Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Media Rights loses appeal at CAFC

Media Rights Technologies is a means-plus-function case:

Media Rights Technologies, Inc. (“Media Rights”) appeals
the district court’s decision to grant judgment on the
pleadings that all claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,316,033 (the
“’033 Patent”) are invalid for indefiniteness. Because the
trial court correctly determined that the term “compliance
mechanism,” which is a limitation in every single claim, is
a means-plus-function term that lacks sufficient structure,
we affirm.

As to 35 USC 112:

A claim fails to
satisfy this statutory requirement and is thus invalid for
indefiniteness if its language, when read in light of the
specification and the prosecution history, “fail[s] to inform,
with reasonable certainty, those skilled in the art
about the scope of the invention.” Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig
Instruments, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2120, 2124 (2014). Notably,
a claim is indefinite if its language “might mean several
different things and no informed and confident choice is
available among the contending definitions.” Id. at 2130
n.8 (quotation omitted). We review the district court’s
indefiniteness determination de novo. See Interval Licensing
LLC v. AOL, Inc., 766 F.3d 1364, 1370 (Fed Cir.
2014). Because the indefiniteness issue in this case is
intertwined with claim construction, we review any
factual determinations for clear error. See Atmel Corp. v.
Info. Storage Devices, Inc., 198 F.3d 1374, 1379 (Fed. Cir.
1999) (“[A] court’s determination of the structure that
corresponds to a particular means-plus function limitation
is indeed a matter of claim construction.”); see also Teva
Pharm. USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 831, 836

As to 112 P6:

But this flexibility in claim drafting
comes at a price. Such claims are construed to cover only
“the structure, materials, or acts described in the specification
as corresponding to the claimed function and
equivalents thereof.” Williamson v. Citrix Online, LLC, _
F.3d _, No. 2013-1130, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 10082, at
*15 (Fed. Cir. June 16, 2015).
“It is well settled that [a] claim limitation that actually
uses the word ‘means’ invokes a rebuttable presumption
that § 112, [¶] 6 applies.” Apex Inc. v. Raritan
Comput., Inc., 325 F.3d 1364, 1371 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (quotation
omitted). And, it is equally understood that “a
claim term that does not use ‘means’ will trigger the
rebuttable presumption that § 112, [¶] 6 does not apply.”
Id. at 1371 (quotation omitted). But this presumption
against the application of § 112, ¶ 6 to a claim term
lacking the word “means” can be overcome if a party can
“demonstrate[] that the claim term fails to ‘recite sufficiently
definite structure’ or else recites ‘function without
reciting sufficient structure for performing that function.’”
Williamson, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 10082, at *19 (quoting
Watts v. XL Sys., Inc., 232 F.3d 877, 880 (Fed. Cir. 2000)).
“In undertaking this analysis, we ask if the claim language,
read in light of the specification, recites sufficiently
definite structure to avoid § 112, ¶ 6.” Robert Bosch, LLC
v. Snap-On Inc., 769 F.3d 1094, 1099 (Fed. Cir. 2014)
(citing Inventio AG v. Thyssenkrupp Elevator Ams. Corp.,
649 F.3d 1350, 1357 (Fed. Cir. 2011)).


Here, the district court properly determined that
“compliance mechanism” is a means-plus-function term,
and that the specification fails to adequately disclose the
structure to perform all four of its functions. We agree
with the district court that this fact renders all claims in
the ’033 Patent indefinite. Accordingly, we affirm the
district court’s grant of judgment of invalidity as to claims
1–27 of ’033 Patent.


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