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HTC Corporation v. IP-COM GMBH & CO.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 01-30-2012
Case #: 2011-1004
Bryson, Linn, O’Malley
Full Text Opinion: http://www.finnegan.com/files/Publication/66fc3b34-b93a-4da2-9a41-46350361ad92/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/561f3e27-3ae5-4c25-97f8-4853179e4bf8/11-1004%201-30-12.pdf

Patents: To determine whether a means plus function limitation is definite, a court looks to: 1) the particular claimed function, and 2) the specification and corresponding structure, material, or acts that perform that function.

Opinion (O’Malley): IP-COM GMBH (“IP-COM”) appealed the decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia’s decision granting HTC Corporation’s (“HTC”) motion for summary judgment of invalidity (hybrid subject matter) of a patent covering a handover (when a mobile station switches from one base station to another, as when someone travels by vehicle between coverage areas) in a cellular telephone network. The patent reduces the chance of interrupted service during a handover. The Court found that a patentee may express an element in a claim for a hybrid ‘as a means or step for performing a specified function without the recital of structure, material, or acts in support thereof’, and that the claim is then construed to cover the corresponding structure, material, or acts described in the specification. To determine whether a means plus function limitation is definite, the Court applied a traditional two-step analysis. First, the Court identified the particular claimed function (here it was activating the service links to the base stations). Second the Court looked to the specification and identified the corresponding structure, material, or acts that perform that function (here it was a processor and transceiver). Because the Court found that the claimed function and specification were sufficiently definite, the order of the District Court granting summary judgment of invalidity was REVERSED.