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Judge Andrews Denies Motion to Amend Complaint, Finds Special Purpose Computer Means-Plus-Function Claims Indefinite

Judge Andrews recently issued two orders in this case. The first addressed and denied a motion for leave to amend the complaint. Judge Andrews explained that “Plaintiffs proposed amended complaints are boilerplate. Paraphrasing the asserted claim does not suffice. The indirect infringement allegations therefore do not state a claim. As Plaintiff asserts, however, it is early in the case, and if Plaintiff submitted non-boilerplate allegations, it might very well be able to state a claim. It is impossible to say. There would be no prejudice if Plaintiff were able to do so. Thus, the denial is without prejudice should Plaintiff try again within two weeks.” Fo2Go LLC v. Adobe Systems Inc., et al., C.A. No. 15-89-RGA, Or. at 1-2 (D. Del. Feb. 16, 2016).

Additionally, in a separate memorandum opinion, Judge Andrews addressed claim construction issues. The only term in dispute was “server control means for parsing said recipient code from each said message” in representative claim 2 of U.S. Patent No. 7,173,651. Judge Andrews determined that the term was a means-plus-function limitation without corresponding structure and was, therefore, indefinite. In making this finding, Judge Andrews explained that the patentee’s reliance on Williamson v. Citrix Online, LLC, 792 F.3d 1339 (Fed. Cir. 2015) was misplaced because Williamson stands for the proposition that absence of the word “means” gives rise to a presumption that the claim is not a means-plus-function limitation, but Williamson held that the converse presumption, applicable in cases such as this where the limitation uses the term “means,” remains unaffected. Fo2Go LLC v. Adobe Systems Inc., et al., C.A. No. 15-89-RGA, Memo. Op. at 4-5 (D. Del. Feb. 24, 2016). Further, because the specification did not disclose the algorithm programed on a special purpose computer to accomplish the claimed function, there was not adequate disclosed structure. The only portions of the specification that the patentee pointed to were “nothing more than a restatement of the function, as recited in the claim.” Id. at 6-7.

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