as “a process that monitors the display,” whereas Apple maintained that this is a means-plus-function term, with the claimed function being “communicating with the tough-sensitive display screen for detecting motion of a pointer across the touch-sensitive display” and no corresponding structure disclosed.  The ALJ likewise found that Apple did not overcome the presumption against construction under 35 U.S.C. §112, ¶ 6 and adopted Samsung and OUII’s proposed construction.

    The last disputed term is “wherein” in claims 1, 3 and 5.  Samsung and OUII argued that this term be given its plain and ordinary meaning, while Apple contended that this term as used in claims 1, 3 and 5 is indefinite because it includes method-of-use steps in apparatus claims.  ALJ Gildea agreed with Samsung and OUII that this term would be understood according to its plain meaning and requires no construction.

    Expert Reports

    ALJ Gildea permitted each party to file one supplemental expert report addressing those final claim constructions, if any, discussed in the order that substantively differ from the joint constructions submitted by the parties, as well as one rebuttal report responding to same.