Fed. Cir. Rules Against Lenovo in IPR Appeal Over GUI Patents

A Wednesday appellate decision said that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Appeal Board properly construed a term in three inter partes review decisions relating to several patents’  method for accessing and displaying internet content in a graphical user interface (GUI). As such, the court batted down Lenovo Holding Company Inc.’s challenge to multiple claims of DoDots Licensing Solutions LLC’s patents and affirmed the Board’s findings.

The nine-page opinion explained that under prior GUI art, users accessed the internet via a web browser to view web content provided at a destination address. Although web pages could be personalized so that there could be a separate page for a specific topic, such as stock, weather, and sports information, each page was assembled on a “‘full web page and [] served through a full-screen browser.’”

The inventors of the challenged patents reportedly improved upon prior art for GUIs by enabling computer users to personalize content and web applications on a client computer. The inventors purportedly used what they called a “Networked Information Monitor (NIM)” and a “NIM template,” to allow users to access web content outside of a web browser without needing to develop custom client applications.

Lenovo challenged claims of the three patents arguing that they were unpatentable. In a trio of decisions, the board construed the term “‘NIM template’ as a ‘data structure which defines the characteristics of a NIM, including the NIM frame, view and control characteristics, and which excludes executable applications/compiled code.’” Based on that definition, the Board concluded that Lenovo did not establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the challenged claims were unpatentable over prior art.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit considered whether the Board committed error by construing the term “NIM template” in the challenged claims to exclude “executable applications/compiled code. The court ruled in the negative, after examining the record, extrinsic scientific evidence, the words of the claims themselves, and the prosecution history.

In particular, the court found that Lenovo’s arguments “took the word ‘execute’ out of context.” DoDot’s expert supplied evidence as to the meaning of the term which Lenovo did not rebut, the opinion said. The panel also found that Lenovo’s reliance on prosecution history was “merely a repackaging of the same argument [it] … already rejected.”

As such, the court concluded that the Board’s determination was supported by substantial evidence and affirmed its decision. Lenovo is represented by Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP and DoDots by Progress LLP.