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Intellect Wireless Inc v TMobile USA Inc

Intellect Wireless, Inc. v T-Mobile? USA, Inc. (August 13, 2010)
US District Ct., N.D. Illinois
2010 WL 3257924

Facts

Intellect Wireless is a corporation that commercializes inventions for wireless messaging, and has a patent on a method of sending, transmitting, and receiving picture and video messages between wireless devices. The patent claims at issue involve a message originator and a message center, and sometimes a message recipient. Intellect sued T-Mobile? for direct infringement.

Procedure

T-Mobile? moved for summary judgment, alleging that it cannot be liable for direct infringement because the patent cannot be infringed by a single actor. Intellect argued that its patent can be infringed upon by a single actor, and because claim construction has not occurred, summary judgment is improper.

Issue

Whether there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Intellects patents can be infringed upon by a single actor who initiates a message.

Holding

Yes, there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether T-Mobile? is infringing on Intellects claims. Summary judgment is improper.

Analysis

First, the court concludes that summary judgment is improper. To determine infringement, the court uses a 2-step analysis: (1) determine the scope and meaning of the patent claims; and (2) compare the correctly-interpreted claims in the patented device to those in the allegedly-infringing device. Here, Intellect claims that the phrase initiating a message from a message originator means that a wireless device is initiating the message. T-Mobile? claims that the same phrase means that the user of the wireless device is initiating the message. The court determines that claim construction is necessary because neither the plain meaning of the claims nor the record resolves this dispute, so summary judgment is improper.

Second, the court concludes that (1) software can be a message originator; and (2) it is not clear if the claims require that the message originator initiate the message. Under Section 271(a), a single party must practice every element of a claimed method to directly infringe it. Here, Intellect claims that T-Mobiles? software performs every step claimed in its patent, and is therefore a message originator even if its not initiating the message. The court determines that the initiating limit on the claims at issue require a message from, not created by, the message originator. But there is still an issue of material fact as to whether the claims require the conduct of the message originator to initiate the message. If the claim requires conduct by the "originator," then its T-Mobile's customers, not T-Mobile's software, that infringed as single users. The Court held that a trial is needed to determine whether the software or the users are the initiators.



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