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Chief Judge Stark finds terms indefinite and preambles limiting in claim construction decision

In Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark’s Markman opinion in a series of related actions brought by Plaintiffs Intellectual Ventures I and II, the Court concluded that several disputed terms were indefinite, and further concluded that several terms appearing in the preambles of the claims were limiting. E.g., Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. AT&T Mobility, et al., C.A. No. 13-1668-LPS (D. Del. Aug. 12, 2016).

The Court concluded that the term “optimize” in the larger phrase “allocating means for allocating resources to said IP flow … so as to optimize end user application IP QoS requirements of said software application” was indefinite because the specification “indicate[d] that QoS is subjective and that QoS can vary from user to user based on individual preferences. . . . This subjective, user-based understanding would make it difficult, if not impossible for a POSA to ascertain, with reasonable certainty, whether the claim limitation is satisfies by any particular embodiment. Id. at 20-21. The Court also agreed with Defendants that “terms of degree” used in another patent rendered the claims indefinite, as a POSA “would not understand the terms ‘large’ and ‘small’ with ‘reasonable certainty,’” and the Court found the testimony of Defendant’s expert persuasive on this point. Id. at 34-35 (citations omitted).

As to terms in the preambles, the Court concluded that the term “frequency hopping” in a preamble was limiting where the preamble was relied on to distinguish the invention from the prior art. Plaintiff had done so during an inter partes review proceeding and, furthermore, this term appeared “in the patent’s title and throughout the specification. The term is needed to ‘give life, meaning and vitality to the claim.’” Id. at 10. As to a different term appearing in another patent (“application aware resource allocator at the MAC laywer / application-aware media access control (MAC) layer”), again the Court concluded the term was limiting in a preamble where the patentee relied on the term during prosecution to distinguish over prior art. Id. at 16.

Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. AT&T Mobility, et al., C.A. No. 13-1668-LPS (D. Del. Aug. 12, 2016)

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