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Orbcomm, Inc. v. Calamp Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

January 26, 2017

ORBCOMM, INC., Plaintiff,
CALAMP CORP., Defendant.


          Henry E. Hudson United States District Judge

         This is a patent infringement action filed by Plaintiff ORBCOMM, Inc. against Defendant CalAmp Corp. It is before the Court for the construction of the disputed claim terms in the patent-in-suit. Both parties have filed memoranda of law in support of their respective positions, and the Court conducted a claim construction hearing on January 5, 2017. Upon careful consideration of the entire record, the Court's construction of the disputed terms follows.

         I. BACKGROUND

         There is one patent in suit: United States Patent No. 6, 611, 686 (filed May 24, 1999) ("the '686 Patent" or "the Patent").[1] The '686 Patent is titled "Tracking Control and Logistics System and Method." It relates to remote tracking, monitoring, and controlling of a variety of targets such as cars, trucks, ships, and cargo. ORBCOMM alleges that CalAmp has been and is engaged in making, using, selling, offering for sale, and/or importing into the United States, a combination of products that incorporate ORBCOMM's patented system.

         The parties contend that there are five terms contained in the Patent 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. The Court may "depart from the plain and ordinary meaning in only two instances": when the patentee acts as his own lexicographer or when the patentee disavows the full scope of the claim term in the specification or during prosecution. Poly-America, L.P. v. API Indus., Inc., 839 F.3d 1131, 1136 (Fed. Cir. 2016) (citing Hill-Rom Servs., Inc. v. Stryker Corp., 755 F.3d 1367, 1371 (Fed. Cir. 2014)).

         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. Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1312; 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 also 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, Ms 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.


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

         1. Wireless Network

         "[W]ireless network" is one of the central terms at issue in this case, as it is used in every asserted claim of the '686 Patent. ORBCOMM contends that "wireless network" has an ordinary meaning and thus no further construction is required by the Court. CalAmp, however, submits that the Court should construe "wireless network" to mean "wireless pager network." Put simply, this dispute is about whether the patent encompasses all forms of wireless communication networks or is constrained to pager networks alone. Because the patent specification disavows other types of wireless networks, the Court will adopt Cal Amp's position that the term "wireless network" means "wireless pager network." To disavow the full scope of a claim term, the specification must contain "clear and unequivocal evidence that the claimed invention includes or does not include a particular feature." Poly-America, 839 F.3d at 1136. While this is an "exacting" standard, the disavowal "need not be explicit." Id. Here, the specification contains clear and unequivocal evidence that the invention is limited to pager networks.

         The invention claimed in the '686 Patent responded to the need for a low-cost asset monitoring system. The specification states that "the present invention provides a device which costs a fraction of presently available devices and also operates at a fraction of the cost of presently available services that allow for monitoring, controlling, and logistics." '686 Patent Bl col. 11. 66-col. 2 1. 2. The lowest cost system in the prior art used a "cellular telephone-based modem" which implies the use of a cellular telephone wireless network. Id. col. 111. 36-39. But with this invention, "because a pager network is used ... costs for usage are kept much lower as compared with cellular telephone networks." Id. col. 6 11. 53-55. Furthermore, the specification is riddled with references to the invention using a pager network, pager modem, and pager antenna. However there is not a single reference in the specification to a generic "wireless network" outside of the context of pager communication. In the aggregate, the persistent classification of the invention as taking advantage of the cost-savings of a pager network, coupled with the repeated disparagement of more expensive cellular telephone networks, constitutes clear and unequivocal evidence of a disavowal of non-pager networks.

         Despite the repeated references to pager networks throughout the specification, ORBCOMM argues that there cannot be a disavowal of all non-pager wireless networks because of a single instance where the specification expressly mentions communications through pocket radio modems and satellite communication transceivers. However, the section of the specification to which ORBCOMM references only states that the patented system is "operable for communication with other types of transmission, " such as radio modems and satellite communications. Id. col. 14 11. 20-28. Merely because the system may be compatible with these other types of communications does not change the fact that the system itself must make use of a pager network.

         Lastly, ORBCOMM cites the doctrine of claim differentiation as another reason why "wireless network" should be construed broadly. This doctrine is "based on the common sense notion that different words or phrases used in separate claims are presumed to indicate that the claims have different meanings and scope." Starhome GmbHv. AT& T Mobility LLC, 743 F.3d 849, 857-58 (Fed. Cir. 2014) (quoting Karlin Tech, Inc. v. Surgical Dynamics, Inc., Ill. F.3d 968, 971-72 (Fed. Cir. 1999)). ORBCOMM argues that because some claims use the term "wireless network" while others use the term "pager wireless communication network" those terms should be given different meanings.

         In support of this assertion, ORBCOMM urges the Court to compare Claim 15 with Claim 29 and claim 48 with claim 50 to find that the inclusion of a pager network is the only meaningful distinction. However, that is simply not the case. And where the contrasted claims differ in more ways than only the disputed term, the claim differentiation argument is "weak at best." GPNE Corp, v. Apple Inc.,830 F.3d 1365, 1371 (Fed. Cir. 2016). Here, there are multiple distinctions between the claims indicated by ORBCOMM. While Claim 15 requires the use of GPS for location information, Claim 29 only requires a more generic "position sensor." Compare '686 Patent CI col. 3 11. 17-18, with '686 Patent Bl col. 18 1. 24. And Claim 15 requires the computer network to communicate "through an Internet connection, " while Claim 29 does not. Compare '686 Patent CI col. 3 11. 5-7, with '686 Patent Bl col. 18 ...

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