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GoPro, Inc. v. 360Heros, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 16, 2017

GOPRO, INC., Plaintiff,
360HEROS, INC., Defendant.


          SUSAN ILLSTON United States District Judge.


         Plaintiff GoPro, Inc. (“GoPro”) filed this trademark and copyright infringement suit on April 13, 2016. Compl. (Dkt. No. 1). Defendant 360Heros, Inc. (“360Heros”) filed a counterclaim for patent infringement, asserting that GoPro directly or indirectly infringes U.S. Patent No. 9, 152, 019 (the “'019 patent”). Dkt. No. 25.

         The '019 patent, entitled “360 Degree Camera Mount and Related Photographic and Video System, ” was issued on October 6, 2015 to 360 Heros, Inc. The patent teaches a portable mounting assembly for multiple cameras, which enables a user to attach cameras into a spherical, cubical, or other orientation. See '019 patent, Abstract. The invention enables users to capture images that they can stitch together to create, for example, a 360 degree composite image or a 360 degree by 180 degree spherical image. See Id. The '019 patent purportedly improves upon prior art by, among other things, enabling users to attach and remove cameras without requiring partial camera disassembly or the use of tools, and by permitting cameras to be arranged in adjustable orientations. See Id. at 2:38-58.

         On June 1, 2017, the Court held a Markman hearing regarding disputed claim terms in the '019 patent. Having considered the arguments of counsel and the papers submitted, the Court construes the disputed claim terms as discussed below.


         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 Communications, 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 Systems, S.A. v. Cooper Life Sciences, 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 Systems, Inc. v. Advanced Cardiovascular Systems, 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 v. Westview Instr., Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 979 (Fed. Cir. 1995), aff'd, 517 U.S. 370 (1996). 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 (citing Merck & Co., Inc. v. Teva Pharms. USA, Inc., 347 F.3d 1367, 1371 (Fed. Cir. 2003). 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 Technologies, Inc. v. Cardinal IG Co., 54 F.3d 1570, 1576 (Fed. Cir. 1995). In most situations, analysis of this 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.


         Relevant for purposes of the Court's Markman analysis, the '019 patent claims the following:

Claim 1. A holding assembly configured to releasably retain a plurality of photographic cameras in a predetermined orientation, said holding assembly comprising:
a support including a support body having a plurality of support arms extending outwardly and radially from the support body; and
each of the support arms including a receptacle disposed thereon and in which a plurality of the receptacles are disposed radially about the exterior of said support body, each of said receptacles defining an open-ended enclosure having at least one latching feature for enabling a photographic camera to be releasably retained within the defined enclosure wherein the receptacles are oriented about said support such that each retained camera provides an overlapping field of view, the cameras being disposed on the support to create either a 360 degree by 180 degree full spherical composite image or a 360 degree composite image.
Claim 15. A method for manufacture of a holding assembly that enables capture of 360 degree photographic or video images of a scene of interest, said method comprising:
providing a support for said holding assembly comprising a center support body having a plurality of outwardly extending support arms, including a corresponding plurality of receptacles arranged on each extending support arm, each said receptacle defining an open-ended enclosure that is sized for releasably receiving at least one photographic camera body and in which each said receptacle is disposed in a specific angular or spherical orientation relative to each other to enable a 360 degree by 180 degree full spherical composite image or a 360 degree composite image to be created by the retained photographic cameras; and
configuring each receptacle with a latching feature to enable a photographic camera body to be releasably secured within the support ...

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