“Fed. Circ. Revives Amazon Networking Suit in Texas,” Law36007/08/2020 | Law360
A Federal Circuit panel on Wednesday partly rebooted a patent infringement suit against Amazon.com Inc. and Blizzard Entertainment Inc., ruling that a Texas federal judge wrongly deemed certain claims indefinite when their scope and meaning are “reasonably ascertainable by a skilled artisan.”
The three-judge panel’s nonprecedential opinion flipped Western District of Texas Judge Lee Yeakel's findings that led to a July 2019 take-nothing final judgment against Via Vadis LLC and AC Technologies S.A. The companies claim Amazon and Blizzard are infringing a patent owned by AC Tech and licensed to Via Vadis that describes a system and method for optimizing access to data in a distributed network.
Judge Yeakel determined that the term “prescribed parameters” was indefinite because the claims included no explanation of the time period or method for choosing the parameters used in data transmission. But the Federal Circuit panel found those explanations weren’t required to understand the scope and meaning of the term, according to Wednesday’s opinion.
“Reviewing these passages and understanding the express purpose of the invention, a skilled artisan would understand that the parameters are specified in advance of a given data transmission, as they are employed to select the source of the data transmission,” U.S. Circuit Judge Raymond T. Chen wrote for the panel. “In other words, knowledge of the parameters is needed before the system can select an optimal data source, and thus the parameters must be specified, that is, available and on-hand, before the transmission of the data.”
Via Vadis and AC Tech filed separate lawsuits against Amazon and Blizzard in 2014, targeting Amazon's cloud services and Blizzard's online gaming platform, Battle.net, and seeking court orders for monetary damages and to prevent further infringement. The original patents-in-suit were U.S. Patents No. 7,904,680, No. RE40,521 and No. 8,656,125, which were collectively entitled “Data Access and Management System as Well as a Method for Data Access and Data Management for a Computer System.”
The lawsuit against Amazon targets the e-retailer's Elastic Compute Cloud, referred to by the retailer as EC2, and S3 web services. EC2 and S3's use of the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing protocol allegedly violates AC Tech's patents, according to court documents.
The lawsuit against Blizzard targets the company's Battle.net service, its platform for several popular online games including StarCraft, World of Warcraft and digital card game Hearthstone.
Since the filings, the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board has invalidated the '680 and '125 patents, leaving two claims under Patent No. RE40,521 at issue, according to the opinion.
Amazon and Blizzard moved for final judgment in April 2019 after Judge Yeakel made his indefinite determination, according to court records.
The Federal Circuit panel also reversed Judge Yeakel's ruling that the patent specification identifies sufficient corresponding structures for two systems: a network of computers and data storage. Judge Yeakel agreed with Via Vadis and AC Tech and determined that the patent disclosed a single structure for both processes, according to Wednesday's opinion.
"We find that the specification does not describe sufficient structure in the data storage means for detecting parameters of transmission between two or more data storage means," Judge Chen wrote.
The panel held that, because of that deficiency, the claims relating to a structure for the means are indefinite, according to the opinion.
The patent-in-suit is U.S. Patent No. RE40,521.
The cases are Via Vadis LLC et al. v. Blizzard Entertainment Inc., case number 2019-2269, and Via Vadis LLC et al. v. Amazon.com Inc., case number 2019-2270, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
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DiNovo Price LLP is an Austin-based law firm that handles intellectual property and antitrust litigation nationwide. DiNovo Price represents inventors, public corporations, privately-held businesses, and consumers, both individually and in class actions.