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Judge Robinson Finds Claim Terms Subject to § 112, ¶ 6 but Not Indefinite

On remand from the Federal Circuit, Judge Robinson is considering the case of an asserted patent that claims the function of silencing a ringing mobile phone by pressing a button on the phone without picking up the call. In considering summary judgment motions, Judge Robinson was faced with construing the term “an alert sound generator for generating an alert sound when the call is received from the remote caller,” and determining whether it uses means-plus-function language. Her Honor explained that “[i]n describing ‘the operation and the state transition’ of the call, the specification explains that ‘an alert sound’ is ‘generated.’ Accordingly, the limitation is defined by its function, i.e., a generator used to generate an alert sound. The court concludes that the limitation is subject to § 112, ¶ 6, with a function ‘generating the alert sound when the call is received from the remote caller’ and a structure ‘alert sound generator.’” Mobilemedia Ideas, LLC v. Apple Inc., C.A. No. 10-258-SLR, Memo. Op. at 10-11 (D. Del. Apr. 11, 2016). Judge Robinson further concluded that the claim at issue was not indefinite because “[c]onsistent with [an expert’s] opinion, the court concludes that those of skill in the art would recognize the structure in the specification and associate it with the corresponding functions of the claim.” Id. at 12-13.

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