08/04/2014

Amdocs v. Openet Telecom: Construing Telecommunications Network Terminology


Category: Claim Construction  
 
 
 
By: Jesus Hernandez, Blog Editor/Contributor  
 
Title Amdocs, Ltd. v. Openet Telecom, Inc., No. 2013-1212 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 1, 2014).
Issues
[1] [A]ll asserted claims of the ’065 Patent require the use of accounting information to “enhance” a network accounting record. The district court construed “enhance” to mean “to apply a number of field enhancements in a distributed fashion.” […] [2] Third, common to all asserted ’797 Patent claims is the limitation of “single record represent[ing] each of the plurality of services.” The district court construed the term to mean “one record that includes customer usage data for each of the plurality of services used by the customer on the network,” with the understanding that the term does not encompass a record that aggregates usage data. […]
Amdocs, Ltd., *17-18 (text added, internal citations omitted).
[3] Based upon its decision that enhancement occurs “in a distributed fashion” and “close to the source” of the network account information, the district court determined that there was “no evidence” of infringement and granted summary judgment in Openet’s favor.
Id. at *23.
Holdings
[1] The district court properly concluded that the embodiments define the outer limits of the claim term and did not err in reading the “in a distributed fashion” and the “close to the source” of network information requirements into the term “enhance.” We therefore affirm the district court’s construction of “enhance” as “to apply a number of field enhancements in a distributed fashion.”
Id. at *21.
[2] Because the specification shows that the separate record can represent a plurality of records by aggregation, the ordinary artisan would also understand that a separate record can represent a plurality of services by aggregation. Accordingly, we vacate the district court’s construction of “single record represent[ing] each of the plurality of services” and substitute it with a plain mean- ing interpretation.
Id. at *23.
[3] We hold that Amdocs’ documentary evidence describing the structure and operation of the accused products creates genuine factual issues regarding whether the products enhance “in a distributed fashion” “close to the source” of the network information.
Id. at *23.
 
 
 

Procedural HistoryThis is a patent infringement case on appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Appellant Amdocs (Israel) Limited (“Amdocs”) asserted four related patents against Appellees Openet Telecom, Inc. and Openet Telecom Ltd. (collectively “Openet”), seeking damages and injunctions. […] Before the district court, Openet moved for summary judgment of noninfringement of the four patents. With regard to three of the patents, U.S. Patent Nos. 7,631,065 (the “’065 Patent”), 7,412,510 (the “’510 Patent”), and 6,947,984 (the “’984 Patent”), Openet argued that Amdocs was unable to point to actual infringing use and that the accused products did not practice all claim limitations. The district court granted Openet’s motion based on its finding that Amdocs did not raise a genuine question of material fact as to whether the accused devices practiced “completing” or “enhance[ing]” “in a distributed fashion,” a requirement which it construed to be common to all asserted claims.
Amdocs, Ltd., at *2-3.
 
 
 
Legal Reasoning (Reyna, Clevenger)
Background
Summary of Asserted PatentsAll of these patents claim parts of a system that is designed to solve an accounting and billing problem faced by network service providers. Customers of network service providers often use several distinct services, such as e-mail, voice over Internet Protocol, or streaming audio or video, on the same computer network. Because some services require more bandwidth than others, network service providers “would like to price their available bandwidth according to a user’s needs,” for example by billing business customers “according to their used bandwidth at particular qualities of service.” The raw usage logs for these services, however, are generated by several different net- work devices that may exist in different network levels. The patented system collects these raw us- age data records from their diffuse locations AMDOCS LIMITED v. OPENET TELECOM, INC. throughout the network and through appropriate filtering, aggregation, correlation, and enhancement transforms them into a format suitable for accounting, called “detail records” (“DRs”). These DRs can then be stored in a central repository for generating “auditing, accounting and billing reports” or “can be sent directly to other systems,” including billing systems.
Amdocs, Ltd., at *3-4.
[1] Construction of “Enhance” in the ’065 Patent Claims
Specification Supports Construction as 'distributed'
[T]here is no suggestion within the specification of centralized, as opposed to distributed, enhancement. The specification of the ’065 Patent repeatedly refers to the “gatherers” as the situs of the enhancement:

• 7:51-57 (“Typically, data collected from a single source does not contain all the information needed for billing and accounting . . . . In such cases, the data is enhanced. By combining IP session data from multiple sources, . . . the gatherers create meaningful session records tailored to the NSP’s specific requirements.”);

• 10:45-50 (“D. Data Enhancement
As mentioned above, the gatherers 220 provide da- ta enhancement features to complete information received from the ISMs 210.”); […]

Amdocs, Ltd., at *19.
[T]he specification of the ’065 Patent distinguishes the gatherers from the Central Event Manager, which “acts as the central nervous system of the system 100, providing centralized, efficient management and controls of the gatherers and the ISMs.” ’065 Patent 8:12- 16. The distributed nature of the gatherers is made clear by the specification:

7:7-8 (“Thus, the gatherers act as a distributed filtering and aggregation system. The distributed data filtering and aggregation eliminates capacity bottlenecks improving the scalability and efficiency of the system 100 by reducing the volume of data sent on the network to the CEM 170.”) […]

Id. at *20-21.
[2] Construction of “Single Record Represent[ing] Each of the Plurality of Services” in the ’797 Patent Claims
The core dispute here is over the meaning of the term “represent.” While the specification does not discuss representation of a plurality of services, it does teach the representation of a plurality of records:

As shown in FIG. 7, a plurality of the records 702 may be collected and grouped, where each group of records relates to the usage of a specific type of service, e.g. web surfing, e-mail, voice over IP calls, and multimedia streaming, etc. The records 702 may reflect the usage of any granularity required for billing of a BSS. Thereafter, tables 703 may be employed to identify customers who received the services identified in the records 702. This may be accomplished by correlating an IP address with user identifiers, users’ location in- formation, company identifiers, or any other desired method. Thereafter, separate records 704 may be generated based upon correlating a plurality of records 702 and information contained in tables 703. How the correlation is performed may depend on the billing requirements of a BSS. Such separate records 704 may include a company identifier and usage data associated with one particular service. As such, the separate record 704 may represent each of the plurality of records 702.

Amdocs, Ltd., at *22-23.
[3] Infringement
Improper Grant of Summary JudgmentThe district court erred in granting summary judgment to Openet because it improperly deemed Amdocs’ foreign presentations irrelevant, incorrectly focused on proof regarding DSD scripts, and failed to make all reasonable inferences supported by the record in favor of Amdocs and, instead, resolved disputed factual issues in Openet’s favor.
Amdocs, Ltd., at *24.
Points of Error
The district court first erred when it found that the marketing materials presented to foreign entities were irrelevant. While it is true that there can be no infringement of a U.S. patent for solely extra-territorial activities, this does not mean that Openet’s description of how the Framework functions is irrelevant simply because it was presented to a foreign entity. Indeed, Openet admits that the Framework described in these marketing materials is the same product that is made and sold in the United States. Thus, the description of the Framework in these materials is relevant to the extent that it sheds light on whether the Framework enhances “in a distributed fashion.”
Id. at *25.
The district court next erred by discounting Amdocs’ citations to source code on the FusionWorks installation CD simply because Openet asserts that the Framework is “inoperable without DSD scripts.” Id. Even assuming that the Framework does not “operate” without DSD scripts, genuine factual disputes remain regarding enhancement. Simply because a product will not “operate” in a certain condition does not mean that it does not infringe in that condition.4 Here, the Framework may not operate without DSD scripts (or, indeed, without a computer or electricity) but making, using, or selling the installation CD may still, as a factual matter, infringe the asserted claims.
Id. at *25.
Issues to be Resolved on RemandIn essence, the parties dispute whether the allegedly infringing code is located only on the installation CD (Amdocs’ position) or whether some of the code is contained in the DSD scripts (Openet’s position). The district court improperly decided this disputed factual question in Openet’s favor by discounting Amdocs’ citation to the code present on the CD and requiring Amdocs to proffer expert evidence related to the DSD scripts. On remand, the location of the allegedly infringing code (on the CD, within the DSD scripts, or perhaps some combination) may well need to be resolved to establish infringement. At sum- mary judgment, however, the fact that the parties dispute the code’s location does not mean, as Openet contends, that Amdocs cannot prove infringement as a matter of law.
Id. at *26.
Conclusion
Based upon the foregoing, we reverse the court’s grant of summary judgment [regarding the ’065, ’510, and ’984 patent claims] because it incorrectly deemed certain evidence irrelevant, improperly required Amdocs to focus on DSD scripts, and improperly resolved disputed factual issues against Amdocs. […] We […] also vacate the summary judgment of noninfringement of the ’797 Patent claims and remand for a determination of infringement in the first instance.
Amdocs, Ltd., at *27-28.
 
 
 Image Attribution Statement: FIG. 1 of U.S. Patent No. 7,631,065,065.
 
 
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