Judge Stark grants motions for summary judgment of noninfringement in vehicle navigation system suit
In a recent memorandum order, a public version of which was released on April 19, 2013, Judge Leonard P. Stark granted a motion for summary judgment of noninfringement. Vehicle IP, LLC v. AT&T Mobility LLC, Civ. No. 09-1007-LPS (D. Del. Apr. 10, 2013). At issue was alleged infringement of U.S. Patent No. 5,987,377, “Method and apparatus for determining expected time of arrival.” The defendants’ motion asserted that based on the Court’s claim construction (previously discussed here), the plaintiff could not prove infringement, either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents. Id. at 7. As the Court explained, “the ‘377 patent discloses a system and method ‘for determining an expected time of arrival of a vehicle," and “every claim requires the determination of an ‘expected time of arrival of a vehicle at a way point[.]” Id. at 8 (emphasis added). Because the defendants’ products were not able to estimate times of arrival at intermediate way points, and instead only estimated times of arrival at final destinations, the Court found that the products could not literally infringe the ‘377 patent. Id. at 8-9.
The Court next rejected the argument that the products could be found to infringe under the doctrine of equivalents. The plaintiff argued that the defendants’ products, which were capable of calculating a “remaining travel time” to intermediate way points, infringe the ‘377 patent because the “‘remaining travel time’ format is insubstantially different from a ‘time of day’ format.” Id. at 9. The Court agreed with the defendants though, that infringement under the doctrine of equivalents could not be proved without impermissibly “vitiat[ing] the negative limitation – ‘and not remaining travel time’ . . . .” Id. at 10. In short, Judge Stark explained that “no reasonable juror could conclude that ‘remaining travel time’ is equivalent to the ‘expected time of arrival’ limitation” given the Court’s claim construction. Id.