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June 13 --A patent asserted against Nintendo's Wii Remote was invalid for indefiniteness, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled June 13 (Triton Tech of Tex., LLC v. Nintendo of Am., Inc., Fed. Cir., No. 2013-1476, 6/13/14).
Affirming a federal district court's ruling, the court found that the claims had failed to set forth an algorithm for specifying a means for performing a function.
Triton Tech of Texas LLC of Marshall, Texas, was the assignee of a patent (U.S. Patent No. 5,181,181), titled a “Computer Apparatus Input Device For Three-Dimensional Information,” relating to communication by a computer user with a computer by moving a device in three dimensions.
Triton sued Nintendo Co.'s U.S. subsidiary, Nintendo of America Inc. of Redmond, Wash., alleging that the use of Nintendo's Wii Remote with another accessory infringed the '181 patent.
Judge Richard A. Jones of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington construed a term in the '181 patent--“integrator means”--in a manner that rendered the relevant claims indefinite. Triton appealed.
The relevant portion of the patent claimed an “input device for providing information to a computing device” whose components included an “integrator means associated with said input device for integrating said acceleration signals over time to produce velocity signals for linear translation.”
The appeals court cited Aristocrat Techs. Austr. Pty. Ltd. v. Int'l Gaming Tech., 521 F.3d 1328, 86 U.S.P.Q.2d 1235 (Fed. Cir. 2008) (64 PTD, 4/3/08), for the proposition that 35 U.S.C. §112, para. 6, allowed for an element of a claim to be written in the form of a means for performing a function, but:
If the function is performed by a general purpose computer or microprocessor, then the specification must also disclose the algorithm that the computer performs to accomplish that function.
The court agreed with the district court that Triton's patent had failed to disclose any algorithm “for performing the claimed integrating function of the 'integrator means.' ”
Referring to “numerical integration” by itself was insufficient to disclose an algorithm, because it was not a “step-by-step procedure--for performing the claimed function,” the court said. The court agreed with the district court's conclusion that “numerical integration is not an algorithm but is instead an entire class of different possible algorithms used to perform integration.”
Disclosing the broad class of “numerical integration” does not limit the scope of the claim to the “corresponding structure, material, or acts” that perform the function, as required by section 112. Indeed, it is hardly more than a restatement of the integrating function itself. Disclosure of a class of algorithms “that places no limitations on how values are calculated, combined, or weighted is insufficient to make the bounds of the claims understandable.”
Triton's remaining arguments were found to have been waived because they had not been properly preserved for appeal.
The court's opinion was authored by Judge Kimberly Ann Moore and was joined by Judge Jimmie V. Reyna and Judge Todd M. Hughes. Triton was represented by Heninger Garrison Davis LLC, Atlanta. Nintendo was represented by Perkins Coie LLP, Los Angeles.
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