03/16/2014

Vederi v. Google: Constructing "the views being substantially elevations of objects” in Allegation of Infringement by Google Street View


Category: Claim Construction  
 
 
 
 By: Jesus Hernandez, Blog Editor/Contributor 
 
TitleVederi, LLC v. Google, Inc., No. 2013-1057, -1296 (Fed. Cir. March 14, 2014).
IssueVederi stated that the limitation “depicting views of objects . . . the views being substantially elevations of objects” means “front or side views of objects.” Google contended that the limitation means “vertical flat (as opposed to curved or spherical) depictions of front or side views.”
Vederi at *9.
HoldingHaving analyzed the claims, the specification and the prosecution history [which permit a construction broader than flat views], this court concludes that the district court erred in construing “images depicting views of objects in a geographic area, the views being substantially elevations of the objects in the geographic area” as “vertical flat (as opposed to curved or spherical) depictions of front or side views.” To the contrary, the record shows that “views being substantially elevations of the objects” refers to “front and side views of the objects.” Thus, as properly construed, the claims do not exclude curved or spherical images depicting views that are substantially front or side views of the objects in the geographic area.
Vederi at *14 (text added).
 
Procedural History“Vederi sued Google for patent infringement on October 15, 2010, alleging that Google’s “Street View” infringed various claims of four related patents: U.S. Patent Nos. 7,239,760 (’760 patent); 7,577,316; 7,805,025; and 7,813,596 (collectively the Asserted Patents). The Asserted Patents share a common specification1 and claim priority to a common provisional patent application.” Vederi at *2. “The United States District Court for the Central District of California entered summary judgment of non- infringement in favor of Google, Inc. (Google) and against Vederi, LLC (Vederi) on October 5, 2012.” Id.
 
 
 
 
Legal Reasoning (Rader, CJ, Dyk, Taranto)
Background
Patent at IssueGenerally speaking, the Asserted Patents relate to methods for creating synthesized images of a geographic area through which a user may then visually navigate via a computer. ’760 patent abst. In acquiring the images, a recording device is mounted on top of a car that is driven throughout the geographic area. Id. at col. 4 ll. 52–65.
Vederi at *2.
Representative Claim 1 of the ’760 patent1. In a system including an image source and a user terminal having a screen and an input device, a method for enabling visual navigation of a geographic area from the user terminal, the method comprising:

receiving a first user input specifying a first location in the geographic area;

retrieving from the image source a first image associated with the first location, the image source providing a plurality of images depicting views of objects in the geographic area, the views being substantially elevations of the objects in the geographic area, wherein the images are associated with image frames acquired by an image recording device moving along a trajectory;

receiving a second user input specifying a navigation direction relative to the first location in the geographic area;

determining a second location based on the user specified navigation direction; and

retrieving from the image source a second image associated with the second location.

Id. at *5-6.
Markman HearingThe parties agreed that the “substantially elevations” limitation referred to front and side views of objects. However, the parties disagreed as to the meaning of the limitation, “depicting views of objects . . . the views being substantially elevations of the objects in the geographic area.” Vederi stated that the limitation “depicting views of objects . . . the views being substantially elevations of objects” means “front or side views of objects.” Google contended that the limitation means “vertical flat (as opposed to curved or spherical) depictions of front or side views.” The district court adopted Google’s construction because it concluded that the Asserted Patents did not “disclose[] anything about spherical views.” [...].
Vederi at *9.
Analysis: Intrinsic Evidence Not Afforded Proper Weight in Constructing "the views being substantially elevations of objects”
Claim LanguageThe operative language in this case is “substantially elevations.” 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. “A claim construction that gives meaning to all the terms of the claim is preferred over one that does not do so.” […] By effectively reading “substantially” out the claims, the district court erred. The term “substantially” takes on important meaning in light of the rest of the intrinsic evidence in this record.
Vederi at *10 (internal citations omitted).
Specification[T]he Asserted Patents relate to taking photographs or videos of objects to create images and depict views of a geographic area, […] not architectural drawings of buildings. Figure 16 is illustrative, depicting a view of buildings showing depth and perspective, not to mention both the front and side of one of the buildings. […] Additionally, the specification of the Asserted Patents discloses the use of a fish-eye lens, […] and “fish-eye views,” […]. A photographic image through a fish-eye lens provides a curved, as opposed to vertical, projection, and almost certainly reflects curvature and perspective. In other words, the photographic image is not flat and not an elevation.
Id. at *11 (internal citations omitted).
Prosecution History[T]he prosecution history does not support the district court’s construction. […] Specifically, the application leading to the ’760 patent initially contained claims reciting “images providing a non-aerial view of the ob- jects.” J.A. 404. The Patent Office rejected those claims in view of U.S. Patent No. 6,140,943 (Levine). The applicant responded by amending the claims to remove “non- aerial view” and add “substantially elevations.” […] The applicant also correctly noted that Levine was directed to “map images, which may include names of streets, roads, as well as places of interest” that a traveler could use to navigate through a geographic area. […] Therefore, Levine did not disclose images “depict[ing] views that are ‘substantially elevations of the objects in a geographic area’” or “acquired by an image recording device moving along a trajectory.”
Id. at *13-14 (internal citations omitted).
Conclusion
Accordingly, in view of the foregoing, this court reverses the district court’s claim construction, vacates its judgment of non-infringement and remands for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Vederi at *14.
 
 
Image Attribution Statement: Vederi at *6. 
 
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