21
Jul
By Eric Schweibenz
On July 15, 2010, Chief ALJ Paul J. Luckern issued the public version of the Initial Determination (“ID”) construing terms of the asserted claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,292,218 (the ‘218 patent) in Certain Mobile Telephones And Wireless Communication Devices Featuring Digital Cameras, and Components Thereof (Inv. No. 337-TA-703).

By way of background, the Complainant in this investigation is Eastman Kodak Company (“Kodak”) and Respondents are Research In Motion, Ltd. and Research In Motion Corporation (collectively, “RIM”) and Apple Inc. (“Apple”).

The Commission instituted an investigation of this matter on February 17, 2010.  See our February 18, 2010 post for more details.  On April 26, 2010, ALJ Luckern issued an order granting Respondents motion requesting a Markman hearing.  See our April 28, 2010 post for more details.  Accordingly, a Markman hearing was conducted on May 24–25, 2010.

According to the ID, ALJ Luckern construed the following terms of the ‘218 patent:

“Motion Processor” and “Still Processor”

At dispute with regard to these terms was (1) whether “motion processor” and “still processor” required any particular circuitry, (2) whether the invention required simpler “motion processing” and more complex “still processing” and (3) whether the invention required digital processing.

In reaching his conclusion, ALJ Luckern took into consideration both intrinsic and extrinsic evidence including the claims of the ‘218 patent, the specification and drawings of the ‘218 patent, the prosecution history of the ‘218 patent, expert testimony from the Markman hearing, and similar terms in prior art patents.

With regard to the first issue, ALJ Luckern agreed with Respondents that the two terms required different and distinct circuitry.

In connection with the second issue, Apple argued that the words “simpler” and “more complex” were frequently used in the specification to describe features of the preferred embodiment.  However, ALJ Luckern cited language in the ‘218 patent and examiner statements in the ‘218 patent prosecution history indicating that the claims were not required to be restricted to a simpler “motion processor” and a more complex “still processor.”  Thus, ALJ Luckern determined that one of ordinary skill in the art would not be reasonably apprised of the scope of the invention by using such terms.

Finally, with respect to the third issue, ALJ Luckern determined that the image processing in both the motion processor and still processor was digital.

Ultimately, ALJ Luckern construed the claim term “motion processor” as “a processor that processes a series of motion images using digital image processing that is different and distinct in circuitry from the digital image processing of the still processor.”  The ALJ construed the claim term “still processor” as “a processor that processes a captured still image using digital image processing that is different and distinct in circuitry from the digital image processing of the motion processor.”

“At Least Three Different Colors”

With regard to this term, in the ID, ALJ Luckern first construed the word “color.”  The ALJ noted that the parties proposed no specific definition for color, nor was one given in the specification, thus ALJ Luckern determined that one skilled in the art would look to extrinsic evidence such as a dictionary.  In doing so, the ALJ construed “color” as “a phenomenon of light (as red, brown, pink, or gray) or visual perception that enables one to differentiate otherwise identical objects.”  ALJ Luckern found that this definition was supported by the testimony of experts, by the claims of the ‘218 patent, by the specification of the ‘218 patent, and by the prosecution history of the ‘218 patent.  Using a similar analysis, ALJ Luckern construed “different” by looking to a dictionary definition.  The ALJ determined that one skilled in the art would conclude “different” meant “not the same, distinct.”

Thus, ALJ Luckern construed the claim term “at least three different colors” as referring to “three or more distinct colors, for example red, blue and green, where each color is a phenomenon of light or visual perception that enables one to differentiate otherwise identical objects.”  The ALJ determined that this definition did not include YCC data having as its three components: luminance, Chroma-B, and Chroma-Y.

“Capture Button”

According to the ID, the parties disagreed as to whether the term “capture button” required only a “user control” or whether it was limited to a “mechanical element.”  ALJ Luckern determined that the language of the ‘218 patent’s claims and specification described only the button’s purpose and not the manner of it’s operation.  Thus, the ALJ determined a “capture button” need not be a “mechanical element.”

In response to allegations of amendment-based prosecution disclaimer, the ALJ looked to the purpose of the amendment and determined that one skilled in the art would not infer a “mechanical element” limitation based on the prosecution history.

Consequently, ALJ Luckern construed the claim term “capture button” as “a user control physically located on the camera, though it need not be a mechanical element.”

“Initiating Capture of a Still Image While Previewing the Motion Images”

Looking to the claims and the specification of the ‘218 patent, the ALJ determined that the term “initiating capture of a still image while previewing the motion images” meant “sending a signal from the capture button to the timing and controls section, said signal starting the still image capture process and being sent during the display of motion images.”  In doing so, ALJ Luckern again rejected Respondents’ argument of prosecution disclaimer.

“Each Captured Image Having a First Number of Color Pixel Value Provided in a First Color Pattern”

To interpret this phrase, ALJ Luckern construed three separate terms: “captured image,” “first number of color pixel values,” and “first color pattern.”  In construing these terms, the ALJ looked to the claims of the ‘218 patent, the specification of the ‘218 patent and expert testimony from the Markman hearing.

The ALJ construed “captured image” to be “an image of a scene received by the image sensor.”  ALJ Luckern next construed “first number of color pixel values” as “the number of color pixel values generated by the image sensor, where a color pixel value is a measure of the intensity of one color.” Finally, the ALJ construed “first color pattern” as “the arrangement of the color pixel values generated by the image sensor.”

Thus, ultimately, ALJ Luckern construed the phrase “each captured image having a first number of color pixel values provided in a first color pattern” as “each image of a scene received by the image sensor having a first number of color pixel values generated by the image sensor, provided in an arrangement of the color pixel values generated by the image sensor, where a color pixel value is a measurement of the intensity of one color of light.”

* * * * * *

While certifying the ID to the Commission, ALJ Luckern stated that an evidentiary hearing on violation is set to commence on September 1, 2010.   He therefore determined that “a final determination on claim construction on all claim language, or at least certain of the claim language, treated in said determination, before the commencement of the evidentiary hearing on violation on September 1, would lead to efficiencies at the violation hearing.”  ALJ Luckern accordingly requested an early decision by the Commission on this ID.
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