Usage in Other Claims Reveals Meaning (without Claim Differentiation)

In Ancora Technologies, INc. v. Apple, Inc., [2013-1378, -1414] (Fed. Cir. 2014), the Federal Circuit reversed the district courts claim construction, which limited “programs” to applications, thereby excluding operating systems.  The Federal Circuit said that unless the patentee has made clear its adoption of a different definition or otherwise disclaimed that meaning. See, e.g., Thorner v. Sony Computer Entm’t Am. LLC, 669 F.3d 1362, 1365 (Fed. Cir. 2012). The Federal Circuit found no reason in the case to depart from the term’s ordinary meaning. Ahthoungh not strictly claim differentialtion, the Federal Circuit found that the text of other claims, not in issue, which use specifically referenced “application software program” indicated that “program” in the claims at issue should be more broadly construed.

The Federal Circuit also rejected Apple’s attempt to manufacture uncertainty over the meanings of “volatile” and “non-volatile” based on “oddly phrased” reference to a hard disck as an example of volatile memory. Finding the terms had well understood meanigns, the cited passages in the specification had a reasoanble explanation, and the prosecution history removed all doubts.

Interesting is the Court’s description of claim differentiation as an interpretive principle “often of limited importance”.