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Image Processing Technologies, LLC v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

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

June 21, 2017

IMAGE PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO., LTD.; SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS AMERICA, INC. Defendants. TERM AGREED CONSTRUCTION Disputed Term Plaintiffs Proposed Construction Defendant's Proposed Construction Disputed Term Plaintiffs Proposed Construction Defendant's Proposed Construction Disputed Term Plaintiffs Proposed Construction Defendant's Proposed Construction Plaintiffs Proposed Construction Defendant's Proposed Construction Plaintiffs Proposed Construction Defendant's Proposed Construction Disputed Term Plaintiffs Proposed Construction Defendant's Proposed Construction Disputed Term Plaintiffs Proposed Construction Defendant's Proposed Construction Plaintiffs Proposed Construction Defendant's Proposed Construction Plaintiffs Proposed Construction Defendant's Proposed Construction Disputed Term Plaintiffs Proposed Construction Defendant's Proposed Construction Plaintiffs Proposed Construction Defendant's Proposed Construction Plaintiffs Proposed Construction Defendant's Proposed Construction

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          RODNEY GILSTRAP, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is the opening claim construction brief of Plaintiff Image Processing Technologies, LLC (“Plaintiff”) (Dkt. No. 133, filed on April 14, 2017), the response of Defendants Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. and Samsung Electronics America, Inc. (“Defendant”) (Dkt. No. 138, filed on April 28, 2017), and the reply of Plaintiff (Dkt. No. 148, filed on May 5, 2017). The Court held a claim construction hearing on June 2, 2017. Having considered the arguments and evidence presented by the parties at the hearing and in their claim construction briefing, the Court issues this Claim Construction Order.

         Table of Contents

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

         II. LEGAL PRINCIPLES ........................................................................................................... 7

         III. CONSTRUCTION OF AGREED TERMS ........................................................................ 9

         IV. CONSTRUCTION OF DISPUTED TERMS ................................................................... 10

         A. “histogram” ......................................................................................................................... 10

         B. “time coincidence” terms .................................................................................................... 13

         C. Claim 3 of the ʼ293 patent .................................................................................................. 18

          1. “values typical of a sequence of each of these registers” ............................................ 21

          2. “wherein the test unit is provided for calculating and storing statistical data processes, after receiving the data aijT corresponding to the space at an instant T, a content of the analysis memory in order to update the output memory of the analysis output unit” ........................................................................................................................... 24

         D. “configured to determine the data in the histogram that satisfy a selected criterion” ........ 27

         E. “automatic” classification terms ......................................................................................... 31

         F. “domain” and “class” .......................................................................................................... 36

         G. “forming at least one histogram…” .................................................................................... 40

         H. “said at least one histogram referring to classes defining said target” ............................... 43

         I. “identifying…” terms ......................................................................................................... 46

         J. “generating …” terms ......................................................................................................... 50

         K. “displaying an outline associated with the target” .............................................................. 52

         L. “wherein forming the at least one histogram further comprises determining X minima and maxima and Y minima and maxima of boundaries of the target” ............................... 55

         M. “…the outline…” terms [claims 26 and 27 of the ʼ445 patent] .......................................... 59

         N. “successively increasing the size of a selected area until the boundary of the target is found” ................................................................................................................................. 63

         O. “analyzing the at least one histogram over time” ............................................................... 67

         V. CONCLUSION ...................................................................................................................... 69

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff brings suit alleging infringement of United States Patent Nos. 6, 717, 518 (“the ʼ518 patent”), 6, 959, 293 (“the ʼ293 patent”), 7, 650, 015 (“the ʼ015 patent”), 8, 805, 001 (“the ʼ001 patent”), 8, 983, 134 (“the ʼ134 patent”), and 8, 989, 445 (“the ʼ445 patent”) (collectively the “patents-in-suit”) by the Defendant.

         The ʼ015, ʼ001, ʼ134, and ʼ445 patents are related and share the specification, and are generally referred to collectively as “the ʼ015 patent family.” In particular, the ʼ001 patent is a continuation of the application leading to the ʼ015 patent, the ʼ134 patent is a continuation of the application leading to the ʼ001 patent, and the ʼ445 patent is a continuation of a continuation of the application leading to the ʼ001 patent. Each of the patents in the ʼ015 patent family is entitled “Image Processing Method.” The application leading to the ʼ015 patent was filed on February 20, 2007, is based on a series of earlier U.S. patent applications with an earliest priority date of September 13, 1999, which itself claims priority to an earlier filed PCT application filed on July 22, 1997, which itself claims priority to a French application filed on July 26, 1996. The ʼ015 patent issued on January 19, 2010. The application leading to the ʼ001 patent was filed on November 17, 2009 and issued on August 12, 2014. The application leading to the ʼ134 patent was filed on March 17, 2014 and issued on March 17, 2015. The application leading to the ʼ445 patent was filed on August 13, 2014 and issued on March 24, 2015. In general, the ʼ015 patent family is directed to an image processing method and apparatus for face and/or object detecting and tracking using histograms of the image. The Abstract of the ʼ015 patent states:

A method and apparatus for localizing an area in relative movement and for determining the speed and direction thereof in real time is disclosed. Each pixel of an image is smoothed using its own time constant. A binary value corresponding to the existence of a significant variation in the amplitude of the smoothed pixel from the prior frame, and the amplitude of the variation, are determined, and the time constant for the pixel is updated. For each particular pixel, two matrices are formed that include a subset of the pixels spatially related to the particular pixel. The first matrix contains the binary values of the subset of pixels. The second matrix contains the amplitude of the variation of the subset of pixels. In the first matrix, it is determined whether the pixels along an oriented direction relative to the particular pixel have binary values representative of significant variation, and, for such pixels, it is determined in the second matrix whether the amplitude of these pixels varies in a known manner indicating movement in the oriented direction. In each of several domains, histogram of the values in the first and second matrices falling in such domain is formed. Using the histograms, it is determined whether there is an area having the characteristics of the particular domain. The domains include luminance, hue, saturation, speed (V), oriented direction (D1), time constant (CO), first axis (x(m)), and second axis (y(m)).

Asserted claim 6 of the ʼ015 patent is shown below:

A process of tracking a target in an input signal implemented using a system comprising an image processing system, the input signal comprising a succession of frames, each frame comprising a succession of pixels, the target comprising pixels in one or more of a plurality of classes in one or more of a plurality of domains, the process performed by said system comprising, on a frame-by-frame basis: forming at least one histogram of the pixels in the one or more of a plurality of classes in the one or more of a plurality of domains, said at least one histogram referring to classes defining said target, identifying the target from said at least one histogram, drawing a tracking box around the target, and centering the tracking box relative to an optical axis of the frame.

         The application leading to the ʼ293 patent was filed on February 23, 2001, claims priority to a French patent application filed on February 24, 2000, and issued on October 25, 2005. The ʼ293 patent is entitled “Method and Device for Automatic Visual Perception.” In general, the ʼ293 patent is directed to detecting/analyzing an event by the formation of a histogram. The Abstract of the ʼ293 patent states:

A visual perception processor comprises histogram calculation units, which receive the data DATA(A), DATA(B), . . . DATA(E) via a single data bus and supplying classification information to a single time coincidences bus. In a preferred embodiment the histogram calculation units are organized into a matrix.

         Claim 1 of the ʼ293 patent is shown below:

A visual perception processor for automatically detecting an event occurring in a multidimensional space (i, j) evolving over time with respect to at least one digitized parameter in the form of a digital signal on a data bus, said digital signal being in the form of a succession aijT of binary numbers associated with synchronization signals enabling to define a given instant (T) of the multidimensional space and the position (i, j) in this space, the visual perception processor comprising:
the data bus;
a control unit
a time coincidences bus carrying at least a time coincidence signal; and
at least two histogram calculation units for the treatment of the at least one parameter,
the histogram calculation units being configured to form a histogram representative of the parameter as a function of a validation signal and to determine by classification a binary classification signal resulting from a comparison of the parameter and a selection criterion C, wherein the classification signal is sent to the time coincidences bus, and wherein the validation signal is produced from time coincidences signals from the time coincidence bus so that the calculation of the histogram depends on the classification signals carried by the time coincidence bus.

         The application leading to the ʼ518 patent was filed on February 9, 2001, is based on an earlier filed PCT application filed on January 15, 1999, which itself claims priority to a French application filed on January 15, 1998. The ʼ518 patent issued on April 6, 2004. The ʼ518 patent is entitled “Method and Device for Automatic Visual Perception.” In general, the ʼ518 patent is directed to detecting the drowsiness of a person based on analyzing the person's face. The Abstract of the ʼ518 patent states:

In a process of detecting a person falling asleep, an image of the face of the person is acquired. Pixels of the image having characteristics corresponding to an eye of the person are selected and a histogram is formed of the selected pixels. The histogram is analyzed over time to identify each opening and closing of the eye, and characteristics indicative of the person falling asleep are determined. A sub-area of the image including the eye may be determined by identifying the head or a facial characteristic of the person, and then identifying the sub-area using an anthropomorphic model. To determine openings and closings of the eyes, histograms of shadowed pixels of the eye are analyzed to determine the width and height of the shadowing, or histograms of movement corresponding to blinking are analyzed. An apparatus for detecting a person falling asleep includes a sensor for acquiring an image of the face of the person, a controller, and a histogram formation unit for forming a histogram on pixels having selected characteristics. Also disclosed is a rear-view mirror assembly incorporating the apparatus.

Claim 1 of the ʼ518 patent is shown below:

         1. A process of detecting a person falling asleep, the process comprising:

acquiring an image of the face of the person;
identifying a sub-area of the image comprising at least one eye of the person, including:
identifying the head of the person in the image; and
identifying the sub-area of the image using an anthropomorphic model;
selecting pixels within the sub-area of the image having characteristics corresponding to characteristics of the at least one eye of the person;
forming at least one histogram of the selected pixels;
analyzing the at least one histogram over time to identify each opening and closing of the eye; and
determining from the opening and closing information of the eye, characteristics indicative of a person falling asleep.

         The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”) instituted Inter Partes Review (“IPR) proceedings on five of the six patents-in-suit on May 25, 2017. See, e.g., Dkt. No. 153 (Notice of Activity in Related IPR Proceedings). Some of the claim terms disputed between the parties are generally discussed in these grants. Id.

         II. LEGAL PRINCIPLES

         This Court's claim construction analysis is guided by the Federal Circuit's decision in Phillips v. AWH Corporation, 415 F.3d 1303 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc). In Phillips, the court reiterated that “the claims of a patent define the invention to which the patentee is entitled the right to exclude.” 415 F.3d at 1312 (quoting Innova/Pure Water, Inc. v. Safari Water Filtration Sys., Inc., 381 F.3d 1111, 1115 (Fed. Cir. 2004)). “The construction that stays true to the claim language and most naturally aligns with the patent's description of the invention will be, in the end, the correct construction.” Id. at 1316 (quoting Renishaw PLC v. Marposs Societa' per Azioni, 158 F.3d 1243, 1250 (Fed. Cir. 1998)).

         In claim construction, patent claims 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, i.e., as of the effective filing date of the patent application.” Id. at 1312-13. This principle of patent law flows naturally from the recognition that inventors are usually persons who are skilled in the field of the invention and that patents are addressed to, and intended to be read by, others skilled in the particular art. Id.

         Despite the importance of claim terms, Phillips made clear that “the person of ordinary skill in the art is deemed to read the claim term not only in the context of the particular claim in which the disputed term appears, but in the context of the entire patent, including the specification.” Id. The written description set forth in the specification, for example, “may act as a sort of dictionary, which explains the invention and may define terms used in the claims.” Markman, 52 F.3d at 979. Thus, as the Phillips court emphasized, the specification is “the primary basis for construing the claims.” Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314-17. However, it is the claims, not the specification, which set forth the limits of the patentee's invention. Otherwise, “there would be no need for claims.” SRI Int'l v. Matsushita Elec. Corp., 775 F.2d 1107, 1121 (Fed. Cir. 1985) (en banc).

         The prosecution history also plays an important role in claim interpretation as intrinsic evidence that is relevant to the determination of how the inventor understood the invention and whether the inventor limited the invention during prosecution by narrowing the scope of the claims. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314-17; see also Microsoft Corp. v. Multi-Tech Sys., Inc., 357 F.3d 1340, 1350 (Fed. Cir. 2004) (noting that “a patentee's statements during prosecution, whether relied on by the examiner or not, are relevant to claim interpretation”). In this sense, the prosecution history helps to demonstrate how the inventor and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) understood the patent. Id. at 1317. Because the prosecution history, however, “represents an ongoing negotiation between the PTO and the applicant, ” it may sometimes lack the clarity of the specification and thus be less useful in claim construction. Id.

         Courts are also permitted to rely on extrinsic evidence, such as “expert and inventor testimony, dictionaries, and learned treatises, ” id. (quoting Markman, 52 F.3d at 980), but Phillips rejected any claim construction approach that sacrifices the intrinsic record in favor of extrinsic evidence. Id. at 1319. Instead, the court assigned extrinsic evidence, such as dictionaries, a role subordinate to the intrinsic record. In doing so, the court emphasized that claim construction issues are not resolved by any magic formula or particular sequence of steps. Id. at 1323-25. Rather, Phillips held that a court must attach the appropriate weight to the sources offered in support of a proposed claim construction, bearing in mind the general rule that the claims measure the scope of the patent grant. “In cases where . . . subsidiary facts are in dispute, courts will need to make subsidiary factual findings about [the] extrinsic evidence. These are the ‘evidentiary underpinnings' of claim construction [discussed] in Markman, and this subsidiary factfinding must be reviewed for clear error on appeal.” Teva Pharm. USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., 135 S.Ct. 831, 841 (2015).

         The Supreme Court of the United States has “read [35 U.S.C.] § 112, ¶ 2 to require that a patent's claims, viewed in light of the specification and prosecution history, inform those skilled in the art about the scope of the invention with reasonable certainty.” Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., 134 S.Ct. 2120, 2129 (2014). “A determination of claim indefiniteness is a legal conclusion that is drawn from the court's performance of its duty as the construer of patent claims.” Datamize, LLC v. Plumtree Software, Inc., 417 F.3d 1342, 1347 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted), abrogated on other grounds by Nautilus, 134 S.Ct. 2120.

         III. CONSTRUCTION OF AGREED TERMS

         The parties have agreed to the following meanings for the following terms. See, e.g., Dkt. No. 150 (Joint Claim Construction Chart.); Dkt. No. 155 (Joint Notice).

TERM
AGREED CONSTRUCTION

"parameter" ('293 patent)

"a numerical characteristic [numerical characteristics]"

"classification value" ('445 patent)

"a value resulting from determining whether a pixel meets a selected classification criterion for a domain"

"tracking a target" ('445 patent; '001 patent, '015 patent, '134 patent)

The parties have agreed for purposes of this litigation that the preamble is limiting

"moving a center point of the outline" ('445 patent, claim 6)

"calculating new x and y coordinates of the center point of the outline"

"anthropomorphic model" ('518 patent)

"mathematical representation specifying the spatial relationship of human facial features"

         Accordingly, the Court adopts the constructions agreed to by the parties as listed above.

         IV. CONSTRUCTION OF DISPUTED TERMS

         The parties' positions and the Court's analysis as to the disputed terms are presented below.

         A. “histogram”

Plaintiff's Proposed Construction

Defendant's Proposed Construction

“a statistical representation of the frequency of occurrence of values of a ‘parameter'”

“a statistical representation of the frequency of occurrence with which values of a parameter fall within defined intervals of the range of values of the parameter”

         The disputed term “histogram” appears in claims in each of the patents-in-suit.

         (1) The Parties' Positions

         Plaintiff argues that the claim language and specification of the patents refers to calculating a histogram for/of a “parameter.” See, e.g., Dkt. No. 133, Plaintiff's Opening Claim Construction Brief, at pages 2-3. Plaintiff argues that Defendant's construction would exclude embodiments that use non-continuous digital data. Id. at 3. Plaintiff also argue that nothing in the claim language or the specification requires the intervals of the histogram to be “defined.” Id. Plaintiff argues that the specification makes clear that the intervals can be adapted in real-time, and therefore are not necessarily “defined.” Id.

         Defendant argues that the intrinsic evidence and textbooks on statistical methods confirm Defendant's proposal. See, e.g., Dkt. No. 138, Defendant's Responsive Claim Construction Brief, at page 2. According to Defendant, Plaintiff's construction would cover any statistical representation, including bar charts, scatter plots, and essentially any mechanisms that counts the occurrence of something. Id. Based on various extrinsic textbooks and dictionaries, Defendant argues that to form a histogram the intervals are defined within a range of values. Id. at 3. Defendant argues that the requirement that the range of values be divided into defined intervals is what distinguishes histograms from other data representations. Id. at 3-4. Defendant argues that the specification supports its arguments, in that every parameter disclosed in the specifications takes on a range of values that is divided into defined intervals for forming the histogram. Id. at 4-5.

         In its Reply, Plaintiff argues that a “range of values” is incorrect because it could exclude binary parameters disclosed in the specification. See, e.g., Dkt. No. 148, Plaintiff's Reply Claim Construction Brief, at page 5. Plaintiff argues that by requiring a “histogram” to have “defined” intervals, Defendant's construction would improperly exclude adapting intervals in real-time and using variable-width intervals. Id. Plaintiff admits that a histogram has “intervals, ” but argues that the intrinsic evidence does not require those intervals to be “defined.” Id. Plaintiff argues that its construction would not encompass bar charts or scatter plots. Id. at 5-6.

         (2) Analysis

         Both parties agree that the “histogram” term needs to be construed. Both parties agree that the term means “a statistical representation of the frequency of occurrence of values of a parameter, ” but disagree as to whether something “more” (as argued by the Defendant) is needed to accurately define the term “histogram.” In particular, the parties dispute whether a histogram is merely any statistical representation, or more specifically, a statistical representation formed by dividing a parameter's range of values into defined intervals and counting how often the value of that parameter falls within each defined interval.

         The “histogram” term appears in all of the patents-in-suit. The parties' arguments focus on the claim language, the specification, and extrinsic evidence.

         Claim 1 of the ʼ293 patent is representative, and is reproduced below in relevant part:

at least two histogram calculation units for the treatment of the at least one parameter, the histogram calculation units being configured to form a histogram representative of the parameter as a function of a validation signal and to determine by classification a binary classification signal resulting from a comparison of the parameter and a selection criterion C, wherein the classification signal is sent to the time coincidences bus, and wherein the validation signal is produced from time coincidences signals from the time coincidence bus so that the calculation of the histogram depends on the classification signals carried by the time coincidence bus.

(emphasis added.) As a whole, the claims do not provide much (if any) guidance as to the parties' dispute.

         Plaintiff does not rely on any technical dictionaries for its proposed construction. Defendant relies on numerous technical sources that support its proposed constructions. Those extrinsic sources generally require a histogram to be divided into intervals that are plotted along a horizontal axis and a vertical axis with the frequency of occurrence of values for that interval.

         Both parties cite to different portions of the specifications that allegedly support their constructions. On balance, the Court is not persuaded by the Defendant's specification citations that the histogram must be “defined intervals” of the “range of values of the parameter.” The Court is not convinced that the plain meaning of the “histogram” term requires such a construction. Further, the Court is not convinced that the language is appropriate or necessary based on the intrinsic record. To the extent Defendant's construction is based around an embodiment of the specification, the Federal Circuit has consistently held that “particular embodiments appearing in the written description will not be used to limit claim language that has broader effect.” Innova/Pure Water, 381 F.3d at 1117.

         On balance, the Court finds that Plaintiff's construction is too broad and would cover statistical representations that are not typically considered a histogram. Regarding the “intervals” word as proposed by Defendant, the Court finds that there is no dispute that a “histogram” has “intervals.” Indeed, Plaintiff admits that a histogram has “intervals, ” but argues that the intrinsic evidence does not require those intervals to be “defined.” (See Plaintiff's Reply, Dkt. No. 148 at page 5.) While the inherent meaning of the term “histogram” clearly supports some type of “interval” for the parameter values, the Court rejects the “defined” intervals language proposed by the Defendant. Instead, the Court finds that the phrase “series of intervals” is appropriate based on the intrinsic and extrinsic evidence. Further, the Court is not convinced that the Defendant's proposed limitation that the intervals be in a “range of values” is a necessary or warranted limitation to the disputed term.

         The Court hereby construes “histogram” to mean “a statistical representation of the frequency of occurrence with which values of a parameter fall within a series of intervals.”

         B. ‚Äútime ...


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