On August 14, 2013, ALJ James E. Gildea issued the public version of Order No. 38 (dated August 7, 2013) in Certain Wireless Communications Equipment and Articles Therein (Inv. No. 337-TA-866), construing numerous terms in the asserted patents.  Due to its large size, the Order has been split into part 1, part 2, and part 3.

By way of background, the investigation is based on a complaint filed by Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. and Samsung Telecommunications America, LLC (collectively, “Samsung”) alleging violation of Section 337 in the importation into the U.S. and sale of wireless communication equipment that infringes one or more claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,782,749 (the ‘749 patent); 8,165,081 (the ‘081 patent); 8,208,438 (the ‘438 patent); 8,228,827 (the ‘827 patent); 6,617,929 (the ‘929 patent); 6,767,813 (the ‘813 patent); and 6,865,682 (the ‘682 patent).  The Respondents are Ericsson Inc. and Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (collectively, “Ericsson”).  See our January 29, 2013 post for more details on this investigation.  The investigation has since been terminated with respect to the ‘813 patent.

The ‘081 Patent

According to the Order, Samsung, Ericsson, and the Commission Investigative Staff (“OUII”) all agreed that the preamble of the asserted claims was a claim limitation requiring a base station.  ALJ Gildea also agreed, noting that the preamble provided antecedent basis.  Two claim terms were disputed, however:  “offset value,” and “determined based on the data MCS and the [first/second] offset value.” 

ALJ Gildea adopted the proposed construction of “offset value” as “value relative to a value associated with control information,” noting that Ericsson’s proposed interpretation included limitations not required in light of the specification.  The ALJ again agreed with the OUII for construing the phrase “determined based on the data MCS and the [first/second] offset value,” noting that construction of this phrase as not requiring any particular method for determining the number of coded control information symbols accurately reflects how one of ordinary skill in the art would understand the specification. 

The ‘827 Patent

The parties all agreed that “UE-specific control information” should be construed as “control information specific to the UE signaled on a downlink control channel,” and this construction was adopted by the ALJ.  No other terms in the ‘827 patent were disputed or construed.

The ‘749 Patent

The agreed-upon constructions of the terms “concatenator,” “elements in the plurality of PDCCHs,” and “sequentially mapping the interleaved elements/CEs to the Res” were adopted by the ALJ as consistent with the specification as filed.  However, numerous terms were disputed, including the order of the method steps, “the concatenated elements,” “the interleaved elements,” “the allocated CEs,” “the concatenated CEs,” “the interleaved symbols,” “allocating…at least one Control channel Element…”, and “interleaver for interleaving symbols in the concatenated CEs…”

The ALJ disagreed with all proposals regarding the order of the method steps, concluding that the claims require the method to begin in the order recited, but that the claims do not require a step to be completed before a subsequent step has begun.  ALJ Gildea determined that none of “the concatenated elements,” “the interleaved elements,” “the allocated CEs,” “the concatenated CEs,” “the interleaved symbols” required construction, noting that the constructions suggested by the parties failed to clarify the meaning or scope of the claims in any way.  The ALJ adopted the construction put forth by Samsung and the OUII for “allocating…,” noting that Ericsson’s approach relied on case law that was “cherry-picked” to support its conclusion.  Although Ericsson argued that the “interleaver for…” phrase was a means-plus-function term, the ALJ noted that since the strict “means for” language was not used, the presumption that it is not means-plus-function language applies.  Furthermore, since the claim term connotes sufficient structure, a means-plus-function interpretation is unnecessary.

The ‘438 Patent

The ALJ adopted two of the jointly proposed constructions for the ‘438 patent, but noted that “during allocation” did not require construction and would be understood by one skilled in the art.  ALJ Gildea interpreted the order of the method steps in the same manner as the ‘749 patent; namely, that the claims require the method to begin in the order recited, but that the claims do not require a step to be completed before a subsequent step has begun.  ALJ Gildea also similarly decided that Ericsson’s arguments as to supposed means-plus-function terms in the ‘438 patent were unavailing, and the terms referred to specific structures in the specification.  The final term in dispute, “allocating a plurality of Resource Elements…” and variations of this phrase, were construed largely according to their plain meaning as proposed by Samsung and the OUII, with the ALJ declining to include additional limitations proposed by Ericsson.

The ‘929 Patent

ALJ Gildea agreed with the parties that the preamble limited the claims by introducing the terms “carrier amplifer” and “peaking amplifier.”  The parties argued extensively regarding construction of the term “load matching circuit,” and the ALJ ultimately agreed with Samsung’s construction as a “circuit that matches the output impedance of a device and the input impedance of a load,” noting that Ericsson’s proposal again added limitations that are not supported by the claims, specification, or prosecution history.  The ALJ declined to adopt the proposed constructions set forth by either party for “phase tuning component,” stating that this term would be understood by one skilled in the art.  ALJ Gildea also noted that the expert testimony provided by the parties evidenced that those skilled in the art could understand this phrase in the context of the claims and specification.

The ‘682 Patent

ALJ Gildea accepted the parties’ agreed-upon construction of “switching voltage regulator” as a “voltage regulator that regulates a voltage by alternately making and breaking connections in an electrical circuit.”  The ALJ Gildea sided with Samsung regarding construction of the preamble of the claims, determining that it was not limiting in this instance.  Although the parties proposed constructions, the ALJ determined that “processor module,” “processor,” and “an interface for removably coupling said circuit panel to a motherboard” did not need constructions.  Similarly, ALJ Gildea concluded that the phrases “in electronic communication with,” “a voltage regulator…in electronic communication with,” and “motherboard” would be understood by those skilled in the art without construction.  In construing the remaining term, “support electronics,” the ALJ agreed with Samsung’s proposed construction as “voltage-driven electronic devices that are designed to work with a separate processor,” noting that Ericsson’s proposed construction was too restrictive.