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Craig Thorner v. Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 02-01-2012
Case #: 2011-1114
Rader, Moore, Aiken
Full Text Opinion: http://www.finnegan.com/files/Publication/d176b79c-fdc5-48f4-acce-506a7cb1c294/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/ed46cefe-4acf-49f8-a6b1-5189e9cdc2e8/11-1114%202-1-12.pdf

Patents: The words of a patent claim are generally given their ordinary and customary meaning as understood by a person of ordinary skill in the art when read in the context of the specification and prosecution history.

Opinion (Moore): Craig Thorner (“Thorner”) appealed the decision of the U.S. District Court of New Jersey entering a judgment of noninfringement to Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC (“Sony”) of a patent relating to tactile feedback systems (hand held controllers or hand held video game devices) for computer video games. The Court of Appeals looked to the District Courts interpretation of the term ‘attached to said pad’ in the patent claim to make their decision. The Court of Appeals first determined that the term, “attached to said pad,” in patent relating to tactile feedback system for computer video games, had to be given its plain and ordinary meaning, following the general rule that the words of a patent claim are generally given their ordinary and customary meaning as understood by a person of ordinary skill in the art when read in the context of the specification and prosecution history. The Court further stated that the words of a patent claim are not given their ordinary and customary meaning only: (1) when a patentee sets out a definition and acts as his own lexicographer, or (2) when the patentee disavows the full scope of a claim term either in the specification or during prosecution. Because the patent claim in dispute did not fall into either of the exceptions outlined by the Court, “attached to said pad” was given its plain and ordinary meaning, and the decision of the District Court was VACATED.