Federal Circuit Affirms Apple Non-Infringement Verdict in GPNE Suit

August 1, 2016

The Federal Circuit has upheld a verdict of non-infringement for Apple in a $94M lawsuit brought by GPNE Corp. (2015-1825). In a precedential opinion issued on August 1, the court affirmed a California jury’s October 2014 finding that Apple had not infringed two cellular data patents (7,570,954; 7,792,492) through various models of iPhone and iPad that offer GPRS and LTE connectivity. At issue in the appeal was the construction of the claim term “node”, which District Judge Lucy Koh had construed to refer in part to a “pager” that “operates independently of a telephone network”. GPNE asserted that these two portions of Judge Koh’s definition were erroneous, arguing that nothing in the claims requires a “node” to be a “pager”, and that the other term was improper because it was based on a sentence that appeared only once in each of the patents’ shared detailed descriptions. However, the Federal Circuit ruled that Judge Koh had not erred by using the word “pager”, noting that apart from the patents’ abstracts, their specifications exclusively refer to the claimed devices as “pagers” or “paging units”. The court also found no error in Judge Koh’s inclusion of the “operates independently of a telephone network” limitation, holding that when a patent describes the invention “as a whole”, that “description limits the scope of the invention”. The Federal Circuit further upheld Judge Koh’s decision not to grant a new trial, rejecting GPNE’s assertion that Apple’s arguments at trial comparing its devices to legacy pagers had misled the jury, and affirmed the lower court’s refusal to issue a clarifying instruction at trial for the term “pager”.

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