In a previous Markman decision in December 2013, District Judge Colleen McMahon construed nine claim terms in U.S. Patent No. 6,725,107 (“the ’107 patent”), a patent owned by plaintiff Hockeyline. The claims included several means plus function claims. The court provided the following constructions:
“input means coupled to said processor for inputting data related to events of said sports game in real time” means “a device such as a keyboard, touchscreen or computer mouse that can be used to input data about a sporting event as the event is occurring. The patent does not, however cover just any keyboard, touchscreen or computer mouse: it only covers such devices when they are coupled–connected so as to permit the transfer of information–to a particular type of computer processor (‘said processor’).”
“display means coupled to said processor for facilitating the entry of such data by the user” means “A displaying means is something that displays information- an electronic screen of some sort, like a computer screen or a screen on an electronic device. In this case, the information that is displayed is information that will make it easier for the user to enter real time data relating to a sporting event that is taking place. The display means needs to be coupled – connected – to ‘said processor.’”
“information transfer means for transferring statistical information based on such inputed data to a central database via communication means” means “a means or device, like a modem or networking interface and, for transferring statistical information that is generated from the real time data to a central data base. The transfer is accomplished over the Internet for some other type of wired or wireless communications network, like a public or private data network or a publically switched telephone network.”
“desired data that is to be gathered for said sports game” means data that will be used to generate statistics and can continue to be used after the game.
“the transfer of statistical information is performed automatically” was given its ordinary meaning. The court defined “automatically” as “without any action by the user” which comports to the plain meaning in the context of the patent.
The court also held that claim 9 of the ’107 patent is indefinite under 35 U.S.C. 112 (b) because the claim includes the limitation “wherein a server computer hosts a web site which provide [sic] access to information in the central database, and optionally provides access to additional information furnished by a web site server.” (emphasis added). The use of the term “optionally” as an adverb modifying “provides” makes it impossible for the public to know whether the website actually provides access to additional information.
The court also found that the term “a plurality of hierarchical menu-based screens” was not a term that could be definitively defined for a lay jury without reference to testimony about what one skilled in the art would understand it to mean and asked the parties to submit extrinsic evidence about the meaning of this term. After asking for plaintiffs to submit additional briefing on additional terms,
In the instant decision, the court construed the remaining terms of the ’107 patent:
“a processor” means “the processor referred to in Claim 1 of the ’107 patent, which is the central processing unit of any general purpose computer.” The court did not restrict the processor based on how it was programmed because it considered such an interpretation to be too limiting.
“a plurality of hierarchical menu-based screens” means “multiple electronic screen shots, consisting of menus, or lists of options from which a user can make a selection. The menus are organized in a hierarchy, so that the first screen shot contains the most general menu categories, and subsequent screen shots contain a more specific menu categories.”
Case: Hockeyline, Inc. v. Stats LLC., No. 13 Civ. 1446 (CM) (S.D.N.Y. March 4, 2014)