Digest of Gammino v. Sprint Communications Co., Nos. 2013-1636, 2014-1016 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 15, 2014) (non-precedential). On appeal from E.D. Pa. Before Lourie, Bryson, and Chen.
Procedural Posture: Patent holder John R. Gammino appealed from a stipulated judgment of noninfringement following the district court’s claim construction ruling. CAFC affirmed.
The patent claims were directed to telecommunications devices and methods for blocking potentially fraudulent international access calls, which can be identified by the sequence of numbers dialed by the caller.
- Claim Construction (Prosecution Disclaimer): The district court construed the following claim terms as requiring blocking all, rather than selected, international access calls:
- “selectively enabling” and “transmitting [or transmits] said dialing sequences,”
- “predetermined “predetermined signals [or predetermined digit sequence, or test signal value sequences] which are used to accomplish [or for] international dialing,” and
- “means for preventing” and “at least partially preventing operation of.”
The CAFC held that the claim limitations required blocking all international access calls, instead of only selected international access calls, because Mr. Gammino repeatedly distinguished the claims from prior art that did not block all international calls during prosecution, and because the specification never states that only a selected subset of calls is blocked.
- Claim Construction (Means-plus-function): For the claim term “telecommunications apparatus” and related means-plus-function-apparatus, the issue was whether the apparatus had to be outside of the external network, e.g., a telephone, or could be inside the external network, e.g., an interface unit at a central switching office. Mr. Gammino argued that the district court incorrectly concluded that the telephone or telecommunications device and interface network unit must be located outside of an external network. The CAFC agreed with Sprint that the specification supported construing “telecommunications apparatus” outside of the external network.
- Claim Construction: The district court construed the term “signal value” as “a dual-tone multi-frequency analog signal transferred by hertz tones.” This construction was initially proposed by both parties, but Mr. Gammino later moved to amend this construction. The District Court denied his late amendment because he failed to show good cause for it. The CAFC affirmed that District Court’s finding that allowing the amendment would be inequitable and would prejudice Sprint.