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Porto Technology Co., Ltd. v. Cellco Partnership

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

December 13, 2013

PORTO TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD., et al, Plaintiffs,

MEMORANDUM OPINION (Claim Construction)

HENRY E. HUDSON, District Judge.

This is a patent infringement action filed by Porto Technology Co., Ltd., a Korean Corporation, Porto Technology, LLC, a Virginia Limited Liability Company having a principal place of business in Virginia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Porto Technology, Co., Ltd.), and Ji-Soo Lee, an individual and citizen of the Republic of Korea and the owner of the patent in suit (collectively "Porto") against Defendant Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless ("Verizon"). The patent in suit, which has never been practiced, involves a navigation system for cellular telephones that provides directions and traffic information to users. The case is before the Court for construction of disputed claim terms. All parties have filed detailed memoranda of law in support of their respective positions, and the Court conducted a claim construction hearing on November 25, 2013. Upon careful consideration of the entire record, the Court's construction of the disputed terms follows.


There is one patent in suit: United States Patent No. 6, 233, 518 (filed July 28, 1999[1]) ("the '518 Patent" or "the Patent"). Ji-Soo Lee is the owner of the '518 Patent, and Porto Technology Co., Ltd. is the exclusive licensee of the Patent. The '518 Patent is titled "Method and System for Providing Image Vector-Based Traffic Information, " and it relates to computer assisted mapping technologies applicable to a variety of consumer electronic devices, including Global Positioning System ("GPS") navigation units and cellular telephones. Porto alleges that Verizon has been and is engaged in the manufacture, importation, offering for sale, and/or sale of consumer electronics, such as a user device for displaying image-based traffic information or a traffic information device capable of being coupled to a display panel, which for example, include Verizon VZ Navigator software pre-installed or available as a free download on certain Verizon cellular phones.[2]

The parties contend that there are ten terms contained in the patent in suit that require construction by the Court.


Claim construction is a question of law for the Court to decide. Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 517 U.S. 370, 372 (1996). Generally, claim terms are given their "ordinary and customary meaning." Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1312 (Fed. Cir. 2005) ( en banc ) (internal quotations omitted). "[T]he ordinary and customary meaning of a claim term is the meaning that the term would have to a person of ordinary skill in the art in question at the time of the invention, i.e., as of the effective filing date of the patent application." Id. at 1313. Construing the disputed terms begins with a review of the intrinsic evidence, including the language of the disputed claim, the other claims, the specification, and the prosecution history. Id . See also Medrad, Inc. v. MRI Devices Corp., 401 F.3d 1313, 1319 (Fed. Cir. 2005).

The specification has been characterized as the "single best guide to the meaning of a disputed term" and is usually "dispositive." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1315; see United States v. Adams, 383 U.S. 39, 49 (1966) ("It is fundamental that claims are to be construed in the light of the specifications and both are to be read with a view to ascertaining the invention."). Thus, "[t]he construction that stays true to the claim language and most naturally aligns with the patent's description of the invention will be, in the end, the correct construction." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1316 (quoting Renishaw PLC v. Marposs Societa' per Azioni, 158 F.3d 1243, 1250 (Fed. Cir. 1998)). "A claim construction that excludes a preferred embodiment, moreover, is rarely, if ever, correct.'" Sandisk Corp. v. Memorex Prods., Inc., 415 F.3d 1278, 1285 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (quoting Vitronics Corp. v. Conceptronic, Inc., 90 F.3d 1576, 1583 (Fed. Cir. 1996)).

Although considered less reliable than intrinsic evidence, extrinsic evidence, including dictionaries, learned treatises, and expert testimony, can help the court determine what a person of ordinary skill in the art would understand claim terms to mean, but it should not be used to support a construction that contradicts the intrinsic evidence. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1317-19, 1322-23. If possible, claim terms should be construed in a manner that supports the patent's validity against the prior art. Rhine v. Casio, Inc., 183 F.3d 1342, 1345 (Fed. Cir. 1999).


With the above principles in mind, the Court will now turn to the terms in dispute.

1. "Image Vector Entity"

"Image Vector Entity" ("IVE") is the central term at issue, and it is used many times throughout the Patent. (U.S. Patent No. 6, 233, 518, Col. 18, lines 39, 42, 49-50, 56; Col. 19, lines 8, 10, 18, 66; Col. 20, lines 2, 38, 43-44, 46, 50; Col. 21, lines 64-65; Col. 22, line 3; Col. 23, lines 19-21, 26.) Porto contends that an IVE is "a data structure representing an aspect of a [real entity][3]."[4] Verizon proposes the construction that an IVE is "a format of information representing an image to be displayed which includes a shape designating statement and a position designating statement used to draw the shape of a [real entity] at the specified position."

Porto acknowledges the Patent discloses that a time-variant IVE includes an attribute-designating statement, a shape-designating statement, and a position-designating statement. However, Porto contends these descriptions of IVEs describe the possible - not mandatory - contents of an IVE. Whether the shape and position-designating statements are mandatory or permissible is at the heart of the construction of IVE.

In support of its construction, Porto (1) makes a claim differentiation argument, and (2) attempts to identify an instance in the Patent where a shape and position are not included in an IVE.

First, Porto cites independent claim 1, which requires "an attribute-designating statement of the time-variant image vector entity;" whereas dependent claim 4 specifies that the "time-variant image vector entity of the traffic state map includes the attribute-designating statement, an shape-designating statement and a position-designating statement." (Col. 18, lines 41-42, 56-58.) Porto contends that under the doctrine of claim differentiation, claim 1 by definition has a broader scope because it is an independent claim and, thus, claim 1 and claim 4 are presumed to have different scopes. Porto argues that if the IVE of claim 1 were construed to include both a shape and position, the further limitations of dependent claim 4 would be swallowed by independent claim 1 - rendering claim 4 superfluous. Porto emphasizes that claims should not be construed to be superfluous. Kara Tech, Inc. v. Inc., 582 F.3d 1341, 1347 (Fed. Cir. 2009) ("[P]resence of a dependent claim that adds a particular limitation gives rise to the presumption that the limitation in question is not present in the independent claim.").

Porto's claim differentiation argument fails because for the reasons discussed infra, the Court's plain reading of the intrinsic record and the Patent itself reveal that IVEs consistently contain positions and shapes. Indeed, "claim differentiation is a rule of thumb that does not trump the clear import of the specification." Eon-Net LP v. Flagstar Bancorp, 653 F.3d 1314, 1323 (Fed. Cir. 2011). Further,

[p]resumptions are rebuttable. We have held that [w]hile it is true that dependent claims can aid in interpreting the scope of claims from which they depend, they are only an aid to interpretation and are not conclusive. ' Indeed, the presumption created by the doctrine of claim differentiation is not a hard and fast rule and will be overcome by a contrary construction dictated by the written description or prosecution history.'

Regents of the Univ. of Cal. v. DakoCytomation Cal, Inc., 517 F.3d 1364, 1375 (Fed. Cir. 2008) (internal ...

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