Access practice tools, as well as industry leading news, customizable alerts, dockets, and primary content, including a comprehensive collection of case law, dockets, and regulations. Leverage...
By Peter Leung
April 11 — A federal district court has rejected Apple Inc.'s argument that a patent on silencing a ringing phone without alerting the caller is invalid.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware on April 11 denied Apple's motion of summary judgment on the grounds that MobileMedia Ideas LLC's patent is indefinite (MobileMedia Ideas LLC v. Apple Inc, 2016 BL 112340, D. Del., Civ. No. 10-258-SLR, 4/11/16).
The denial of the motion means MMI's claim that Apple's iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 are infringing its patent lives on.
MMI is a patent licensor formed by MPEG LA. Its U.S. Patent No. RE39,231 is a patent with a means-plus function limitation that relates to communication equipment and a method for stopping a phone's ringing. A means-plus-function claim limitation describes a particular function and the means to achieve that function.
In this patent, the function is silencing the phone's alert sound, with the parties disagreeing as to the means described.
The trial court had previously ruled that Apple did not infringe MMI's patent, because the only means covered by the patent is reducing the volume of the sound. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit disagreed, saying that the patent limitation also describes an alternate means, namely to use an on/off controller .
The Federal Circuit then remanded the case back to the trial court to reconsider the noninfringement ruling.
On remand, the trial court denied Apple's arguments that the patent was indefinite or that Apple's devices do not infringe.
Apple attempted to argue the patent claims were indefinite because they are means-plus-function claims that lack a sufficient structure. This is a common way to attack means-plus-function claims, because 35 U.S.C. §112(f) requires a special indefiniteness analysis for these types of claims.
The court disagreed with Apple, finding that the disputed patent claims were sufficiently definite.
First, it found that a person skilled in the art would understand the structure of the “alert sound generator” limitation in the patent specification and associate it with the claimed function.
The court also ruled that the specification relating to a means for controlling the alert sound generator sufficiently disclosed an algorithm, so it is not indefinite. It particular, the court pointed out that an algorithm can be disclosed in any format, and the patent here does so using words and figures.
Finally the court rejected Apple's summary judgment motion for a noninfringement ruling. The court explained that at the summary judgment stage, where the facts are construed in favor of the non-moving party, Apple cannot establish that its products do not meet the “alert sound generator” and “control means” limitations of the patent.
Judge Sue L. Robinson issued the ruling. Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, and Proskauer Rose LLP represented MMI. Morris James LLP and O'Melveny & Myers LLP represented Apple.
To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Leung in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
Text is available at: http://src.bna.com/d2P.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)