Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Silicon Graphics wins partial victory at CAFC

The Silicon Graphics case includes a license issue:

Delaware law governs the Microsoft license. Under
Delaware law, contract interpretation is a legal question.
Honeywell Int’l Inc. v. Air Prods. & Chems., Inc., 872 A.2d
944, 950 (Del. 2005). Summary judgment is therefore “a
proper framework for enforcing unambiguous contracts.”
OSI Sys., Inc. v. Instrumentation Corp., 892 A.2d 1086,
1090 (Del. Ch. 2006). Here, however, this court concludes
that the district court erred in enforcing this contract at
the summary judgment stage because it relied on an
erroneous assumption of what constitutes infringement of
an apparatus claim.

Under the first prong of the Immunity Provision, an
Authorized Licensee is not authorized to use a “third
party product,” here, an ATI graphics chip or processor, if
the third party product would directly infringe “separate
and apart from . . . combination with [a] Subject Product.”
The parties do not dispute that a Microsoft Windows
operating system is a “Subject Product.”

The district court erred in assuming that direct in-
fringement requires the performance of all of the elements
in these apparatus claims. In addition to the actual use of
the product described, infringement of an apparatus claim
occurs when the invention is, among other things, made
or sold in the United States. 35 U.S.C. § 271. Thus, even
absent its use (or performance), this court has held that
an apparatus claim directed to a computer that is claimed
in functional terms is nonetheless infringed so long as the
product is designed “in such a way as to enable a user of
that [product] to utilize the function . . . without having to
modify [the product].” Fantasy Sports Props., Inc. v.
Sportsline.com, Inc., 287 F.3d 1108, 1118 (Fed. Cir. 2002).
Where, as here, a product includes the structural means
for performing a claimed function, it can still infringe
“separate and apart” from the operating system that is
needed to use the product.

Fantasy Sports helps to understand this principle. In
that case, the patent in suit claimed “[a] computer for
playing football based upon actual football games, com-
prising . . . means for scoring performances of . . . actual
football players based upon actual game scores . . .
wherein said players . . . receive bonus points.” Id. at
1111. The district court held on summary judgment that
one of the defendants’ products, Commissioner.com, could
not directly infringe because it was not a separate fantasy
football computer game but merely a software tool. Id. at
1112. This court vacated and remanded on the grounds
that no reasonable juror could find that the Commis-
sioner.com product is not software installed on a computer
for playing fantasy football. Id. at 1119. The software,
although not in and of itself a computer for playing fan-
tasy football games, infringed so long as a user could
activate “the functions programmed into a piece of soft-
ware . . . only [by] activating means that are already
present in the underlying software.” Id. at 1118. “In other
words, an infringing software must include the ‘means for
scoring . . . bonus points’ regardless whether that means
is activated or utilized in any way.” Id.

Thus, ATI is not entitled to
summary judgment of non-infringement based on the
Microsoft license.

There were also claim construction issues:

Because the district court erroneously construed two
of the three contested limitations in the ’327 patent this
court vacates the summary judgment on claims with
those terms.

Silicon Graphics challenges the district court’s con-
struction of three claim terms in the ’327 patent: “a
rasterization process” in claims 1 through 6, “scan conver-
sion” in claims 1 and 9 through 16, and “s10e5” in claims
3 and 11.

This court reviews claim construction without defer-
ence. Cybor Corp. v. FAS Techs., Inc., 138 F.3d 1448,
1455-56 (Fed. Cir. 1998) (en banc). The rules of claim
construction are well known. For instance, the terms of a
claim are “generally given their ordinary and customary
meaning.” Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1312
(Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc) (quotation omitted). The con-
text in which a term appears is also of significance. Id. at
1314. If the specification reveals a special definition for a
claim term, “the inventor’s lexicography governs.” Id. at
1316. In fact, the specification is “the single best guide to
the meaning of a disputed term.” Id. at 1315 (quotation omitted).

Indeed this record shows that the district court erred
in requiring rasterization to occur entirely with floating
point values. (...)
Thus, when the claims refer to
“a rasterization process” they are referring to one of the
subsets of rasterization (e.g., scan converting, color,
texture, fog, shading) listed in the specification.
The district court concluded that the claims referred
to a single rasterization process

Bottom line:

In sum, this court determines
that the language of the claims in context and the specifi-
cation show the accuracy of Silicon Graphics’ proposed
construction. Accordingly, the district court’s construction
of “a rasterization process” is reversed.

This court therefore
affirms the district court’s construction of “scan conver-

The district court’s construction of “s10e5” was incor-
rect. In construing the term, the district court relied on
the following statement in the specification:
The 16-bit floating point format utilized in one
embodiment of the present invention is designated
using the nomenclature ‘s10e5’, where ‘s’ specifies
one (1) sign bit, ‘10’ specifies ten (10) mantissa
bits, and ‘e5’ specifies five (5) exponent bits, with
an exponent bias of 16. Fig. 3 defines the repre-
sented values for all possible bit combinations for
the s10e5 format.
’327 patent col.8 ll.45-50 (emphasis added). As the state-
ment itself makes clear, however, that description of
“s10e5” is given as a part of “one embodiment of the
present invention.” A construing court’s reliance on the
specification must not go so far as to “import limitations
into claims from examples or embodiments appearing
only in a patent’s written description . . . unless the
specification makes clear that ‘the patentee . . . intends
for the claims and the embodiments in the specification to
be strictly coextensive.’” JVW Enters., Inc. v. Interact
Accessories, Inc., 424 F.3d 1324, 1335 (Fed. Cir. 2005)
(quoting Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1323).
The specification does not suggest that the patentee
intended to make that embodiment of s10e5 coextensive
with the claims. Elsewhere, the specification defines
“s10e5” without reference to bias.

Accordingly, the district
court’s construction of “s10e5” is also reversed.

The Silicon Graphics case includes a discussion of the word "mantissa":

In floating point format, “data is represented by the
product of a fraction, or mantissa, and a number raised to
an exponent.” ’327 patent, col.1 ll.61-65. For example, a
number n can be represented in base 10 by
n = m × 10e,
where m is the mantissa and e is the exponent. If m
equals 2 and e equals 1, n equals 20; if m equals 2 and e
equals -1, then n equals 0.2. T“floats” based on the value of e.

A problem is that this use of the word "mantissa" is a bit problematic.

Of mantissa:

In logarithms, from wikipedia: In log tables, There was only a need to include numbers between 1 and 10, since if one wanted the logarithm of, for example, the number 120, one would know that

log(base10)120 = 2 + log(base 10) 1.2 = 2 + 0.079181

The very last number (0.079181)—the fractional part of the logarithm of 120, known as the mantissa of the common logarithm of 120—was found in the table. (This stems from an older, non-numerical, meaning of the word mantissa: a minor addition or supplement, e.g. to a text. For a more modern use of the word mantissa, see significand.) The location of the decimal point in 120 tells us that the integer part of the common logarithm of 120, called the characteristic of the common logarithm of 120, is 2.

Elsewhere, The significand (also coefficient or mantissa) is the part of a floating-point number that contains its significant digits. Depending on the interpretation of the exponent, the significand may be considered to be an integer or a fraction. For example, the number 123.45 can be represented as

1.2345 × 10+2

wherein 1.2345 would be the significand or mantissa.

HOWEVER The original word used in American English to describe the coefficient of floating-point numbers in computer hardware, later called the significand, seems to have been mantissa (see Burks et al., below), and as of 2005 this usage remains common in computing and among computer scientists. However, this use of mantissa is discouraged by the IEEE floating-point standard committee and by some professionals such as William Kahan and Donald Knuth, because it conflicts with the pre-existing usage of mantissa for the fractional part of a logarithm (see also common logarithm).
Significand is a 20th century neologism.


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