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Infogation Corp. v. ZTE Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. California

May 5, 2017




         In the above three actions, Plaintiff InfoGation Corp. asserts claims of patent infringement against Defendants ZTE (USA), Inc., [1] HTC, [2] and Huawei, [3] alleging infringement of claim 15 of U.S. Patent No. 6, 292, 743 (“the '743 patent”). (16-cv-1901-Doc. No. 1; 16-cv-1902-Doc. No. 2; 16-cv-1903-Doc. No. 3.) On March 10, 2017, the parties filed their joint claim construction and prehearing statement, chart, and worksheet, identifying the disputed claim terms from the '743 patent. (16-cv-1901-Doc. Nos. 42-44; 16-cv-1902-Doc. Nos. 52-54; 16-cv-1903-Doc. No. 49.) On April 7, 2017, the parties each filed an opening claim construction brief. (16-cv-1901-Doc. Nos. 58-59; 16-cv-1902-Doc. Nos. 68-69; 16-cv-1903-Doc. Nos. 64-65.) On April 21, 2017, the parties each filed a responsive claim construction brief. (16-cv-1901-Doc. Nos. 61-62; 16-cv-1902-Doc. Nos. 71-72; 16-cv-1903-Doc. Nos. 67-68.) On April 26, 2017, the parties filed an amended joint claim construction and prehearing statement, chart, and worksheet. (16-cv-1901-Doc. No. 63; 16-cv-1902-Doc. No. 73; 16-cv-1903-Doc. Nos. 69.) On May 4, 2017, the Court issued a tentative claim construction order.

         The Court held a claim construction hearing on May 5, 2017. John P. Moy and Michael L. Kirby appeared for InfoGation. Harold H. Davis, Jr. appeared for ZTE. Todd E. Landis appeared for HTC. David S. Almeling and Darin Snyder appeared for Huawai. After considering the parties' briefs, the parties' arguments at the hearing, and all relevant information, the Court construes the disputed terms from the patent-in-suit.


         On July 27, 2016, Plaintiff InfoGation Corp. filed three separate complaints for patent infringement against Defendants ZTE, HTC, and Huawei, alleging infringement of the '743 patent. (16-cv-1901-Doc. No. 1; 16-cv-1902-Doc. No. 1; 16-cv-1903-Doc. No. 1.) Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants' smartphones, which run the Android operating system and can connect to a Google Maps navigation server through a wireless carrier's network data, infringe, either literally or through the doctrine of equivalents, claim 15 of the '743 patent. (Id.)

         The '743 patent is entitled “Mobile Navigation System” and “relates generally to [a] mobile navigation system and apparatus, and more particularly to a distributed navigation system having a wireless connection to a server for calculating optimal routes using real-time data.” U.S. Patent No. 6, 292, 743, at 1:5-8. In describing the prior art, the '743 patent explains that, at the time of the invention, “navigation systems, in which automobiles are equipped with a navigational computer that includes a display screen, an input means such as a keypad or a remote control, and a storage means such as a CD” had become quite popular. Id. at 1:10-14. The '743 patent explains that the problem with these devices is that they are “stand-alone devices that rely completely on data stored on the local storage device for geographical and other information. Thus, the capacity of the storage device becomes a limiting factor as to how much information is available to users. In addition, users must update their mapping databases frequently to stay current.” Id. at 1:27-32.

         In light of these problems, the '743 patent explains that it is desirable to have an online navigation system that can provide current information to the user - including real-time information such as traffic, weather, and road conditions - without the need for the system to update its local databases whenever changes occur. '743 Patent at 1:36-41. The '743 patent acknowledges that there are some prior art navigation systems, such as Toyota's MONET system, that are able to connect to online servers and provide real-time information to the user. Id. at 1:46-61. But the '743 patent notes that there are several problems with those real-time navigation systems.

         The '743 patent explains the problems with the real-time navigation systems at the time of the invention as follows:

In these current systems, all geographical data transmitted by the server is in a propriety [sic] format. That is, downloaded information used to describe geographical data, such as point-of-interest addresses and detailed map data, includes data points, indices and the like that are specific to the particular mapping database used on the client.
Accordingly, the client navigation system must have a particular pre-defined mapping database installed in order to work with the server. In some cases, the mapping database used by the client and server must be identical. If there is a mismatch between the expected mapping database and the actual mapping database used on the client, the client cannot properly interpret the geographical data downloaded from the server and the system will fail to operate.
Accordingly, customers using these current systems must obtain the latest version of the mapping database software available. This presents a major burden for customers and manufacturers alike due to the high frequency in which these databases must be updated.
In addition, the data downloaded by the client generally requires high bandwidth communication channels due the shear volume of data transmitted by these current systems. Such high bandwidth communication channels are expensive and may not be readily available in all areas. It would be desirable to develop a system that requires lower bandwidth communication channels than that required by these current systems.
Another problem with the current systems outlined above is that the client must include sophisticated algorithms for calculating optimal routes. In addition, these route-calculating algorithms in the client must be updated in accordance with current services and options available on the server. . . .
Another problem with the current systems is that the proprietary server cannot be used with navigation systems and mapping databases provided by other manufacturers.

'743 Patent at 1:62-2:37.

         The '743 patent seeks to remedy these problems in the prior art systems by using a generic natural language description to specify the optimal routing information that is generated at the server and then transmitted from the server to the client. '743 Patent at 3:21-23. The specification of the '743 patent describes “a client navigation system” as follows:

The client navigation system establishes a wireless connection to the server via cellular telephone technology or the like. Once connected, the client requests a specific route by uploading start and stop specifications to the server. The server independently calculates an optimal route for the user based on real-time and current data available to the server, as well as user preferences or the like.
The routing information is formatted using a natural language specification in accordance with each specific embodiment of the present invention.

Id. at 3:27-36.

         The '743 patent explains that by having the route data generated only at the server, it allows the client devices to be much less complex and not require software changes when the server provides new information. '743 Patent at 2:53-3:10. The '743 patent further explains that by using a generic natural language description to specify the optimal routing information, the optimal routing data from the server “can be interpreted by a variety of clients with minimal software additions.” Id. at 3:11-14. Further, the patent explains that the natural language routing descriptions can be highly compressed allowing the information to travel on lower bandwidth communication channels. Id. at 3:14-20.

         Independent claim 15 of the '743 patent, the only claim asserted by Plaintiff in the present actions (16-cv-1901-Doc. No. 58 at 4), claims:

A mobile navigation system comprising:
a navigation computer; a wireless transceiver coupled to said navigation computer for connecting with a navigation server, said navigation server for calculating optimal routes based on real-time information, said optimal routes being formatted using a non-proprietary, natural language description;
a mapping database coupled to said navigation computer for reconstructing said optimal route from said non-proprietary, natural language description; and
a display screen coupled to said navigation computer for displaying said optimal route using said mapping database.

Id. at 17:9-23.

         On November 1, 2016, Defendants each filed an answer and counterclaims to Plaintiff's complaint. (16-cv-1901-Doc. No. 22; 16-cv-1902-Doc. No. 21; 16-cv-1903-Doc. No. 22.) On November 22, 2016, the Court issued a scheduling order for the three actions setting forth all dates leading up to trial and scheduling a trial date of December 5, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. (16-cv-1901-Doc. No. 31; 16-cv-1902-Doc. No. 39; 16-cv-1903-Doc. No. 31.) On March 27, 2017, the Court denied Defendants' motions for judgment on the pleadings. (16-cv-1901-Doc. No. 52; 16-cv-1902-Doc. No. 63; 16-cv-1903-Doc. No. 59.) By the present claim construction briefs, the parties request that the Court construe four disputed claim terms from the '743 patent. (16-cv-1901-Doc. No. 58, 59.)[4]


I. Legal Standards for Claim Construction

         Claim construction is an issue of law for the court to decide. Teva Pharm. USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., 135 S.Ct. 831, 838 (2015); Markman v. Westview Instr., Inc., 517 U.S. 370, 372 (1996). Although claim construction is ultimately a question of law, “subsidiary factfinding is sometimes necessary.” Teva, 135 S.Ct. at 838.

         “The purpose of claim construction is to ‘determin[e] the meaning and scope of the patent claims asserted to be infringed.'” O2 Micro Int'l Ltd. v. Beyond Innovation Tech. Co., 521 F.3d 1351, 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2008). “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) (en banc).

         Claim terms “‘are generally given their ordinary and customary meaning[, ]'” which “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 1312-13. “In some cases, the ordinary meaning of claim language as understood by a [PHOSITA] may be readily apparent even to lay judges, and claim construction in such cases involves little more than the application of the widely accepted meaning of commonly understood words.” Id. at 1314. “However, in many cases, the meaning of a claim term as understood by persons of skill in the art is not readily apparent.” O2 Micro, 521 F.3d at 1360. If the meaning of the term is not readily apparent, the court must look to “those sources available to the public that show what a person of skill in the art would have understood disputed claim language to mean, ” including intrinsic and extrinsic evidence. See Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314. A court should begin with the intrinsic record, which consists of the language of the claims, the patent specification, and, if in evidence, the prosecution history of the asserted patent. Id.; see also Vederi, LLC v. Google, Inc., 744 F.3d 1376, 1382 (Fed. Cir. 2014) (“In construing claims, this court relies primarily on the claim language, the specification, and the prosecution history.”).

         In determining the proper construction of a claim, a court should first look to the language of the claims. See Vitronics, 90 F.3d at 1582; see also Comark Commc'ns v. Harris Corp., 156 F.3d 1182, 1186 (Fed. Cir. 1998) (“The appropriate starting point . . . is always with the language of the asserted claim itself.”). The context in which a disputed term is used in the asserted claims may provide substantial guidance as to the meaning of the term. See Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314. In addition, the context in which the disputed term is used in other claims, both asserted and unasserted, may provide guidance because “the usage of a term in one claim can often illuminate the meaning of the same term in other claims.” Id. Furthermore, a disputed term should be construed “consistently with its appearance in other places in the same claim or in other claims of the same patent.” Rexnord Corp. v. Laitram Corp., 274 F.3d 1336, 1342 (Fed. Cir. 2001); accord Microprocessor Enhancement Corp. v. Texas Instruments Inc., 520 F.3d 1367, 1375 (Fed. Cir. 2008); see also Paragon Sols., LLC v. Timex Corp., 566 F.3d 1075, 1087 (Fed. Cir. 2009) (“We apply a presumption that the same terms appearing in different portions of the claims should be given the same meaning.” (internal quotation marks omitted)). Moreover, “‘[a] claim construction that gives meaning to all the terms of the claim is preferred over one that does not do so.'” Vederi, 744 F.3d 1383.

         A court must also read claims “in view of the specification, of which they are a part.” Markman, 52 F.3d at 979; see 35 U.S.C. § 112(b) (“The specification shall conclude with one or more claims particularly pointing out and distinctly claiming the subject matter which the inventor or a joint inventor regards as the invention.”). “‘Apart from the claim language itself, the specification is the single best guide to the meaning of a claim term.'” Vederi, 744 F.3d at 1382. For example, “a claim construction that excludes [a] preferred embodiment [described in the specification] ‘is rarely, ...

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