Arlington Industries, Inc. v. Bridgeport Fittings, Inc., No. 2010-1025 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 20, 2011) (Judges Rader, Lourie, and Moore).

When the Federal Circuit is faced with the same electrical connector patent, the same patent claim term, two patent litigations, and two different constructions, what does it do?  It fixes the construction that improperly imports a limitation into the claims.  It also adds earlier constructions and party admissions to the list of considerations that inform the Court’s consideration of the appropriate construction.

Judge Lourie, who concurred in part and dissented in part, concludes that the district court erred in failing to separately construe the second patent’s claims.  He also laments the effort of some litigation counsel to “attempt to fit a square peg into a round hole,” i.e., cover activities that the inventors never contemplated as part of their invention.

Read the original opinion here.

Centillion Data Systems, LLC v. Qwest Communications International, et al., No. 2010-110, -113 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 20, 2011) (Judges Lourie, Linn, and Moore)

This is an interesting case that raises the issues of divided and direct infringement in the context of a computer system that provides the software to process data for end users.  The Court was faced with the question of whether several actors or entities can be held vicariously liable for infringement for “use” of a system.  For the first time, the Court extended the vicarious liability concept beyond the context of method claims and concluded that a user must be using all the portions of the claimed invention to “use” the system.  The Court held that both the “on demand” (where the system responds to a specific query) and standard operation (where the system periodically generates summary reports of the system is “use” as a matter of law.  But Qwest was not liable for the actions of its customers because it does not direct its customers to perform certain acts that fall within the patent claims.

Read the original opinion here.