Chief Judge Stark Construes Claim Terms, Considers Indefiniteness Arguments

In a series of related actions, Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark recently construed over twenty disputed terms across six patents, finding several terms to be indefinite.  Graphics Properties Holdings, Inc. v. Asus Computer International, Inc., C. A. No. 12-210-LPS and related actions (D. Del. Sept. 29, 2014).

The Court found that the following means-plus-function terms were indefinite:

“instruction decode means responsive to each two parcel item for determining in one clock cycle whether the two parcel item is a single two parcel instruction having a bit length of 2n bits or two one parcel instructions, each having a bit length of n bits,” id. at 10-14;

“instruction issue means responsive to the instruction decode means for issuing each two parcel instruction for execution during said one clock cycle, and for issuing one then the other of the two one parcel instructions for execution in sequence during said one clock cycle and the next succeeding clock cycle,” id. at 16-17 (noting also that the Court was persuaded by the determination of an ITC judge that this term was indefinite, at n. 8).

The Court also concluded that the term “high information content” was indefinite because there was no guidance in the intrinsic record as to what information content would be “high.”  Id. at 36-37.  The Court pointed out that the Supreme Court’s recent opinion on indefiniteness, Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2120 (2014), “did not disturb the Federal Circuit’s prior holding that when a word of degree is used, the district court must determine whether the patent’s specification provides some standard for measuring that degree.”  Id. at 37 (citation and alterations omitted).  Here, the patent did not: it only indicated that “‘textual information’ and ‘graphic images’ may be high information content,” but a person of ordinary skill in the art “would be unable to separate textual information and graphic images that contain merely ‘information content’ from text and images that contain ‘high information content.’”  Id.  However, the Court concluded that the term “high resolution” was not indefinite, as defendants argued.  Defendants had, in fact, explained in their alternate construction how a person of ordinary skill in the art would have understood this term, and the intrinsic record supported this alternate construction.  Id. at 35-36.  The Court also rejected defendants’ argument that “large area” was indefinite, id. at 29-30, again finding that the intrinsic record provided a concrete definition for the term where it “provid[ed] a lower limit for what a ‘large area’ means”.  Id. at 30.

The Court also found a preamble term, “hardwired supercomputer,” to be limiting, as the patentee had used this term during prosecution to distinguish prior art.  Id. at 7-8.

The Court also construed the following terms:
“instruction fetch means for providing an instruction stream of two parcel items in sequence, wherein each two parcel item has a bit length of 2n”
“one clock cycle”/”said one clock cycle”
“rasterization circuit”
“rasterization process which operates on a … floating point format”
“frame buffer”
“color values”
“per-fragment operations”
“geometry processor”
“scan converter”
“optical compensation film”
“air gap”
“wide aspect ratio”
“digital computer system,” “information originating source”
“gamma profile”
“gray scale resolution”/”grayscale resolution”
“software controller”
“adjustment circuit”
“gamma value”
“backlight control signal”
“graphics controller”

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