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Chief Judge Sleet Issues Order Construing Claims of Wireless Networking Technology Patent

Chief Judge Sleet recently issued a claim construction order in Extricom, Ltd. v. Meru Networks, Inc., C.A. No. 10-391-GMS (D. Del. Dec. 5, 2011). Of particular note, Judge Sleet construed the phrase “all the access points” to mean “a plurality of access points,” rejecting the argument that this construction would “inject confusion” into the meaning of the term. Id. at 1-2 n.2. The court found that “‘all access points’ refers for antecedence to ‘a plurality of access points,’ which appears in Claim 1 four lines above the instant term, and, as such, qualifies the term to define a plurality of access points rather than all access points on a network.” Id. The patent’s specification also supported this meaning, according to the court, because “the preferred embodiments describe the access points acting in groups that ‘are substantially independent’ and may be ‘regarded as separate systems,’ not a single unit.” Id.

Judge Sleet also construed the phrase “substantially in accordance with IEEE standard 802.11” as having its plain and ordinary meaning. Id. at 2. In doing so, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the term is indefinite “because it does not . . . ‘particularly point[] out and distinctly claim[] the subject matter which the patentee regards as his invention.” Id. at 2 n.4. The court pointed to the Federal Circuit’s decision in Fujitsu Ltd. v. Netgear, Inc., 620 F.3d 1321 (Fed. Cir. 2010), which concluded that “where a patent incorporates a standard such as 802.11, which includes both mandatory and optional provisions, courts should compare the ‘claims . . . to the accused product to determine infringement.’” Id. The court also that the plaintiff’s “contention that one of ordinary skill in the art would understand the meaning of this term is likewise supported by the fact that over forty issued patents and pending patent applications use this or similar language in describing 802.11 Standard compliance.” Id.

Extricom, Ltd. v. Meru Networks, Inc., C.A. No. 10-391-GMS (D. Del. Dec. 5, 2011).

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