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Advanced Micro Devices Inc. v. LG Electronics Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 18, 2017

ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
LG ELECTRONICS, INC., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER RE: CLAIM CONSTRUCTION RE: DKT. NOS. 147, 148

          SUSAN ILLSTON United States District Judge.

         On March 16, 2017, the Court held a Markman hearing regarding disputed claim terms across eight patents. Having considered the arguments of counsel and the papers submitted, the Court construes the disputed claim terms as discussed below.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. and subsidiary ATI Technologies ULC (collectively, “AMD” or “plaintiffs”) filed this patent infringement suit on March 5, 2014. In the complaint, plaintiffs accused defendants LG Electronics, Inc., LG Electronics U.S.A., Inc., and LG Electronics Mobilecomm U.S.A., Inc. (collectively, “LG” or “defendants”) of infringing nine AMD patents.[1] Compl. (Dkt. No. 1). LG brought several counterclaims, asserting, among other things, that AMD infringes four LG patents.[2] Dkt. No. 59.

         The parties have identified over twenty terms across eight patents for construction.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Claim construction is a matter of law. Markman v. Westview Instr., Inc., 517 U.S. 370, 372 (1996). Terms contained in claims are “generally given their ordinary and customary meaning.” Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1312 (Fed. Cir. 2005). “[T]he ordinary and customary meaning of a claim term 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.” Id. at 1312. In determining the proper construction of a claim, a court begins with the intrinsic evidence of record, consisting of the claim language, the patent specification, and, if in evidence, the prosecution history. Id. at 1313; see also Vitronics Corp. v. Conceptronic, Inc., 90 F.3d 1576, 1582 (Fed. Cir. 1996). “The appropriate starting point . . . is always with the language of the asserted claim itself.” Comark Commc'ns, Inc. v. Harris Corp., 156 F.3d 1182, 1186 (Fed. Cir. 1998); see also Abtox, Inc. v. Exitron Corp., 122 F.3d 1019, 1023 (Fed. Cir. 1997).

         Accordingly, although claims speak to those skilled in the art, claim terms are construed in light of their ordinary and accustomed meaning, unless examination of the specification, prosecution history, and other claims indicates that the inventor intended otherwise. See Electro Medical Sys., S.A. v. Cooper Life Scis., Inc., 34 F.3d 1048, 1053 (Fed. Cir. 1994). The written description can provide guidance as to the meaning of the claims, thereby dictating the manner in which the claims are to be construed, even if the guidance is not provided in explicit definitional format. SciMed Life Sys., Inc. v. Advanced Cardiovascular Sys., Inc., 242 F.3d 1337, 1344 (Fed. Cir. 2001). In other words, the specification may define claim terms “by implication” such that the meaning may be “found in or ascertained by a reading of the patent documents.” Vitronics, 90 F.3d at 1582, 1584 n.6.

         In addition, the claims must be read in view of the specification. Markman, 52 F.3d at 978. Although claims are interpreted in light of the specification, this “does not mean that everything expressed in the specification must be read into all the claims.” Raytheon Co. v. Roper Corp., 724 F.2d 951, 957 (Fed. Cir. 1983). For instance, limitations from a preferred embodiment described in the specification generally should not be read into the claim language. See Comark, 156 F.3d at 1187. However, it is a fundamental rule that “claims must be construed so as to be consistent with the specification.” Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1316. Therefore, if the specification reveals an intentional disclaimer or disavowal of claim scope, the claims must be read consistently with that limitation. Id.

         Finally, the Court may consider the prosecution history of the patent, if in evidence. Markman, 52 F.3d at 980. The prosecution history limits the interpretation of claim terms so as to exclude any interpretation that was disclaimed during prosecution. See Southwall Techs., Inc. v. Cardinal IG Co., 54 F.3d 1570, 1576 (Fed. Cir. 1995). In most situations, analysis of the intrinsic evidence alone will resolve claim construction disputes. See Vitronics, 90 F.3d at 1583.

         Courts should not rely on extrinsic evidence in claim construction to contradict the meaning of claims discernable from examination of the claims, the written description, and the prosecution history. See Pitney Bowes, Inc. v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 182 F.3d 1298, 1308 (Fed. Cir. 1999) (citing Vitronics, 90 F.3d at 1583). However, it is entirely appropriate “for a court to consult trustworthy extrinsic evidence to ensure that the claim construction it is tending to from the patent file is not inconsistent with clearly expressed, plainly apposite, and widely held understandings in the pertinent technical field.” Id. Extrinsic evidence “consists of all evidence external to the patent and prosecution history, including expert and inventor testimony, dictionaries, and learned treatises.” Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1317. All extrinsic evidence should be evaluated in light of the intrinsic evidence. Id. at 1319.

         DISCUSSION

         I. AMD Asserted Patents

         A. Helms '332

         Helms '332 is entitled “Variable Maximum Die Temperature Based on Performance State.” Helms '332 relates to power management of computer systems. Helms '332 1:7-8. The patent's alleged invention is “a system in which the maximum performance state . . . changes according to thermal criteria.” Id. at 2:13-17. The patent explains that performance can be limited by power and thermal factors. Id. at 1:24-25. The patent further explains that prior art computer systems prevented processor damage by implementing active or passive cooling once temperature sensor(s) somewhere in the system detected temperature(s) past a critical threshold. Id. at 1:25-31. The patent lists prior art examples of passive cooling: turning off processor clocks for a predetermined period, reducing processor clocks' actual frequencies, and reducing voltage. Id. at 1:31-40. The alleged invention allows for multiple critical temperature thresholds and for the operating range associated with each of those thresholds to possess a different set of available performance states. Id. at 2:13-53.

         Relevant for purposes of the Court's Markman analysis, Helms '332 claims the following:

Claim 9. A computer system comprising:
an integrated circuit operable at multiple performance states,
the performance states being defined by at least one of operating voltage and frequency;
and wherein the computing system provides that the integrated circuit, at a first detected temperature, has a first maximum performance state and a first plurality of lesser performance states; and wherein at a second detected temperature, higher than the first detected temperature, the integrated circuit has a lower maximum performance state and a second plurality of lesser performance states, the lower maximum performance state providing lower performance than the first maximum performance state in terms of maximum power consumption; and wherein the lower maximum performance state is one of the first plurality of lesser performance states.
Claim 10. The computing system as recited in claim 9 further comprising:
a temperature detection mechanism coupled to detect a temperature associated with the integrated circuit; and
wherein the computing system is operable to change to a different maximum performance state according to the detected temperature.
Claim 13. The computing system as recited in claim 10 wherein the number of performance states available varies according to the detected temperature.
Claim 15. A computer program product encoded in at least one computer readable medium, the computer program product comprising:
a plurality of groups of performance operating states, each of the groups of performance operating states having a different maximum operating state, the groups of operating states corresponding to respective different temperature ranges related to operation of a processor; and
an instruction sequence executable to change to a different group of performance operating states and thereby a different maximum operating state according to a detected temperature associated with the computer system; and wherein a maximum operating state of one group of performance operating states is available as an operating state in another group.
Claim 17. A computer system comprising:
means for determining a temperature associated with a processor, the processor having a plurality of groups of performance states associated with each of a plurality of temperature ranges, each of the groups having a different maximum performance state and common lower performance states, and wherein a maximum operating state of one group of performance operating states is available as an operating state in another group; and
means for changing from first group of performance states available in which to operate to a second group of performance states according to predetermined temperature, thereby changing the available maximum performance state available for process operation.

         Helms '332 at 10:19-43, 10:50-52, 10:55-67, 11:1-2, 11:8-23 (the construction of the bold-underlined terms is disputed by the parties).

         The parties dispute the construction of three, related terms (“the performance state terms”).

Claim Language

LG's Proposed Construction

AMD's Proposed Construction

“performance state(s)”

Indefinite

“discrete, selectable level(s) of performance”

“performance operating state(s)”

Indefinite

“discrete, selectable levels of performance available during operation”

“performance states being defined by at least one of operating voltage and frequency”

Indefinite

Plain and ordinary meaning; no construction necessary

         AMD contends that a person of ordinary skill in the art (“a POSITA”) at the time of the invention would have recognized that the term “performance” refers to “the speed and responsiveness that [a] computer system delivers to [a] user.” AMD Opening Br. at 2 (citing Levitt Decl. ¶ 28). AMD contends that a POSITA would also have recognized that “performance state” means “discrete, selectable level(s) of performance” and is being used in a manner consistent with its common meaning in the art. Id. at 7 (citing Helms '332 at 2:33-35, 3:9-12, 3:34-41; Levitt Decl. ¶ 39). In support of its contention, AMD cites to “Advanced Configuration and Power Interface” (“ACPI” or “the ACPI specification”), a product specification coauthored by five computer and processor companies in July 2000. Id. at 6-7 (citing AMD Ex. B, ACPI (Dkt. No. 148-3)). ACPI defines “[d]evice and [p]rocessor performance states” as “power consumption and capability states within the active/executing states . . . .” AMD Ex. B, ACPI at 23.

         AMD also contends that a POSITA at the time of the invention would have recognized that a “performance operating state” differs from a “performance state” only in requiring that the performance state be available during system operation. AMD Opening Br. at 7 (citing Levitt Decl. ¶ 41). AMD argues that “performance states” refer to processor or circuit capability, whereas “performance operating states” refer to the system embodiment and describe the subset of the “performance states” that are available to the system during operation. AMD Reply at 3 (citing Helms '332 at 5:6-8, 6:66-7:7, 8:65-67; Levitt Decl. ¶ 41).

         LG contends that the performance state terms lack reasonable clarity and thus are indefinite under Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 2120, 2124 (2014). LG Responsive Br. at 2-4. First, LG contends that “performance state” is not being used in a manner consistent with AMD's alleged ordinary meaning because AMD ties the definition to “speed and responsiveness” rather than “power consumption and capability” as in the ACPI specification. Id. at 2-3 (citing Helms '332 at 1:24-25). Second, LG contends that none of the three definitions AMD provides read on Helms '332's disclosed embodiments. Id. at 3 (citing Helms '332 at 3:36-37, 3:42-48). Finally, LG argues that claim 9 contradicts Helms '332's specification by allowing “performance state” to be defined by either operating voltage or frequency, rather than by defining it as a combination of both operating voltage and frequency. Id. at 4 (citing Helms '332 at 3:11-13, 3:34-35, 3:56-62, 4:1-4; LG Ex. 6 (Dkt. No. 153-6), Brinkley Depo. at 120:15-17; LG Ex. 7 (Dkt. No. 153-8), Helms Depo. at 42:20-43:5, 43:6-12, 43:20-44:5).

         LG further contends that AMD's distinction between “performance state” and “performance operating state” is nonsensical and that both terms lack reasonable clarity. Id. at 5. LG argues that this distinction is nonsensical because a non-operating processor can neither be responsive nor possess speed of processing. Id. Additionally, LG argues that Helms '332's specification ties the term “performance state, ” and not “performance operating state, ” to operating conditions. Id. at 5-6 (citing Helms '332 cl. 9, 2:14-17, 3:34-35, 7:46-49, 8:6-8). LG offers no expert testimony in support of its position.

         LG focuses much of its argument on showing alleged inconsistencies of AMD's constructions with a POSITA's. See, e.g., LG Responsive Br. at 3:5-16. However, LG provides no expert testimony to support these contentions or its broader indefiniteness contentions, despite needing to prove its position by clear and convincing evidence. See Teva, 789 F.3d at 1345. The Court finds that the performance state terms are not “facially subjective terms.” Cf. Interval Licensing LLC v. AOL, Inc., 766 F.3d 1364, 1371-1373 (Fed. Cir. 2014) (holding “unobtrusive manner” indefinite because the specification did not outline the scope of the claims to a skilled artisan with reasonable certainty). LG has not demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that a POSITA in light of the specification would not have recognized the scope of the claimed invention with reasonable certainty. See Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 2120, 2129 (2014); Teva, 789 F.3d at 1345 (Fed. Cir. 2015).

         While Helms '332 does not explicitly define “performance, ” it provides “specific and unequivocal examples” of “performance states, ” and those examples are “sufficient to provide a skilled artisan with clear notice of what is claimed.” See DDR Holdings, LLC v. Hotels.com, LP, 773 F.3d 1245, 1260 (Fed. Cir. 2014); see, e.g., Helms '332 at 3:11-13 (stating that processor performance states are generally determined by unique voltage/frequency combinations); id. at 3:34-38 (stating that processor performance states could alternately be determined by an amount of chip area that is enabled). The burden is on LG to show indefiniteness by clear and convincing evidence, and it has not done so. See Teva, 789 F.3d at 1345. The terms are not indefinite.

         AMD argues that the ACPI specification shows that “performance state” has a definition known to those in the applicable art. See AMD Opening Br. at 6; AMD Ex. B, ACPI at 23. AMD supplements the ACPI specification with expert testimony that a POSITA at the time of the invention would have recognized that “performance state, ” in light of Helms '332's specification, means “discrete, selectable level(s) of performance.” See Helms '332 at 2:33-35, 3:9-12, 3:34-41; Levitt Decl. ¶ 39. AMD and its expert provide a definition of “performance” allegedly consistent with the Helms '332 specification. See AMD Opening Br. at 2 (citing Levitt Decl. ¶ 28); Helms '332 at 1:11-15. AMD also provides expert testimony explaining the distinction a POSITA at the time of the invention would have recognized between “performance state” and “performance operating state.” Id. at 7 (citing Levitt Decl. ¶ 41). The Court concludes that the definitions AMD provides are logical and consistent with the intrinsic record. Cf. Teva Pharm. USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., 789 F.3d 1335, 1338, 1342 (Fed. Cir. 2015) (“A party cannot transform into a factual matter the internal coherence and context assessment of the patent simply by having an expert offer an opinion on it.”). Accordingly, the Court adopts AMD's constructions for the performance state terms.

         For the reasons stated above, the Court construes “performance state(s)” to mean “discrete, selectable level(s) of performance”; “performance operating state(s)” to mean “discrete, selectable levels of performance available during operation”; and “performance states being defined by at least one of operating voltage and frequency” by its plain and ordinary meaning.

         B. Loyer '715

         Loyer '715 is entitled “Universal Serial Bus Controller with a Direct Memory Access Mode.” Loyer '715 explains that direct memory access (“DMA”) is a function in computers and peripheral devices that allows data transfers between memory locations, or between memory locations and an input/output port, without involving a microprocessor. Loyer '715 at 1:60-2:16. The patent further explains that a universal serial bus (“USB”) is a “communication architecture” that “allow[s] for the connection of multiple peripherals through a single port . . . .” Id. at 2:43-63. “Each USB device, ” the patent explains, comprises a plurality of “independently operating endpoints” that transmit and receive data between the USB device and the USB host. Id. The alleged invention combines DMA and USB functionality. Id. at 3:30-64. The patent states that the alleged invention eliminates buffer size restrictions on maximum packet size, which allows for a USB device that can handle data as fast as the USB host can request data. Id. In short, Loyer '715 purportedly enables faster data transfers to and from USB devices.

         Relevant for purposes of the Court's Markman analysis, Loyer '715 claims the following:

Claim 1. A universal serial bus (USB) device for USB transfer with direct memory access (DMA), comprising:
a DMA controller, comprising:
a plurality of DMA channels for performing data transfer between the USB device and a USB host; and
a USB controller having a DMA mode, comprising:
a plurality of USB endpoints, each selectively programmed for one of a plurality of DMA channels during the DMA mode of the USB controller.
Claim 10. The USB device of claim 1, the DMA controller further comprising:
at least one DMA control register configured to select each of the plurality of USB endpoints as a source for data to be provided to the USB host.
Claim 13. A universal serial bus (USB) host for USB transfer with direct memory access (DMA), comprising:
a DMA controller, comprising:
a plurality of DMA channels for performing data transfer between the USB host and a USB device; and
a USB controller having a DMA mode, comprising:
a plurality of USB endpoints each selectively programmed for one of the plurality of DMA channels during the DMA mode of the USB controller.
Claim 22. The USB host of claim 13, the DMA controller further comprising:
at least one DMA control register configured to select each of the plurality of USB endpoints as a source for data to be provided to the USB device.
Claim 24. The USB host of claim 13, where the USB host is a computer system.
Claim 25. A universal serial bus (USB) controller having a direct memory access (DMA) mode, comprising:
a plurality of USB endpoints, each selectively programmed for one of a plurality of DMA channels during the DMA mode of the USB controller.

         Loyer '715 at 11:59-67, 12:38-42, 12:48-56, 13:29-33, 13:36-42 (construction of the bold-underlined terms is disputed by the parties).

         The parties dispute the construction of three terms.

         1.selectively programmed for” (asserted claims 1, 10, 13, 22, 24, 25)

Claim Language

LG's Proposed Construction

AMD's Proposed Construction

“selectively programmed for”

“selectively assigned using a sequence of executable instructions to a different”

“capable of being set to transfer data via”

         The parties disagree with a few aspects of each other's proposed constructions of “selectively programmed for.” AMD prefers its simple term “set” to LG's “assigned using a sequence of executable instructions, ” and objects to LG's limitation “to a different.” LG seeks to retain the term “selectively” in its construction and finds AMD's inclusion of “capable of” overly broad.

         a. the meaning of “programmed for” (“assigned using a sequence of executable instructions” vs. “set”)

         AMD contends that “using a sequence of executable instructions” improperly limits “programmed” to programming techniques using software. See AMD Opening Br. at 11-12; AMD Reply Br. at 4-5. AMD contends that programming techniques exist that use only hardware, use only software, use a combination of hardware and software, or function by “adjusting register values.” AMD Opening Br. at 11 (citing Levitt Decl. ¶¶ 47-54).

         First, to demonstrate a method of programming using hardware, AMD directs the Court to incorporated U.S. Patent No. 6, 298, 396 (the “'396 patent”). AMD claims that the '396 patent demonstrates a programming technique using hardware because the '396 patent teaches a method for programming a “register, ” and a register is hardware. AMD Reply Br. at 4-5 (citing '396 Patent at 11:36-40) (“[T]he transmit channel . . . programs that value into an internal terminal count register.”). LG counters that “selectively programmed” in Loyer '715 specifically refers to programming a USB endpoint, and that no non-software programming methods exist to program a USB endpoint. See LG Responsive Br. at 8 (citing Hospodor Decl. ¶¶ 25-32). LG argues that limiting the meaning of “programmed” to software is therefore appropriate here.

         Second, AMD argues that construing program to mean “using a sequence of executable instructions” instead of “set” would exclude embodiments described in the specification and file history. AMD Opening Br. at 11. LG counters that a POSITA would have understood that “a USB endpoint is programmed by software, i.e., by ‘a sequence of executable instructions.'” LG Responsive Br. at 8 (citing Hospodor Decl. ¶¶ 17-24; LG Ex. 9, IBM Dictionary of Computing, at 535). In support, LG points to language in the background of Loyer '715 and to the use of software in at least some of the embodiments. Id.

         Finally, AMD's expert, Dr. Levitt, offers what he claims is an example of programming a USB endpoint using hardware. See Levitt Decl. ¶ 53 (“[A] USB endpoint register value can be set via a hardware state machine executing an algorithm that looks for a free DMA channel, and if one is found, sets the USB endpoint register with the value for said free DMA channel, thereby selectively programming the USB endpoint for a DMA channel.”). LG's expert, Dr. Hospodor, argues that Dr. Levitt's example of a programming technique using hardware should not be given any weight because (i) the example hardware “execut[es] an algorithm”; (ii) a POSITA would not consider setting a register value to be “programming”; and (iii) Dr. Levitt's example lacks sufficient detail to enable a POSITA to use the described programming method. Id. at 8-9 (citing Hospodor Decl. ¶¶ 25-32).

         The parties agree that “using a sequence of executable instructions” limits “programmed” to programming techniques using software. As set forth above, the parties and their experts disagree on whether programming techniques exist that utilize only hardware. Based on the record, the Court is not convinced that “programming” in the context of Loyer '715 involves anything other than “using a sequence of executable instructions.”

         The Court finds AMD's references to the intrinsic record unpersuasive. See Loyer '715 at 7:42-48, 9:11-36. Loyer '715 itself does not describe any programming techniques that use only hardware, and the patent does not contain any language suggesting to the Court that such programming techniques exist. AMD contends that the incorporated '396 patent demonstrates that programming can occur via hardware, because a register is hardware and the '396 patent states that “the transmit channel . . . programs that value into an internal terminal count register.” AMD Reply at 4-5 (citing '396 patent at 11:36-40). But the plain language of the '396 patent citation indicates that the register is what is being programmed; the register is not what is performing the programming. Consequently, the '396 patent does not definitively demonstrate that it is possible to program using hardware. AMD has not pointed to intrinsic evidence that favors its proposed meaning of “programmed.”

         AMD's expert, Dr. Levitt, contends that it is possible to program using hardware, but provides only one example. Levitt Decl. ¶ 53. However, the “hardware state machine” in his example “execut[es] an algorithm” in “programming” the USB endpoint. Id. This phrase strongly suggests to the Court that software performs the actual “programming.” Indeed, LG's expert is unsure as to how a POSITA could even implement the hardware state machine in Dr. Levitt's example. Hospodor Decl. ¶¶ 27, 31. The Court finds Dr. Levitt's example unpersuasive.

         LG supports its proposed construction with a technical dictionary that includes “a sequence. . .” or “a set of executable instructions” in every applicable definition of “program.” LG Ex. 9, IBM Dictionary of Computing, at 535. This strongly suggests to the Court that a POSITA at the time of the invention would have understood “programming” to include the “us[e] of a sequence of executable instructions.”

         For the reasons stated above, the Court holds that the programming of Loyer '715's “selectively programmed for” entails “using a sequence of executable instructions.”

         b. the meaning of “selectively” (whether each of the “plurality of USB endpoints” must be programmed for a “different” DMA channel)

         LG contends that the language from claims 1, 13, and 25, “a plurality of USB endpoints, each selectively programmed for one of [the/a] plurality of DMA channels” means that each USB endpoint is selectively programmed for a different DMA channel, i.e., that the claim language precludes more than one of the USB endpoints being programmed for the same DMA channel. LG Responsive Br. at 9. LG contends that AMD is barred from arguing otherwise by virtue of judicial estoppel. Id. LG argues that because AMD convinced the PTAB to adopt this interpretation in its decision denying IPR institution on Loyer '715, AMD is estopped from now asserting a different position. Id. at 9-10 (citing AMD Ex. E (Dkt. No. 148-6), July 10, 2015 PTAB Decision Denying Institution, at 18).

         AMD contends that the claim language “a plurality of USB endpoints, each selectively programmed for one of [the/a] plurality of DMA channels” by its plain language means “the ability to program a plurality of USB endpoints for a plurality of DMA channels.” AMD Opening Br. at 13 (emphasis original) (citing Loyer '715, Figs. 2, 3, 4; id. at 4:14-21; 7:13-17, 7:42-48; 7:50-67; 8:63-9:36; Levitt Decl. ¶¶ 60-63). AMD argues that judicial estoppel does not apply because it has not changed its position in any material respect. AMD Reply Br. at 5. AMD argues that “[t]he [PTAB] . . . merely explained that LGE's asserted prior art only allowed programming all USB endpoints to the same, single DMA channel.” AMD Opening Br. at 13 (emphasis original) (citing AMD Ex. E, July 10, 2015 PTAB Decision Denying Institution, at 17-18).

         Judicial estoppel prevents a party from asserting one position to prevail in a legal proceeding and then asserting an inconsistent position to prevail in another legal proceeding or in another phase of the original legal proceeding. New Hampshire v. Maine, 532 U.S. 742, 749-50 (2001). The Supreme Court has set forth a three factor test for courts to determine whether judicial estoppel should apply. Id. First, in order for estoppel to apply, the party's second position must be “clearly inconsistent” with its first. Id. Second, a court considers whether the party succeeded in persuading a judicial body to accept that party's earlier position - success weighs in favor of applying estoppel. Id. Finally, a court determines whether allowing the party to assert the inconsistent position would result in an unfair advantage to that party or an unfair detriment to the opposing party. Id.

         AMD is not estopped from asserting its position on this point. The PTAB's decision denying institution on Loyer '715 states:

Claims 1 and 25 [of Loyer '715] recite ‘a plurality of USB endpoints, each selectively programmed for one of [the/a] plurality of DMA channels during the DMA mode of the USB controller.' [LG] acknowledges that, although this limitation may be construed to provide for each USB endpoint to be programmed for a different DMA channel, the claim language does not require that construction. Instead, [LG] suggests that limitation may be construed to provide for each USB endpoint to be programmed for the same DMA channel. We disagree. . . . We are persuaded by [AMD's] contention that each USB endpoint is programmed for a different DMA channel.

         AMD Ex. E, July 10, 2015 PTAB Decision Denying Institution, at 17-18 (emphasis original) (citations omitted). While the PTAB's discussion above suggests that AMD has shifted position, a closer read demonstrates otherwise. After stating that it was persuaded by AMD's contention, the PTAB cited to the introductory section of AMD's preliminary response. See Id. at 18. The cited portion of AMD's preliminary response states as follows:

In FIG. 2, the DMA controller includes a plurality of DMA channels, and the USB controller includes a plurality of USB endpoints. [Loyer '715] at 6:56-7:25. Each USB endpoint can be selectively programmed for one of the DMA channels. Id. at 7:44-48.

         AMD Ex. N (Dkt. No. 163-2), IPR2015-00329, Patent Owner Preliminary Response at 1. While the PTAB interpreted this as AMD's “contention that each USB endpoint is programmed for a different DMA channel[, ]” that is not quite what AMD's response papers stated. In any event, the PTAB did not construe this claim language in denying IPR institution, see AMD Ex. E, at 6-8, and LG has not offered anything more concrete to demonstrate that AMD asserted a position squarely inconsistent with its claim construction position in this Court.

         LG suggests that “a plurality of USB endpoints, each selectively programmed for one of [the/a] plurality of DMA channels” can only mean either (i) each USB endpoint be selectively programmed for the same DMA channel; or (ii) each USB endpoint be selectively programmed for a different DMA channel. LG Responsive Br. at 9. LG contends that the language is therefore ambiguous. The Court will not read in LG's proposed limitation, as it lacks sufficient support from the record. The Court instead prefers AMD's approach of retaining the plain language “one of [the/a] plurality of DMA channels” without attempting to modify that language through construction of “selectively programmed for.”

         For the reasons stated above, the Court will not include “a different” in its construction of “selectively programmed for.”

         c. “selectively”

         LG contends that AMD's omission of “selectively” in its construction renders the claim language “selectively” superfluous. LG Responsive Br. at 11-13. AMD contends that its proposed construction does not exclude a selection element. AMD Reply at 5. Assuming, arguendo, that AMD's contention is accurate, AMD should have no objection to the Court including “selectively” in a construction of “selectively programmed for, ” as doing so simply introduces a redundant element. The Court holds that the construction of “selectively programmed for” must include the word “selectively.”

         d. “capable”

         LG contends that AMD's use of “capable of” in its construction (“capable of being set to transfer . . .”) is improper. LG Responsive Br. at 10. LG argues that adding “capable of” essentially replaces the word “programmed” with “programmable” or “capable of being programmed, ” and that these terms possess different meanings. Id. at 11. AMD argues that its inclusion of “capable of” is appropriate because each asserted independent apparatus claim uses the language “selectively programmed . . . during the DMA mode.” AMD Reply Br. at 5-6. AMD argues that the use of “during the DMA mode” places a temporal limitation on “selectively programmed, ” to convey the meaning that the apparatus is “capable of being programmed when in DMA mode.” Id. at 6 (emphasis original). The Court disagrees.

         The use of “capable of” in the construction of “selectively programmed for” is improper because it essentially replaces the word “programmed” with “programmable.” See Ball Aerosol & Specialty Container, Inc. v. Ltd. Brands, Inc., 555 F.3d 984, 994-95 (Fed. Cir. 2009); see also Cross Med. Prods., Inc. v. Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Inc., 424 F.3d 1293, 1311 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (“Here, the claim does not require that the interface be merely ‘capable' of contacting bone; the claim has a structural limitation that the anchor seat be in contact with bone.”). As the patent applicant, AMD was in the best position to prevent any ambiguity in the claim language. AMD could have used “programmable” or “capable of being programmed” instead of or in addition to “programmed, ” but it did not.

         For the reasons stated in the subsections above, the Court construes “selectively programmed for” to mean “selectively assigned using a sequence of executable instructions to.”

         2.DMA channel” (asserted claims 1, 10, 13, 22, 24, 25)

Claim Language

LG's Proposed Construction

AMD's Proposed Construction

“DMA channel”

“hardware loaded with address and count information for moving data directly to or from memory without processor intervention”

“transfer mechanism for moving data to or from memory locations, without processor intervention”

         The parties next dispute the construction of the language “DMA channel.” The parties agree that a “DMA channel” “mov[es] data, ” “to or from memory, ” and does so “without processor intervention.” The parties dispute whether a “DMA channel” is simply a “transfer mechanism” or whether it is “hardware loaded with address and count information.” The parties also dispute whether the DMA channel moves data “directly” to or from memory.

         AMD contends that intrinsic evidence supports the use of “transfer mechanism, ” as the specification uses the words “transfer mechanism” in describing a “DMA channel.” See Loyer '715 at 10:21-23 (“In a general purpose DMA mode, a general purpose DMA channel 202 or 204 serves as the transfer mechanism for USB data.”). AMD argues that LG's limitation of “hardware loaded with address and count information” is improper because that limitation is never discussed in the specification or the claims. AMD Opening Br. at 14. AMD further argues that the words “hardware, ” “address, ” and “count” are not used in Loyer '715 with reference to a “DMA channel.” Id. Finally, AMD contends that “directly” imposes the same limitation as “without processor intervention, ” and therefore should be excluded from the construction of “DMA channel.” Id. at 15. AMD has provided expert testimony supporting its contentions. See Levitt Decl. ¶¶ 67-79.

         LG contends that the intrinsic record demonstrates a “DMA channel” is “hardware loaded with address and count information.” LG Responsive Br. at 13. LG argues that the specification makes clear that DMA transfer involves a “source address, ” “destination address, ” and “size of the data block, ” and that a “DMA channel” requires a “count.” Id. (citing Loyer '715 at 2:6-11, 2:17-19, 8:54-56). LG argues that the incorporated '396 Patent explains that a DMA channel requires address and count information. Id. at 14 (citing '396 Patent at 5:52-60, FIG. 3). LG also argues that AMD's use of “transfer mechanism” is illogical because while a “DMA channel” may function as a transfer mechanism, it is not necessarily defined as such. Id. Finally, LG contends that “directly” should be included in the construction because it is in the name of DMA (“direct memory access”) and because dictionaries use the word “directly” in defining “DMA.” Id. at 15 (citing LG Ex. 9, IBM Dictionary of Computing, at 201; LG Ex. 14, IEEE Standard Dictionary of Electrical and Electronics Terms, at 297; LG Ex. 15, Dictionary of Computers, Data Processing, and Telecommunications, at 149).

         “[I]t is improper to read limitations from a preferred embodiment described in the specification - even if it is the only embodiment - into claims absent a clear indication in the intrinsic record that the patentee intended the claim[ term] to be so limited.” Liebel-Flarsheim Co. v. Medrad, Inc., 358 F.3d 898, 913 (Fed. Cir. 2004). The parties do not dispute that the construction of “DMA channel” should include “moving data to or from memory, without processor intervention.” The Court finds that the intrinsic record supports AMD's inclusion of “a transfer mechanism” in the construction. See Loyer '715 at 10:21-23 (“In a general purpose DMA mode, a general purpose DMA channel 202 or 204 serves as the transfer mechanism for USB data.”). All of the additional limitations LG proposes are derived either from preferred embodiments or from descriptions of prior art systems. The intrinsic record does not contain “a clear indication” that “[AMD] intended the claim [term] to be so limited, ” and therefore LG's proposed limitations are improper. See Liebel-Flarsheim, 358 F.3d at 913.

         Moreover, the technical dictionaries that LG cites to contain definitions of DMA that closely track AMD's proposed construction, such as: “[t]he transfer of data between memory and input/output units without processor intervention, ” or “[a] method for transferring data between an external device and memory without interrupting program flow or requiring CPU intervention.” See LG Ex. 9 at 201; LG Ex. 14 at 297.

         For the reasons stated above, the Court construes “DMA channel” to mean a “transfer mechanism for moving data to or from memory locations, without processor intervention.”

         3.DMA controller” (asserted claims 1, 10, 13, 22, 24)

Claim Language

LG's Proposed Construction

AMD's Proposed Construction

“DMA controller”

“DMA controller that is external to the USB controller”

Plain and ordinary meaning; no construction necessary

         The parties dispute whether claim language dictates that the DMA controller must be “external to the USB controller.”

         LG argues that by listing the DMA controller and USB controller separately as components of a USB device/host, claims 1 and 13 imply that the DMA controller is external to the USB controller. LG Responsive Br. at 16 (citing Loyer '715 cls. 1, 13 (“[a] universal serial bus (USB) [device/host] . . . comprising: a DMA controller . . . and a USB controller . . . .”)) (emphasis omitted). LG further contends that the prosecution history supports its construction because AMD, in amending Loyer '715 during prosecution, told the PTO that “[c]laims 1 and 13 were amended to clarify that the DMA controller is internal to ...


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