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LOCKWOOD v. AMERICAN AIRLINES

November 30, 1994

LAWRENCE B. LOCKWOOD, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM B. ENRIGHT

 BACKGROUND

 This case began as a patent infringement claim by plaintiff Lockwood against defendant American Airlines. Plaintiff claimed infringement of two United States patents (numbers '115 and '359) and defendant filed counterclaims seeking declarations that the two patents are invalid, unenforceable, not infringed, and seeking attorney fees. On July 30, 1993, this court entered summary judgment for non-infringement by defendant on the two patents. Subsequently this court denied plaintiff's request to enter final judgment and instructed the parties to proceed on the remaining counterclaims. Additionally, the court denied plaintiff's motion for reconsideration of the July 30, 1993 order on March 10, 1994. In July 1994, the court granted plaintiff leave to file a second amended complaint to include infringement on a newly-issued patent, number 5,309,355 ("'355"), which is at issue in these motions.

 The parties now present the court with two substantive motions: (1) defendant's motion for summary judgment of non-infringement of patent '355 and plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment of infringement of patent '355 and (2) defendant's motion for summary judgment of invalidity of patent number '355.

 DISCUSSION

 I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment against a party which "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of proving that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that judgment may be entered as a matter of law. Richards v. Neilson Freight Lines, 810 F.2d 898, 902 (9th Cir. 1987). "[A] party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment . . . 'must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)) (footnotes omitted). The evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor. Id. at 255.

 The construction of claims is a question of law which may be resolved pursuant to summary adjudication. Intellicall, Inc. v. Phonometrics, Inc., 952 F.2d 1384, 1387 (Fed. Cir. 1992). The words in a claim should be given their ordinary meaning, unless it appears that the inventor used them differently. See ZMI Corp. v. Cardiac Resuscitator Corp., 844 F.2d 1576, 1579 (Fed. Cir. 1988). Additionally, the claims of a patent must be interpreted in light of the specification and prosecution history. Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1, 33, 86 S. Ct. 684, 701, 15 L. Ed. 2d 545 (1966).

 II. AMERICAN'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OF NON-INFRINGEMENT OF PATENT '355 AND LOCKWOOD'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OF INFRINGEMENT OF PATENT '355

 A. Background

 Lockwood originally alleged that American's SABREvision computer reservation system infringed Lockwood's 1982 patent (number '115) and his 1986 patent (number '359). On July 30, 1993, the court ruled on summary judgment that American infringed neither patent. Since that time, Lockwood has amended his complaint to allege that American's SABREvision system infringes another patent, the 1994 patent (number '355).

 The Sabrevision system is a manually operated system in which a travel agent gathers sales information from a customer either in person or by telephone. The travel agent then uses a computer terminal access schedule, cost and availability information stored in the central Sabre computer. The travel agent may also access a stored library of still photographs of places of interest to travelers such as hotels, restaurants, and cruise ships, as well as maps of countries, cities and airports, and display these still images on the computer terminal screen. The travel agent then gives the information to the customer as if it had been accessed in the agent's library of travel reference books.

 If the customer decides to purchase a ticket, the travel agent solicits credit information or accepts cash payment from the customer. If a credit card is used, the travel agent must manually type in the credit information on the keyboard of the agent's computer terminal. Once credit is approved, the Sabre host computer commands a ticket printer at the travel agency to print a ticket which the travel agent delivers to the customer. The Sabrevision system accepts no information directly from the customer. On a technical level, the system consists of two major subsystems, the first located at the office of a travel agent and the second comprises the host computer, and the communications network and links.

 B. Discussion

 The 1994 patent contains only one independent claim, Claim 1, and if American does not infringe this claim, then it cannot infringe any of the dependent claims as a matter of law. Becton Dickinson & Co. v. C.R. Bard, Inc., 922 F.2d 792, 798 (Fed. Cir. 1990). Lockwood's 1994 patent claims an automated machine which generates sales presentations tailored to individual customer's needs: the computer accepts information about a customer, analyzes it and then composes and displays a motion-picture sales presentation tailor-made to that customer.

 American asserts that the SABREvision system is an enhancement of American's SABRE computer reservation system, which is a worldwide network of travel agent computer terminals that American has used since the early 1960s. The SABREvision enhancement consists primarily of a videodisc, known as a CD-ROM, added to the SABRE system. Essentially, this videodisc is an electronic library which ...


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