Info-Hold, Inc. v. Applied Media Tech. Corp., 783 F.3d 1262 (Fed. Cir. April 24, 2015) (REYNA, Wallach, Taranto) (S.D. Ohio: Black) (2 of 5 stars)

Federal Circuit reverses claim construction and underlying noninfringement judgment.  The patent claimed a programmable message delivery system that includes a plurality of message playback devices, a remote computer, and a communications link over which the computer “transmits” control signals to the playback devices.

As an initial matter, de novo review applied to all the evidence.  It was unnecessary to decide whether a Notice of Allowability for another, later issued patent was intrinsic or extrinsic to the patent-in-suit because there was no dispute over its content, the district court made no findings about it, and its significance to the correct construction was a legal issue.

The district court erred in construing the term “transmit” to require the computer to initiate contact with the playback devices.  “Nothing in the word ‘transmit’ suggests a limitation on initiation: there is no linguistic ambiguity to resolve.”  Slip op. at 9.  Moreover, the fact the specification said it was “preferred” for the playback device to operate in “receive only” mode suggested that it was also possible for it to transmit, which would allow for communications initiated by the playback device.  Regardless, the specification did not disclaim or redefine the term “transmit,” either expressly or implicitly.  The term was thus properly understood to be neutral about whether the computer or playback device initiates the transmission.

The construction of other terms (“message playback device” and “operable to generate and transmit control signals”) were vacated, as they depended on the construction of transmit.  Finally, the term “when a caller is placed on hold,” was construed consistently with the construction in the Muzak case, which was also decided by the panel the same day.