In Trustees of Columbia Univ. v. Symantec Corp., Appeal No. 2015-1146, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s construction of two claim terms and reversed its construction of a third claim term.

Columbia sued Symantec for infringement of six patents from three distinct families relating to computer security.  After the district court issued its claim construction order, Columbia conceded non-infringement and appealed to the Federal Circuit.

On appeal, Columbia argued the district court erred in not giving the claim terms “byte sequence feature” and “probabilistic model of normal computer system usage” their plain and ordinary meanings.  Specifically, Columbia relied on the argument that there is a heavy presumption of plain and ordinary meaning that can only be overcome when the patentee has expressly defined a term or has expressly disavowed the full scope of the claim.  The Federal Circuit rejected this argument and explained that an express definition or disavowal in the specification or prosecution history is not required.  Turning to the four patents that included these claim terms, the Federal Circuit found there was “overwhelming” evidence in the specifications and prosecution histories that the claims were limited and affirmed the district court’s claim construction and judgment of non-infringement.

Finally, with respect to the other two patents, the Federal Circuit reversed the claim construction of the term “anomalous,” finding that the district court had erroneously based its construction on language from the specification of two patents that was not sufficiently related. The stipulated judgment of non-infringement with respect to the two patents involving this claim term was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings.