Triton Tech of Texas, LLC v. Nintendo of America, Inc.

Docket Nos. 2013-1476

June 13, 2014

Brief Summary: “Integrator means” limitation in claim relating to a computer controller (e.g., allegedly like the Nintendo Wii RemoteTM) found indefinite by DC for failure to disclose a corresponding algorithm; FC affirmed DC decision.

Summary: Triton Tech appealed from DC judgement that the means plus function term “integrator means” renders the claims of US 5,181,181 relating to a computer controller invalid for indefiniteness; the FC panel affirmed. Representative claim 4 includes the limitation “integrator means associated with said input device for integrating said acceleration signals over time…” (the input device being one with which a user can communicate with a computer by moving it, “much like a mouse, but in three dimensions”, allegedly like the Nintendo Wii RemoteTM). The DC defined the term as a “conventional microprocessor having a suitably programmed read-only memory” and determined that while the ‘181 patent “broadly discloses using ‘numerical integration’” it “did not disclose any algorithm for performing the recited integrating function”. The opinion explained that if the claimed “function is performed by a general purpose computer or microprocessor, then the specification must also disclose the algorithm that the computer performs to accomplish that function” (Aristocrat, FC 2008; Ibormeith, FC 2013). It also explained that while “an algorithm can be expressed in many forms, including flow charts, a series of specific steps, mathematical formula, prose, and so on…merely using the term ‘numerical integration’ does not disclose an algorithm” (Finisar, FC 2008 and Ergo Licensing, FC 2012)). And it was concluded that the ‘181 patent only disclosed “the broad class of ‘numerical integration’” which was found not to “limit the scope of the claim to the ‘corresponding structure, material, or acts’ that perform the function, as required by section 112.” In addition, “[t]he fact that various numerical integration algorithms may have been known to one of ordinary skill in the art does not rescue the claims” (“[A] bare statement that known techniques or methods can be used does not disclose structure” (Biomedino, FC 2007)). The panel also found that Triton waived an argument that it disclosed a two-step algorithm consisting of “sampling and accumulating” because it did not raise the argument to the DC. Thus, the DC decision was affirmed.

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