DJ-plaintiff Google and patentee-defendant Traffic Information ("Traffic") have completed claim construction briefing regarding U.S. patent nos. 6.466,862 [PDF] and 6,785,606 [PDF], which Traffic alleges to be infringed by the traffic feature of Google's Google Maps product.

A claim construction hearing was held September 8. Hopefully the parties' oral argument was more exciting than the briefs, which proved yet again that it is usually challenging to draft interesting, engaging claim construction briefs that hold the reader's attention. Not that the lawyers are always to blame. Sometimes the legal principles at play and patents in suit just do not make for a page-turner.

I perused the briefs . . .

I perused the briefs and note a few of the prominent or more noteworthy issues.

  1. Google argues that several claim terms are indefinite. For example, Google contends that "said user" is indefinite for lack of antecedent basis where the claim instead refers to "a mobile user station," not a "user" per se. Google's invalidity arguments caught my attention because I also recently made similar indefiniteness arguments during a claim construction proceeding.
  2. On a related note, Google argues that several of Traffic's patent claims are invalid as claiming both a method and a system in the same claim, citing IPXL Holdings v. Amazon.com, 430 F.3d 1377 (Fed. Cir. 2009). An exemplary claim is one that has the following form (simplified here):

A system comprising:

  1. a plurality of traffic monitors;
  2. a receiver;
  3. a computer system;
  4. a mobile user station connected to a GPS receiver, display and communicating device;
  5. said computer system performing a particular function;
  6. wherein traffic information is displayed graphically on said display; and
  7. wherein said computer system has a database and performs a particular function involving the database.

Other key claim construction issues include:

  1. Whether a "traffic monitor" and a "mobile user station" can be the same thing. Traffic contends that they can be one in the same, apparently because that is how it is in Google Maps.
  2. Whether "traffic information" must be "current" and be based on "multiple vehicles."

Traffic's brief is replete with accusations that Google commits the "cardinal sin" of importing unrecited limitations from the specification into the claims (quoting Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1320 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc).