California Patent Attorney® Blog

Microsoft, Yahoo Must Face Paging Patent Claims, Federal Circuit Says

October 17, 2012

pager.jpgCalifornia - The Federal Circuit on Wednesday let a number of domestic and foreign cell phone companies off the hook permanently for Technology Patents LLC's dismissed pager system patent infringement claims on appeal, but partially revived the company's case against Microsoft Inc., Yahoo! Inc. and other software companies.

The appeals court found that the Maryland district court properly granted summary judgment of noninfringement to the domestic carriers and that the judgment against the domestic carriers applies equally to the foreign carriers.

It affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment of noninfringement to the software providers with respect to some of the patent claims, but vacated the summary judgment ruling with respect to a number of other claims and remanded them for further proceedings.

TPL sued over 100 domestic and foreign companies in November 2007 for infringing U.S. Patents Numbers 6,646,542 and RE39,870. The allegations concerning the '542 patent were subsequently withdrawn, so only the '870 patent was at issue on appeal.

The '870 patent covers a global paging system utilizing a land-based packet-switched digital data network like the Internet and a feature for permitting users to remotely designate countries in which they are currently or expect to be located.

The scores of defendants each fell into one of three groups: domestic cell carriers and handset companies, including AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Motorola, and others; the software providers, including Microsoft, Yahoo, and Clickatell; and the foreign carriers, including T-Mobile, Vodaphone and many others

The district court dismissed the case against the foreign carriers for lack of personal jurisdiction, and it granted summary judgment of noninfringement in favor of the domestic carriers and the software providers, but on separate grounds.

The Federal Circuit upheld the district court's constructions of the terms "receiving user," "predetermined order" and "initiates paging operations in another country in a predetermined order," which TPL challenged on appeal.

The appeals court ordered the district court, on remand, to consider whether TPL has produced sufficient evidence to create a genuine dispute as to any material fact with respect to the software companies' alleged infringement of the patent claims at issue.

Based on TPL's theory of infringement and the ground on which the district court ruled in favor of the domestic carriers, though, the district court's determination that the domestic carriers do not infringe the '870 patent necessarily means that the foreign carriers also do not infringe, the Federal Circuit ruled.