Google Chrome Patent Case Goes Back to Trial Court

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By Anandashankar Mazumdar

Nov. 17 — Patents asserted against Google Chrome had erroneously been ruled invalid, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled Nov. 17 in an opinion designated as nonprecedential.

Google will now have to go back to a federal district court to continue fighting claims that its Chrome products infringed several patents on computer security.

Claim Construction Leads to Invalidity Ruling

Alfonso Cioffi of Murphy, Texas, was an inventor of several patents related to a “system and method for protecting a computer system from malicious software” (U.S. Patent Nos. RE43,529, RE,43103, RE43,500, and RE43,528).

Cioffi and three heirs of Cioffi's co-inventor sued Google Inc., alleging that all versions of the Google Chrome browser, the Chromebook laptop computers and the Google Nexus series of portable devices were infringing the patents.

Following claim construction, Judge J. Rodney Gilstrap of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas held one of the key claims of the '103 patent invalid and the parties stipulated to non-infringement of the remaining asserted claims.

Cioffi appealed, challenging the trial court's construction of the terms “web browser process” and “critical file.”

Claim Construction Rulings Rejected on Appeal 

The appeals court rejected the lower court's construction of “web browser process” as used in the relevant claims to require that such process must be capable of accessing the Internet directly, without having to go through a second “web browser process.” There was no evidence in the prosecution history of the patents that required such a direct access capability, the court said.

The district court also construed the term “critical file” to include “critical user files.” The parties agreed that under this construction, the relevant claim was invalid for indefiniteness.

However, the appeals court said that it saw “nothing that indicates that Cioffi intended its invention to do anything other than protect ‘critical files' as that concept is widely understood by those of skill in the art.” The fact that there were a “few ‘passing references' ” to user files or data did not change the meaning of “critical file.”

The court thus reversed the lower court's claim constructions and the finding that the '103 patent was invalid for indefiniteness and remanded the matter for further proceedings.

The court's opinion was authored by Judge Kathleen M. O'Malley and joined by Judges S. Jay Plager and William Curtis Bryson.

Cioffi was represented by Vasquez, Benisek & Lindgren LLP, Lafayette, Calif. Google was represented by Farella Braun & Martel LLP, San Francisco.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anandashankar Mazumdar in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek in Washington at

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