Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. v. Actsoft, Inc., No. 2010-1250 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 24, 2011) (Judges Lourie, Clevenger, and Moore).

The ways to measure how much you’ve been drinking might be a little blurry.  In this case, the Federal Circuit affirmed-in-part, reversed-in-part, and remanded the district court’s summary judgment grant of noninfringement and its underlying claim construction relating to a patent for a blood alcohol monitoring device.  After construing the claim-at-issue to require “the calculation of a percentage of the blood alcohol content,” the district court granted summary judgment of noninfringement (both literal and under the doctrine of equivalents) to Actsoft because its device did not perform the claimed calculation.

The Federal Circuit adjusted the district court’s claim construction, holding that while the claim didn’t require “the calculation of a percentage of the blood alcohol content,” it did require the calculation of a percentage that approximates blood alcohol content.  Following this broader construction, the Court concluded that a reasonable jury could find infringement under the doctrine of equivalents.  Thus, the grant of summary judgment was improper.

Read the original opinion here.

Fifth Generation Computer Corp. v. International Business Machines Corp., No. 2010-1201 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 26, 2011) (Judges Rader, Lourie, and Moore).

This case involves patents for binary tree parallel computing systems that allow for greater speed and processing power by using multiple processors that work simultaneously.  Yes, this is a mouthful.  The district court construed certain claim terms, held that Fifth Generation’s patented systems use a “root bus controller” as the necessary link between the host computer and the binary tree of bus controllers, and entered a final judgment of noninfringement.  On appeal, Fifth Generation argued that prior art references, which disclose systems that allow for partitioning into sub-trees, were incorporated-by-reference in the specification of its patent.

The Federal Circuit agreed with the district court’s construction, noting that the claims themselves should “give notice to the public” of the scope of the claimed invention.  While the Court conceded that Fifth Generation did not need to expressly recite concepts from the prior art, it noted that “not … every concept of the prior inventions is imported into every claim of the later patent.”  Because the plain language of the claims was clear, there was no need to look at the prior art references to reach a “stretched reading” of the claim limitations.  Accordingly, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment.

Read the original opinion here.

Warsaw Orthopedic, Inc. v. Globus Medical, Inc., No. 2009-1525 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 26, 2011) (Judges Lourie, Bryson, and Prost).

Even after a jury trial and a denied JMOL, the Federal Circuit provided some hope for a better result to the accused infringer.  In this infringement suit, a jury found that all five asserted patent claims are not invalid and infringed, and the district court denied Globus’s motion for JMOL that the asserted claims are invalid as anticipated.  On appeal, Globus challenged both the district court’s claim construction and denial of the motion for JMOL.

Although the Federal Circuit rejected Globus’s request that it issue a narrow construction of the claims, the broader construction allowed Globus to prevail on the question of invalidity of the two broadest claims.  The Federal Circuit reversed the denial of Globus’s JMOL on these two claims, and remanded the case to the district court to determine if the damages award should be reevaluated.

Read the original opinion here.

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