Friday, July 22, 2016

Apple fares poorly at CAFC in Unwired Planet case

Part of ND Cal's claim construction was found to be in error by the CAFC,
which determination was adverse to Apple:

We conclude that the district court erred in its construction
of “voice input.” The claims require a voice
input, not a voice channel. By its plain language, the
term “voice input” does not dictate the manner in which
voice is to be transmitted from a mobile device to a server,
and Apple does not argue otherwise. It is undisputed that
a voice input signal could be transmitted over either a
voice channel or a data channel or, as Apple itself does,
over TCP/IP. Apple does not argue that the patentee
acted as his own lexicographer and defined “voice input”
different from its plain and ordinary meaning. Thus, the
district court’s construction, adopted at Apple’s urging,
can be justified if there exists a clear and unmistakable
disclaimer in the specification or the prosecution history.
Thorner, 669 F.3d at 1367. We see no such disclaimer in
the specification.

As a procedural matter, note

To justify the district court’s construction, Apple argues
that the only embodiments disclosed in the ’446
patent use a voice channel. However, we have repeatedly
held that it is “not enough that the only embodiments, or
all of the embodiments, contain a particular limitation” to
limit claims beyond their plain meaning. Thorner, 669
F.3d at 1366; GE Lighting Sols., LLC v. AgiLight, Inc.,
750 F.3d 1304, 1309 (Fed. Cir. 2014). Apple also attempts
to justify the district court’s construction by arguing that
the claims would be invalid as anticipated if the “voice
input” were construed to have its plain meaning. We
decline to address whether the asserted claims are anticipated
because that issue is not before us and was not fully
briefed. See generally Radio Sys. Corp. v. Lalor, 709 F.3d
1124, 1132 (Fed. Cir. 2013) (“[I]nvalidity cannot be an
alternative ground for affirming a judgment of noninfringement
absent a cross-appeal.”).

As to -- U.S. PATENT NO. 6,647,260 --

We agree with Unwired that the district court erred
in granting summary judgment of non-infringement. The
district court correctly noted that “the user information”
in claim 1 refers to the same “user information” recited
earlier in the claim as part of the “receiving user information
required to establish a user account” step. However,
in granting summary judgment of non-infringement,
the district court essentially required the claimed “user
information” to be in a particular format. We do not agree
with such a reading of the term. While “user information”
refers to some information, knowledge, or data on a user,
the plain meaning of the term does not require that
information to be in any specific format or form. For
example, the English word “apple” and the Russian word
for “apple” contain the same information to the extent
that they both refer to the round fruit of a tree of the rose
family, despite their differences in form. We think a
reasonable jury could find that a hashed password in the
X-token contains the same information as in the user’s
unmodified password, albeit in a different form.
Apple argues the hashed password cannot contain the
same substantive content as the password because Unwired’s
expert admitted that it is impossible to determine
from the hashed password what the password is. It
argues the hashed password is not simply the password in
a different form, citing its expert’s report for support. J.A.
10251 (“[A] hash is designed so that the original input
into the hash function cannot be derived from the hash
value, and thus can be used for validation only.”).
We are not convinced by Apple’s argument. We do not
think the non-reversibility of a hash function—i.e., that a
hashed password cannot be decrypted into the password—
is determinative of the relevant inquiry. Whether the
hashed password in Apple’s X-token contains the same
“user information” as in a user’s password is a fact question
properly left to the jury. See Acumed LLC v. Stryker
Corp., 483 F.3d 800, 806 (Fed. Cir. 2007). The claims do
not dictate a particular form in which “user information”
exists, and we decline to adopt interchangeability or
reversibility as the essential characteristic in determining
whether multiple forms of expression have the same
underlying information


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