Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Facebook wins at the CAFC in the Indacon case

The outcome

Following the district court’s claim construction order,
Indacon, Inc. and Facebook, Inc. stipulated to noninfringement,
and the district court entered final judgment
in favor of Facebook. Indacon appeals, disputing the
district court’s construction of several claim terms. Because
the district court correctly construed the claim
terms “alias,” “custom link,” “custom linking relationship,”
and “link term,” we affirm.

As to the term "alias"-->

Several of the claims require a link to be established
between an “alias” or “alias term” and a plurality of files.
The district court construed the claim term “alias” as a
“textual expression that the user can define to serve as an
alternative name or label.” Indacon, Inc. v. Facebook, Inc.
(Claim Constr. Order), No. 5:10-cv-966-OLG,
Dkt. No. 111, at 22 (W.D. Tex. Sept. 6, 2013) (emphasis
added). Indacon acknowledges that “alias” and “alias
term” are used interchangeably in the ’276 patent. Indacon
argues that this term encompasses a “textual or
graphical hyperlink,” and not just “textual expression.”
Appellant Br. 19. Thus, Indacon essentially raises two
disputes with the district court’s construction: (1) whether
“alias” encompasses graphical expression as well as
textual expression, and (2) whether an “alias” is a hyperlink.
We agree with the district court that “alias” and “alias
term” are limited to textual expression. The district court
first construed “term” as “textual expression, such as
words,” finding an express definition of “term” in the
specification as “words, numbers, spaces, etc.” Claim
Constr. Order at 17–18 (citing ’276 patent col. 12 l. 55).

If a term has no "art accepted" meaning-->

Facebook argues that the link claim terms have no
accepted meaning in the art. We agree with Facebook
that these terms have no plain or established meaning to
one of ordinary skill in the art. As such, they ordinarily
cannot be construed broader than the disclosure in the
specification. Irdeto Access, Inc. v. Echostar Satellite
Corp., 383 F.3d 1295, 1300 (Fed. Cir. 2004) (“[A]bsent
such an accepted meaning [in the art], we construe a
claim term only as broadly as provided for by the patent
itself.”). The specification explains that “[t]he link module
enables association of any selected link term with any of
the plurality of files in the selectable database.” ’276
patent col. 5 ll. 62–64 (emphasis added).

Of claim differentiation:

In contrast, Indacon points to
claims 14 and 15, which both recite “automatically generating
links between all instances of the link term within
the plurality of selected source files and the designated
file.” Id. col. 38 ll. 65–67, col. 40 ll. 1–3 (emphasis added).
Importantly, however, all of claims 2, 9, 14, and 15 are
independent claims, and we have declined to apply the
doctrine of claim differentiation where, as here, the claims
are not otherwise identical in scope. See World Class
Tech. Corp. v. Ormco Corp., 769 F.3d 1120, 1125–26
(Fed. Cir. 2014); Andersen Corp. v. Fiber Composites,
LLC, 474 F.3d 1361, 1370 (Fed. Cir. 2007). Further,
“[a]lthough claim differentiation is a useful analytic tool,
it cannot enlarge the meaning of a claim beyond that
which is supported by the patent documents, or relieve
any claim of limitations imposed by the prosecution
history.” Fenner, 778 F.3d at 1327.



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