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Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd v. T-Mobile US, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Marshall Division

April 15, 2017

HUAWEI TECHNOLOGIES CO. LTD, Plaintiff,
v.
T-MOBILE US, INC., ET AL., Defendants, NOKIA SOLUTIONS AND NETWORKS U.S. LLC, NOKIA SOLUTIONS AND NETWORKS OY, TELEFONAKTIEBOLAGET LM ERICSSON, and ERICSSON INC. Intervenors.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ROY S. PAYNE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         On March 2, 2017, the Court held a hearing to determine the proper construction of the disputed claim terms in United States Patent Nos. 8, 069, 365 (“the '365 Patent”), 8, 719, 617 (“the '617 Patent”), and 8, 867, 339 (“the '339 Patent”) (collectively “the Asserted Patents). The Court has considered the arguments made by the parties at the hearing and in their claim construction briefs. Docket Nos. 126, 130, 131, 141, & 143.[1] The Court has also considered the intrinsic evidence and made subsidiary factual findings about the extrinsic evidence. See Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1314 (Fed. Cir. 2005); Teva Pharm. USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., 135 S.Ct. 831, 841 (2015). The Court issues this Claim Construction Memorandum and Order in light of these considerations.

         TABLE OF CONTENTS

         I. BACKGROUND ................................................................................................................ 3

         A. The '365 and '617 Patents ..................................................................................... 3

         B. The '339 Patent ...................................................................................................... 4

         II. APPLICABLE LAW .......................................................................................................... 7

         III. CONSTRUCTION OF AGREED TERMS ...................................................................... 12

         IV. CONSTRUCTION OF DISPUTED TERMS ................................................................... 17

         1. “necessary data which is required when a user service processing is restored, ” “necessary data, ” “backup necessary data” ............................................. 17

         2. “is error” ....................................................................................................... 22

         3. The “unit” terms (“receiving unit” / “sending unit” / “storage unit”) .......... 26

         V. CONCLUSION ................................................................................................................. 38

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. The '365 and '617 Patents

         The '365 Patent was filed on April 23, 2009 and issued on November 29, 2011. The '617 Patent is a continuation of the '365 Patent, and was filed on October 31, 2011 and issued on May 6, 2014. The '365 and '617 Patents essentially share a common specification, and both are titled “Method and Device for Realizing IP Multimedia Subsystem Disaster Tolerance.” The '365 and '617 Patents generally relate to backing up and acquiring “necessary data which is required when a user service processing is restored on an HSS.” '617 Patent at 6:53-54.

         The '365 and '617 Patents focus on the components of an IP Multimedia Subsystem (“IMS”). Id. at Abstract (“A method for realizing an Internet protocol (IP) multimedia subsystem (IMS) disaster tolerance includes the steps as follows.”). The IMS components described in the specification include the Proxy Call Session Control Function (“P-CSCF”), Interrogating Call Session Control Function (“I-CSCF”), Serving Call Session Control Function (“S-CSCF”), and Home Subscriber Server (“HSS”). See, e.g., Id. at 1:27-3:3 (describing IMS and the operation of the components). The specification describes “the present invention” as “a method for realizing an IMS disaster tolerance so as to improve the network reliability without increasing the system burden.” Id. at 3:65-67.

         The disclosed method includes the steps of “[a]n S-CSCF receive[ing] a user registration, and back[ing] up necessary data which is required when a user service processing is restored on a storage entity in a network.” Id. at 4:8-10. The method further includes “[a]n I-CSCF of user's home domain receive[ing] a service request of a user, and assign[ing] a new S-CSCF to the user and forward[ing] the service request to the newly assigned S-CSCF, if it is found that the S-CSCF currently providing a service for the user fails.” Id. at 4:11-15. The specification adds that “[t]he newly assigned S-CSCF interrogates and acquires subscription data of the user and the necessary data backed up by the original S-CSCF from the storage entity, and then restores the user service processing according to the subscription data and the backup data.” Id. at 4:16-20.

         According to the specification, the prior art required the mobile device to re-register with IMS after expiration of a registration timer when the S-CSCF fails. Id. at 3:4-41. The specification notes that “[t]he longer the registration cycle, the longer the service interruption duration of the user.” Id. at 3:49-50. To reduce service interruption, the disclosed method provides that “once the S-CSCF fails, the influenced user restores the service when a call is established without waiting for a re-registration timer of a user terminal to trigger a re-registration to restore the network service so as to improve the network reliability without increasing the system burden.” Id. at 5:53- 58

         Claim 1 of the '617 Patent is an exemplary claim and recites the following elements (disputed term in italics):

1. In a serving call session control function (S-CSCF), a method for realizing an Internet protocol multimedia subsystem (IMS) disaster tolerance, the method comprising:
receiving a service request of a user forwarded by an interrogating CSCF (I-CSCF) when it is determined that a previous S-CSCF failed in providing a service to the user; sending a request for subscription data of the user and restoration data stored in a storage entity and used for restoring the service that failed to the user, wherein the restoration data is stored by the previous S-CSCF; receiving the stored data that includes the subscription data of the user and the restoration data; and based on the received data, restoring the service to the user.

         B. The '339 Patent

         The '339 Patent was filed on January 24, 2012, issued on October 21, 2014, and is titled “Method, System and Device for Recovering Invalid Downlink Data Tunnel between Networks.” The '339 Patent generally relates to “a method for processing an invalidation of a downlink data tunnel between networks.” '339 Patent at Abstract. Specifically, the specification introduces “One Tunnel” network architecture and states that “to improve data transmission performance of the 3GPP system and reduce the costs of network investment by the operator, the 3GPP organization has researched a network architecture called One Tunnel, which is referred to as ‘One Tunnel' or ‘Direct Tunnel' network architecture in the specification.” Id. at 1:31-36. The specification adds that “[i]n the One Tunnel architecture, the user plane has only one data tunnel established between the RNC and the GGSN.” Id. at 2:4-5. The One Tunnel architecture is illustrated in Figure 1 (highlighted in yellow).

         (Image Omitted)

Id. at Figure 1 (highlighting added). The specification states that in the One Tunnel arrangement “a large part of the user plane traffic is directly transmitted between an RNC and the GGSN via a tunnel . . . as indicated by the thick solid line in FIG. 1.” Id. at 4:17-19.

         The specification characterizes the problem with the prior art One Tunnel architecture as “[o]nce the RNC releases air interface resources and context of the user due to abnormal circumstances such as reset, a relevant downlink data tunnel between the relevant RNC and the GGSN becomes invalid.” Id. at 2:6-9. The specification states that “[i]f the GGSN delivers a data to the RNC via the invalid downlink data tunnel, the GGSN inevitably receives an error indication message, i.e., an error indication, returned from the RNC.” Id. at 2:9-12. “[I]n this case, the GGSN deactivates a packet data protocol (PDP) context to release the entire IP bearer [resources]” Id. at 2:13-15. The specification further states that “[i]f a user wants to recover the data transmission later, the user must reactivate the PDP to establish the IP bearer [resources]” Id. at 2:15-16. The specification notes that “[s]uch reactivation operation inevitably affects the speed of the data transmission recovery and causes the affected users to appear offline, which is undesirable in the 3GPP systems.” Id. at 2:20-23.

         The specification describes “the technical solutions of . . . the present invention” as “the core network user plane anchor [GGSN] receiv[ing] the error indication of data tunnel from a access network device [RNC], and notif[ying] a relevant core network control plane [SGSN] to request recovering the downlink data tunnel after determining that the user plane corresponding to the error indication uses the One Tunnel technology.” Id. at 3:15-21. The specification further states that “[t]he core network control plane [GGSN] recovers the downlink data tunnel and notifies the core network user plane anchor [SGSN] to update information of the user plane.” Id. at 3:21-24. “Once the downlink data tunnel becomes invalid, the core network user plane anchor does not release the corresponding PDP context and notifies the core network control plane to reestablish the downlink data tunnel.” Id. at 3:24-27. According to the specification, “[s]uch operation improves the speed of recovering data transmission after the downlink data tunnel becomes invalid and avoids negative influences on the data transmission recovery caused by reactivation of the PDP.” Id. at 3:27-31.

         Claim 9 of the '339 Patent is an exemplary claim and recites the following elements (disputed term in italics):

9. A communication device, comprising: a receiving unit and a sending unit, wherein the receiving unit is configured to receive an error indication of a data tunnel from an access network device, and the sending unit is configured to instruct a core network control plane to recover a downlink data tunnel if a user plane corresponding to the error indication uses a One Tunnel technology, and wherein the receiving unit is further configured to receive an update packet data protocol (PDP) context request from the core network control plane, and wherein the device further comprises a storage unit configured to update a corresponding PDP context according to the update PDP context request.

         II. APPLICABLE LAW

         A. Claim Construction

         “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) (quoting Innova/Pure Water Inc. v. Safari Water Filtration Sys., Inc., 381 F.3d 1111, 1115 (Fed. Cir. 2004)). To determine the meaning of the claims, courts start by considering the intrinsic evidence. Id. at 1313; C.R. Bard, Inc. v. U.S. Surgical Corp., 388 F.3d 858, 861 (Fed. Cir. 2004); Bell Atl. Network Servs., Inc. v. Covad Commc'ns Group, Inc., 262 F.3d 1258, 1267 (Fed. Cir. 2001). The intrinsic evidence includes the claims themselves, the specification, and the prosecution history. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314; C.R. Bard, Inc., 388 F.3d at 861. The general rule-subject to certain specific exceptions discussed infra-is that each claim term is construed according to its ordinary and accustomed meaning as understood by one of ordinary skill in the art at the time of the invention in the context of the patent. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1312-13; Alloc, Inc. v. Int'l Trade Comm'n, 342 F.3d 1361, 1368 (Fed. Cir. 2003); Azure Networks, LLC v. CSR PLC, 771 F.3d 1336, 1347 (Fed. Cir. 2014) (“There is a heavy presumption that claim terms carry their accustomed meaning in the relevant community at the relevant time.”) (vacated on other grounds).

         “The claim construction inquiry. . . begins and ends in all cases with the actual words of the claim.” Renishaw PLC v. Marposs Societa' per Azioni, 158 F.3d 1243, 1248 (Fed. Cir. 1998). “[I]n all aspects of claim construction, ‘the name of the game is the claim.'” Apple Inc. v. Motorola, Inc., 757 F.3d 1286, 1298 (Fed. Cir. 2014) (quoting In re Hiniker Co., 150 F.3d 1362, 1369 (Fed. Cir. 1998)). First, a term's context in the asserted claim can be instructive. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314. Other asserted or unasserted claims can also aid in determining the claim's meaning, because claim terms are typically used consistently throughout the patent. Id. Differences among the claim terms can also assist in understanding a term's meaning. Id. For example, when a dependent claim adds a limitation to an independent claim, it is presumed that the independent claim does not include the limitation. Id. at 1314-15.

         “[C]laims ‘must be read in view of the specification, of which they are a part.'” Id. (quoting Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 979 (Fed. Cir. 1995) (en banc)). “[T]he specification ‘is always highly relevant to the claim construction analysis. Usually, it is dispositive; it is the single best guide to the meaning of a disputed term.'” Id. (quoting Vitronics Corp. v. Conceptronic, Inc., 90 F.3d 1576, 1582 (Fed. Cir. 1996)); Teleflex, Inc. v. Ficosa N. Am. Corp., 299 F.3d 1313, 1325 (Fed. Cir. 2002). But, “‘[a]lthough the specification may aid the court in interpreting the meaning of disputed claim language, particular embodiments and examples appearing in the specification will not generally be read into the claims.'” Comark Commc'ns, Inc. v. Harris Corp., 156 F.3d 1182, 1187 (Fed. Cir. 1998) (quoting Constant v. Advanced Micro-Devices, Inc., 848 F.2d 1560, 1571 (Fed. Cir. 1988)); see also Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1323. “[I]t is improper to read limitations from a preferred embodiment described in the specification-even if it is the only embodiment-into the claims absent a clear indication in the intrinsic record that the patentee intended the claims to be so limited.” Liebel-Flarsheim Co. v. Medrad, Inc., 358 F.3d 898, 913 (Fed. Cir. 2004).

         The prosecution history is another tool to supply the proper context for claim construction because, like the specification, the prosecution history provides evidence of how the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) and the inventor understood the patent. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1317. However, “because the prosecution history represents an ongoing negotiation between the PTO and the applicant, rather than the final product of that negotiation, it often lacks the clarity of the specification and thus is less useful for claim construction purposes.” Id. at 1318; see also Athletic Alternatives, Inc. v. Prince Mfg., 73 F.3d 1573, 1580 (Fed. Cir. 1996) (ambiguous prosecution history may be “unhelpful as an interpretive resource”).

         Although extrinsic evidence can also be useful, it is “‘less significant than the intrinsic record in determining the legally operative meaning of claim language.'” Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1317 (quoting C.R. Bard, Inc., 388 F.3d at 862). Technical dictionaries and treatises may help a court understand the underlying technology and the manner in which one skilled in the art might use claim terms, but technical dictionaries and treatises may provide definitions that are too broad or may not be indicative of how the term is used in the patent. Id. at 1318. Similarly, expert testimony may aid a court in understanding the underlying technology and determining the particular meaning of a term in the pertinent field, but an expert's conclusory, unsupported assertions as to a term's definition are entirely unhelpful to a court. Id. Generally, extrinsic evidence is “less reliable than the patent and its prosecution history in determining how to read claim terms.” Id. The Supreme Court recently explained the role of extrinsic evidence in claim construction:

In some cases, however, the district court will need to look beyond the patent's intrinsic evidence and to consult extrinsic evidence in order to understand, for example, the background science or the meaning of a term in the relevant art during the relevant time period. See, e.g., Seymour v. Osborne, 11 Wall. 516, 546 (1871) (a patent may be “so interspersed with technical terms and terms of art that the testimony of scientific witnesses is indispensable to a correct understanding of its meaning”). In cases where those subsidiary facts are in dispute, courts will need to make subsidiary factual findings about that extrinsic evidence. These are the ...

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