In Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. T-Mobile USA, Inc., [2017-2434, 2017-2435](September 4, 2018), the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s determination that the claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,640,248 were indefinite, and vacated and remanded summary judgment of non-infringement because of erroneous claim construction.
At issue was the term “Application-Aware Resource Allocator.” The district court adopted T-Mobile’s construction of “application-aware resource allocator” as requiring that when allocating bandwidth, the application-aware resource allocator must take into account information obtained from the application layer 7. However the Federal Circuit determined that application awareness requires only that the resource allocator allocate resources based on application type, which can be discerned using information obtained from any of network layer 3, transport layer 4, or application layer 7. The plain language of the claims, the specification, and the prosecution history all support this
construction. The Federal Circuit rejected T-Mobile’s arguments about disavowal, noting disavowal is an “exacting” standard under which it must be established that the
patentee demonstrated an intent to deviate from the ordinary and accustomed meaning of a claim term through expressions of manifest exclusion or restriction, representing a clear disavowal of claim scope, and the statements in the prosecution history did not meet this exacting standard.
On the definiteness issue, the Federal Circuit found that the district court did not erroneously fail to consider the structure after determining that the function was indefinite. The Federal Circuit concluded that the claim requirement of optimizing QoS requirements was entirely subjective and user-defined. The Federal Circuit pointed out that the ’248 patent analogizes QoS to “a continuum, defined by what network performance characteristic is most important to a particular user” and characterizes it as “a relative term, finding different meanings for different users.” The patent concluded that ultimately,“the end-user experience is the final arbiter of QoS.” Thus while specification clearly defines that the QoS relates to the end-user experience, it fails to provide one of ordinary skill in the art with any way to determine whether QoS has