IP Law Daily Claims for mobile device information display method invalid for indefiniteness
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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Claims for mobile device information display method invalid for indefiniteness

By Linda O’Brien, J.D., LL.M.

The claims for a patent for a method of selecting and representing large amounts of data on a space-constrained display of a mobile device were invalid for indefiniteness, the federal district court in Austin, Texas has held. Thus, the defendant’s motion for summary judgment was granted (Versata Software, Inc. v. Zoho Corporation, October 3, 2016, Sparks, S.).

Versata Software, Inc. is the assignee of U.S. Patent No. 7,092,740 ("the '740 patent"), issued in 2006, entitled "High Density Information Presentation Using Space-Constrained Display Device." The '740 patent describes a method for presenting information on a "space-constrained display of a portable device." The patent technology allows users to select only the information they wish to see on their device and to represent that information using a compact graphical representation.

Versata filed suit against Zoho Corporation for infringing the '740 patent, after Zoho began making and selling software known as ManageEngine Applications Manager, ManageEngine Applications Manager for iPhone, and ManageEngine OpManager. In July 2015, Zoho’s motion for summary judgment, arguing that the '740 patent was invalid since it claimed an abstract idea, was denied. Zoho then moved for summary judgment on issue that the asserted claims of the '740 patent were invalid for indefiniteness.

Indefiniteness. The court found that the term "space-constrained display" as used in the '740 patent was indefinite. Under 35 U.S.C. 112, a patent specification is required to point out and distinctly claim the subject matter which the patentee regards as the invention. The term "space-constrained display" is one of degree which calls for a "comparison against some baseline." Neither the claims themselves nor the prosecution history provide any insight as to the meaning of the term "space-constrained display." The only description of the term in the patent specification is provided in an example of "web-enabled mobile phones." The brief description did not mean that the patent provided an objective standard for determining what is meant by the term, the court explained.

Versata’s argument that the term "space-constrained display" must be read in conjunction with the term "of a portable device" and therefore is definite was rejected as unconvincing. The court noted that the mere understanding that a portable device may have a "space-constrained display" failed to provide a person skilled in the art with any way of determining when a display was constrained and when was not.

Also rejected was Versata’s expert testimony which introduced a four factor test for determining whether a display was space constrained: (1) display size; (2) display resolution; (3) amount of information displayed; and (4) a user’s expectation of what could be displayed. The court concluded that, despite the appearance of objectivity, the factors were not found in the '740 patent and failed to establish any boundary enabling a skilled artisan to distinguish between a display that was space constrained from one that is not. Such subjectively rendered the asserted claims indefinite.

The case is No. 1:13-cv-00371-SS.

Attorneys: Amir H. Alavi (Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing PC) and Andrew M. Edge (McGinnis Lochridge and Kilgore LLP) for Versata Software, Inc. and Versata Development Group, Inc. David D. Schumann (Marton Ribera Schumann & Chang LLP) and Matthew C. Powers (Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody) for Zoho Corp. d/b/a Manageengine.

Companies: Versata Software, Inc.; Versata Development Group, Inc.; Zoho Corp.

MainStory: TopStory Patent TexasNews

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