In Eon Corp. IP Holdings LLC v. Silver Springs Networks, Inc., Appeal No. 2015-1237, the Federal Circuit held that the district court had erred in failing to construe a claim term, violating the Federal Circuit’s precedent in O2 Micro that when there is a dispute, the court must provide a construction.
Eon sued Silver Spring for patent infringement relating to networks for two-way interactive communications between local subscribers and a base station, where the local subscriber’s “unit” is either “portable” or “mobile.” The accused units were utility meters attached to the exterior walls of buildings. The district court instructed the jury that the terms “portable” and “mobile” were to be given their plain and ordinary meaning. The Federal Circuit held that this instruction violated O2 Micro by improperly delegating a dispute about claim scope to the jury. Specifically, the plain-and-ordinary-meaning instruction did not resolve the parties’ dispute about whether the terms should be construed broadly enough to cover products that are only theoretically capable of being moved. The Federal Circuit also determined that no remand was necessary because no reasonable jury could find that the accused products (which were stationary) could infringe Eon’s patents. The patents’ specification described “portable” and “mobile” units that were easily transported between different locations and that are distinguished from fixed or stationary units. In this context, the accused meters do not infringe.