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Judge Robinson Construes Terms of Fuel Tax Patent, Grants Summary Judgment of Noninfringement of Certain Claims

We previously reported on Judge Robinson’s decision to preclude an untimely invalidity theory in Vehicle IP v. Werner Enterprises. On the same day as that decision, Judge Robinson also issued rulings on claim construction and summary judgment, including a ruling that the defendant’s motion for summary judgment of invalidity was moot given the court’s preclusion decision. The patent-in-suit relates to methods and systems for automatically determining the fuel taxes owed to various states by a truck owner whose trucks travel on those states’ roads. Judge Robinson first construed the following terms of the patent-in-suit:
– “Automatically”
– “Determine a tax in response to the distance traveled by the vehicle within the region”
– “Determining the tax in each [of the two] taxing region[s] in response to the predetermined vehicle positions”
– “Dispatch”
– “Distance”
– “Position fix[es]”
– “Generating geographic information”
– “Generating a table” / “referencing a table”
Vehicle IP, LLC v. Werner Enterprises, Inc., C.A. No. 10-503-SLR, Memo. Op. at 13-34 (D. Del. Sept. 9, 2013).

Judge Robinson then considered cross motions for summary judgment of infringement and noninfringement of two asserted claims. Whether Judge Robinson could grant summary judgment for these claims turned on whether the accused system calculated taxes owed “without the need for any human intervention.” Because the “court’s construction differ[ed] from both parties’ proposed constructions and, given the complexity of the accused system, the court [could not] determine at the summary judgment stage” that this was the way the accused system operated. With respect to several other claims, however, Judge Robinson found that there was sufficient factual information to determine that the accused system did not “directly use predetermined vehicle position information.” She therefore granted summary judgment of noninfringement with respect to those claims. Id. at 40-44.

Vehicle IP, LLC v. Werner Enterprises, Inc., C.A. No. 10-503-SLR (D. Del. Sept. 9, 2013).

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