Rocketing From the E.D. Tx, Still on Claim Construction After 5 Years.

The term forum-shopping does pop up when MIT is suing Microsoft, Corel, et al, for patent infringement in the E. D. of Texas.  Why not though, that’s the rocket-docket we’ve all heard tales of.  Some suppose that patent cases get to trial faster, in Texarkana, than for the attorneys and witnesses to travel there.  Let’s measure that myth against the timeline reported in MIT v. Abacus, et al, (Fed. Cir. 9/12/2006).

Suit was filed Dec. 2001, and now, nearly six years later, a stipulated judgment based on a Markman ruling is reversed on appeal.  If that is fast, then it’s not rocket fast.  The case did move from the final amended complaint in April, 2002 to a Markman ruling in July, 2003 – which does show some early speed.

The infringement worm turned when several claim terms were deemed to be means-plus-function limitations, but others were not.  In a show of its mission to promote uniformity, the CAFC panel (over dissent) follows two earlier cases that hold “circuitry” is not a means recitation, but that a “mechanism” is.  These holdings, it appears, are based on dictionary definitions, which rank at the bottom of the Phillips hierarchy.  Still, those with an EE background recognize that the CAFC was complimenting that higher level of ordinary skill for “circuitry” than for “mechanism” – EE’s implicitly understand all sorts of circuitry, but an ME only may grasp the exact mechanism set out in the spec.

While I am not aware of the specific contentions in the District Court, this ruling suggests that the patentee did not get all that it needed to win on remand.