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Federal Circuit

Clear Disavowal from Statement that Single Approach Addressed All “Objects of the Invention”

February 20, 2015

Federal Circuit

Clear Disavowal from Statement that Single Approach Addressed All “Objects of the Invention”

February 20, 2015

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Pacing Techs., LLC v. Garmin Int’l, Inc., ___F.3d ___ (Fed. Cir. Feb. 18, 2015) (Lourie, MOORE, Reyna) (S.D. Cal.: Benitez) (3 of 5 stars)

Federal Circuit affirms summary judgment of noninfringement where a clear disavowal in the patent specification, combined with language in the claim’s preamble, required a narrow claim construction.

The claim preamble was limiting because the term, “[a] repetitive motion pacing system for pacing a user . . .” provided antecedent basis for, and was necessary to understanding, several terms in the body.

Properly interpreted, the preamble required that the claimed system produce a “sensible tempo” (e.g., an audible rhythm) that would assist a user in setting a pace while exercising.  Although the preamble’s plain meaning included no such limitation, the specification unmistakably disavowed any broader scope by stating that the various objects of the invention would be accomplished with a system “that is adapted to producing a sensible tempo.”  Slip op. at 8.

It did not matter that one embodiment described no audible tempo, but discussed supplying video of passing landscape such that the speed of the landscape’s passage matched the user’s pace. Such did not affect interpretation of the preamble for two reasons.  First, “[j]ust because an embodiment does not expressly disclose a feature does not mean that embodiment excludes that feature.”  Id. at 9.  Second, the patent included seven other independent claims that used different preamble language, and there is no requirement that every claim cover every embodiment.

Garmin’s accused devices produce no “sensible tempo,” and do not infringe as a matter of law.  Displaying the rate of a user’s pace (e.g., “100 steps per minute”) is not producing a sensible tempo.

Related Tags

CAFC Summary
Claim Construction
Federal Circuit
Preamble (Limiting)
Disavowal (YES)
Excluding embodiments (yes)

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Rob Courtney | Principal

Rob Courtney is a Principal in the Twin Cities office of Fish & Richardson. His practice emphasizes patent litigation in the areas of electrical engineering and information technology. Mr. Courtney’s litigation experience includes numerous matters in federal...

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