Fed. Cir. vacates and remands summary judgment of non-infringement, determining the district court’s claim construction was overly narrow.
The patents claimed methods for creating synthesized images that are “substantially elevations” of a geographic location. The Fed. Cir. construed “substantially elevations” to mean “front and side views of the objects” and refused to limit it to “flat” images (or to exclude curved images). The Fed rejected a technical dictionary definition that defined “elevations” as flat because the claim includes the broadening modifier “substantially.” Slip op. at 9-10.
Vederi, LLC v. Google, Inc., ___ F.3d ___ (Fed. Cir. Mar. 14, 2014) (RADER, Dyk, Taranto) (C.D. Cal.: Kozinski (sitting by designation)) (2 of 5 stars)
“The district court’s construction requiring elevation, and ‘elevation’ alone in the strict sense, gives no effect to the ‘substantially’ modifier contained in the claims.” Id. at 10. Moreover, the specification showed exemplary images with depth and perspective, which suggested the image could have curvature. Id. at 11. The specification’s discussion of “preferably” using a method that created flat images did not limit the claim language. Neither the specification’s criticism of prior art nor a claim amendment during prosecution to overcome a prior art reference was “a clear and unmistakable disavowal” because both statements dealt with different issues.