Vederi, LLC v. Google, Inc.

Docket No. 2013-1057, -1296

March 14, 2014

Brief Summary: DC grant of SJ of non-infringment to Google vacated and remanded as it was based on erroneous claim construction.

Summary: Vederi appealed USDC CD CA grant of SJ of non-infringement of its patents (“Asserted Patents”) to Google with respect to its “Street View” product. The Asserted Patents describe “methods for creating synthesized images of a geographic area through which a user may then visually navigate via a computer”, including “the use of multiple cameras to capture views if different directions” and “generating a composite image that provides a field of view that is wider than that provided by any single image.” The claim term “substantial elevations” (“the views being substantially elevations of the objects in the geographic area”) was construed by the DC after a Markman hearing as “vertical flat (as opposed to curved or spherical) depictions of front or side views”. Google’s Street View product “combines images of a wide range of views recorded by multiple cameras” which are then “stitched together into a virtual spherical composite image.” Thus, Google successfully argued that its product does not infringe the Asserted Patents, literally or under the DOE. The FC panel explained that the DC based its construction…largely on extrinsic evidence regarding the technical meaning of ‘elevation’ as an architectural term of art…without sufficiently considering the intrinsic evidence”. The opinion explained that “[b]y effectively reading ‘substantially’ out of the claims, the district court erred” and “[t]he term…takes on important meaning in light of the rest of the intrinsic evidence in this record.” For instance, the specification discloses “the use of a fish eye lens” which “provides a curved…projection, and almost certainly reflects curvature and perspective” (“In other words, the photographic image is not flat and not an elevation.”) Ignoring this embodiment would leave “substantially” with “no independent operation” (“This interpretation would not allow the claims to cover the fish-eye lens embodiment.”) The DC also concluded that “Vederi’s method of taking, processing and displaying images creates only vertical flat views, not spherical ones” but the FC panel noted that “the provisional application incorporated by reference into the Asserted Patents notes that 360 degree synthetic panoramas may be created” and there is no “disavowel of curved or spherical images” (in the specification or prosecution history). Thus, there is “no reason to limit the disputed claim language” to the flat view method (citing Liebel-Flarshiem, FC 2004). Thus, the DC decision was vacated and remanded.

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