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Iridescent Networks, Inc. v. At&T Mobility, LLC

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

July 18, 2017

AT&T MOBILITY, LLC, Defendant.



         This claim construction opinion construes the disputed claim terms in United States Patent No. 8, 036, 119 (“the '119 Patent”). Plaintiff Iridescent Networks, Inc. (“Plaintiff”) alleges that Defendant AT&T Mobility, LLC (“AT&T”) and Defendant-Intervenor Ericsson Inc. (“Ericsson”) infringe certain claims of the '119 Patent. Plaintiff filed an opening claim construction brief (Doc. No. 119), to which Defendants filed a responsive brief (Doc. No. 128), and Plaintiff filed a reply (Doc. No. 131). The parties additionally submitted a Joint Claim Construction Chart pursuant to P.R. 4-5(d). (Doc. No. 134.) On July 13, 2017, the Court held a claim construction hearing. Upon consideration of the parties' arguments, and for the reasons stated herein, the Court adopts the constructions set forth below.


         Plaintiff contends that “[u]sing the distributed controller and portal architecture of the '119 Patent, AT&T's network ensures a high quality of service connection for its customers, facilitating next-generation services like Voice Over LTE (‘VoLTE' or ‘HD Voice') and Video Over LTE (‘ViLTE') calling.” (Doc. No. 119, at 1.) The '119 Patent is entitled “System and Method of Providing Bandwidth on Demand.” '119 Patent. The disclosure of the '119 Patent relates generally to communications systems, and specifically to an improved system and method of providing guaranteed bandwidth on demand for an end user and/or enterprise. '119 Patent at 1:19-22. Claim 1 is representative of the claimed invention and recites:

1. A method for providing bandwidth on demand comprising:
receiving, by a controller positioned in a network, a request for a high quality of service connection supporting any one of a plurality of one-way and two-way traffic types between an originating end-point and a terminating end-point, wherein the request comes from the originating end-point and includes at least one of a requested amount of bandwidth and a codec;
determining, by the controller, whether the originating end-point is authorized to use the requested amount of bandwidth or the codec and whether the terminating end-point can be reached by the controller;
directing, by the controller, a portal that is positioned in the network and physically separate from the controller to allocate local port resources of the portal for the connection;
negotiating, by the controller, to reserve far-end resources for the terminating end-point; and
providing, by the controller to the portal, routing instructions for traffic corresponding to the connection so that the traffic is directed by the portal based only on the routing instructions provided by the controller, wherein the portal does not perform any independent routing on the traffic, and wherein the connection extending from the originating end-point to the terminating end-point is provided by a dedicated bearer path that includes a required route supported by the portal and dynamically provisioned by the controller, and wherein control paths for the connection are supported only between each of the originating and terminating end-points and the controller and between the portal and the controller.

'119 Patent at 7:43-8:7.


         “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) (quoting Innova/Pure Water, Inc. v. Safari Water Filtration Sys., Inc., 381 F.3d 1111, 1115 (Fed. Cir. 2004)). The Court examines a patent's intrinsic evidence to define the patented invention's scope. Id. at 1313-14; Bell Atl. Network Servs., Inc. v. Covad Commc'ns Group, Inc., 262 F.3d 1258, 1267 (Fed. Cir. 2001). Intrinsic evidence includes the claims, the rest of the specification and the prosecution history. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1312-13; Bell Atl. Network Servs., 262 F.3d at 1267. The Court gives claim terms their ordinary and customary meaning as understood by one of ordinary skill in the art at the time of the invention. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1312-13; Alloc, Inc. v. Int'l Trade Comm'n, 342 F.3d 1361, 1368 (Fed. Cir. 2003). Claim language guides the Court's construction of claim terms. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1314. “[T]he context in which a term is used in the asserted claim can be highly instructive.” Id. Other claims, asserted and unasserted, can provide additional instruction because “terms are normally used consistently throughout the patent.” Id. Differences among claims, such as additional limitations in dependent claims, can provide further guidance. Id.

         “[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)). “[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). In the specification, a patentee may define his own terms, give a claim term a different meaning than it would otherwise possess, or disclaim or disavow some claim scope. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1316. Although the Court generally presumes terms possess their ordinary meaning, this presumption can be overcome by statements of clear disclaimer. See SciMed Life Sys., Inc. v. Advanced Cardiovascular Sys., Inc., 242 F.3d 1337, 1343-44 (Fed. Cir. 2001). This presumption does not arise when the patentee acts as his own lexicographer. See Irdeto Access, Inc. v. EchoStar Satellite Corp., 383 F.3d 1295, 1301 (Fed. Cir. 2004).

         The specification may also resolve ambiguous claim terms “where the ordinary and accustomed meaning of the words used in the claims lack sufficient clarity to permit the scope of the claim to be ascertained from the words alone.” Teleflex, Inc., 299 F.3d at 1325. For example, “[a] claim interpretation that excludes a preferred embodiment from the scope of the claim ‘is rarely, if ever, correct.” Globetrotter Software, Inc. v. Elan Computer Group Inc., 362 F.3d 1367, 1381 (Fed. Cir. 2004) (quoting Vitronics Corp., 90 F.3d at 1583). But, “[a]lthough the specification may aid the court in interpreting the meaning of disputed language in the claims, particular embodiments and examples appearing in the specification will not generally be read into the claims.” Constant v. Advanced Micro-Devices, Inc., 848 F.2d 1560, 1571 (Fed. Cir. 1988); see also Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1323.

         The prosecution history is another tool to supply the proper context for claim construction because a patentee may define a term during prosecution of the patent. Home Diagnostics Inc. v. LifeScan, Inc., 381 F.3d 1352, 1356 (Fed. Cir. 2004) (“As in the case of the specification, a patent applicant may define a term in prosecuting a patent.”). The well-established doctrine of prosecution disclaimer “preclud[es] patentees from recapturing through claim interpretation specific meanings disclaimed during prosecution.” Omega Eng'g Inc. v. Raytek Corp., 334 F.3d 1314, 1323 (Fed. Cir. 2003). The prosecution history must show that the patentee clearly and unambiguously disclaimed or disavowed the proposed interpretation during prosecution to obtain claim allowance. Middleton Inc. v. 3M Co., 311 F.3d 1384, 1388 (Fed. Cir. 2002); see also Springs Window Fashions LP v. Novo Indus., L.P., 323 F.3d 989, 994 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (“The disclaimer . . . must be effected with ‘reasonable clarity and deliberateness.'”) (citations omitted)). “Indeed, by distinguishing the claimed invention over the prior art, an applicant is indicating what the claims do not cover.” Spectrum Int'l v. Sterilite Corp., 164 F.3d 1372, 1378-79 (Fed. Cir. 1988) (quotation omitted). “As a basic principle of claim interpretation, prosecution disclaimer promotes the public notice function of the intrinsic evidence and protects the public's reliance on definitive statements made during prosecution.” Omega Eng'g, Inc., 334 F.3d at 1324.

         Although “less significant than the intrinsic record in determining the legally operative meaning of claim language, ” the Court may rely on extrinsic evidence to “shed useful light on the relevant art.” Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1317 (quotation omitted). Technical dictionaries and treatises may help the Court understand the underlying technology and the manner in which one skilled in the art might use claim terms, but such sources may also provide overly broad definitions or may not be indicative of how terms are used in the patent. Id. at 1318. Similarly, expert testimony may aid the Court in determining the particular meaning of a term in the pertinent field, but “conclusory, unsupported assertions by experts as to the definition of a claim term are not useful.” Id. Generally, extrinsic evidence is “less reliable than the patent and its prosecution history in determining how to read claim terms.” Id.

         In patent construction, “subsidiary fact finding is sometimes necessary” and the court “may have to make ‘credibility judgments' about witnesses.” Teva v. Sandoz, 135 S.Ct. 831, 838 (2015). In some cases, “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.” Id. at 841. “If a district court resolves a dispute between experts and makes a factual finding that, in general, a certain term of art had a particular meaning to a person of ordinary skill in the art at the time of the invention, the district court must then conduct a legal analysis: whether a skilled artisan would ascribe that same meaning to that term in the context of the specific patent claim under review.” Id. (emphasis in original). When the court makes subsidiary factual findings about the extrinsic evidence in consideration of the “evidentiary underpinnings” of claim construction, those findings are reviewed for clear error on appeal. Id.


         The parties dispute the meaning of the following claim terms, which are set forth herein:

         I.a high quality of service connection” (Claims 1, 11)

Claim Term

Plaintiff's Proposal

Defendants' Proposal

“a high quality of service connection” (Claims 1, 11)

“a connection in which one or more quality of service parameters, including bandwidth, latency, and/or packet loss, are assured from end-to-end based on the requirements of the application”

“a connection that assures connection speed of at least approximately one megabit per second and, depending on the application, packet loss requirements that are about 10-5, and latency requirements that are less than one second”

         With respect to the term “a high quality of service connection, ” the parties dispute whether “high quality of service” merely signifies an assured connection that is distinctive from the “best effort” prior art, or whether the term, coined by the patentee, connotes specific requirements with respect to the service connection. Specifically, Plaintiff argues that “[t]here is no one-size-fits-all ‘high quality of service connection' because the parameters and values change according to the application, ” and that this is not a term of degree because the specification discloses only either a “best effort” connection or a “high quality of service” connection. (Doc. No. 119, at 7; Doc. No. 131, at 1.) Defendants respond that ...

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