CAFC reverses, remands ED Va case in TomTom v. Adolph; TomTom loses
In this case, there were European antecedents:
This dispute began in 2011 when Dr. Adolph’s German
company, AOT Systems GmbH (“AOT”), accused
TomTom of infringing EP 0 988 508 B1 (“EP ’508”), the
’836 patent’s European counterpart. In June 2011, representatives
of TomTom and Dr. Adolph met in person to
discuss the infringement allegations.
Yes, Teva is cited:
“[W]hen the district court reviews only evidence intrinsic
to the patent (the patent claims and specification,
along with the patent’s prosecution history), the judge’s
determination will amount solely to a determination of
law, and the Court of Appeals will review that construction
de novo.” Teva Pharm. USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., 135
S. Ct. 831, 841 (2015) (italics omitted). “On the other
hand, in considering extrinsic evidence, we review the
subsidiary factual findings underlying the district court’s
claim construction for clear error.” Vasudevan Software,
Inc. v. MicroStrategy, Inc., 782 F.3d 671, 676 (Fed. Cir.
Dr. Adolph argues the court incorrectly interpreted
the prosecution history, and therefore misconstrued the
phrase, and should replace “does not contain” maps with
“does not require” maps. Appellant’s Br. 51. Specifically,
Dr. Adolph contends that during prosecution he stated
that the invention described by claim 1 does not require
an initial map database, not that it does not contain one.
Id. Appellees counter the district court correctly found
prosecution history disclaimer when Dr. Adolph differentiated
his invention from Saito. See Appellee’s Br. 31.
The district court’s construction was based on the
prosecution history of the ’836 patent, but, as demonstrated
above, nowhere does Dr. Adolph actually assert
that the invention described by claim 1 does not contain
an initial map database. Because there is no “clear and
unambiguous” disclaimer that the tracking system does
not contain an initial map database, we reverse the
district court’s construction. Instead, there is a disclaimer
that the system does not require an initial map database.
Accordingly, we construe the phrase “destination tracking
system of at least one mobile unit” to mean “a destination
tracking system of at least one mobile unit that does not
require initial information relating to existing road networks.”
However, the prosecution history is part of the intrinsic
evidence, which this court reviews de novo. Enzo
Biochem Inc. v. Applera Corp., 780 F.3d 1149, 1153 (Fed.
Cir. 2015) (“‘[W]hen the district court reviews only evidence
intrinsic to the patent (the patent claims and
specifications, along with the patent’s prosecution history),
the judge’s determination will amount solely to a
determination of law, and the Court of Appeals will
review that construction de novo.’”) (quoting Teva, 135 S.
Ct. at 841).
“Claim terms are generally given their plain and ordinary
meanings to one of skill in the art when read in
the context of the specification and prosecution history.”
Golden Bridge Tech., Inc. v. Apple Inc., 758 F.3d 1362,
1365 (Fed. Cir. 2013) (citing Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415
F.3d 1303, 1313 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc)). “There are
only two exceptions to this general rule: 1) when a patentee
sets out a definition and acts as his own lexicographer,
or 2) when the patentee disavows the full scope of the
claim term either in the specification or during prosecution.”
Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
Here, there is neither lexicography nor disavowal. Rather,
the ’836 patent uses the term “node” to mean, simply,
a “geographic location.” This construction is consistent
with the specification, which associates nodes with various
geographical locations, including origins and destinations,
and intersections. ’836 patent col. 7 ll. 41–44. The
district court’s construction is therefore reversed.
Therefore, these terms should be construed to reflect
their plain and ordinary meaning: “storage device” means
“storage device.” It does not mean the claimed invention
must use a different storage device for each type of data,
as all three types of data can be stored on the same storage
device as described in claim 1.