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Dealertrack, Inc. v. Huber

July 7, 2009

DEALERTRACK, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
DAVID L. HUBER; FINANCE EXPRESS, LLC; AND JOHN DOE DEALERS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Andrew J. Guilford United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OF NON-INFRINGEMENT AS TO '841 PATENT

Defendant Finance Express, LLC ("Finance Express") has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment of Non-Infringement as to U.S. Patent 6,587,841 ("Motion"). Because the Court finds that Plaintiff DealerTrack, Inc. ("DealerTrack") has not produced any evidence that Finance Express has infringed the '841 Patent, Finance Express' Motion is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

This case involves an action for patent infringement brought by DealerTrack against Finance Express and other defendants. The patents here involve a computer-aided system which facilitates financing transactions between car dealers and lenders. The patented system communicates between multiple dealers, lenders, and credit bureaus in various remote locations over a data network. DealerTrack alleges that the accused FEX System, which uses the Internet to communicate between dealers, lenders, and credit bureaus, infringes on several of its patents, including claims 7-9, 12, 14, 16, and 17 of the '841 Patent. Each of these asserted claims includes a direct or indirect reference to a "communications medium." For example, claim 7 describes in part "[a] computer based method of operating a credit application and routing system, the system including a central processor coupled to a communications medium for communicating with remote application entry and display devices." ('841 Patent 32:55-60.) Claims 12, 14 and 16 likewise refer in part to "[a] credit application and routing system, comprising: a communications medium; central processing means, operably coupled to said communications medium" as well as further system components, including remote services and terminals, each "operably coupled to said communications medium." ('841 Patent 33:59-62; 34:48-51; 35:12-15.)

On September 27, 2008, this Court issued a claim construction order that defined "communications medium" as used in the '841 patent as "a 'network for transferring data,' not including the Internet." (Doc. No. 550 at 17-19.) On September 28, 2008, this Court granted the motion of Defendant RouteOne, LLC ("RouteOne") for summary judgment of non-infringement of all asserted claims in the '841 Patent, basing its decision in part on the fact that RouteOne's system used the Internet as its communications medium. (Doc. No. 551.)

In this Motion, Finance Express moves for summary judgment of non-infringement of all asserted claims in the '841 Patent. Finance Express asserts that "cost issues" prevented it from joining in RouteOne's similar motion. (See Doc. No. 693.)

LEGAL STANDARD

At trial, DealerTrack must establish infringement by a preponderance of the evidence. Cross Med. Prods. v. Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Inc., 424 F.3d 1293, 1310 (Fed. Cir. 2005). In moving for summary judgment Finance Express must show "that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Fairbank v. Wunderman Cato Johnson, 212 F.3d 528, 531 (9th Cir. 2000) (quoting Celotex Corp v. Cartrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986)). If Finance Express satisfies this burden, DealerTrack then "must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). If DealerTrack fails to meet this burden, summary judgment should be granted. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986); Spectra Corp. v. Lutz, 839 F.2d 1579, 1581 (Fed. Cir. 1988).

ANALYSIS

DealerTrack argues that Finance Express infringes claims 7-9, 12, 14, 16, and 17 of the '841 Patent both directly and under the doctrine of equivalents. Finance Express asserts that it cannot possibly infringe the '841 Patent, since its FEX System uses only the Internet to communicate between a central processor and dealers, lenders, and credit bureaus.

Infringement analysis is a "two step process": (1) claim construction and (2) application of the properly construed claims to the accused invention. K-2 Corp. v. Salomon S.A., 191 F.3d 1356, 1362 (Fed. Cir. 1999). "To establish infringement, every limitation set forth in a patent claim must be found in an accused product or process exactly or by a substantial equivalent." Laitram Corp. v. Rexnord, Inc., 939 F.2d 1533, 1535 (Fed. Cir. 1991) (internal citations omitted). Infringement of the claim cannot be found if the accused product fails to meet even a single limitation. Id.

Each of the asserted claims of the '841 Patent includes the term "communications medium." These claims require a "communications medium" for communicating between a central processor and various remote systems and devices including dealer terminals, lender terminals, and credit bureau terminals. In its claim construction order, this Court defined "communications medium" as "a 'network for transferring data,' not including the Internet."

(Doc. No. 550 at 19.) Applying this construction to the asserted claims, the referenced "communications medium" in all the asserted claims excludes the Internet as providing any communications between the central processor and the dealers, lenders, and credit bureaus.

Because the accused FEX System of Finance Express uses only the Internet for the communications between the central processor and the remote systems, Finance Express cannot ...


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