Fed. Cir. Issues Non-Infringement Decision in Traxcell Patent Dispute

On Tuesday, an appellate panel composed of Circuit Judges Sharon Prost, Kathleen M. O’Malley, and Kara F. Stoll found in favor of Sprint Communications Company LP, Sprint Spectrum LP, Sprint Solutions Inc. (collectively, Sprint) and Verizon Wireless Personal Communications LP in Traxcell Technologies LLC’s suit over four patents related to self-optimizing wireless networks and navigation technology. The ruling rested on Traxcell’s failure to carry its burden at summary judgment and the court’s determination that several of Traxcell’s claims were indefinite.

According to the opinion, the case, originally filed in the Eastern District of Texas, involves several patents in the same family that share a specification and a 2001 priority date. The claims of three of the patents relate to self-optimizing network (SON) technology used for “corrective actions” to improve communications between a wireless device and a network. The other patent’s claims relate to providing navigation information from a wireless network to a mobile device. 

The court issued a number of rulings concerning both Sprint and Verizon in relation to the contested patents, starting with claim construction. For the term “location,” the court recounted that the parties stipulated that “location” means “location that is not merely a position in a grid pattern,” a definition which the district court accepted. 

Traxcell lost under that construction and reportedly argued for a different one on appeal. The panel denied the argument as an improper “about-face” and proceeded to analyze under the existing construction.

As for SON patent infringement accusations, the opinion said that Traxcell did not create a genuine dispute of material fact that Verizon’s accused technology uses “location.” The panel explained its endorsement of the district court’s two-fold finding that first rejected Traxcell’s argument that the accused technology uses “location” because it collects “information regarding the distance of devices from a base station.” The opinion concluded that using information about a device’s “cell or sector” amounted to using merely a position in a grid pattern, and not location.

Second, the Federal Circuit stated that Traxcell’s arguments “that the accused technology determines which sector or cell a device falls within, thereby constituting a ‘location,’” were flawed because the evidence only showed that the accused technology determines a device’s position within a grid, which once again fell short of “location.”  The panel also ruled that Traxcell insisted “in a conclusory fashion,” that the lower court overlooked various pieces of evidence but failed to explain the role of that evidence in its infringement theory as to the SON patents.

Traxcell is represented by Susman Godfrey LLP, Sprint by McGuireWoods LLP, and Verizon by Holland & Knight LLP and Duane Morris LLP.